Impressions from a few months with the iPad 2

Some weeks ago—this is something of a shameful admission for me—I stood in line for hours at the local Best Buy store in order to purchase an iPad 2 on the device’s launch day. I’m not one of, you know, those guys, and I hadn’t intended to commit much time to the endeavor. Nevertheless, I got sucked in by Best Buy’s promises of a well-organized ticketing solution that would let me reserve a spot without standing in the store for hours on end. Such promises turned out to be a mirage, and I became a conflicted hostage, forgoing lunch and potty breaks in order to reserve my place in line.

I suppose it was, in the end, just as well. I got to participate in the full-on iPad 2 buying experience, a ritual that is largely foreign to me as a PC geek. And it is a strange thing. Folks don’t regularly line up in order to purchase much cooler computer hardware. As far as I know, nobody had to initiate a ticketing system for the Radeon HD 6990 or Dell’s 30″ IPS display. I’ve used them both, and I can tell you: worth lining up for. Exquisite. But here people were, congregated inside a depressing big-box electronics store in order to drop hundreds of dollars on securing a 10″ tablet.

Not just people, either. Sure, you had your requisite contingent of quasi-geeky, overweight graphic designers with questionable facial hair configurations, but there were also girls in this line. Intentionally. Some as a favor to a boyfriend or husband, but others entirely on their own behalf. I don’t know what dark magic Steve Jobs wields, but it is truly magic unlike ours.

Reviewing an iPad 2 is something of a challenge, in my view, because the assessments of it seem to fall into one of two categories. The first category is the skeptic, whose dismissal follows a well-known script, almost always nearly to the letter: “It’s just a big iPhone.” That summation is, of course, indisputably true. Yet it doesn’t really capture the novelty of the tablet as a computing platform and, thus, isn’t terribly helpful.

Those in the second category at least mean well, but a great many tend to suffer from a peculiar condition I call iPad Derangement Syndrome, or IDS. Those afflicted by IDS tend to explain, with a sense of wonderment in their voices, what you can do with an iPad, as if that captures something important about it. You can check email; you can surf the web; you can play games; you can watch movies; you can download new programs and try them out.

Yes, Sherlock, computers can do these things. Welcome to computer enthusiasm. Been here a long time, and it’s nice.

But a list of the components of the tablet usage model isn’t terribly helpful, in the end, all by its lonesome. After all, most smart phones will do those things, too, but using one to do them feels more like punishment than productivity.

My main question about the iPad 2—or about any tablet computer, really—is whether the user experience is good enough to make computing with the thing livable, even enjoyable. In other words, does this category of device truly have a reason to exist, and if so, where does it fit into the constellation of other computers we use every day? I like shiny gadget toys as much as the next red-blooded American geek, but are they really worth a darn?

For me, those questions come into sharp focus because I’m surrounded by excellent computers. Damage Labs is packed with high-end desktops connected to giant monitors, systems that define the power user’s ideal productivity situation. When I’m on the go, I can check in on things with my iPhone 4, crammed full of apps for every purpose. Between the two sits my Acer Aspire 1810TZ ultraportable, which may just be my favorite computer of all. At 11.6″ and just over three pounds, fortified with an SSD, the TZ is as close to my ultraportable ideal as any laptop I’ve seen, with an honest-to-goodness eight-hour battery run time. Any device that wishes to horn its way into my computing constellation will have to contend with some ridiculously formidable incumbents.

What I’m finding, interestingly enough, is that the iPad 2 is stealing time from each of those other computers in various ways.

 

Coming into the iPad 2 as an iPhone user, I had collected certain apps and habits for iOS, so getting started didn’t seem daunting. One of those habits was a penchant for the mobile uber-game, Infinity Blade. This game’s combination of RPG elements and an innovative multitouch swipe-and-tap-based combat system got its hooks into me on the iPhone for more hours than I care to admit. I started over from zero on the iPad, right as an update to the game added substantially more content and refreshed graphics for the iPad 2’s improved hardware. This ain’t Angry Birds or some imported Flash game, either; it’s based on the Unreal 3 Engine and looks like it belongs on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. The update even added multisampled antialiasing for the iPad 2, making the PC gamer in me vaguely enraged, given the history there.

The iPad 2’s larger screen and better graphics improved the experience immeasurably. I played prolifically, obsessively to the point where the game had nothing left to offer—no more levels to gain or objects to master. I was dedicating evenings to playing Infinity Blade rather than gunning my way through Bulletstorm or whatever else on the PC, and was happy to be doing so. I wouldn’t say I ever finished playing Infinity Blade so much as I eventually paused and moved on to other things until the next promised update adds more content. I still go back to it every now and then, though, because the core game mechanic is simply fun and addictive, even beyond the rocks of RPG-style crack the game dispenses.

More than anything, Infinity Blade was my introduction to the iPad 2, and it proved that a true, hard-core gaming experience is possible on a tablet. Yes, the multitouch controls are sometimes awkward, but they allow new possibilities that are well-suited for certain types of game mechanics, like Blade’s swordfighting. The presence of a really good pointing device also creates the opportunity for true depth in things like inventory management. I wouldn’t want to navigate this game’s menus with a gamepad, but touch makes it easy.

If Blade alone doesn’t convince you, spending some time with the iPad rendition of Dead Space should do the trick. This game, too, looks like it came right off of a modern console, with the happy exception that EA seems to have cracked wide open the enduring puzzle of how to replicate the multi-axis control experience of the mouse-and-keyboard combo. A split touchscreen arrangement provides the same sort of precise look control as a mouse while offering true “analog-style” variable control over movement—something the classic WASD arrangement can’t offer. I’ll admit playing this way still feels clumsy with my untrained thumbs, but the potential is blindingly obvious.

Play Dead Space with some headphones attached to the iPad, and you’ll find an outstanding aural experience to match the visuals.

Beyond that, of course, the iPad 2 is wirelessly networked and has access to a vast store of games priced between zero and seven bucks. In many ways, this is a more capable gaming system than the PCs on which I cut my teeth as a PC gamer, with overclocked Pentiums and 3dfx Voodoo cards.

In many ways, this is a more capable gaming system than the PCs on which I cut my teeth as a PC gamer, with overclocked Pentiums and 3dfx Voodoo cards.

No, scratch that. The iPad 2 is better than that. Heck, it’s more capable in practical terms than the best desktop PCs of five years ago, which also had dual-core processors and DirectX 9-class graphics.

Now, I’m not saying the iPad 2 or any tablet will challenge or truly replicate the gaming experience on a modern high-end PC any time soon. That’s not gonna happen. But I’m convinced the iPad 2 is deadly serious as a gaming platform, and not just for flinging miffed fowl. Handheld gaming devices, netbooks, and mainstream laptops—which chronically have been graphically inept—ought to be terrified.

Many big PC titles, both current and classic, are being ported. I’ve grabbed iPad versions of Command & Conquer Red Alert, Madden NFL ’11, Need for Speed: Shift, SimCity Deluxe, and World of Goo, among others. There’s also the very real possibility the bajillion-dollar World of Warcraft franchise could see a reconfiguration with the introduction of a well-made client for the iPad. This platform offers everything WoW needs to work properly, and a mobile version of that particular time-suck would probably prove massively popular. Already, there are clones available in the App Store, so the impetus is there for Blizzard.

I’ve started by talking about games for a reason, of course. If there is a “killer app” that drives adoption of new computing platforms among consumers more than any other, gaming is it—pretty much always has been. Face it, dropping $500 or more on a e-mail-inator or a web-surf-a-tron isn’t very sexy and heck, it doesn’t seem very practical given than your existing desktop, laptop, phone, or microwave will probably do those jobs just fine. Also: booo-ring. A new gaming setup, though, appeals to the portion of the brain that pushes aside any objections and slaps the plastic down at the checkout counter. The iPad 2 does a number of things pretty well, but the potential of tablets as gaming devices makes them formidable.

Of GUIs and swipes

John C. Dvorak wrote a column years ago based on a simple observation: there’s something mildly addictive about the input-response combination of moving a mouse and seeing a pointer sweep across a screen. That thought has stuck with me because there’s some truth to it, at least for me. At a very basic level, using a modern, mouse-based GUI is satisfying. (Crank the responses to such inputs up a notch or ten, and you have Call of Duty, which dispenses a whole other level of satisfaction.)

Using a tablet with a touch-screen interface is at least as satisfying as a mouse-and-pointer arrangement, if not more so. Perhaps that’s why I was so taken with Infinity Blade. Just using the iPad 2 to surf the web, with all of the swipe scrolling and pinch zooming, is pretty gratifying, even fun.

Yes, many laptops offer touchpads with multi-touch gesture support, but they’re typically not nearly as responsive as a tablet, especially for things like zooming, and they don’t let you see the response happening beneath your fingertips. The best user interface paradigms involve experiences that feel intuitive after a little bit of use, and tablets with relatively large screens are, so far, the best expression of a very good UI mechanic. The iPad 2 sells it by offering smooth and instantaneous responses nearly all of the time.

We could talk about its very capable graphics and dual-core CPU in this context, but the key is simply performance good enough not to be an issue. The combination of iOS, its standards for apps, and the iPad 2’s guts together yield something that feels seamless—much better than one might expect from a second-generation product with a focus on portability. And much better than, say, any netbook running Windows.

