Sunday, January 31, 2010

The iPad: A Thing Of Beauty, But…

The new Apple iPad is a very slick device and it has the potential to be a real game changer. I say potential, because this version doesn’t have what it needs to appeal to the masses. I’m sure sales will be respectable, but it won’t be until the 2nd or 3rd gen of this device that we see it come into its own.

Basically it’s a Touch on steroids. I love my Touch, around the house it’s a fast and easy way for me to check my personal mail or look something up quickly on the web. Press the on switch and 20 seconds later you’re at the desktop and it’s downloading your mail. When I’m on the road, its all things for me; music, video and game player, repository of calendars and addresses, photo viewer, web browser and mail station. All that, and it fits in my pocket to boot.

Although I’ve often wished for a bigger screen, I really can’t see myself carting around a device the size of the iPad. I’ve already got my laptop that I have to lug around, and the iPad can’t replace that from a business standpoint, plus I’d never pay for a 3G plan for something like this. I don’t for my laptop, if I’m out of WiFi range, I just use my Blackberry. And speaking of Blackberries, could you see trying to use the iPad for a phone? Please…

I just don’t see it as a useful mobile device for me.

What I do see it as is the perfect coffee table companion. The ease of popping it on to show someone your photos, read the paper, check your calendar or just look something up on the web makes it a solid around the house network appliance. It puts the current offerings like Chumby to shame already, flesh this baby out a little with that function in mind, and I can see it becoming as ubiquitous in our lives as the iPod. Here’s what I think it needs to reach that status:

First and foremost, it needs a webcam. Picture this, you’re home watching the big game, and instead of twittering or texting your buds on your phone, you pick this bad baby up and have a face to face with them via Skype, all while remaining planted on the couch watching the game. Now we’re talking.

A built in memory card slot. If you want it to be a picture viewing device, it has to have a built in slot. I can’t see having to dock it to use the photo kit add on when somebody shows up with some fresh pics on a card, it defeats the whole purpose of it. If you’re gonna do that, you might as well just load them on your PC.

It also needs an IR port. Bluetooth is great, but can you imagine if it had an IR port and an app that would let you download the latest codes for your TV, cable box, DVD player and stereo components via WiFi? It's already capable of downloading the current TV listings. No more multiple remotes, no more ruining everyone else’s viewing experience by popping the onscreen guide. Bye-bye Harmony, you were good to me, but you’ll always be a one trick pony.

More onboard memory and better price points. It won’t be long for these two, remember the iPhone?

A lot of this stuff may already be in the works. Their first version of everything they make is always stripped down, probably so they won’t waste their time and money on features that no one wants. They listen to the buzz on release, and then add things that fit. Apple also has a penchant for putting the guts for new features in place ahead of time, so that they’re able to roll things out with just a firmware upgrade. Someone will be taking one apart as soon as they hit the stores, so we’ll know soon enough where their heading with this one.

I’m not ready to buy one just yet, but as I said earlier, this baby has serious potential. With a few tweaks and a price drop or two though, I'll be on board.

That is all.

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