Feeds

A multitasking iPad? Let's bin the netbook

Hey. Maybe this could be useful...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Comment It hasn't taken long for the iPad to be seen as a bit more than a pointless and expensive luxury lifestyle accessory. Just nine weeks - and in that time the hardware spec hasn't changed at all.

But last week's iPhone 4.0 preview, which isn't due on the iPad until autumn, already makes it look much more attractive as a netbook or laptop replacement than it did on Wednesday.

I'll admit I truly loathe netbooks. When the first models emerged at least they had their size going for them. Now they're bigger and more expensive, but mostly dog slow.

Size and weight matters to me, and the iPad has had these advantages from the start. The disadvantages of an iPad over a laptop were many, but the lack of multitasking was the biggest. That's been fixed now - at least well enough so most people don't notice.

Lack of a physical keyboard is another problem, but iPhone 4.0 gets proper third-party Bluetooth keyboard support. Apple's official keyboard accessory, the 'iPad Keyboard Dock', is very unlike-Apple. It can only be used on a flat surface, and doesn't look toddler proof: it places a lot of strain on a fragile connection. The Apple Wireless Keyboard will work, but it's a generic device. It doesn't make typing on your lap practical, as a custom-designed keyboard might*.

Apple_own_ipad_case

Even with the sleeve, it's less obtrusive than most laptops

But the iPad has gained VPN support and crypto, two strong candidates for grown-up computing. Whether any of the iPhone OS ssh clients can now sprout standard features such as port forwarding remains to be seen. I have no fear of jailbreaking to get at such raw features, but plenty of people quite understandably do.

Apple's version of multitasking may almost be good enough. I liked the observation that "if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager... they blew it. Users shouldn't ever have to think about it."

True, but Apple's method gets weary and RSI-inducing very quickly. Remember that most of us, most of the time, switch between just two tasks. iPhone OS 4.0 lacks a quick gesture to achieve this.

Dragon Dictation iPad app

Our Rik tries out Dragon Dictation

But I think with the OS update, the iPad will be finding its way into potential buying decisions in a way it didn't at launch.

ipad_connectors

Uh, no. Give me real USB

In January I had three good reasons to dismiss it as a laptop alternative: price, multitasking and the lack of a USB port. I consider the latter an essential gateway to a wider world of hardware such as cameras, card readers, controllers and things we haven't thought of yet.

Well, USB obviously isn't going to be fixed in this year's model, and may never be. It clashes with the purity, or puritanism, of the Steve approach. Multitasking has been fixed. The price for UK users still hasn't been revealed - so that's a variable. Obviously I'm not going to be writing a book on an iPad. But quite unexpectedly, it's looking like a useful bit of daily computing kit.

What are your deal breakers? ®

*In the past ten years I've tried every Bluetooth keyboard going and paired it with a smartphone. Each time, against my better judgement, I thought it might work. They were all more trouble than they were worth.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.