The tablet as media client

As the iPad morphs into an ever-more massive sales success, lots of folks in the traditional PC industry are wondering what to make of it all. How do tablets fit into the overall mobile computing picture? What does their success mean to established categories of devices like netbooks and ultraportable laptops? There’s a gathering consensus among early adopters, I think, that may already sound like conventional wisdom to many ears: tablets are great for consumption, but kind of lousy for most creative or productive tasks. That’s a fitting summation of the iPad 2, more or less, though there are always exceptions.

The first part of that formula has it right: the iPad 2 is an excellent platform for consuming media of many types, from surfing the web (where I don’t miss Flash support as badly as I’d have expected) to watching YouTube videos to reading books and magazines. Reading the full-color PDF version of the latest issue of the Missouri Conservationist in iBooks feels like a new experience, even if you’ve read full-color magazines as PDFs on the PC before.

The experience feels different because of the tablet form factor, and especially because of the iPad 2’s interpretation of it, the combination of smooth and nearly seamless construction, minimal heft, and almost miraculous thinness. Holding it in the hand is the natural thing, whereas even the finest ultraportables and netbooks want to be perched on a desktop. The display is an IPS panel, evident in the color reproduction (which is better even than most laptops costing two to three times as much) and in the way it maintains much of its color contrast even at heavily off-center viewing angles.

This panel, along with a relatively loud and clear-sounding internal speaker, makes the iPad 2 much better suited for sharing, say, a YouTube video or the latest round of vacation pictures than nearly any of the multitude of laptops I keep around.

The experience feels different because of the tablet form factor, and especially because of the iPad 2’s interpretation of it, the combination of smooth and nearly seamless construction, minimal heft, and almost miraculous thinness.

Strangely enough, the display that sets this device apart is also the most obvious place where the iPad 2 leaves considerable room for improvement. I’m down with the 4:3 aspect ratio—the proportions make perfect sense—but the 1024×768 resolution feels cramped. In landscape mode, with sites like TR (and the majority of the rest of the web) designed for 1024-width browser windows, the iPad 2 still scales every image slightly, blurring text and reducing sharpness. Yes, the image scaling is fast and effortless, but that’s no substitute for displaying a native-sized image where possible. The iPad 2 owner who picks up a Motorola Xoom in the store and pulls up a webpage in landscape mode on its 1280×800 display will feel a pang of envy, at least on this one front.

Of course, my real source of consternation here is my daily exposure to the iPhone 4’s Retina display, whose pixel density must be four times that of its big brother. If you’ve spent any time at all with that display, you’ll know why the rumors about an iPad with a similar pixel density persist: this is something you want. The crisp text and the raw sharpness are addictive. There are good technical reasons why cramming a four-megapixel panel into a device like the iPad isn’t easy, but knowing that doesn’t make me want it any less, especially when I’m reading books in the Kindle app.

Apple could provide a large measure of relief to current iPad owners with a straightforward software change: the addition of sub-pixel font antialiasing, a la Microsoft’s ClearType, to a future version of iOS. I have my doubts whether that will happen, but it would in an ideal world.

The iPad 2 is also an excellent media client because, well, it’s an iPad, and Apple has marshaled considerable support for this platform. There are custom apps from nearly every large print and online publication, along with a host of TV networks and the like. The support is so wide-ranging and, in some cases, so exclusive that I’m actually kind of ambivalent about the situation.

For instance, as a Time Warner Cable customer, I’m able to download a free app that will let me watch a host of TV channels right on my iPad, so long as it’s connected to the Internet via the Time Warner network. Time Warner has even gone to war on behalf of its customers over this app, pushing the TV networks to allow streaming for as many channels as possible. That’s all well and good, but as far as I know, Time Warner has only provided this kind of streaming freedom via its iPad app. There are limited web-streaming options for a few networks, but for the most part, you’ll need an iPad to partake of this service. Why?

Some of the magazine and newspaper apps are pretty nice, but there are too many of them, with too many unfamiliar layouts and a strange fealty to a swipe-based interface design language that doesn’t actually, you know, exist in any coherent form. The end result is that many of the iPad apps aren’t really worth the navigation effort; you’re better off just pulling up the publication’s web site, which usually works pretty well on a tablet, after all. The worst offenders may even detect an iPad client browser and redirect you to an app download page, gating off web-based access to their site. (I’m looking at you, New York Post.)

The end result is that many of the iPad apps aren’t really worth the navigation effort; you’re better off just pulling up the publication’s web site.

On the plus side, a great many traditional print magazines are now offered via the App Store, for subscription rates similar to print. The iPad is a promising platform for those few decent print mags that have survived this far into the Internet age while retaining a pure subscription model, and I’m happy to see outlets like Car and Driver finding a potentially viable home there. (My wife is also pleased about the potential for such arrangements to eliminate the stacks of magazines and such that have always cluttered our home. Heck, I even downloaded my new DSLR camera’s manual into the iPad and tucked away the original into storage.)

There are zillions of other apps, too, we should not forget. You will not lack for selection, whether you’re looking for a diverting puzzle, an electronic version of almost any popular board game, or a voice-narrated Thomas the Tank Engine book to keep a toddler occupied. Many of the apps are high quality, and Apple’s reputedly strict controls do seem to work in keeping out the worst buggy disasters, malware vehicles, and truly offensive material.

Speaking of banning things, I should mention books in this context, too. I’ve experienced a bit of a reading renaissance since picking up the iPad 2, much like Cyril did with his Kindle. Heck, I’m using the Kindle app on the iPad, mostly because Apple doesn’t support as many devices (including Windows-based PCs) with iBooks. My initial impressions of the iPad 2 as a book reader were negative for two reasons: the pixel density and the weight of the device. For reading, especially reading in bed, the iPhone 4 seemed like a better option, with its razor-sharp text and lighter weight. However, I’ve found myself picking up the iPad 2 for reading more often in spite of these things. Even seems like my T-Rex-style forearms have gained enough strength to make holding the tablet aloft less of a burden. I’ve plowed through thousands of pages in the past several months, putting away almost the entirety of the Song of Ice and Fire and Kingkiller Chronicles series, so something must be working right.

Beyond its size, shape, and display, one factor that makes the iPad 2 so good as a reading device is almost a non-factor: battery life. I’ve heard figures in the 10-hour range, but I’ve never used the thing continuously for long enough to deplete it entirely in a single day. I can tell you the variance in battery life based on what you’re doing is smaller than with most laptops. A Windows laptop with eight-hour potential can burn through its entire battery reserve in two hours while playing games. Not so with the iPad 2, where even Infinity Blade won’t move the needle terribly faster than just reading a book will. Thus, you don’t really have to manage the iPad 2’s battery life as you would a laptop’s. I just plug it in to charge overnight every day or two, and the meter rarely goes below 50%. When it does get a little low, charging seems to happen fairly quickly, especially since each percentage point of charge buys quite a bit of time.

Presumably you’ve seen the iPad 2’s so-called Smart Cover, which attaches via magnets to one edge of the device and can be folded back in sections to act as triangular a prop on a tabletop. Two orientations are possible: one where the the rear of the device is elevated slightly, so it slopes toward the user, and another where the tablet sits nearly upright. The gently sloped setup is eminently useful, especially if you’re catching up on the various forms of text-based communication that dominate so much of our time: e-mail, IMs, social networks, and such. Typing on the touch-based graphical keyboard in this orientation isn’t exactly a joyous ergonomic triumph, but it’s miles better than texting on an iPhone and more than good enough for keeping your Twitter followers enthralled with your deep thoughts about Rupert Murdoch and custard pie.

Bluetooth versus The Claw

Using the iPad 2 for anything beyond light communication can become a chore, especially if your expectations have been set by the use of a full-featured laptop. I had high hopes for the iPad 2 on this front, because my work needs mainly involve simple manipulation of words and pictures. So far, though, I’ve found myself reaching for my laptop whenever there’s real work to be done—and I wouldn’t dare travel to a press event with only an iPad in my bag.

If you’re serious about productivity on a tablet, you’re going to want to get an external keyboard. The iPad 2 supports them via Bluetooth, and the obvious choice is Apple’s nifty Bluetooth keyboard, which is what I bought. I’m picky as heck about keyboards, but this one is excellent. The key feel is quite good; the layout is about as vanilla QWERTY as one could hope; and it’s incredibly light and compact. It puts a whole heckuva lot of laptops to shame—and if you don’t like it, there are other options available, one of the benefits of not having a built-in keyboard.

With the iPad 2 propped upright via the Smart Cover, the tablet-plus-keyboard pairing functions in a free-form version of the usual laptop layout. The freedom to reposition the keyboard is a nice perk, and the whole setup works reasonably well on a deep enough tabletop or what have you. There are a couple of big, hairy drawbacks, though. For one thing, well, good luck trying to use this setup in your lap. If it can be done, I’m not the guy to do it. Also, I find that the Smart Cover positions the iPad 2 at too steep an upright angle, and unlike on a laptop, there’s no way to correct that problem. Other iPad 2 covers and such are available, some of which even bind the tablet and keyboard together into a laptop-like folding folio, but most of them tend to add quite a bit of weight and bulk. Some folks may find such alternatives workable, but if I wanted that, I’d just use my laptop.

Nevertheless, you can write on an iPad 2. In fact, I’ve made a point of writing this entire review on mine using an ultra-simplified, Zen-inspired word processing app called iA Writer. Typing things on that Apple keyboard is great. Wanting to make a change to something a few lines up and trying to position the cursor precisely with the touchscreen is… less great. More complex operations like cutting blocks of text and pasting them are possible, but it feels like playing the claw-grabber carnival game, trying to pick up a toy in the glass box. iA Writer attempts to circumnavigate these problems by using really huge text, which makes me feel like I’m fumbling to edit the large-print edition of Reader’s Digest. Perhaps with lots of use, I’d become more proficient at it, but mostly I just want my mouse and pointer back. During such moments, the inclusion of a touchpad in the Eee Pad Transformer’s keyboard dock sure seems like a smart move.

