Steve Jobs is a genius and we are all idiots.
That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after 72 delightful hours of playing with the iPad. Simply put, it’s a completely new computing experience that fills the gap between the time when we are chained to our mighty desktops and laptops, and the hunched-back time we spend trying to keep up on our tiny mobile phones.
It’s a revolution despite a dozen obvious, unnecessary and hard-to-swallow flaws–which we will get into in this email.
When laying in bed, at the bar waiting for my predictably late Los Angeles dinnermates or sitting on the couch watching my Knicks count the days before LeBron’s arrival this summer, I’ve ditched my
Blackberry and iPhone for the iPad.
Yesterday I sat through 20 startup’s presentations for the Open Angel Forum in New York City (this Thursday night). The finalists are awesome. I was parked in a conference room with my iPad in a rubber
stand while typing away in Gmail, Highrise (from 37Signals), Facebook and Twitter with a full Bluetooth keyboard. My MacBook Air never left my bag and the desk in front of me wasn’t overtaken.
While I hate to admit it, the iPad will probably replace a laptop and even a full-featured desktop for 1/3rd of “light computing” users. (Read: people who don’t use specialised software and spend their time
inside Safari’s crippled browser).
Bottom line: the iPad is a revolutionary device that has been executed to near perfection in version 1.0. It is, as many a pundit has reported, a “game changer.”
Since you’re very busy and sick of iPad reviews, I’m going to keep
this super-simple and bullet point out my thoughts and experiences in
under 140 characters each. There are 8 sections below:
a) Surprising Stuff
f) Bad Stuff
g) Good stuff
h) Should you buy one
a) Surprising stuff
1. Battery lasts well over 10 hours–shocking since my iPhone doesn’t last one.
2. It’s heavy to hold. At 1.5 pounds, this device is half a pound too heavy.
3. Application developers are price gouging! iPad apps run 3-5x the
cost of their iPhone counterparts. Absurd. So far, I’ve bought two $10
4. It is really fast and doesn’t crash. Everything feels much snappier
than the latest iPhone. I’m guessing the new A4 processor is the
5. The iPad is locked down using Apple’s iPhone operating system
instead of their desktop operating system. This is more computer than
phone–in fact, it doesn’t have a phone!–so that’s shocking to me.
6. Look for Jobs to move the iPhone OS to the desktop next with a
cheap laptop and iMac that undercut the OS X model. Your entire life
is moments away from being controlled by Apple’s technological
dictatorship. This is a very sad turn of events.
1. Netflix Streaming is brilliant. No charge for the application for members.
2. ABC’s native iPad app is brilliant. Watched full episode of Jamie
Olivier’s new show in bed with wife.
3. Where is the Slingbox application?
4. Overall video is crisp and smooth.
5. No Hulu application? #fail.
1. Keyboard in tall/portrait mode allows thumb-typing like on a
Blackberry–even for my short fingers.
2. Keyboard in landscape mode will cause you to type 50% slower than
on a real keyboard.
3. Predictive text on iPad will make you 10-20% faster than your
4. Why don’t desktops have predictive text? Is there 3rd party
software for that anyone can recommend?
1. The WSJ, USA Today and NYT applications are fascinating blends of
their websites and print editions. They are certainly compelling
enough to get a small percentage of people to pay for news again.
2. That small percentage of users willing to pay for news again (as
opposed to going to free websites that are one click away) are not
going to be material to the bottom line of news companies. Sorry,
you’re still screwed; cut more middle management and get out of the
3. The iBook reader is a Kindle killer for the small percentage of
folks who actually read books any more. Amazon should have offered a
colour screen with web browsing a year ago.
1. Do not download Plants vs. Zombies or you will curse me forever for
your lack of productivity.
2. The iPad is the Wii of casual games. After dinner parties, at
family picnics and during road trips the iPad will be the fun,
pass-around game of the future.
