HarveyNick.com Musings of a professional nerd

That iPad thing

Originally, right after I got around the watching the keynote presentation which launched the iPad, I was going to write a blog post about how disappointed I was. I thought they’d screwed the pooch and I, for one, was seriously underwhelmed.

Needless to say, I didn’t quite get around to writing it. Since then I’ve read all the criticism by the naysayers and Apple haters, all the gushing praise from the fanatics and all the stuff in between from the more sensible people1. Now, after some reflection, I find myself somewhere in the middle. I flip back and forwards between thoughts of “that could be awesome,” and “that’s far too much of a compromise.”

Ironically, the thing that’s bringing me around to the idea is the very thing which people seem to be complaining about the most. Specifically: “It’s just an iPod Touch with a bigger screen,” which, in fairness, is exactly what I was thinking. It’s not a bad thing, though. The iPod Touch (and iPhone) have a spectacular interface. The touch controls work well enough and the device is responsive enough to make you feel is though you’re interacting with your music or the internet or your emails in a very direct manor. As a matter of fact, the main limitation of the interface is the small size of the screen. Ah hah…

I think what actually happened is that Apple made a mess of the keynote. Yes, the first person shooter was very pretty, but not really ideal for the interface. A real time strategy game, something like command and conquer, could really sing on this thing. The iWork apps look pretty cool, but a multi-touch version of iMovie or GarageBand could have been seriously impressive. They really didn’t make me believe that I could comfortably read a book on this thing… but if they’d announced text books for the iBooks store and placed an iPad next to the pile of books you usually need each year… well, then we’d have been talking. If they’d have shown how you could search the contents of a text book, spot light style, I might have been sold. Instead they left me to have to think of these things by myself.

I still not 100% certain I know what it’s for, though. Does it replace my laptop? Does it go alongside my laptop? Would I use on the sofa? Probably. On a short journey? Can’t see me getting it out on the bus. A long journey? Yes, I think so. Sitting in a coffee shop? Maybe. It would take up less room on the table. Sitting in the park? A tad more risky. But still, I don’t know. I’m disinclined to spend £500+ on something which is just a toy. I think I can live without multi-tasking, but there needs to be a better system to allows different apps to work together. What use are great OmniGraffle and Pages apps if I can’t insert a diagram from the former into the latter?

Bottom line: I’ll go and have a play with one after they come out. Then we’ll see.

PS For my parents, though, the damn thing is almost perfect.

  1. Well… I say “all”… what I actually mean is “some.”