Touchy Feely Skeptic

Look I’m not convinced.

I was that soldier, racing around town trying to get the last 64Gb 3G iPad in the shop two weeks after launch date. I was skeptical at the time, then watched some mega-early adopting mates merrily swiping and gesturing, clutching that big slick tablet in their hands. The clincher was re-watching the launch vid, and hearing the big Jobs (peace be upon him) saying “gorgeous” several times and I hypnotically found myself back in iMania – racing for a bag of sand’s worth of iMyGodThat’sExpensive purchase.

It was fun while it lasted. It was great to take abroad and use as a photo store and display – “gorgeous”. I even tried a presentation at work, but the pissing around between Powerpoint and Keynote made it highly impractical. And have you ever tried authoring a Keynote press on an iPad?

Actually, have you ever tried authoring virtually ANYTHING on an iPad? Or doing any work that requires any level of dexterity or motor-neuron skills? Only apps written specifically and natively for the iPad seem to have a remote degree of usability, and even then we’re not talking a great deal of use of that screen real estate with oversized on-screen buttons for those pudgy fingers (alright, generalisation, there are some good apps out there).

OK, we all know it’s a consumer device, but just how many people purely consume content? And isn’t a fat G to leaf through websites “couch-surfing” a big damn investment?!!

I saw the proliferation more and more of iPads across most vendors I dealt with, watching them knock up notes, tapping away on the flat screen to minute meetings, then emailing the note to themselves for later.

Some even got round the lack-of-keyboard authoring issue by coming back from trips to the US, armed with the first wave of impressive thick iPad cases with built-in rubber bluetooth keyboards.

Which begs the question, why didn’t you just buy a laptop dude?

And lo, my iPad began gathering dust for a number of months. And then I realised that my iMac was also gathering dust in the study and that I needed a degree of portability plus authoring ability.

So I went new old skool, hit some eBay with the iMac, and purchased the latest MacBook Air. Which I use constantly. Love the fact I’ve got a proper keyboard, proper computer, which is actually useful. Massive difference on recent overseas trip – I could actually knock out a decent amount of emails rather than swearing constantly at a flatscreen unresponsive keypad.

Still have the iPad – and I’ve rather embarrassingly just discovered the killer app for it, FlipBoard, which does actually make the consuming rather easier, and a pleasure.

And there are some groovy uses for the device, but more in specialised industries such as manufacturing, or perhaps some funky menus handed out in trendy restaurants. But 1G for an expensive tablet used for a single app? Ouch.

It’s been done (badly) already, but waiting for the next gen laptop with:

a) built-in 3G or whatever’s after 3G

b) low-profile MacBook Air-like shell case

c) detachable touch screen

d) GPS

e) accelerometer

Basically all of the stuff in a top-end iPhone.

I’ll bet there’s some crazy stuff in development in a sealed room in Infinite Loop as we speak that’ll blow us away when the wraps (leaks) come off. Hopefully the new guy can deliver it with the same aplomb, and stamp his own wording on the device.

Until then I’ll be sticking with lightweight laptops thankyouverymuch. Contrary to the late Jobs mantra, the iPad is actually the device I didn’t know I didn’t want!

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