3. The tedious, though educational, nature of scoring and managing
games like Scrabble and Monopoly are lost forever–for better or
f) Bad Stuff
1. No USB port is a crime. I wanted to plug my LiveScribe pen into it
2. No camera is a crime. This device would be sick for video
conferencing. In fact, it would probably be a phone killer at home.
3. No removable memory is unforgivable. Every device and computer I
own has compact flash, SD or Micro SD. Would it kills jobs to allow an
SD card slot?
4. Internal speaker sounds disgraceful–like an AM radio that you
found in our grandmothers closet.
5. The Wifi is totally screwed up. In the same room, without moving, I
would get a full signal for 10 minutes followed by no signal. I’m
reminded of the MacBook Air’s Wifi problems.
6. With $100 in accessories, $100 in basic applications and the
$600-700 price tag, you’re basically talking about almost a grand for
this device. It’s a great device but it’s not worth the price.
7. While you can run iPhone applications and make them 2x the size,
they end up looking like horrible eVGA screens from 1987.
8. No Flash or Adobe Air is pathetic and anti-competitive. The
Government should really investigates Apple’s jihad against
competitive application and media platforms–it’s disgraceful.
g) Good Stuff
1. The “hand feel” is exceptional in or out of a case. It fits and
feels like a custom shirt and suit fresh from the dry cleaner, or a
Tesla Roadster on a winding PCH road–which is to say, perfect.
2. Battery life is stunningly good. Only explanation is that Steve
Jobs must have been infuriated by the embarrassing scene of iPhone
users begging for a charge or, worse yet, carrying around those
pathetic, dorky external battery packs.
3. More on battery life: My brand new MacBook Air lasts < 2.5 hours,
my iPhone lasts < 1.5 hours and my iPad did 12 hours yesterday. Which
one will I use on my trip to NYC at the end of the week?
4. The native keyboard sucks for a power typist like myself, but the
Bluetooth keyboard option absolutely rocks.
5. Everything feels lightening fast: switching applications, surfing
the web, playing games, downloading and checking email. The A4 chip is
the revolution here, I think, since it’s responsible for the speed and
battery life gains.
6. Screen resolution and brightness is stunning and makes the iPhone
look like garbage.
h) Who Should Buy One
1. If you’re rich or don’t care about wasting $1,000 this month only
to replace it in a year: Yes! Why do you care about replacing
anything? Give this to your nephew when you upgrade.
2. If you’re a student on a budget: No. Get a Dell laptop for $500
with 10x the features.
3. If you’ve got kids and can afford it: Probably. I’ve seen my
friends’ kids turn from wild tree monkeys into zoned-out stoners from
the glow of an iPod Touch. The iPad is kid-grade heroin: one dose and
they will be out for hours.
4. You’re a normal person of normal means: Only if you’re a tech
junkie. There are going to be much, much better Android tablets in
6-12 months with a USB port, camera, removable batteries, a memory
card and a non-crippled OS.
Given all this, a fair number of questions are naturally raised.
Please take a moment to respond to the ones you feel most compelled by
and post them to your blog, at www.ipad-answers.com or by email to me
at [email protected]
1. Why does Steve Jobs not allow Flash or Adobe Air?
2. Should the government investigate Apple’s hard line against Adobe?
Is it anti-competitive?
3. Will you buy one today, tomorrow or never–and why?
4. What impact does the lack of a USB post, Flash, Adobe Air, a memory
card slot, camera and swappable battery have on your decision in
#3–if at all?
5. Will Steve Jobs move the iPhone/iPad operating system to your
desktop next? Why or why not?
6. Does the brilliance of the iPad and iPhone forgive the evilness of
the closed platform?
7. What price will the iPad have in one, two and three years from now?
8. Do you have one, have you used one and what are the single most
impressive and depressive features?
9. What could I have included in this review that would have made it better?
10. Is it clear that I am in awe of Jobs and wildly frustrated by his
control issues? Why am I and other pundits obsessed with this?
Note: I was on Leo Laporte’s amazing This Week in Tech Podcast on
Sunday talking about the iPad with Xeni Jardin and Robert Scoble
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