I use a couple of key tools for staying connected while on the go: a client for Windows’ Remote Desktop feature, which gives me access to all of the files and programs on my main PC in my office, and an IRC client for keeping in touch with rest of the TR staff. Turns out the iPad 2 isn’t great at either of these things. I burned through a host of free and paid Remote Desktop client apps before finally settling on my current favorite, Jump Desktop. At first, Wyse’s PocketCloud app seemed like the right answer, but it had some keyboard input problems that sank it. Jump Desktop is better, although it still crashes now and then. Both PocketCloud and Jump Desktop have some clever features that deal with the inherent problems of using a touch-based tablet to attempt to control a Window-based machine, including a slick virtual pointer, a pop-up keyboard, and special provisions for things like right-clicking and dragging. As coping mechanisms go, they’re quite effective, but controlling a Windows 7 system from a tablet will probably always be somewhat awkward. If you’re just using something simple on the remote box, like an IM client, a tablet will get the job done, though.

My biggest frustration with using the iPad 2 as a Remote Desktop client, however, is the way iOS handles multitasking—that is, not at all really. What the OS is doing is probably better called “backgrounding,” since apps not in the foreground are largely just suspended. Trouble is, this model of app switching doesn’t mix well with clients that need to maintain a persistent connection. I like to switch between several different programs during a typical usage session—say, email, web browser, and RDC client—as needed. On the iPad 2, the Remote Desktop clients won’t stay connected for more than a minute or so while they’re in the background. That same limitation makes the iPad 2 a lousy IRC client, since the consensus best IRC app, Colloquy, won’t stay connected for long in the background, either. My solution so far has been to use a Windows IRC client via Remote Desktop, and to tolerate the RDC reconnects. It works, but not well.

My biggest frustration with using the iPad 2 as a Remote Desktop client, however, is the way iOS handles multitasking—that is, not at all really.

Another potential area of concern, especially if you’re trying to replace a laptop with an iPad 2, has to do with the way user data gets handled in iOS. Heck, the iPhone started out as a glorified iPod, chained to a user’s PC for management via iTunes. Apple has eased away from that position somewhat, but the iPad still shares those roots. True independence won’t come until later this year with the next version of iOS. Even then, things like data management will move into the cloud, not directly into the user’s hands. The iPad doesn’t expose a file system to the user, has no means of adding additional storage, and won’t talk to USB devices like cameras without extra help.

For some folks, I know, those limitations really chafe, especially if it feels like Steve Jobs himself is telling you what you can and cannot do with your tablet. The turtleneck can stuff it!

To me, none of those limitations is a big deal. I just emailed myself the text of this review from within iA Writer, for instance, and many apps already support services like Dropbox for cross-platform syncing. Apple’s $29 Camera Connection Kit does a fine job of importing pictures from a camera or SD card, if that’s something you want. Also, jailbreaking to gain more control is always an option.

Then again, my sense of the tablet usage model has been shaped by the iPad 2’s limitations. I’m not likely to import pictures and videos directly into my 16GB iPad 2 because the 18-megapixel still shots and 1080p videos produced by my camera would eat up every ounce of its remaining storage space. I’m not trying to manage lots of files, because I’ve largely given up on attempting to produce a complex document like one of our CPU reviews, which mix text, images, and large HTML tables, on the iPad 2. I’ll freely admit that I’ve not put enough work into, say, buying and trying a number of different image editing programs in order to find one that might serve my needs. But I’ve had the iPad 2 for months now, have spent countless hours with it trying all sorts of different things, and I no longer relish the idea of using this device for serious work. Surely that says something about the current state of affairs.

So what’s the verdict?

We posed some questions earlier about the tablet’s place in the computing constellation. I think the answers to some of those questions have come into sharp focus. The iPad 2 is decidedly less than stellar as a productivity device, and it’s not about to replace my laptop as a real on-the-go office, let alone my massive, six-core desktop with a glorious 30″ display. On the other hand, the iPad 2 is downright superior to virtually any netbook and also a great many laptops for various types of media consumption, from book reading to gaming and perhaps even web surfing. Such tasks are where tablets excel and where, for a variety of reasons, many PCs are unfortunately disappointing.

Although I’ve said my time spent with the iPad 2 was eating into time spent with several of my other computers, the one that’s taken the biggest hit is the iPhone 4. Once a wonder of modern technology, my iPhone now feels small and slow; its only virtue is being able to fit into my pocket. If I’m going to plunk around in the app store looking for the latest game or what have you, I’ll do it on the iPad 2, thanks. Having a tablet on hand has ruined my enthusiasm for smart phones. I can’t say my interest in laptop or desktop computers has been similarly affected.

PCs need to learn an awful lot of the iPad’s tricks in order to remain competitive.

However, my expectations for mobile devices, especially laptops, have been revised upward. Compared to the iPad, the amount of time the average laptop takes to wake from suspend feels like a century, and waking from hibernate feels like millennia. PCs need to learn an awful lot of the iPad’s tricks in order to remain competitive, including quicker wake-up and suspend, lower power draw while suspended, and noise output that’s much closer to a tablet’s utter silence. Better graphics for gaming are a must; we’re hopeful AMD’s newly integrated Radeons will push Intel into competence, at long last, on this front. PCs also need to become easier to manage and harder to break. The iPad 2 has come nearer to the ideal of being a simple consumer electronics device with very broad appeal than any Windows computer yet. The rumored Windows app store can’t come a moment too soon, and it probably needs to bring cloud-based automatic user data backups along with it.

Those changes are necessary just for laptops to retain their position in the consumer market, in my view. Even if they all were to happen overnight, I don’t think they’d be sufficient to lessen the iPad’s momentum substantially. The iPad 2’s combination of bulletproof simplicity, affordability, portability, and a novel, compelling user interface is tough to beat—particularly with incredible momentum in application development for the platform behind it. I’m pretty sure tablet computers are here to stay, if only because this tablet computer is here to stay. Whether and how soon other tablets will join this new market segment successfully is an interesting question—and we finally have some good candidates hitting store shelves this summer—but they will all be following a trail blazed by Apple’s first-of-their-kind devices.

Comments closed
    • Nutmeg
    • 8 years ago

    But honestly the main point to take away from this is that if Damage, pretty much the archetype of the serious PC enthusiast and gamer, can be corrupted and blinded by Apple’s shiny shit in a box, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

    Maybe one day internet archaelogists will look back on this article and say “this is the day PC gaming truly died” :p

      • End User
      • 8 years ago

      “Corrupted and blinded” is a tad over the top.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    The caveat for me is the size. I have an iPod and you an iPhone Scott. While I think the iPad is/could be a fun device I have a hard time justifying it because I already own a mini-version of it, albeit if not slightly outdated (until September…).

    The obvious pro is the larger screen which is great for doing all the things these devices do. But it’s also a con. I like my iPod because I can keep it any pocket, slip it in a cubby, put in a purse, under my hat, whatever. It’s so much easier to manage this device and take it literally anywhere I go. With an iPad I have to have a hand free or carry a satchel, and when I consider leaving for the day I look at it and have to seriously consider how badly I want to lug it with me and keep an eye on it all day. Also, if I want to whip it out (the device) at some public event (restaurant, bad-warm up band at a concert, church, subway, elevator, etc.), I don’t feel nearly as guilty as playing a game of Infinity Blade or Monopoly because no one can see what I’m doing, let alone what the device is–I assume they assume I’m texting or the sort. –It just feels less awkward and geeky and I know we’ve all been in that situation.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Size… yes. I’ve played with iPads, iPhones/Android phones, ultraportable laptops etc. For something to haul everywhere, iPhone is a bit too small, and an iPad is a bit too large. Something like 7-8inches would be perfect IMO.

      Alternatively, I still think 11.6″ ultraportable format is perfect for real usage while iPad is a bit too small (and lacks a keyboard). If only the screen resolutions could be upped… 12.5 inches (as long as it’s thin and light) would be acceptable if it comes with a great display.

    • j1o2h3n4
    • 8 years ago

    Small size, light weight, touch screen, long battery life, its all good. But Quick Boot (<30sec), Quick program loading will go away as technology advances. Ironic.

    But as more and more complex Os/Apps is developed, it take more compute power to process. Hence stronger processor & battery juice is needed, to offset, to keep it quick & snappy. Unless they keep programs at this basic level, not try to replace Laptops (Macs), which is unlikely, at the end it will just end up being a Mac Pro with a slap on touchscreen.

    Hmm, that should sell well too, wonder why they didn’t come out with it? Ahh, so that the industry can make Billions by reinventing the wheel again. Clever.

    • Hallucinosis
    • 8 years ago

    Scott, with regards to your IRC connectivity woes and using Colloquy, you need a bouncer!

    ZNC is amazing. I’m using ZNC on my iPad 2 (Colloquy), HTC MyTouch 4g (AndChat), and on my work laptop (X-Chat) (the server runs on my home desktop) to ensure that I don’t miss anything on IRC. I used to use RDP from work (over SSH) for work, but now I just connect to ZNC and never skip a beat.

    [url<]http://wiki.znc.in/ZNC[/url<]

      • Hallucinosis
      • 8 years ago

      Also, I’d kill for a solid SSH client for iPad.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        iSSH has been rock solid here.

