Weekend Product Review – It’s the iPad from Apple Inc

Weekend Product Review – It’s the iPad from Apple Inc

I love gadgets, and I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs and crew at Apple Inc.  I am interested in the track record of positive change and progress, and Apple continues to provide a tangible example of what that looks like and how it is done.  So every once in a while, I like to write about what I’m watching, hearing and learning about in the world of technology.

Have you heard some of the jokes about the new iPad?  The Apple iPad 1.0…Now available in mini, maxi & super maxi. 2.0…with wings and flow control.  Or the sniping?   “Obviously there were no women on the naming team.”

Since we’re all about the communication here at Dr. K’s blog,  let’s first deal with this business about the name.  Because to believe that a word, like ‘pad,’ belongs exclusively to a single concept, like feminine hygiene products, is to misunderstand the very nature of language. Words are symbols, and each of us has a uniquely personal representation for each word-symbol we use, with the result that many words mean many things to many people.

Fact is, the word ‘pad’ has been used for many things, including a place to live, a way to walk, something that makes something else more comfortable, and what people may put in their pants and bras to make themselves seem bigger. It has also been used on Star Trek in what Lieutenant Data might describe as handheld touch controlled wireless computing devices. And let’s not forget the verb form, as in padding a resume.

But really, what does it matter?  Because now it is also found a place in the name of an amazing product.  And if history is any predictor, the word will be more strongly associated with this product than with any of its other uses.

So much for the naming of it.  The real interest I have is in the product itself.   I’m not alone.  Already the blogosphere is buzzing with opinions, as people who’ve never seen it or held it or used it are excitedly finding fault with it.

Could the iPad be better?  Everything can be better.  That’s the nature of progress.  Your understanding of a product is determined in large part by the comparisons you make.  And what you compare the iPad to is illuminating.

The Kindle is a popular eReader.  But the Kindle, when compared to the iPad, is now pedestrian, pointless and also NOT pretty (unless money is your sole criteria.  You’ll save a hundred plus bucks buying a Kindle.  But otherwise, comparing the iPad to the Kindle is about as fair as comparing a bullet train to a Model-T.  (You can put a Model-T on a bullet train, but not the reverse.  And you can put a Kindle on an iPad, but not the reverse. See? The metaphor holds up!)

So let’s make some other comparisons.

Compare the iPad to netbooks, something Steve Jobs did at the special event speech, and it is quickly obvious that the iPad runs circles around them, offering a more portable browsing and email experience, with a library of great apps to truly leverage the internet.

Compare the iPad to a Mac laptop, and the fact that it is cheaper, does almost everything most people do on computers, comes in a lightweight form factor and with what is claimed to be a far speedier chip, and the iPad wins for consumers with modest needs and a love of portable multimedia, movies, television shows and podcasts, photographs and music too.

The iPad is an amazing achievement, inventing a new category of digital device.  But it’s just a part of the package.  It comes with three stores: The iTunes Music Store, The iTunes App Store, and new from Apple, the iBookstore. You can run Kindle as an app, so if you’ve owned and bought books on Kindle you won’t lose your library investment when you upgrade yourself to an iPad.

The iPad does is powerfully multifunctional, becoming a gaming device, presentation tool, or entertainment center, all at the touch of a finger and the flick of a wrist. It weighs about the same as a good sized book, and the multitouch display is a pleasure for people tired of mice, scroll-balls and pointing devices.  And it’s gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.

How thrilling it would be if it had a USB port and could do live video chat.  I’m guessing that some day we will.  Because  just as iPhone and iTouch have continued to improve, the iPad will evolve to meet our growing understanding of the paradigm shift in the use of technology that it makes possible.  For now, for the price, there’s no denying that this iPad is one WOW of a gadget!

Is there a downside to this product?  Not for Apple. It’s too well thought out,  and people will quickly figure that out.   But I suspect the success of the iPad will turn a number of other devices into roadkill, like other eReaders, and Netbooks.

I can’t wait to get a couple of them for our household. Most people I’m talking to feel the same way.  How about you?  I’d love to hear your comments!

Be well



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