The iPad Impressions: Limits, or Rethink?

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For the last couple of days I have been reading a lot about the iPad.  As one author said, there's nothing like Steve Jobs to get people talking about new technology.  Whether good or bad, it's been a huge talking point.

As far as I can decipher the arguments online, it comes down to two different points:

  1. Apple is crazy because they have an underpowered Netbook that doesn't even have a full OS on it, and they are going to lose a lot of money.  This is the worst idea in the history of computing, so don't even think about buying one.
  2. Apple is light years head of the rest of the computing world, and everyone just needs to accept that the future is here.  If you can't accept that, you should hide under your rock of old technology and let the new light of reason shine.

The problem I have with both arguments is that neither have been really objective in their assessment.  Both approached the release based on high hopes, and their own colored glasses.  They have generally based their reviews on past computer experiences, management, and tools, and as such their expectations were colored.  And I freely admit, I was one of them. 

Then I read this article on PC World (of all places) about how the iPad isn't a third device, but a new way of simplifying the computing experience.  It put things in perspective for me, things that I have been thinking about, and trying to formulate.

The main complaints I have heard is that there isn't enough hardware to "do the job".  What job is it you need to do in a mobile environment that requires so much hardware?  Are you editing video?  Can you do that accurately with a netbook, and render it?  I don't think there is enough power there, so you would need a Laptop, am I right?  Even then, often times a desktop would give you the best experience, because that is where real power and speed comes. 

Another argument I hear is that it doesn't have a full OS, so you can't multitask.  There is some room for argument here, but how much multitasking do you really do while on the go?  Those of you who have Android phones, do you really run more than app at a time?  I know you can, but how often do you?  I'm not asking to be mean, I'm really interested in what the numbers would be.  I know there are times I would like to have Skype running in the background while I run another app on my iPod Touch. 

But an interesting answer to the Multitasking argument, and the underpowered OS, etc, is this article on 9to5Mac about a Citrix client available for the iPad.  That's right, they were able to easily turn the iPad into a thin client.  And the resolution is high enough that it will work, unlike a Netbook. 

Another argument I hear is the lack of applications that people want.  What is it you want to accomplish?  Have you searched through the App store to see if there is an App that will let you accomplish your goal?  What about a free app that will work?  I'm impressed with the huge breath of content there, and I'm looking forward to the many iPad specific apps that will show. 

So what is the iPad to me?  It's hard to describe, because each app makes it something else.  In that case, it is a real computer, because it will do what I want it to do, and with a simplicity that will keep me coming back to it, and relegating my desktop for more intense computing needs.  I can write code in a text editor if necessary, access a secure shell client to get into a larger server (like my desktop at home), copy the files there, and run the code.  I have, essentially, a true client computer that becomes a portal to any number of more powerful computers for more intensive tasks. 

I can easily see the iPad becoming a part of my life as a computing portal, instead of just an eBook reader, or just an Email reader, or just a Web browser.  With VNC, Citrix clients, and other such apps being made for the device, I see real potential here.  And I'm still waiting to hear if Blizzard will make a Warcraft app.  ^_^