    • WaltC
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve got no particular ax to grind about iPads. My brother, who is no tech person at all, just got one and says he likes it–which is fine, since he otherwise has an aversion to anything tech. For him, I think the iPad2 is a super device.

    But the one factor completely left out of this [i<]almost[/i<] glee-club, singing-to-the-choir review is how the iPad1/2 measures up to a Mac. That's right--the x86, Intel-driven PCs that Apple labels "Macs" and sells in ever increasing quantities (even as the non-Mac PC market continues to grow, too, even in a recession market.) I mean, if all of the comparisons made here with "PCs"--apparently most if not all PCs, for some reason, with the possible exception of the two or three individual PCs the author happens to own--are accurate, then they must surely also apply to a Mac, too, wouldn't you think? I cannot see how the criticisms leveled in this review against so-called "Windows PCs" do not equally apply to OS X Macs (which can also boot Windows natively, thanks to Apple's Bootcamp feature, standard in OS X), and if they do, then perhaps the future of PCs is no more dire than the future of the Mac, simply because of the advent of tablet-format computing devices. So just possibly, the real complaint here is that "PCs" (and we can't leave Macs out here) just aren't tablet devices--uh, like iPad2's, and so on. I don't think PCs and Macs [i<]should[/i<] behave like iPad2's. But maybe that's just me because I can appreciate the differences a decent Mac or PC brings to the table. Honestly, I could care less whether my PC runs and behaves like a pocket calculator, a so-called "smart" cell phone, or an iPad1/2/3/4/5-ad-infinitum, or an Eee Asus Transformer, etc. I could care less because [i<]I have some understanding of why the underlying hardware in these disparate platforms differs, and therefore differs in operational behavior.[/i<] It is just illogical for me to expect all these wildly disparate devices to behave identically. (Obviously, though, comparable behavior among disparate devices seems like a logical goal to the author.) Sentiments like this I found incredible: [quote<]In many ways, this is a more capable gaming system than the PCs on which I cut my teeth as a PC gamer, with overclocked Pentiums and 3dfx Voodoo cards. In many ways, this is a more capable gaming system than the PCs on which I cut my teeth as a PC gamer, with overclocked Pentiums and 3dfx Voodoo cards. No, scratch that. The iPad 2 is better than that. Heck, it's more capable in practical terms than the best desktop PCs of five years ago, which also had dual-core processors and DirectX 9-class graphics.[/quote<] ...because of the truth of these very next remarks: [quote<]Strangely enough, the display that sets this device apart is also the most obvious place where the iPad 2 leaves considerable room for improvement. I'm down with the 4:3 aspect ratio—the proportions make perfect sense—[i<]but the 1024x768 resolution feels cramped.[/i<] In landscape mode, with sites like TR (and the majority of the rest of the web) designed for 1024-width browser windows, the iPad 2 still scales every image slightly, blurring text and reducing sharpness. Yes, the image scaling is fast and effortless, but that's no substitute for displaying a native-sized image where possible. The iPad 2 owner who picks up a Motorola Xoom in the store and pulls up a webpage in landscape mode on its 1280x800 display will feel a pang of envy, at least on this one front.[/quote<] Pentiums and [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3dfx_Interactive<]3dfx Voodoo 1 cards[/url<] were all the rage back in 1997--I had one, too. So Gee--yea--I *hope* that any device which purports to run 3d games today in 2011, some [i<]14 years later[/i<], is better at doing that than our old 3dfx Voodoo/Pentiums could do it in 1997. I hardly find that much of a recommendation that I would ever give a device, however. Next--the "best desktop PC of five years ago" would easily run rings around the 1024x768 iPad2 in every respect, imo. (Of course, it would have cost a lot more, too, which is beside the point. But at least it was [i<]available[/i<] 5 years ago, right? Be kind of a boring Tech Report site, if any at all, otherwise, right?...;)) BTW, it's a small thing--but isn't the iPad2 3d engine powered by [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/4216/apple-ipad-2-gpu-performance-explored-powervr-sgx543mp2-benchmarked/2<]OpenGL[/url<] instead of D3d? I thought that it was--and if it isn't, my apologies, certainly. Also, IIRC, DX9 was released for PCs in 2002 and first supported by ATi in the venerable R300 GPUs (ATi 9700 Pro) of the day--one of which I owned in 2002--and which I can truly attest ran at higher resolutions than 1024x768 for applications and gaming--yea, all the way back in 2002. Did I mention one of the hallmarks of the R300 was its super support of multisampling FSAA--which trumped anything 3dfx had been able to bring to the table up to that point. Sadly, 3dfx itself went bankrupt in 2002 and was absorbed by nVidia thereafter. Also, OpenGL, since 2000 if not earlier, has trailed behind D3d in terms of "class" of 3d API for years, the present day being no exception (OpenGL 4.0 being poorly received and by contrast to DX9/10/11, hardly supported by anyone.) If Anandtech's linked article above is factual, and I see no reason to think it isn't, iPad2 is way back in a time warp and supporting something like OpenGL2 (which Valve has recently attempted to at least partially update to OpenGL 3 version status.) So, really, you do have a point of sorts--the iPad2 brings circa 1998-99 3d graphics to the fore here in 2011. Yes, I can agree with that, certainly. But to use that as some kind of recommendation for the iPad2, and to think that 3d games will be "the killer app" for the iPad--just seems like a ridiculous claim, given the realities of what's inside the iPad2. Games are "killer apps" for consoles already, and for game playing an iPad2 cannot hope to keep pace with an xBx360--no contest--right now. I know the author knows the above history as well as I--which makes me wonder exactly why he felt the need to distort that history just to pump the iPad. I also know that he knows that what makes a Mac tick is no different than what makes a "PC" tick, and only wonder at why your criticisms didn't stretch to the Mac, as well. Lots of other things: x86 cpus just blow away ARM cpus in terms of processing power and performance, which is why Apple and every other PC manufacturer today ships their desktop PCs with x86 cpus--and not ARM cpus. (It is surprising how few people manage to digest this obvious fact.) Yes, generally PCs don't run very long on batteries (snicker) but that's because a key element of Mac and PC design is to make them as [i<]un-iPad-like[/i<] as possible, because for PCs and Macs, what we want is performance, performance, performance--and computational power, power, power. Tell you what, though--when Apple announces it is ceasing Mac production because it believes the iPad is the way of the future, and that the Intel-made PCs Apple sells "aren't competitive" any longer, then I'll believe that you just might have scored on a point that I completely missed....;)

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      I always like to read your well-thought out prose Walt. I’m not sure I agree with everything you say and I’m under the assumption that Scott wasn’t entirely being literal with his graphic comparisons.

      However, I think you make a good overall point. Critics and really fans of the iPad come out and talk about how it is such a great device compared to a PC, but neglect often times to compare it to a Mac, which you point out, is fundamentally the same hardware wise (if not aged at the later stages of a particular model’s life). Just seems like for some it’s a sneaky way to get off a cheap ding towards modern PCs.

    • WaltC
    • 8 years ago

    *Self Nuked* (Some kind of edit overwrite)

    • WaltC
    • 8 years ago

    *self nuked* (again)

    • Pax-UX
    • 8 years ago

    It’s articles like this that keep me coming back here even though my PC enthusiast days are well behind me. Fair and honest options on current hardware.

    My only problem with the iPad2 is the keyboard and that looks to be fixed with the new split keyboard due in iOS5.

    The problem with Windows / Tablets… Windows is only now starting to get mobile devices, it was tied to the mouse pointer for far too long. While hardware manufactures are selling hardware specs, not solutions. Apple, since it can do both worked out a wining combo. IMO there will be a lot of confusion in the Windows Tablet space because of the lack of unity between OS & Hardware spec. Having to ask the question, does my tablet system support this??? is old think.

    • KoolAidMan
    • 8 years ago

    Its weird but for me games are the last thing in my line of benefits from using a tablet. As you pointed out, the games are cool, but they are so beside the point compared to how I use it for work.

    The iPad is a godsend for business travel. I can do a LAX/JFK roundtrip using in-flight wifi on a single charge and still have power left over. It is so much more ergonomic and better than a laptop in situations like that. My laptop lives in the overhead bin now, while I have my iPad and Kindle in the little bag I throw under the seat. At work sites it is better for sharing PDFs and reference videos with other people on the project rather than passing around or huddling around an imbalanced laptop.

    Same for use at home, I hardly use my laptop anymore except for Starcraft 2 or Lightroom, it is pointless when there’s an iPad that is instant on and just as good for web and email.

    Again, games are cool, but I’d rather game on my desktop or laptop. For me the iPad gets used for quick work items more than for anything else.

    • Nutmeg
    • 8 years ago

    Oh yeah, it’s obviously a better gaming device than computers from 5 years ago, what with its display resolution that I haven’t used since a decade ago or more. Sure.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    “Using a tablet with a touch-screen interface is at least as satisfying as a mouse-and-pointer arrangement, if not more so. ”

    Put your finger on the top of a tablet. Now, look as your finger, hand, and lower arm block ~30-50% of the [b<]entire screen.[/b<] Now do the same with any PC game with a mouse pointer. Let me know how much of the display is blocked. I enjoy some of the casual games on tablets and phones, but this issue CONSTANTLY irritates me. There's also 20-50px variation where I press the end of my finger that makes every press a guess, and you guessed it, a complete annoyance for precision.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      While I agree completely, a good UI design can eliminate 90% of that frustration. The principles are simple: all ‘general’ controls go along the [i<]bottom[/i<] of the screen, so that your hand doesn't block any of the display when accessing them (I think the fact that this is completely the opposite of 'the norm' is why it's so hard for developers to grasp). Similarly, if the user has to interact with an object on the screen, place the controls at the bottom of the object, and the object below any reference displays.

