Why I AM going to get the iPad

A week ago I wrote about my concerns about the new Apple tablet and why I might not buy it. Well, today Apple announced the iPad and while I still have questions, I will place my order as soon as they open up the doors. So a few initial thoughts (I was on the road all day, so this is mostly second hand and from Apple’s site rather than from watching a shaking video of the actual announcement). Let’s start with the positive.

What it does.

Everything the iPhone/iPod Touch does (aside from calls) with a bigger screen. That means reading PDFs, books (including the new “iBooks” software similar to the Amazon Kindle), and all my current iPhone software such as BibleReader from OliveTree and of course music and movies on a 9.7″ screen (that’s bigger than the original Mac’s screen).

And more. There is a “near full size” onscreen keyboard that will allow you to type with two hands and, one of my concerns, a keyboard dock allowing you to type with a real keyboard. This would be good, but incomplete with the current set of apps available…but Apple also announced newly programmed versions of the iWork apps for the iPad (at $9.99 a piece, I believe). This moves the iPad from a neat media device into a productive tool. Still no Hebrew (so far as I know) but given the ability to also project from the iPad, well that is nice! In other words, with an additional cable you can project your Keynote presentations (and presumably movies, etc.) from the iPad itself.

So why am I so enthusiastic about getting one?

It is not just that I am open about being an unapologetic Apple fan. I do not buy everything Apple makes and I don’t believe that they are always right or even headed in the right direction. As I said several weeks ago I was beginning to consider getting an Amazon Kindle DX. I have lots of PDFs to read, such as all of the articles I gathered for research, and the size makes the Kindle great for traveling, something I do quite a lot of nowadays.

The Apple iPad is now here and is the same size screen as the Kindle DX, is the same price, and yet does…oh, about 100 times more than the Kindle. ((You can even get the iPad with 3G, but it is $130 more. I will not be getting that.)) So not only can I browse the web in a real web browser (not an “experimental” one), but it is in full color, plays movies, email, twitter, AIM, banking, maps, iPhoto, games, you get the idea.

So for the price of the Kindle DX ((Admittedly, I will be paying more because I will get a higher end model, but the base price is still comparable.)) I get a machine that will replace my MacBook Pro for 98% of my travels and out-of-office use.

A few negatives or  unanswered questions.

In fact, there are only two things I do regularly that it appears the iPad will not allow me to do: Accordance Bible software (far more than what BibleReader offers, but word is they too are working on an iPhone app) and writing in Hebrew/Aramaic, usually using NisusWriter Pro. That is not too shabby for a device that many were expecting to simply be a “media delivery device.”

UPDATE: Steve Caruso pointed out below that Hebrew input already exists on the iPhone! I just tried it out so assuming Pages will allow Hebrew input the iPad will do 99% of what my MBP can do.

The biggest open question in my mind is file management. The iPhone OS is locked down so when I create my document in Pages, where is my document stored? How do I move those files around, backup, etc.?

That closed OS brings me to one of the first “why the iPad will fail” posts that I have seen, thanks to a referral from my brother. Tim presents “a case against the iPad” which consists primarily of the fact that the iPad uses the iPhone OS and the iTunes store model, all closed. This, he argues, is a backwards model and is bound to fail, not to mention, goes against the Zeitgeist of openness. It seems that while this may be a case against his buying the iPad, I don’t think it is a serious case against its success. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Case closed. But if that closed system meets your budget, does everything (or enough) you want it to do, then what is the problem? There are any number of other Windows or, more open, Linux based net-books and slates, so let the market decide. ((He adds an addendum pointing out a “glaring flaw” which is the omission of standard ports. This, he says, is “totally unacceptable for a device that aims to largely displace my laptop.” Except that is explicitly not what Apple intends it to be. Yes, it will likely replace many MacBooks out there, but by not including ports and basing it on the iPhone OS and not the Mac OS is part of Apple’s strategy to create a new niche, between the iPhone and MacBook. Time will tell if it is successful.))

Will the iPad transform the market? Yes, I think it will. Not by taking over the market, Apple will probably never sell more than 15% or so of the market, but their presence in the market will force other manufacturers to make better devices to keep up. And to meet the demand from people like Tim, who prefer open to well-integrated.

As for me? Well, look for my unboxing video in 60-90 days.

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