Re: 10 reasons I’ll be passing on the iPad


This is a response to the article 10 reasons I’ll be passing on the iPad, where Debra Shinder details how the iPad isn’t for her. I’ve criticized Deb before. I read her blog and I’m subscribed to her Win7 News mailing list, and I’ve noticed that whenever she talks about Apple, she somehow gets in several jibes. This article was basically a whole list of them, and most are the result of a lack of research and are easily refuted.

1. No physical keyboard

Deb argues that the iPad is inferior because it lacks a physical keyboard. Well, we all knew it would. But Deb must not’ve known about the keyboard dock accessory and the fact that the iPad will be able to pair with any Bluetooth keyboard.

2. One size doesn’t fit all

If the tablet is going to fit into some gap between the phone and the netbook, the size should be somewhere in between, too. The iPad’s screen is about 10 inches, the same as most netbooks. It won’t fit into your pocket. It’s thin and light, but so are many of the netbooks on the market now. For example, the Sony VAIO X series laptop/netbooks are the same half-inch thick and virtually the same weight (1.5 lbs. vs. 1.6 lbs.). And we’re also starting to see netbooks in the convertible tablet form factor, which is really exciting.

Deb says the iPad should be somewhere in between the size of a phone and a netbook, which is not how Steve Jobs positioned it in the iPad keynote: as a middle ground between a 13″ laptop and an iPhone, which the iPad is with its 9.7″ screen. An iPad that’s slightly bigger than an iPod Touch but still fits in your pocket? What would be the point of that?

3. It runs a phone OS

I would have been more tempted by the iPad if it ran OS X instead of the iPhone operating system.â

This just shows how unfamiliar Deb is with the technological underpinnings of the iPhone, because it does run OS X. It’s still Unix, still the same kernel, the same file system, etc. The big difference is the interface, which is designed to be used on a touchscreen with new graphical toolkits and APIs. When Microsoft tried to enter the tablet market, they just slapped some touchscreen controls on Windows and called it good. We all know how that turned out. Apple’s approach is far better.

4. There’s not enough storage

From my experiences with the early netbooks, I learned that 16 or 32 GB of storage isn’t enough for me. Granted, my needs may be greater than that of the average user. But by the time I install all the programs I want to use and put my music, photos, and a few videos on there, what once upon a time seemed like a lot of space really isn’t.

Your experiences with early netbooks? I assume you mean the ones running Windows XP. iPhone OS is not Windows XP. The whole OS takes up a little more than 1GB of space. Applications don’t take up as much, either. I have about 70 installed, and they only total about 1GB. You must have a lot of photos and music.

5. No HDMI or camera

Today, computing is all about multimedia, both consuming it and creating it. You can watch HD movies on the iPad (although it doesn’t have the 16:9 standard aspect ratio), but you can’t output them to your HDTV because there’s no HDMI connector.

Why would you want to hook up your iPad to an HDTV when you could just watch a movie in your lap? As for the aspect ratio, Apple made the most logical decision by going with 3:4 instead of 16:9, as the 3:4 ratio is perfect for everything else you could do on the iPad except video. Why would Apple make everything else suck just for the sake of video?

“One handy use for a device of this size and form factor would be video conferencing… except Apple forgot to include a camera and microphone. Most new laptops and netbooks have a built-in Web cam. Even the iPhone has a camera, albeit not a particularly good one.”

The iPad does come with a microphone. Did you not even bother watching the iPad event? And a camera will probably either be included with the next version of the iPad, or Apple will surprise everyone by announcing it just before it ships.

6/7. No USB/SD slot

Most normal users probably won’t notice or care that the iPad lacks these. Deb really should’ve combined these two. I think she didn’t just because she couldn’t think of a tenth complaint. Are most users going to use a USB or SD slot? Not really. If I needed it for syncing, I could just use Dropbox or Mobile Me, both of which have their own app.

8. The price isn’t right

“The iPad is being touted as a better ebook reader, but it costs twice as much as the Kindle and other ebook readers.”

This is just false. While the baseline iPad costs almost twice as much as the standard Kindle ($259 vs. $499), the iPad offers more than twice the features, with a 9.7” color touchscreen, apps, email, music, 802.11n, and so on. The deal gets even better when you consider the $489 Kindle DX, which has the same limitations as the standard Kindle in comparison to the iPad.

9. It’s locked in

“You have to buy your apps from the App Store[.]”