    • trackerben
    • 8 years ago

    Ipads are neat for lots of transient or nontraditional situations. A month from launch, I was reading entire book series in bed at night. By the third month when public awareness was rising fast, it was no longer just a curio, but the ice breaker and toast of every party. Having an ipad in good company is the opposite of the Facebook experience – people interact with each other while reveling in handling “your” stuff as its such a relaxing and likeable experience. Excited strangers would come over and watch my son play games like Plunderland, and would befriend each other trying it out.

    About half a year in, I found it could be propped up against the front edge of my ultraportable. Lo and behold, a triple-screen (counting my phone), dual-vpn setup would usually be found running on whatever desk or coffee table was convenient. The ipad was the consumption half of the gig but then how else could so many independently useable screens be stationed in small spaces?

    By then it was also occasionaly serving on a stationary bike just as Scott discovered. I placed 2amp chargers all around the house and in the cars because it requires charging whenever and wherever time allows, it’s being used so much. I bring it into the bath or kitchen and leave it thereabouts far too often. It goes everywhere with me nowadays because it’s that easy, and every day out is a two-screen day ever since I discovered that Quickoffice no longer sucks so much at doc creation. Fortunately I got to download VLC and iDOS before these worthies got bumped off the store.

    Late last year I found a workable dashboard mount for my Toyota, and the old ipad now serves as both media control and source when driving. On the road it is great for route mapping and and drive-bys at hotspots, and unmatched for quick look-ups especially when first figuring out a rental straight from the garage.

    The newest model launched when we were in the bay area, and now the wife no longer complains about “not having her own” in white – and justly so. She’s quite happy just to casually browse or play puzzle games, while I found it to be the ultimate for PvZ strategy, or any mapped defense game. It’s been a year and a quarter since the onset of the tablet era and as always the best time to get off the wave is when the rest finally dive in. Momentous “paradigm shifts” are not many and it was great to be in at tablet ground zero, but now i’m itching for the next tech jump.

    Am looking forward to getting a Touchpad and hopefully dpaus’ reports will provide some leads on its usage and quirks. Having been a long-time PalmOS user, I can say from experience that if anyone has a shot at doing tablets better, it would be the WebOS designers.

    • setbit
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]I got sucked in by Best Buy's promises...[/quote<] "Best Buy's promises". Congratulations, you've just discovered a phrase even more laden with doom and misery than "Sony's respect for its customers".

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]many of the iPad apps aren't really worth the navigation effort; you're better off just pulling up the publication's web site, which usually works pretty well on a tablet, after all...[/quote<] I'm increasingly wondering why many places bother with an Apple-specific app (or an Android app, or a WebOS app...) at all, especially if it's free. As we do more and more development for mobile devices, it's becoming more and more obvious that you can easily do most-if-not-all of it with HTML5 (even in it's current state). We no longer make any device/platform -specific 'apps' [quote<]I just plug it in to charge overnight every day or two[/quote<] OK, there's one thing I truly do [i<]love[/i<] about the TouchPad - the TouchStone charging stand and WebOS's 'Exhibition mode' (it still feels slightly risque to say that...) When I'm not using it, I just set if down on the angled TouchStone, and it turns itself into a digital picture frame, with a watermarked clock appearing and disappearing unobtrusively, all while it charges itself wirelessly. Slicker than snot on a doorknob. [quote<]cutting blocks of text and pasting them are possible, but it feels like playing the claw-grabber carnival game[/quote<] Agreed!! Now, can someone explain to me why, on what are unix/linux devices, that obviously support bluetooth keyboards, we can't have a bluetooth mouse to emulate an incredibly pointy finger on the display??? Anyone? Bueller? EDITed 27 times to fix formatting mistakes caused by the very issue raised above.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]I'm increasingly wondering why many places bother with an Apple-specific app (or an Android app, or a WebOS app...) at all, especially if it's free. As we do more and more development for mobile devices, it's becoming more and more obvious that you can easily do most-if-not-all of it with HTML5 (even in it's current state). We no longer make any device/platform -specific 'apps'[/quote<] Because you can kiss your apps goodbye without being connected and device specific code is far more efficient in execution then a generic one-size fits all approach.

        • Arag0n
        • 8 years ago

        And because specific applications can be designed to match the soul of the operating system and have an easy to navigate application for each mobile OS, instead of a single mobile site that isn’t intuitive to use.

        And you forget about SDK’s apis that makes the work extremely easier than develop a full website… plus the possibility to add downloadable content for off-line previews,etc. Right now is a mistake to go HTML5 only for any decent website…. at least 25% of people prefers an app over an HTML5 site. Losing a 25% of users just because they prefer to use the app of another website is a shame for websites with thousands of readers.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]applications can be designed to match the soul of the operating system[/quote<] Ironically, that's precisely my point - that you end up with 4 or 5 {potentially] utterly different user experiences on exactly the same content. For our application, that lack of consistency is a killer - but I understand that our application is not the same as others'...

            • Arag0n
            • 8 years ago

            Actually I see that as an advantage…. different OS’s users are educated to expect different things from the applications… and they are expected to have different things placed in different way. If you design an application for ALL operating systems, you can match the user pattern of one of them, but you will miss the other ones. It makes the users require to learn how each application works. However, if you have every application adapted to the operating system it works for, the users have a shorter learning curve. This can lead to have more users and higher satisfaction levels with your application (or website by the matter)

            Games are the only place I wouldn’t try to match OS soul since games try to create their own soul and spirit to transfer to the user.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        I believe this whole discussion revolves around website apps like the CNN app, my local TV station’s app, etc. All of which are worthless without an internet connection, as well.

        Nobody is arguing that non-internet apps need to be done in HTML5.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          Re-reading what I wrote, I didn’t make that clear, but yes, ‘website apps’

    • NarwhaleAu
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t care how good it is. I’m not buying one out of spite. Steve Jobs is not getting another cent off me*.

    *My wife owns an iphone, ipod and ipad. We’ll likely own an imac at some point in the future.

      • thanatos355
      • 8 years ago

      There are six iPhones, an iPod Touch, and a first gen iPad in my house…

      I feel your pain.

      The only Mac that will ever see my house is my triple boot Win7/XP/Hackintosh desktop.

        • Corrado
        • 8 years ago

        Are you all 1 family or is it roomates? I don’t want to see your phone bill with 6 iphones on it.

          • thanatos355
          • 8 years ago

          Family. Two adults (3GS’s) and four school age children (3 3G’s and the Touch). The oldest two have phone access on theirs (on regular line provided by grandma and one GoPhone sim with text only). The youngest two have their devices for games, music, movies, etc. The gf has the iPad because we got it cheap and she just “had” to have it. The last phone is my original 2g that I’ve had forever.

          Every single one of them is jailbroken too. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            wow. hope you’ve got a good job. cause that’s an f ton of money.

            • thanatos355
            • 8 years ago

            I HAD (god I miss it) a good job. But the 3GS’s and iPad were bought new, the 3G’s were bought off of CL, the Touch was bought with that child’s Christmas money from the relatives, and the 2G was my b-day present that year from my mom who bought it super cheap used.

            I’m 6’1″, 200ish lbs and O+ too….in case you were wondering. lol

            • albundy
            • 8 years ago

            in reply to thanatos355, lol, AT&T&T must love you as a customer! I wouldnt wanna spend $$$ on something thats more than my rent. I’d have the kids get jobs to pay their monthly dues.

            • thanatos355
            • 8 years ago

            I sometimes wonder if people bother actually reading the comments they reply to (or more accurately at).

            • dmjifn
            • 8 years ago

            This. Keeping both a wife and gf in the stable is rough on the wallet.

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            Ha!! Osama bin Laden had three wives, and he hadn’t been able to get out of the house for 5 years. I’ll bet he called the Navy Seals himself.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]If Blade alone doesn't convince you, spending some time with the iPad rendition of Dead Space should do the trick. This game, too, looks like it came right off of a modern console...[/quote<] Danger Will Robinson! Modern and console should not be used in the same sentence. It is rather sad though that consolization has hurt the video game industry so much that phone and touch devices have caught up to the point of reproducing a similar experience. The scary this is that six year old experience is now the baseline for current video games. I still think things like tablets and netbooks have no real purpose. It was a model designed to make a new market where one never existed in the first place. Laptops and smartphones thoroughly cover all the ground in between, For instance the entire article seems like justification for buying a iPad2, rather then saying what it does so much better then everything else. If you need to justify what you bought, there is pretty much no reason to buy it in the first place. This is just another gimmick for those of us with too much money to burn and not enough of anything with any real meaning to spend it on. I read a article on /. awhile ago about how american consumers just look for gadgets and gizmos to buy, something that's shiny and new, and it's not all that different from MMOs. It doesn't even need to make sense or be particularly useful, it just has to be semi-affordable and add a bit more bling to our lives. We'll find a way to work it in. I've seen people use tablets before and instead of doing everything on their desktop or laptop, they switch to a tablet to use it for a split second before switching back to one or the other. There really is no reason to use it or even buy one.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      A tablet provides the UI speed and quickness in a reasonably portable platform while also being able to provide killer battery life, higher/more usable resolution for web browsing, lighter than most netbooks. The cost is inline with higher end netbooks, but the buld quality seems nicer and they hold their value much longer.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Use a newer laptop.

