For advisers trying to convince themselves (read that as rationalize) that they can buy the new iPad to replace their laptop — don't bother, you can't.
On the other hand, for advisers who readily admit they are gearheads and that just love having the latest gadget that actually works and especially those who love Apple products, I have it on good authority that you will love the iPad.
Apple's much anticipated iPad Internet tablet is supposed to arrive in stores this Saturday (April 3rd). (In fact, “Consumer Reports” already wrote me today offering up a reviewer to speak with on the subject next week — so stay tuned for that).
First let's get the shortcomings out of the way.
No USB ports — no ports at all as my friend and former colleague Tim Gideon at PC Magazine points out.
“[That] tells you that this product is not meant to be a full-fledged computer, or the substitute for one,” he said in his review posted today.
You have to use e-mail and/or iPod-type syncing to move documents or files on and off the iPad.
The iPad also lacks Flash support meaning you won't be able to properly look at a lot of work-related content in our Microsoft-dominated business world. It also doesn't have a camera or a video recorder and it can't run multiple applications at once.
Those are the downers that will prevent many of you from buying it as a workhorse.
Even so, in speaking with Tim I found that you can't totally discount the iPad for doing a lot of typical work-related things — even though you are going to spend a little bit more to do so (see below section on iWorks and Pages).
For example Tim told me he was quite impressed with how the iPad handled Microsoft Word documents and word processing in general.
“I wrote the whole iPad review in Pages and ran into no trouble,” he said
“If you are going to edit though, I'll be honest, you'd probably like to have something like a mouse,” Tim said. He even wrote the review using the touchscreen keyboard (there is a $69 Keyboard Dock accessory that provides a full physical keyboard and holds the iPad up at a reasonable angle).
“Pages” also was good about asking if you wanted to convert things back to Microsoft Word document format at the end of your work as well.
The device comes with a dozen programs already loaded. These include App Store, Calendar, Contacts, iPod, iTunes, Mail, Maps, Notes, Photos, Safari (Apple's web browser), Videos, and YouTube.
Tim said he was very impressed with the tight integration of the Mail, Photos, and iWork applications; he also said it could end up being a real threat to the Kindle as an e-reader (check out his review for a lot more detail on that as well as a great deal on the iPad's music capabilities).
Now a few words on iWorks: First, it doesn't come preloaded and it isn't free (yep, the three programs will cost you $9.99 each at the AppStore). iWorks is made up of three programs: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.
“Numbers, which is the spreadsheet-like application, I found it a little less intuitive,” he said, adding, “people are just so used to tables and [Microsoft] Excel, so I think it will take some younger, open-minded business types to really adopt this.”
Tim was significantly more enthusiastic about Keynote though.
“Anyone that is used to PowerPoint can use it,” he said. “I came up with a presentation pretty quickly and found the interface quite intuitive in putting it together.”
Now for those that just want to play there is plenty to love.
Its profile is slim; it is relatively lightweight at 1.5 pounds and has, in the opinion of most reviewers thus far, a beautiful 9.7-inch touch screen.
It runs a highly-customized version of the iPhone operating system, its chipset, which remains somewhat of a mystery seems powerful enough to run most multimedia applications with aplomb and the folks at PC Magazine were able to get nine hours and 25 minutes out of the battery in their model with WiFi switched on. And as for wireless support, the WiFi model supports 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1. The 3G models haven't shipped yet so I won't touch on that.
As for cost: The low-end 16-GB model will go for $499. The middle-of-the-road 64-GB model with WiFi is $699 (that's the one PC Magazine tested for its review), and the coming 3G version (that also has WiFi) will sell for $829.
Those of you that want all the skinny on the device please check out Tim's lengthy and comprehensive review of the Apple iPad (WiFi) at PC Magazine.
For those that just want a great slideshow with 95 pictures of the iPad in all sorts of situations and uses check out the one the folks at PC Magazine put together.