Yes, you have to buy your apps from an App Store that currently has 140,000 apps, most of which are free. Oh, the horror. Even if you had some pathological need to not use the App Store, you can always jailbreak, and anyone who hates the App Store probably knows how. However, the closed nature of the App Store is an asset and not a detriment. It protects the user from viruses and keeps crappy apps from getting in. Being a Droid user, I can attest to the general bad quality of Android apps from the market. There’s not a single third-party Android app I’ve found that does a better job than its iPhone counterpart, and in many cases, it does a worse one. Yes, sometimes the app approval process can be a huge pain on the iPhone, but app approvals are going through faster and Apple is starting to loosen it’s grip on what should be allowed.

Many companies are actually more closed than Apple. I know that Deb is a Microsoft fan, so let’s use Microsoft as an example: the Zune HD and Xbox 360, two of Microsoft’s most successful products, are both locked in, and in many ways, they’re locked in tighter than the iPad. Microsoft has shut off Live service to Xbox modders before, and the Zune HD not only has an anemic app selection, but that selection is only available through Microsoft. Imagine if Apple shut off wireless service for jailbreakers. The outrage would be tremendous, and rightfully so.

“The 10-hour battery life is impressive (although some netbooks offer comparable times), but if you were flying to Australia and wanted to bring along an extra battery for the extra-long flight, forget about it.”

Again, a serious lack of research. There are external batteries for the iPhone, and there’ll definitely be some for the iPad. Plus, you’re seriously going to use an iPad for the entire flight? I don’t think so.

“[Y]ou can’t run Skype to make phone calls with it, either. We wouldn’t want to cut into the iPhone market, after all. Nor can you download Flash to install on the browser, which means you won’t be watching those YouTube videos.”

Here’s where Deb’s lack of research really shines through. You will definitely be able to make Skype calls with the iPad, since it has both a speaker and microphone, and Apple has lifted its restrictions on VoIP over 3G. And YouTube? Deb, you do realize that there’s an entire app dedicated to YouTube, right? As for Flash, it’s a good thing it’s not going to be on the iPad. It’s performance would be horrible, and that’s Adobe’s fault, not Apple’s.

10. It’s all about the network

“And you’ll have to pay another $30/month for unlimited data for your iPad (or $20 for 250MB), on top of what you’re already paying for your cell phone. Or do they expect people to give up their phone data plans and just use the iPad for data? I don’t see all those iPhone users doing that. This thing is looking more expensive by the minute.”

Deb really needs to learn how to fact-check; the 250MB plan is $14.99, not the $20 she claims. Deb also forgets to mention that the data plans are contract-free and can be canceled at any time. If you don’t need 3G, you can just buy an iPad without it.

“Here’s wishing you good luck on finding those wi-fi hot spots.”

Really? It’s hard to find WiFi hotspots in the US? Even with every McDonald’s offering free WiFi? How about every Barnes and Noble, too? Most colleges, cafes, and libraries also have free WiFi. I don’t think those people will need luck.

Deb seems to have fundamentally misunderstood what the iPad is supposed to be. It’s not a replacement for a netbook or a laptop, and it’s not just a giant iPod Touch. It’s the ultimate couch computer, giving you access to the web with the portability of a netbook, and that’s awesome.

That’s the end of Deb’s ten (but really nine) points. I look forward to arguing with her more in the future.

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5 Responses to “Re: 10 reasons I’ll be passing on the iPad”

  1. John

    14.9$ a month????? Even 30$ is very cheap, where I live i have to pay around 59$ to get a phone plan (This would be the cheapest one), the most expensive one I’ve seen in here would be a 200$ phone plan.

    • Thomas

      It seems when it comes to the iPad, the prices are all around fairly competitive. I mean, the crowd gasped at the Keynote when the iPad was introduced at $500. Especially since it was rumored to be released at $900, and then Apple sais it would cost less than $1000 (which are keywords for $999). But from a fairly priced device to extremely well priced data, Apple knows they’re doing. Albeit, they are using dreaded AT&T.

  2. Alex

    I can see how the way I characterized it could be confusing; I’ll update that section.

  3. Alex

    Microsoft just modified Windows XP by enabling touch input and making the icons bigger; they didn’t create a new interface. Apple trimmed down the OS, created a new interface, and included new graphical toolkits and APIs.

  4. Thomas

    The main thing I’m confused about is #3. You say that Apple’s approach was much better, yet didn’t they take the exact same approach as Microsoft; change the interface but keep the OS? Also, regarding #10, Steve Job’s did present the iPad as a Netbook Replacement.