published Friday, February 5th, 2010

Jenkins: Two sides to the iPad: You can love it or hate it

by Donnie Jenkins

One of my favorite episodes of the original "Star Trek" series had Mr. Spock trying to confuse a pair of identical female robots by telling one that he loved her, but telling her identical twin that he hated her. The object was basically to make them both "blow a fuse" by the illogical nature of his statement, since they were both exactly the same.

The recent introduction of the Apple iPad tablet seems to have engendered a similar love-hate scenario. I have never seen any previous Apple product get such intense opposite reactions immediately upon its launch. Taking the role of Mr. Spock here, let me present both sides of this for you.

Apple iPad, I love you. My favorite aspect of the iPad is the introductory price of the low end model, only $499. This is truly remarkable for Apple, a company who rarely even tries to enter a market at the low end. The basic model has Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning you can go online with it at any so called "hot-spot" or wireless connection.

The iPad will run many of the current programs or "apps" designed for the Apple iPhone. This is great because there are so many applications already there to buy in the Apple app store, and the interface of the iPad will immediately be familiar to iPhone users.

The iPad uses a custom Apple processor called the Apple A4, and it is fast according to several reviewers who demoed it at the announcement.

Apple has designed versions of its popular iWork programs for the device priced at around $10 each. They also promise that several more productivity programs or apps will be ready by the time the device ships.

Now, for the other side:

Apple iPad, I hate you. Well, I don't really hate you, but you hurt my feelings when you came out of the box as a closed system. The iPad does not support Adobe Flash, which greatly limits its online ability. You may recall that Flash is the tool used to create animations online, produce streaming video on YouTube and other sites, and so on.

Apple says that Flash is too buggy and crash-prone to use on this device. No one can deny that Flash has problems at times, but it is presently the dominant video presentation platform or enabler online, and not supporting it means that the iPad is severely limited. For example, sites that present video only in Flash format won't work on the device.

Many believe that Apple is simply trying to lock up this device for their content preferences, and that not supporting Flash has more to do with business than with any limitations. We'll have to see how this evolves over time to know if this decision works out for them. One factor that may save Apple here is the sheer number of iPhone apps now available that bypass Flash completely.

The Apple iPad uses proprietary connectors instead of the more common ones used on other devices. Also, it's obvious that the device is designed to lock users into using iTunes and the iBook store, rather than supporting open design. Oh, Apple, my heart is breaking.

To sum up, there's a lot to like about the Apple iPad. It is innovative, priced at a great starting point, and it will inspire several competitors in its niche area. Those who don't like it will be even more vocal over time if Apple continues to maintain its closed system approach.

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eeeeeek said...

It may be pretty... but if someone gave me one, I'd sell it and use the money on a device isn't an apple derivative.

February 5, 2010 at 7:32 a.m.
moonpie said...

Why does it have to be love or hate?

Perhaps that's the nature of the news business, setting up dichotomies when there are more than 2 sides to a story.

Can't I just be indifferent?

February 5, 2010 at 11:30 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Mr. Jenkins, I always appreciate that you present both pros and cons of your product reviews. You write in an easy to understand manner, making the sometimes complicated computer world clearer.

Keep up the good work.

February 6, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.
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