What it can't do
And since the iPad is effectively just a screen, it was certainly easier to lug around and use while standing, for example. Old-style Tablet PCs? Just too bloody heavy in comparison. And the iPad is a much better media playback gadget than a laptop or Tablet PC. A 12-hour flight to San Francisco? I watched movies most of the way there and the iPad still had plenty of juice left after I arrived. Its display is certainly bigger and better than your average economy class seat-back screen.
Still I could have been stumped in some situations. The hotel internet connection, for example, was Ethernet only. Had I not had my now-discontinued Netgear portable hotspot, I couldn't have used my Wi-Fi only iPad back at base.
Wouldn't have been necessary if the iPad had virtual cursor keys
Had Intel or any other firm handed out press material on USB stick or even CD, I would have had to work without it. The USB adaptor in the Camera Connection Kit only works with self- or externally powered devices, which rules out Flash drives.
Now, some of these issues will solved by newer tablets that sport USB ports - though I haven't yet seen any with Ethernet on board. I'd not want to use a 7in tablet for this kind of work - nothing smaller than the iPad's 9.7in screen will do - but there are 10in Android-based tablets on the way.
For me, getting good Bluetooth keyboard support - a current Android weakness - and the productivity apps needed for word and picture work - ditto - would be essential before staying with the device type but shifting to a different OS.
But it doesn't matter - I'll be taking a notebook - my 11.6in Acer Aspire 1810TZ, most likely - next time. Relying solely on a tablet made for an interesting experiment, but not one I'll repeat on work trips. Holidays, yes, but not assignments. You see, there are really only two, small things the iPad lacks for productivity work: a pointer and a mouse to steer it. ®
Road test: putting the iPad to work
Surpised and impressed..
At the quality of the write-up, rather than the gadget. Genuinely fair and balanced- where there were problems, they were explained coolly, with sufficient context. It actually answers some niggling questions that I had, which I assumed I could only solve by buying one to see. The photo editing is particularly interesting to me, for various reasons- nice to see that you've not only had that problem, but hit the real world "no time to arse around with that" response.
So hats off, Tony. This is dangerously close to journalism. had Cade Metz or Andrew Orlowski delivered this article, it would have just been a partial, whiny exercise in breast beating. Cheers!
Lack of cursor keys
Spot on with that observation; it's amazing how useful cursor keys are and how annoying it is to use the point and magnify facility for typing. Doubly so if you're using a RDP emulator to connect to a server/whatever.
The lack of an an 'apostrophe' where God intended it to be by the return key is also annoying.
But, it has to be said that it's (yet another hit of the return key where the apostrophe should be) a great device for when you are travelling really light. I took mine on holiday just to do lightweight emailing & browsing; terrific for that.
I actually find typing - with the exception of the aforesaid apostrophe - really quite a good experience.
I reckon we need a keyboard application so we can customise the layouts or have special keyboards with four rows for editing.
Will be so much better with the forthcoming OS upgrade.
From where I'm standing, I am happy to give the tablet form a try, but:
1. Lack of proper and full usb host support, including for pen drives, 3g dongles, gps receivers, and any other adapters is an absolute deal breaker. I know some of this is already integrated - but I also need sometimes to test devices - I absolutely need this.
2. I didn't spot anything about printing support. Does the iPad support USB printing? If it doesn't - again, although I do less printing nowadays, I can't imagine working on a device/machine without straight forward access to printing.
3. Battery life - some netbooks (from Acer, Samsung and HP, or even MSI with 9 cell battery) already claim battery life in the region of 10-13 hours - so it seems close enough to me to not make much of a difference.
4. Operating system - at least for what I do - I need something that runs Linux. OpenVPN, Asterisk, ssh, ffmpeg, Navit, Thunderbird, OpenOffice. All the tools I know, love and use daily run on Linux. Some of them would run on OSX as well - but I believe far fewer will ever run on the iPad. I am not making a statement regarding the quality of OSX (or whatever the iPad is running) - merely stating the fact that Linux is a necessary environment for my work.
Yeah, so a Linux tablet, with full usb support, long battery life and decently low weight might just be an interesting option.
Do you even have an iPad?
1. In the last two weeks of using an iPad I've not noticed any heat from it.
2. "Apple not practical for day to day?" What are you on? We all want some! Magsafe on the MacBook power connectors, decent battery life on their laptops, Apple keyboards have been a joy to use since the 80s (remember the Extended ADB anyone?), and doesn't Apple hold the patent for touchpads on laptops?
Seriously, get real.
3. "cut and paste"??? Apple were doing cut and paste whilst PC users were staring at black DOS screens ffs.
What about price?
An interesting review - One thing I didn't see was the mention of price.
What's the cost of the iPad + accessories compared to the cost of your netbook/notebook?