        I don’t know how you beat speed with a tablet when you double click an icon on your desktop

          • Corrado
          • 8 years ago

          UI speed and instant on. I push a button and an iPad or a Honeycomb tablet is on NOW. Not 5 seconds from sleep. Not 40 seconds to boot. NOW.

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            Five seconds vs instant… I’m not sure how much further you can take instant gratification then that.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            I just did a test on my desktop. It came back from sleep in under 3 seconds. I really don’t mind those 2.5 seconds, but I guess some do.

            • KoolAidMan
            • 8 years ago

            I love carrying around my desktop

            • ThorAxe
            • 8 years ago

            You also get the bonus of having a vastly more powerful computer at your disposal.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            How much CPU power is required to return a computer from sleep?

            • ThorAxe
            • 8 years ago

            Not sure what you are getting at.

            • Skrying
            • 8 years ago

            Yeah… I think you’re buying into the perception of caring about a 5 second different rather than actually caring about a 5 second difference.

            • Firestarter
            • 8 years ago

            That iPad runs off of an SSD. Take any recent ultracompact + 64GB SSD and see how long it takes to boot.

            • Corrado
            • 8 years ago

            Its the same reason you can buy anything from a SmartCar to an F350 Super Duty. Different people have different needs and desires in their computing platform. Thats all. No one is right or wrong in their choices. If all you do is drive 10 miles each way to work by yourself every day and 2 miles to the grocery store, why would you need a even a Honda Civic? You can get a Chevy Volt and get better mileage because you’re always within the electric range. Or if you have a family of 4 kids + spouse and need to haul them all over the place, why would you buy a SmarCar when you’d be much better suited to a minivan or an SUV with 3rd row seating?

            Edit: sorry that wasn’t necessarily meant as a reply to you.

        • KoolAidMan
        • 8 years ago

        Spot on. I already liked the iPad, but loved it once I started flying with that thing. It is made for seat trays and in-flight wifi on long long flights.

        • mcnabney
        • 8 years ago

        How much value have the original iPads held after 15 months? Since all of the coolest apps will only run on iPad2, what should we expect in another year? Will quad-core iPad3 with a higher resolution screen turn the iPad2 into junk just as quickly. A decent PC bought three years ago can still run anything released TODAY.

          • Corrado
          • 8 years ago

          I can still sell my 16gb wifi iPad 1 today for $350 on Craigslist or eBay. Show me a decent PC bought 3 years ago that can be sold for 70% of its original retail value?

          • glynor
          • 8 years ago

          Quite well, actually.

          I just took a few minutes on Gazelle and got prices for two comparably-aged systems. I used the first-gen 16GB Wifi-only iPad ($499 at launch in April 2010), and an ASUS EeePC 1201N ($499 at launch in May 2010) for comparison. The ASUS was a well-regarded Atom-based Netbook for it’s time. Gazelle doesn’t list specific models for the vast majority of laptops (especially low-end ones), but you can spec it out properly and get a price anyway. I did so very carefully, using officially published specs from ASUS.

          I selected “Same as New” as the quality, and included all accessories for both systems, to generate the best possible price.

          iPad 1 16GB: $224
          ASUS netbook: $64

          Apple products tend to hold their value quite well, so I wasn’t surprised at all. The thing is, for many people, the “old models” of iDevices do NOT “turn into junk” when they are replaced by new versions. They get a bit cheaper, but retain much of their value. At least some of that is due to support… Apple has continually supported their old mobile devices with new versions of iOS for at least three years. Try getting an up-to-date driver from ASUS for a three year old ~$500 netbook for comparison.

      • ThorAxe
      • 8 years ago

      Well said.

      I would contemplate buying one if they were around $300 AUD (though I am not sure what I would do with it), but there is no way that I would pay $949 AUD for the top model.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    I use a tablet because it’s always on. 30-second tasks like a quick google/wikipedia/facetube/twitbook lookup.

    A lot of the time, I just don’t bother doing that 30-second task on a note/netbook. Booting it up, logging in etc take longer than the task I’m interested in. UEFI BIOSes were supposed to speed things up, yet neither of mine POST and start loading the OS any faster than machines I had ten years ago.

    When a laptop can boot from cold in under ten seconds, or go into a low power mode that lasts more than one full day on batteries, then they’ll be at an acceptable level of convenience to compete with tablets on this front.

    What tablets highlight, above all else, is that current desktop operating systems try to do far too much for their own good. They are bloated, encumbered and downright overkill for almost everyone, almost all of the time. I’d much prefer the modular system of tablets where you start light and download add-ons or apps as required.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      Use standby genius. Mine turns on in about five seconds.

      Putting aside possible OCD, if you’re turning it on every 30 seconds, perhaps you should leave it on and have it go into standby after sitting idle for 5-10 minutes as well.

        • thanatos355
        • 8 years ago

        People turn their computer off….people use standby? :-O

          • Bensam123
          • 8 years ago

          I thought that was what it was there for? Lower power usage and fast turn on time.

            • Chrispy_
            • 8 years ago

            Exactly – low power usage, not zero power usage.

            Standby eats batteries slowly, but surely. If I leave a bunch of E4300 laptops (admittedly neither the newest nor the longest-running laptops known to man) on standby overnight, they’ll be on low battery or stone-cold-dead the next working day.

      • mikehodges2
      • 8 years ago

      “When a laptop can boot from cold in under ten seconds, or go into a low power mode that lasts more than one full day on batteries, then they’ll be at an acceptable level of convenience to compete with tablets on this front.”

      The macbook air can cold boot in ~10s…and from sleep it’s on as good as instantly. I instantly hate all my friends laptops for how long they take to boot up, or even resume from hibernate, since getting an Air.
      Like you said, it’s perfect if you want to quickly google something etc.

        • ThorAxe
        • 8 years ago

        My wife’s Dell can can cold boot in ~10 seconds. You don’t need a CrapBook Air, you need an SSD.

          • Chrispy_
          • 8 years ago

          No, you’re exaggerating. Most modern UEFI Dell laptops display a blank screen for 3 seconds or so, then a dell logo for 2 or three more, then another few seconds of blank before the loading windows comes up. Hell, my not-that-old Studio17 takes 10 seconds to just start POSTing.

          Show me a single youtube video of a windows laptop cold booting from pressing the power button and I’ll eat my words quite happily. 10 seconds from the “loading windows” screen to a login screen is believable, with an SSD. It’s more like 30s from power-on to the time you have a usable desktop though.

          The only “10s boot” I’ve found was a trade show video of a lenovo T400s with an experimental bios. That “boots” in 14 seconds but skips the login screen and runs what is clearly a very stripped down OS. I’ve yet to ever see a real machine or user-uploaded video of a store-bought Windows PC booting faster than about 30s.

          Here’s the first video I found of someone who was PLEASED with their boot speed (rather than moaning about how slow it was):
          [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4akVVEQ58k[/url<] And here's another example of how far behind the curve Microsoft are: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQq4_j2Nnkg&NR=1&feature=fvwp[/url<] I WANT fast boot technology. You Just. Can't. Buy it.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            Just started a HP 8200 Elite Ultra Slim Desktop with an 510 SSD and power button press to desktop is 21 seconds, a full 20 seconds faster than the Snow Leopard system.
            i5-2400S @ 2.5 GHZ
            4 Gigs RAM
            Intel IGP.

            Hardly beefy specs at all by today’s standards.

            • Chrispy_
            • 8 years ago

            510 SSD is considered high-end, and as a single component costs more than some complete systems.
            21 seconds is impressive, but it’s still not the claimed 10 seconds.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            21 seconds is a rarity to nil for the user, all systems sleep and resume instantly (1-2 seconds), all systems patch during non-user hours silently.

    • glynor
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]Typing things on that Apple keyboard is great. Wanting to make a change to something a few lines up and trying to position the cursor precisely with the touchscreen is... less great. More complex operations like cutting blocks of text and pasting them are possible, but it feels like playing the claw-grabber carnival game, trying to pick up a toy in the glass box. iA Writer attempts to circumnavigate these problems by using really huge text, which makes me feel like I'm fumbling to edit the large-print edition of Reader's Digest. Perhaps with lots of use, I'd become more proficient at it, but mostly I just want my mouse and pointer back. During such moments, the inclusion of a touchpad in the Eee Pad Transformer's keyboard dock sure seems like a smart move.[/quote<] I couldn't agree more enthusiastically. If I have one major complaint about using the iPad as a productivity device, it is this. When you are typing, repositioning and moving text is a big pain. It works, but you feel like you are "slip-sliding" around the interface, rather than using something well designed for the task at hand, particularly if you're using an external keyboard and the tablet is just out of easy reach. When you are holding it in your hand, the text selection and insertion works fine for little things, and it is perfect for the phone. But I do think the iPad may need its own text selection and insertion scheme at some point. [quote<]My biggest frustration with using the iPad 2 as a Remote Desktop client, however, is the way iOS handles multitasking—that is, not at all really. What the OS is doing is probably better called "backgrounding," since apps not in the foreground are largely just suspended.[/quote<] If you use your iPad as a remote desktop client a lot, or want to, I'd really suggest you consider using a VNC server on your computer and using either iTeleport (the one I use) or Screens (I'd already bought iTeleport when it came out, but LOTS of people love this app). I tried, for a time, going the Windows Remote Desktop route, but I ended up basically as frustrated as you did. TightVNC Server on the desktop + iTeleport Jaadu VNC (or Screens, I bet) is utterly fantastic. The reconnection thing when you background the apps is handled completely seamlessly, and it is simple to set up multiple remote connection "profiles" that are easy to connect to and use. To make the experience even better, I have even set up a couple of VMWare instances that run on boot on my home "server" machine (one Win7 and one OSX Snow Leopard). The beauty of the VMs is that I can set the display resolution set to 1024x768 and enable a few "large font/icon" settings like you would for a HTPC. It [i<]feels like[/i<] using a desktop PC on my tablet, when I need it, and is extremely useful.

