Will Apple's iPad Succeed or Fail

Why I (Probably) Won’t Buy an Apple iPad

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the new Apple iPad because I was absolutely convinced it would be a “must have” product for me. As I watched the Keynote event where Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad this past Wednesday, I was initially very impressed.

iPad's 9.56 inch high by 7.47 inch wide touch screen can be used in portrait or landscape orientation

The sleek design and giant touchpad screen had me salivating. Since I’m an avid reader, I’d intended to buy a Kindle before leaving on my next extended trip, which would eliminate the need to carry heavy books. With the iPad’s new iBook reader and built-in iBookshelf store I no longer need to buy a Kindle. I also appreciated the full size digital keyboard on the touchscreen, as well as the portable keyboard and docking station that makes data entry a breeze. As I would have expected of an Apple product, the iPad features total integration and syncing between iMail, iCalendar, iPhoto, Address Book, iTunes, and Notes, as well as supporting web browsing, video, YouTube, Google Maps, and Multimedia content such as full-length movies.

Docking station (right) and docking station with external keyboard (left)

One of the most impressive features of the iPad is its 3G connectivity. Apple has partnered with AT&T to provide 250 Mb of data transfer for $19.99 per month, or unlimited data for $29.99 per month. Best of all, this will NOT require a contract and users can cancel the 3G service at any time. Since I currently pay $60 per month for an Air Card, the iPad would save me $30 per month. I could also turn off the 3G connectivity and rely on Wi-Fi alone, allowing me to stay connected while traveling internationally without breaking the bank, as I do on my iPhone. There is also a new battery, which provides up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music. Sweet!

On the other hand, some nagging questions remained after the unveiling. Naysayers have been questioning whether customers will buy an additional device that would be a bridge between cell phone and laptop. For me, this discussion misses the point. As a travel writer and photographer, I lug around a lot of heavy equipment: Macbook laptop, SLR camera and lenses, tripod, video camera, iPhone, external hard drive, Air Card, USB adapters, cords, etc. I am not interested in adding another device to the mix; I hoped to replace my laptop with the iPad in order to reduce the weight in my pack, but the device must also meet my functional needs.

Protective case converts to hold the iPad upright or at an angle for typing on a full-size virtual keyboard

Because I often travel for months at a time and work from the road, certain features are absolutely essential. Currently, I use the Mac version of Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets, and slide presentations, so I was pleased to see that Apple has completely redesigned iWorks for the iPad. Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and Power Point presentations seamlessly cross-platform with iWorks Pages, Numbers, and Keynote applications. However I must have Photoshop available for post-processing of my photos and Dreamweaver for web design. From what I have read on the Apple site, it appears that it will not be possible to load any software on the iPad, other than apps from the Apple store. Strike one.

Camera Connection Kit provides two adapters: 30-pin connector to USB and SD Card slot

When traveling, I also shoot in excess of 300 photos per day in both jpg and raw format. I back up my photos each night to the laptop and delete them from the camera’s flash card in order to make room for the next day’s shoot. The iPad has no USB port (a serious flaw, in my opinion), however I could use the iPad’s Camera Connection Kit adapters and convert the 30-pin connector to either a USB port or an SD Card Reader, either of which would allow me to import photos and videos from the camera. Unfortunately, with only 16, 32, or 64 Gb of flash storage, even the largest iPad storage would not be large enough to backup all my photos during an extended trip. I could back up to my USB external hard drive, however this would require me to import from the SD card to the iPad first, then download from the iPad to the external hard drive. It is unclear whether the iPad will support this function and even if it does, the process is cumbersome at best. Strike two.

Finally, I use a variety of software to produce podcasts and videos for my blog (iMovie, iSkySoft, Audacity) and there is no indication if these will be accessible on the iPad. Alas, strike three. Of course, there may be modifications to the product before it is released, and future versions may well incorporate some of my needs, but for the moment it looks like the iPad falls just short of my needs.

22 Comments on “Why I (Probably) Won’t Buy an Apple iPad

  1. As long as there will be new Apple products, Apple fans will never feel satisfied with the pad or smartphone they already have.

  2. Thanks for the overview Barbara. While I realize the iPad is not meant to replace the laptop, a traveler who writes, blogs, edits photo’s, etc. can’t help but compare the capability of an iPad for those uses on the road. Holding one in my hands yesterday, I wished it would do everything.

    The Apple genius I talked to indicated there are third party applications out and coming out that will do photo editing. What or how much remain to be seen. I do have a need to store and get to thousands of photo’s while traveling so am hopeful some creative mind is working on a solution to that. I’m sure it will evolve. I remember the old “Wall Street” laptop that was expensive, slow and weighed about 7.5 pounds when it first came out now. Then, I pick up my MacBook Pro and wonder how I EVER lugged it around. Especially with Apple, evolution is inevitable, cross your fingers.

    Travel safe!

