The iPad Hype: Much Ado About Nothing?

Apple Computers (yes, that is what it originally was) recently announced a new iPhone-like mobile computing device called the iPad. Unless you live in the most remote of Islands, I’m sure that is all you’ve heard or read about in the past week.

As neat as many of its features are, it is still missing a lot. As with anything made by Apple, the hype get to you. While the tablet form factor has been rattling around for a while, most recently as the HP tablet announced at CES, not much has come out of those announcements. The hardware behind the iPad seems beautiful, as you’d expect from Jobs and his team, and the prices are typical Apple as well, starting at $500 and topping out at $829.

Apple’s iPad is, in essence, a bigger version of the iPhone and shares some of the same drawbacks, such as a non-swappable battery, missing Adobe Flash support and the lack of multitasking in the operating system. You also have to wonder about the 1024×768 resolution –  an old-school 4:3 screen dimension, when an HD-friendly 1280×720 might have been a better choice. This is especially true if iPad users plan to view their favorite TV shows and movies.

For the corporate user, I wonder how the iPad fits in: there are no USB ports, no SD slot, the battery is the usual non-removable type from Apple. How is it possible that Apple would skip USB, SD and swappable battery for easy compatibility with today’s standards? Stunning.
It is already bad enough that we have to carry around a cell phone for communicating and a laptop for getting work done.

A truly useful device would be one that could let us leave one of those devices and its added bulk, cables, and worries about charge status at home. It would be nice to have a device that can at least, replace a couple of those and the iPhone went a little way towards that dream—it was a phone, but its ability to handle a bit of web browsing and some light e-mail meant that leaving the laptop at home was possible in a few additional circumstances—but, for the most part, we are still stuck lugging two devices.

At the prices Apple is asking, many netbooks and notebooks are a better value — if you can stand the thought of dragging that twentieth-century keyboard around with you. A MacBook or good PC notebook can perform a wider variety of tasks and runs a much more capable set of software.

It’s still too costly, it’s still yet one more device, and it’s still missing too much for the corporate user. It’s not that the iPad is not impressive, because it is. There is no doubt that the iPad will find a market. I just don’t think it comes close to justifying the hype we’ve heard these past couple of days.