    • RickyTick
    • 8 years ago

    “flinging miffed fowl” made me chuckle. Thanks

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    “cloud-based automatic user data backups”
    Big Brother?
    No thanks
    I prfer my freedom.
    I can’t imagine any real American does appreciate intrusive machines like “cloud-based automatic user data backups”

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      And you know what? YOU CAN TURN IT OFF AND NOT USE IT and still back up the same way you’ve backed up iOS devices for years.

      • poulpy
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]I can't imagine any real American does appreciate intrusive machines like "cloud-based automatic user data backups"[/quote<] What's a "real American" exactly? Got plenty of stereotypes ready to use in my head just want to know which one to apply there.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        I can only assume it’s this: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGuhZvO1DKg&hd=1[/url<]

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    “Also, jailbreaking to gain more control is always an option.”

    Pretty sure that jailbreaking is not “always” an option for iPad 2 because its CPU is built to fix the thing that made jailbreaking easy on every other iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad. That is, pre-iPad 2, sure, always an option. iPad 2 just recently had the vulnerability removed that allowed you to jailbreak without that CPU hack. With iOS 5 pushing auto delta updates in the background, I suspect jailbreaking will be eliminated in short order.

    Other than that, interesting article. I agree with the majority of what you write out, but your final comments sure don’t seem to remember your earlier point that content creation is a lot of “settling” compared to the often smooth experiences you’ll have while enjoying content. Having to email or Dropbox yourself a doc instead of just having it move over?

    I think games are the killer app for iPad’s and I think that a price drop (or two) will cement the fact that netbooks just have no place in the market. When you can get an iPad for $300, I don’t think there’s room for a netbook without some serious price cuts beyond even the lowest of today, better screens (that undermine said price cuts), and much better hardware than seems currently possible for now or the near future. I’m not talking about laptops, btw. I’m talking specifically about netbooks.

    I feel that laptops have a future because I think laptop CPU’s are powerful enough with multitasking and superior GPU’s as their emphasis to warrant being a content creation platform. I suspect Intel and AMD are both right about the future in their own way. Intel is right to emphasize power efficiency and ultra thin platforms; AMD is right to emphasize the GPU functions as an equal to the CPU functions in the APU. Combine the two ideas and you get a ultra thin laptop with a mSATA SSD and a likely Trinity-based APU that has the CPU and GPU of a mid-range gaming computer with the thin and light qualities superior to a Macbook Air. Then throw in Windows 8 with its Windows 7 spec requirements, emphasis on emerging controls (touch, kinect, voice, etc.) using their “touch first” UI and the promise of not only a Windows App Store but a fully integrated platform experience (ie., Xbox for gaming (replacing GfWL on PC), Zune for music/videos, etc.) for all their devices (ie., Xbox 360/successor, Windows 7 Phone, PC). Plus, Thunderbolt and external PCIe solutions of like type are coming to enable you to connect incredibly high speed devices to your laptop to give you the option to add the high end, high performance, high heat components to your otherwise thin and light laptop without them always having to have said components. Suddenly, it’s not hard to imagine daisychaining from your ultrathin with external PCIe into an external high end GPU and from that casing chaining out to your 30″ display.

    It won’t be as powerful as the desktop it’s replacing, but it’ll be powerful enough to justify the effort of adding it. It’ll also remain as niche as any high end video card is today. Plus, because the GPU functions in APU’s will be constantly accelerating, you’ll see GPU manufacturers fighting to keep discrete video cards relevant as the LCD gets higher and higher in performance.

    I see it in terms of objects we have today. Your laptop becomes your briefcase/artbook/writer’s tablet. Your tablet becomes your magazine/home console/smaller TV movie watching. And your smartphone/ipod touch is your phone (duh)/handheld gaming/day calendar/notes taker. If there’s any place for desktops in most people’s homes in the future, I imagine it as ever-shrinking headless servers/NAS that run something like WHS or as HTPC-like devices similar to AppleTV or Boxee Box. Emphasis on the cool-running, the small, and the “powerful enough.”

    I think desktops will become incredibly niche, but that 30″ displays, etc, will move over to being additions more commonly used with the thin and light that is your workhorse central piece that forms the backbone of your computing experience. When you just want to gel on the couch, you’ll take your tablet and you’ll watch video possibly streamed from the iPad to your AppleTV, for example, and have interactive experiences with said videos from your tablet while the video is playing. This is the kind of interactivity with customers that a lot of content makers dream of. Such great marketing opportunities…

    I do think this will be the death of consoles. Let’s face it. Real Racing 2 HD can already push its gaming image to an HDTV either via Airplay to an AppleTV or via the HDMI kit. This is a 1080p image on your HDTV (not even the PS3 or 360 regularly give you 1080p gaming) while letting you control the game from your iPad 2 with a map and buttons plus gyro. This is giving you today what Nintendo is promising to give you probably at the end of next year.

    And Apple did it without even trumpeting the feature as anything worth mentioning. Now that’s with the iPad 2 that came out back in March. Imagine what next year’s iPad will be capable of in gaming graphics if the one that’s already been out forever is pushing Infinity Blade, Afterlife: Ground Zero (coming soon), Epoch (coming soon) etc. with Unreal Engine. That’s to say nothing of Dead Space, Real Racing 2 HD, NOVA 2 HD, Asphalt 6 HD, etc, etc. Look at the GPU performance jump from iPad 1 to 2. Imagine they do that again next year.

    Now combine the fact that even Carmack sees smartphones and tablets catching up to consoles within two years to the fact that Wii U coming at the end of next year is looking to only offer 1080p performance for games like we have today and every report about the Xbox 360 and PS3 successors suggests the emphasis will be on the platforms and not the hardware, plus the outreach of Sony putting Playstation on Android marketplace and MS finally after an eternity of waiting bringing together the Xbox console and the Games for Windows Live platforms…

    The writing is on the wall. MS and Sony see the end of consoles in the distance and are setting their platforms to be ready for it. Only Nintendo is clinging a stubborn belief in the old ways. Look at how well that’s worked out for 3DS.

    Tablets and smartphones will bring back the wild, wild west of PC gaming of yesteryear, developers will cry about how freemium and $1 games have killed the industry, but in time it will all bounce back after they adapt to the fact they can’t charge $60 for a new game that offers only 2 hours of single player anymore. And they’ll have to deliver on the promise of what DLC was supposed to be doing; increasing value of the games on offer.

    Personally, I look forward to it.

      • obarthelemy
      • 8 years ago

      I tend to disagree.
      – games and media consumption are not killer apps, they’re the ONLY apps, because work can’t be. Work needs a series of things (office-compatible software, LAN/USB/SD/Video… connectivity, pen input, probably Windows or even x86…) that just aren’t here yet.
      – most people around me don’t play games, and most of the ones who do play games play the most casual stuff (solitaire, sudoku… angry birds at most). I’m guessing the iPad’s GPU perf will rise only to stay on par with a higher resolution, if that materializes.
      – consoles are here to stay, they’re specifically included in MS’s plans. Might become ever more social/media-hub-ish, but will still be there.

      • Arag0n
      • 8 years ago

      HOLY SHIT! I don’t think was required such a long comment. I read it all, and I honestly agree with your idea about tablets being used just as media consumition and gaming devices. However, I have the expectation that Windows8 might break this rule and be able to take your laptop/tablet/desktop combined. You will have your tablet just like the transformer, and a desktop dock in home maybe with the extra GPU or whatever you need. The only thing I don’t see happening maybe it’s the full combo, phone-tablet-laptop-computer. It would be the most cost effective way to do the things, but I think most of people won’t like the idea to have their phone in a non-accessible position for long periods of time.

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    Good writeup. I have also tried several tablets, and for MY personal needs, and I have realized I want a tablet with the following:
    7” screen. IPS display. 3G connectivity. Active digitizer. 7” displays allow you to two-thumb typing, which is a little hard to do on a 9.7” display even in portrait mode. Also, 7” tablets are a lot easier to hold while in a mobile situation: walking, bus, train and so on because you can still possibly hold them up with one hand as they are lighter. Active digitizer will allow me to quickly jot down notes and figures from seminars, conferences, classes or when that bulb finally lights up in my brain. 3G connectivity also means that I can be sitting on a bus and still be connected though I guess thats partially solved by wifi hotspots on most smartphones nowadays.

    Of course, the big difference is that I am emphasizing highly mobile scenarios vs the more in-home usage you seem to be doing. For home usage, or for entertainment usage, 10” tablets are probably better.

      • obarthelemy
      • 8 years ago

      I’m in the same boat. Looking at the HTC Flyer, but wondering if I shouldn’t go whole hog with an Atom Win7 tablet, or even a Core one.

      I’d have bought something already if the drawbacks weren’t that bad: to heavy (all of x86 ones), iffy pen input (HP 500), pitiful battery (Asus EP121), I’m looking into Motion Computing gizmos. The price of the x86 ones can be rationalized away (hey, we’re getting a tablet AND a netbook/laptop), the price of the Flyer stings more.

