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iPad: A Very Personal Computer

April 22, 2010 - Dave Hecei
There is no denying that the iPad is all the news today. The fact is that the iPad will probably be in the news for the next two or three months – remember that the 3G/GPS model comes out at the end of April. While many true users, not techies or members of the tech press, seem to be totally in love with their iPad, some have found a few things that have tarnished the shine of their iPad.
Those who have purchased an iPad for their media content and playing games, or just Apps in general, love it. Those who thought they could get away from taking their laptops with them everywhere are finding things less rosy. The problems are few, but for some they are sore spots that may or may not ever be fixed.
First is file management. There is none. That’s not exactly true. Of course there is a file system, it’s just that you really cannot interact with it like you can with a MacBook. The iPad does have a Documents Folder, which is accessed through an App and through iTunes when docked to a computer.
Let’s say you are working on a Numbers document on your desktop Mac. You can transfer that file to you iPad either by the USB cable and iTunes, or you could E-mail it to the iPad. Once on the iPad, you can open it and work on it some more while on the road. You save the changes and then send it back to you Mac via E-mail or iTunes. The problem with this is that you can end up with several copies of that one file. Nice for backing up but not nice for keeping things straight.
The other problem is printing. This may change either by Apple adding it to the next revision of the iPad OS or by some third party App that comes along. Here you have your nice shinny new iPad with both Bluetooth and WiFi built-in and you have no way to connect to a printing device. As well thought out as the iPad is, this was either a huge oversight or they did it on purpose so they don’t cannibalize MacBook sales.
The iPad WiFi is an intimate device. It does not have the ability to have multiple user accounts so it makes it difficult to share. An iPad is a one-owner pet, so to speak. You also have to own a computer to own an iPad. When you take the iPad out of the package and turn it on, the first thing it says is to connect it to iTunes. You cannot do anything on a new iPad until you do this. This is too bad, since I can see this device being purchased by someone who wants to have the capabilities of a computer but not the complexities that go along with it.
The iPad is a great content device. With all your iTunes library files, Podcasts, radio, TV, movies, E-mail, social networking sites, etc. the iPad can keep you connected, informed and entertained. Having played with one several times now I have to admit that the iPad is not the greatest creation device. If you need to type, paint, draw, edit, etc. then you will want to look at a true notebook computer. This could be a MacBook or MacBook Pro. It could even be the MacBook Air is you want to be light. It could even be a Windows 7 based netbook, if you want the low price of the iPad.
(For those shopping for a netbook check out the ASUS Eee PC 1201N-PU17, with a dual-core processor, 12.1-inch 720P HD screen, and nVidia ION graphics chip, 250GB HD, webcam, 2GB RAM, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and an HDMI video port. Price is under $500, like the low-end WiFi iPad.)


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