  3. Fascinated to learn there was a way round the no-USB problem. Thanks for spotting that. 🙂 No USB on a so-called laptop beater is absolutely brainless. However – still just one USB, even with the connector? That’s only a sixth of what the customer needs. So it’s still brainless.

    To replace a laptop, it has to do everything a laptop does. I don’t see how this is difficult to get your head round, but Apple have completely failed to. I can understand them bringing out a clever new way to do the things we do now, but they haven’t done that – they’ve just denied it.

    I like that they’re starting to get connectivity down to an affordable price. Unlimited data for a set fee: good. That’s a must. There’s nothing else that could coax me away from my beloved T-mobile smartphone contract. Paying per megabyte is grim.

    But…no multitasking? Eh?

    Oh boy. *shakes head*

    The way I see it, it’s an Alpha release of a technology that will eventually replace laptops. But right now, I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.

  4. The iPad is not meant to be a laptop replacement. People that try to compare it to a laptop are completely missing the point.

    It’s an entirely new type of device. It is supposed to compliment your laptop or desktop, not replace it. Why do you think it syncs to another computer?

    It is a media consumption device. It is designed for playing games, watching movies, reading books, reading magazines, browsing the web and checking email. It isn’t designed for you to use it for all the productivity things you would use a laptop for.

    Listings the pros and cons of the iPad against a Laptop and which one you should buy is like listing the pros and cons between a freeze and a fridge. They AREN’T the same thing and are designed to compliment each other… not compete with each other.

  5. Just landed on this place via Google research. I love it. This situation change my percept and I am taking the RSS feeds. Cheers.

  6. [..] A little unrelated, but I totally liked this blog post [..]

  7. great review barbara, keep us post it. regarding mac i see lot of people 110%positive about it but i think i am scare to change it but i am convincing myself more an more to this big change cause i can’t stand any more crashes

    • h Marta – go for the Mac, you won’t be sorry. There’s a little bit of a learning curve when you convert from PC, but once you’re past that, it’s wonderful.

  8. Not for me either (well, not Version 1 anyway). No multitasking is a biggie for me – they seem to have missed a couple fo key elements but let’s see how it evolves.

  9. Great review – since I am looking for the same kind of light weight functionality that you are looking for. I’m still reeling at the thought that there isn’t a USB port…I don’t get it.

    Like Anil brough up – the no multitasking would also kill me. In fact – at this very moment I have 7 applications open on my macbook…that’s just how my mind works.

    Thanks for this honest review! I can’t wait to see what you do take with you on your trip!

  10. I found your article really interesting and also the idea that you left a secure job to do what you want. Good for you. I’m sure it was frightening, but what courage and I applaud you. You go girl.

  11. No multitasking and another Apple device (like the iPhone) that requires jailbreaking to customize. I really wish Apple would open up their devices.

    • Amen to that, Anil. Unfortunately, I see them going in quite the opposite direction.

  12. The other thing missing from the iPad is the ability to handle Flash web sites. Serious drawback in my opinion considering there a lot of web sites out there with Flash integration.

    I do think the iPad marks the beginning of a new product line that I will eventually be able to use efficiently, so I’m still optimistic!

  13. The beauty of Mac’s are the incredible designs merged with their build quality and attention to detail. The Ipad is a great alternative to the overpriced netbooks but the big issue for me is lack of multi-tasking.

    For someone who is used to this feature on even the most basic of devices, to lack multitasking is a big turn off and will no doubt hinder sales.

  14. Mac’s revolutionary product will eventually evolve after the push launch during it’s unveiling. The lack of keyboard and Job’s potential to fix issues will start to make the iPad a success story in years to come.

  15. Barbara, I agree with your assessment of the Ipad. Like you, I need the functionality of downloading and processing photos while traveling. For now, the Ipad would be an addition to the gear I lug around instead of replacing something.

    Also, I second your Mac opinions. I’m a 2 year convert who would never go back to a PC. When I switched to a smartphone I was hoping it would be an iPhone. Alas, not to be. I’m a Verizon customer who prefers their reliable connection network. So, I’m enjoying my Droid but wishing it had the seamless synching capabilities of an iPhone.

    • Donna: I believe Apple has announced they will be making the iPhone available through Verizon, beginning the middle of this year! Like everythig else Apple, I love it and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

  16. I love my i-touch, and my toshiba laptop is literally on its way out. I was considering an apple (mac air). I just hate how expensive they are compared to PC products (though their durability and cool software make them a smarter buy). I still can’t decide. thanks for this article though, its opened more questions for me!

    • Lauren: I looked at the MacAir a while back and for me, same problem. Won’t do everything I need. But as for the cost, I converted to Mac from PC 3.5 years ago and you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to a PC. Macs are real workhorses and everything just works. No headaches, no crashes, great tech support (on the very rare occasion I need it). It’s definitely worth the extra money IMHO.

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