      That $160 LiveScribe pen is starting to look good ^^

      • Cuhulin
      • 8 years ago

      I have the same set of issues. Right now, I do not believe there is a single tablet that is sufficient for all of these needs. The HTC Flyer comes closest, but the reviews all indicate that the stylus is not sufficiently integrated into the operating system for both navigation and filling in text entry wherever needed.

      I agree about the 7″ size — I use a nook color right now, and it works well for that purpose. However, for the touch typing, it appears that IOS is about to solve the problem with a split keyboard. (A 3rd party app, Swiiftkey Tablet, is in development for that on the android side, and I believe there are a few others as well.)

      Ultimately, I think I’m going to have two.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      Have you seen the split ‘thumb keyboard’ being put into iOS5 for the iPads? Should make landscape typing a little easier on a 10″ screen.

        • codedivine
        • 8 years ago

        I looked it up after I read your comment. Does indeed look quite nice.

    • nico1982
    • 8 years ago

    Well, I got one for development work, and I find it fairly comfortable for navigation from the couch or the garden (or from a spin bike, tied on the handlebars with two rubber bands :P), but little else.

    Honestly, the most serious flaw is lack of flash. I’d rather have unbearably laggy, battery killing flash experience at my discretion than none at all.

    I’ve tried and enjoyed games like Fruit Ninja or Cut the Rope on iPhone before, but gaming on the iPad doesn’t inspire me at all. Having a PSP probably doesn’t help it at all but I’m sure it depends on personal taste.

    Overall, tablets would be better with a more featured, close-to-desktop like OS: for example user accounts, shared folders between applications and true multitasking, since getting the youtube video or song in the background while doing anything else is just bothersome at the moment

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      I didn’t realize how much I missed Flash on the iPad until this weekend, which I spent playing with a new HP TouchPad (and which I’m using to read this article and compose this reply).

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        DID YOU BUY ONE? DO YOU LOVE IT? I really like webOS, let me know what the verdict is!

          • nico1982
          • 8 years ago

          I’m curious about this, too. I’m tempted to get an Android tablet for flash support, but webOS looks more polished (on paper at least).

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, we have a client who’s interested in using a bunch of them for a project, and we needed one for development anyways, so we snagged a 32 GB model. I’d been hesitant after hearing some reviewers complain about slow laggy performance, but in the first hour, I realized that it gets bogged down because it’s downloading a huge amount of stuff from HP. After that was done, I found it to be very snappy. Flash websites load and run with no problems (that I’ve seen) (so far). It’s noticeably heavier than the iPad2, but the curved back makes it more comfortable to hold. The back and the front are glossy, it’s the one thing about it that I hate.

          When it asked me to either create a new account or sign in to an existing one, I signed in with my Palm Pre account, and Boom! it just automatically downloaded everything from my phone – including all my apps. Very cool. Then it informed me that it was a one-time transfer. Not so cool. But there are at least a half-dozen utilities out there to perform automated, bi-directional synchs between the tablet and the phone via Bluetooth or WiFi, so no big deal, just disappointing.

          And, no need to jail-break it to get it working the way you want; HP actually includes an app with documentation on the homebrew community and the many patches already available for it. Go ahead and customize it to your heart’s content.

          I could go on and on about it, but I think the bottom line is: my step-son, who has an iPad2, wants to trade. He spent a big chunk of the weekend watching YouTube videos that he can’t see on his iPad, and using the multi-tasking to pop back-and-forth between YouTube and SMSing all his friends, telling them what he was doing. Incidentally, as an experiment, I just handed him the TouchPad with no explanations at all; he was multitasking with it within 10 minutes.

          So, all in all, I’m very happy with it (despite various ‘fanboi’ accusations hurled at me, I’m actually too old and techno-jaded to get over-excited about any device/product anymore). The developers get it this week, and then I’m taking it with me on a trip next week, when I’ll get some more hands-on time with it (it was difficult to pry it out of others’ hands this weekend). I’m going to load it up with some books, movies and music to give it’s entertainment capabilities a test (oh, one notable feature: the ‘Beats’ speakers truly are superb), but I’ll also be trying out the editor and the bluetooth keyboard, as I use it to make notes, etc. I’ll report back after that on how well it works for those functions.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            you should slip and mention where you work one time… i’d might be curious….

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      I’m on my Second Android-based device and would never get Flash. It is completely unnecessary for all video/sites I use.

    • thanatos355
    • 8 years ago

    I stopped reading at,

    “…I’m surrounded by excellent computers. Damage Labs is packed with high-end desktops connected to giant monitors…”

    ,just to tell you that I hate you.

    Back to the article I go.

    😉

      • Arag0n
      • 8 years ago

      And this should be the distortion field about why they don’t see Llano advantages…. not everyone has the luck to be able to build computers being as picky as possible…. some (or most) of people needs to do a compromise between features and price.

        • obarthelemy
        • 8 years ago

        Actually most people don’t care about features: they want something that Just Works, and is unobtrusive (small, discreet, not ugly, silent…). I’ve looked around me: out of 15 people I do computer stuff for, 2 (my game-playing teenage cousins) need more than a Pentium G620T nettop, if that. I’m using a Brazos myself.

          • Arag0n
          • 8 years ago

          You should realize I said features not performance…. features means size, means battery life, means heat, power consumption and what you can do with your machine. Most of people expects the user experience to be good and if possible be able to play some games even if it’s not at very-high sets. Windows7 definitely improves by owning a proper GPU for seamless transitions and windows effects. Most of the people I know, has a better computer feeling with a proper GPU and underpowered CPU, than otherwise. People really can’t figure if the task took 10 or 14 seconds to finish, but they realize so easy choppy transitions and effects in Windows interface or web browsers.

          The things that make people think a computer A is faster than computer B usually are:

          -Faster start/shutdown process.
          -Smooth Windows interface.
          -Fast application start up.
          -Good playability with games.

          A laptop/desktop with a Llano APU and SSD will outplace any Intel offering with traditional HDD’s in front of most of consumers.

          That’s why compare how long it takes to compress MP3 it’s a useless benchmark. People doesn’t care if it takes 2 minutes or 4 minutes as long as they need to wait for it, they will just do another thing while it happens or leave the computer alone. I will repeat it again, user experience it’s what people looks forward, not specifications. That’s why people keeps claiming Mac’s are the best computers, not because they have the best CPU’s or GPU’s, but because everything just seems to work, while in the Windows side of the things, plenty of laptops rely in a crappy intel GPU that makes everything choppy, including WORD, EXCEL, PDF’s and Web-browsers.

    • esterhasz
    • 8 years ago

    Thanks for the writeup of your experience – I appreciate that you didn’t get hung up on some normative model of computing but kept an open approach.

    I’ve had the iPad since it first launched and I must admit that I use it a lot less since I got a Kindle a couple of weeks ago. I still read and annotate scientific PDFs exclusively on the iPad but all recreational reading (except Web stuff) is now happening on the Kindle, which seems to fatigue my eyes a lot less.

    On the gaming side, I haven’t tried much (no time to game) but the iPad2’s ability to project rendered 3D to a TV through the Apple TV could become a real threat to consoles in a couple of years.

    Anyways, independently from people’s wants and needs, it’s extremely impressive how much of a footprint this device has left on our imagination of what computing is, can be, and should be.

      • obarthelemy
      • 8 years ago

      I really wish someone would do something about a Pro tablet. The x86 ones pay a very high price for running Windows (UI, weight, battery life, ergonomics, cost), and there’s a single ARM-based active digitizer tablet: the 7″, Android 2.x HTC Flyer.

      I need tablets with active digitizers, access to network shares, SD cards, USB ports (in and out), accessible on-board storage, video out…

        • vvas
        • 8 years ago

        You mean something like [url=http://shop.lenovo.com/us/products/tablets/thinkpad/<]this[/url<]?

          • Hrunga Zmuda
          • 8 years ago

          No, I think he means a real piece of hardware and not some lame kit bashed kit thrown together from surplus parts.

      • KoolAidMan
      • 8 years ago

      The Kindle is fantastic, best platform for reading books [i<]period[/i<], but at the same time that's all it does well given the limitations of e-paper. It is terrible for web browsing and everything else, while the iPad is better for everything else. Fortunately both are small and light so I'm fine just having both in my bag. 🙂 This isn't a slam on the Kindle btw, just realistic assessment based on the limits of current e-paper technology. If we're talking about emotional attachments to gadgets, I feel the strongest about my Kindle, love that thing.

      • cynan
      • 8 years ago

      That’s exactly why I’m not interested in tablets at the moment. I’m afraid that after the novelty of a shiny new toy wears off it will collect dust.

      I already own a desktop and 13″ laptop that I can use for “real” computing and games. And a basic smartphone for communications, navigation and some light apps. I just can’t convince myself that I need a tablet, Ipad or otherwise.

      The newer games on the Ipad 2 look geek-cool and everything, and if someone gave me an Ipad, I wouldn’t complain, but there’s no way I’d plunk down $500 so I can play Infinity Blade or Dead Space on a tablet. If I was spending that kind of money on a gaming machine, it’d be for a video card upgrade or maybe on a new console when MS and Sony release their updates in the next couple of years.

      That said, I’m interested in getting an E-reader as it fulfills a purpose that my other devices don’t and any tablet will do poorly do to being backlit (but there’s no way I’d spend more than $200 on one). Perhaps when the Kindle 4 comes out… The one caveat is, as you mention, a tablet’s ability to annotate PDFs – I’m hoping the next gen E-readers will have improved functionality in this regard.

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