iPad 2

On March 22, 2011, in Miscellaneous, by scott

Is the iPad a necessity? The short answer for me, no. The longer answer, possibly.

For starters, in my profession let’s say that I do quite a bit of traveling. In my travel, I have learned that lighter suitcases are preferred. Also, thanks to the TSA, traveling without a computer can significantly shorten one’s wait at a security line. It can do his not only by reducing the time spent packing and unpacking said computer, but also potentially eliminating the swabbing of that wonderful piece of technology.

Enter the iPad. Like an iPod, or a MacBook Air, the device has no moving parts. For simplification, let’s just say it’s a giant iPod. (I have taken to calling the iPod touch an iPad nano) One can leave the device in his/her suitcase backpack, computer bag, or neoprene sleeve while clearing security, thus shortening the process by what I estimate to be at least 30 seconds. While that may not seem like a large amount of time saved, if one were to clear security 4 times weekly, that would be a saving of 2 minutes a week, or 104 minutes annually. I don’t know about you, but I can think of many things I would rather be doing with any given hour and fourth four minutes of my life.

But how functional can a giant iPod be? Especially when it comes to replacing a notebook computer while one the road? Surprisingly functional. On my last trip, I tried to not use the notebook and rely solely on the iPad. The result, the notebook was never powered up for any computer related tasks. As a bit of a disclaimer, I did turn on my MacBook Pro to stream Netflix to the hotel room’s television and share the wired connection wirelessly with the iPad.

Trough various applications, as well as the extremely functional web browser, the iPad did a fabulous job as a notebook replacement. The web browsing experience was virtually identical to the notebook experience. The lack of flash during my normal browsing experience was non existent. The lack of a keyboard was different, but not a challenge. The speed of the device as well as the Internet connection were on par with using Chrome or Safari on my Mac.

Through applications, I was able to do the same, or in some case, more than on the notebook. The Twitter app, for example, is a much nicer experience on the iPad versus the OSX version of the app. CNN, NPR, USA Today, and Mashable all have beautiful and extremely functional apps resulting in one not needing to visit a site on a browser. Just launch the app and begin reading. Simple.

Not all the apps in the App Store are tailored for the iPad. Some have a version for both the iPad and the iPhone, where as some are native to only the iPhone but will work in a scaled down display on the iPad. Facebook is one such app. No native iPad app but a very nice iPhone app. To be honest, however, I really dislike the non native iPad apps and prefer visiting Facebook either through a third party natively written app or through Safari on the web.

Another fabulous ability for the iPad is, with the addition of the camera connection kit, I am able to dump the memory card on my camera while on the road. It may not seem like a bit deal, but something smaller and lighter than a computer with the ability to download photos from a camera, preview said photos, then import them to my computer for post processing is a big deal. Add to this the ability to stream the photos via AirPlay and Apple TV, and the iPad proves itself a photographer’s friend.

This brings me to the areas where an iPad cannot currently totally replace a notebook. While it can download and preview photos, even RAW format, it lacks the horsepower for any serious manipulation and processing. For me, Aperture and Photoshop are a necessity. That is not to say the potential isn’t there, but for now there is no current application to meet the needs of anyone requiring more than minor editing.

High end gaming is also an area where power is a bit lacking. There are a ton of games for the iPad, and some are quite amazing. The graphical power as well as the processing speed are only going to progress, but until the power matches that of a gaming PC or a console system, there will be a need (if you are a gamer) for a different gaming device.

Lighter, comfortable, convenient, and fun. Will the iPad totally replace my notebook? No, but it will totally change how I use my computer as well as significantly reduce the time spent on my good old machine.

Note: this blog post was written on my iPad 2 using the WordPress app.

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