IPad vs. Netbook vs. Kindle

I’ve struggled to find any balanced reviews on any websites of the iPad – reviews of the iPad 2 seem to just compare it with itself or its previous incarnation. For such a new style of device, it seems to be a challenge to find a decent way to score it (app store size, camera – but really who needs to take decent photos with something the size of a placemat, startup time etc.). Needless to say this post makes no effort to address any of these problems or provide a serious balanced review, it’s just my list of reasons why I can’t switchover to my iPad from my Netbook. I’m more than happy to receive “you’re wrong because” comments.

Since I’m relatively new to the Mac ways, I may well get to love this finger-bending sheet of metal. However a few things surprised me that weren’t evident from “reviews” like this IPad 2 review on T3:

  • It’s pretty heavy – in my opinion it’s heavier than it looks. I can hold my Kindle standing up on the train and operate single handedly – this would be impossible with an Ipad due to it’s weight and touch screen interface.
  • You can’t print without going through hoops – get to a web page and want to print it out? Nah. Make a hotel booking and want to print out the confirmation? Nah… There are solutions like PrintCentral but as the reviews point out, you need to modify the url in Safari (adding a Z) causing it to renavigate to the web site – who wants to do that on a credit card payment confirmation screen. Oh unless you want to fork out for an AirPrint compatible printer.
  • No multi user support. At the moment – anyone who uses my iPad can get access to my email – this is not good. There’s no option of having a per-user login and therefore personal bookmarks, cookies, apps etc. This makes some sense on a phone (generally tied to a single person as a communication device) but on a tablet generally left lying around for people/family/colleagues to use – not so much.
  • Hard to get movies on it. Getting a movie onto it is fun – by fun I mean painful. Dragging a movie via iTunes seemed to silently fail but recently it has started telling me the iPad can’t play it. Finally managed to cobble together a solution using DVDDecrypter-> Handbrake -> Itunes -> IPad which works for DVDs but getting my camera movies on there is a different matter.
  • Copying photos from camera to iPad – i didn’t think you could do this but looks like you can buy a kit (only from Apple of course) but the reviews say it sucks (slow and painful). It mentions H.264 and MP4 movies so I bet it won’t work with MTS files but I wonder if it’ll at least back those files up so I can just take an iPad without needing a netbook.
  • No Skype. Looks like Skype is at least 11 months off coming to the Ipad 2 and I didn’t think the tone of this post suggests there’s a good relationship between Skype and Apple (Facetime anyone?) Skype is now available natively for iPad!
  • No Flash. This has been done to death but it’s particularly stupid when schools start encouraging students to get iPads since virtually all educational tools seem to be implemented in Flash.
  • No good as eReader. Give me a Kindle anytime – e-Ink much better than the iPad’s backlit screen – but for a more balanced review – try zdnet or more funny review read Alan Partridge in pcadvisor (although ignore his comment that a kindle doesn’t have a browser as there is on under “Experimental” on the device but for the use he’s referring to, it wouldn’t be suitable). I can stand on a train and hold a Kindle single handed including changing page – that wouldn’t be possible with iPad due to weight and touch screen only control. Also my Kindle fits into a suit jacket pocket, perfect.
  • I’m not really a great fan of convergent gadgets (I prefer a camera to be a good camera, a phone to be a good phone and an MP3 player not to drain my phone battery). I guess the exception would be magazines and other more colour reliant media.
  • The “extras” are extra – this (and probably all this) has been done to death. But once you get an Apple device, everything must be Apple and costs a premium. Smart cover £35 (essential in my opinion but not included), cables, HDMI converter £35, camera connection kit £25 etc.
  • I was surprised to find a stereo jack though that allowed me to use non-Apple licensed headphones – must have been an oversight
  • Trial mode on apps doesn’t seem to exist – it’s either free or you pay in advance.
  • Just got back from a city break where the hotel advertised Wifi throughout – turns out it wasn’t strong enough to reach our room. Netbook managed to find one bar but too low for use, iPad didn’t find it at all. The hotel response – use the ethernet cable in the room – now I’m not saying an iPad needs ethernet but once again, Netbook won as it had ethernet port. In hindsight though, I should have argued a room upgrade…

Of course this doesn’t cover the good stuff and there is plenty of good stuff like immediate boot up, UI responsiveness – just flicking through photos was a dream, but the above puts me off recommending it or even seeing it as a game changer yet. It could be the start but it’s not the end.

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