Apple has sold over 3 million iPads since releasing it earlier this year, however, many of us have yet to see this device in action and therefore do not understand the pros or cons of owning one for ourselves. Hopefully this article will help readers understand this popular little machine a little more.
Portability: The most obvious strength for the iPad is its size and weight. While not as portable as many other mobile devices, it is much more portable than the average laptop. Weighing in at 1.5 pounds, with a size of 7.47” x 9.56” x 0.5”, the iPad is easy to grab-and-go when heading to the campus coffee shop or a friend’s house. In addition, with up to 10 hours of battery life, traveling with a power adapter may be a thing of the past.
Applications: The iPad comes with a nice suite of built-in apps, and of course has the ability to download additional applications from the famous Apple App store. There are more than 200,000 apps available from the App Store and according to the Apple website, the iPad can run almost all of them. Having said that, many of the applications within the App Store were not built for the iPad screen size. The iPad gives users the ability to view apps in their normal size or to display them at twice the normal size. The result is not always as attractive as the app was intended to be; however, it's inevitable that many more applications will be written specifically for viewing with the iPad.
Some popular apps include:
Networking: The iPad comes with built-in 802.11n, giving its users the ability to easily connect to wireless hotspots wherever available. A 3G model is also available, which allows users to connect to cellular connections from wireless providers (for example, Rogers). The 3G model will incur monthly charges.
Accessories: As with many popular Apple products, there is already a slew of accessories available for the iPad and many more will surely be available on the market in the coming months and years.
No USB Port: Since the iPad is part of the iPod/iPhone family, it’s not surprising that a USB port was not included in this gadget. Unfortunately, it becomes fairly obvious when doing a quick Internet search that many people would have preferred it included a USB port. Many people have become accustomed to moving/sharing files using USB devices and without a USB port, you’ll have to find other ways to share files than your typical USB stick.
Adobe Flash Support: Many websites and web applications on the Internet are built to be displayed using Adobe Flash. Adobe Flash is one of the most popular plug-ins for modern web browsers; however, it is not available as a plug-in on the iPad.
No Camera: With photo and video viewing being such a big part of the iPad, it would have been nice to snap some shots using this device also. In addition, since this is such a portable device that can be carried anywhere in the house, chatting online while using a webcam would have seemed like an obvious addition to the feature set.
Multitasking: One of the things we take for granted on a normal laptop or desktop computer is multitasking. Although the iPad has the hardware capability of multitasking, users currently can’t run multiple third-party apps at the same time. Apple has stated on their website that they plan on releasing a new operating system for the iPad that will resolve this issue and enable multitasking. This new operating system is due to be released (for the iPad) in November.
Although the on-screen keyboard is bigger than that of the iPod Touch or iPhone, it is still not comparable to using a standard keyboard. While an external keyboard can be used via Bluetooth, if you need an external keyboard to feel comfortable using this machine, it may be a better option to purchase a netbook or small laptop (since you’ll probably get a more powerful machine with fewer limitations). With this in mind, if you keep typing to a minimum or become accustomed to the on screen keyboard, it’s great not having to carry around a bigger machine or external keyboard.
The iPad’s LED-backlit IPS display is another nice feature of this machine. Apple states on its website that the display is perfect for web browsing, watching movies, or viewing photos and I won’t argue these points. However, one of the promoted uses for the iPad is as an electronic book reader. While I have not experienced eye strain personally, many people believe that the screen is hard to read from for long periods of time and that eye strain occurs when reading long documents on the iPad compared to reading with other electronic book reading devices. The other negative point is that the screen is not ideal for viewing in sunlight.
In summary, the portability of the iPad, combined with the other strengths mentioned, can make this a fun device for anyone, assuming it is not intended to be a computer replacement. It simply doesn’t have the power of modern laptops or netbooks and its portability strength starts to diminish when carrying peripherals around (stands to keep it upright, power supply, keyboard, etc). Having said this, it was not intended to replace these technologies. The question many people will ask themselves is not whether to purchase this type of device, but when. We are witnessing the first generation of this type of device and Apple will surely improve upon it in the next release. In addition, a slew of competing companies have started to market similar products which may suit the differing needs of users better than the iPad. Personally, I can’t wait to see what the other companies release; however, if you run out and purchase an iPad today, you probably will not be disappointed.
Copyright Queen's University
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