2,124 of 2,225 people found the following review helpful
iPad pros and cons,
This review is from: Apple iPad 2 MC769LL/A Tablet ( iOS 7,16GB, WiFi) Black 2nd Generation (Personal Computers)
People need to be aware that the reviews you see for the iPad often reflect the old Mac/PC platform wars with some people making comments who simply don't like iPads from a distance, without actually owning one, because they see it as part of the deplorable Apple mania they find so distasteful. They're entitled to their opinion, of course, but it is unfortunate they skew the evaluation of this product without the deep acquaintance one needs in order to give it an insightful evaluation.
I have taught computer science at the college level for 26 years and have had computers with all kinds of operating systems. I don't own Apple stock and have never known anyone who works at Apple. I therefore have no connection to Apple.
I have had my iPad for about a month and read a fair number of reviews before I purchased, spent some time using one at the store, and thought about what I might use one for, in contrast to my laptop with which I am well satisfied. People too often think of computers in terms of hardware, the specs and looks, instead of the software and the functionality. You should ask yourself, "What will I use this for that solves a problem I would like to have solved?" Software is always more important than hardware, even though it is the hardware that makes an impression.
The iPad is not a laptop and is not principally a production computer, that is, a computer on which you are going to develop web pages, do serious graphics editing, or write a book. You could use your new Taurus to tow a trailer, but that is not what it is designed to do well. These things can increasingly be done on an iPad, but I don't believe they will ever be what it is best at. It is a portable media machine with an inviting touch interface that requires a somewhat different set of skills, which take a modest amount of time to learn. Surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, playing games, looking at new cars, reading the Economist magazine, all work better on an iPad than a laptop. It does these things very well indeed. There are now 80,000 apps for a wide variety of activities--given its design intent. The apps are either free or reasonably priced, so you can get a bunch from the "app store" for little investment. As with Amazon, you can see what other people think of an app before getting one.
This would be a splendid acquisition for small children, for teens deep into social networking, for an adult wanting to drop into the love seat for a quick look at what is happening in the world, for a senior citizen who wants a simple, inviting system with few hassles, to stay in touch with grandchildren. The iPad is not a light laptop; it is instead a different way to use computing to do a wide variety of consumption and communication--not principally production.
In my experience, its wi-fi is adroit from one environment to another. It "knows" where it is geographically, scans its environment for wi-fi, and accesses wi-fi seamlessly. At this point in time, we should expect no less. I cannot address the 3G communications since I have a wi-fi only (I am not convinced of the value of the 3G and I can use my phone as a hotspot). I have never had it crash, though I have had to back myself out of apps that seemed to have no logical next step. This was the result either of my ignorance or the fact that there is less of a standard user interface from app to app than there is in classical GUIs such as OS X and Windows.
For the laptop lugging road-warrior, it should be noted, this is not going to be a full replacement. I now take my laptop and my iPad when I go into the college. But much of the time there, I use my iPad because it is so light, convenient and useable. I use it to teach my classes and often reference traditional texts from the iPad instead of lugging them along to class. I develop my own web pages on my 27" desktop which is the right environment for such development; I wouldn't expect to do that on an iPad. In education (and evidently in medicine), it is proving to be a real boon. The enterprise situations where portable information access and transmission are critical will find this a compelling solution. The heavy Photoshop user or music track editor will still need a conventional computer, either laptop or desktop.
I purchased the 64GB version, which may be more storage than I need. But since it will drive my 50" screen downstairs I figured I would begin to load lots of pictures and favored music, so it may prove a wise choice in the long run. It can swallow up entire evenings with the music-augmented slide shows it can do. In fact, you may begin to wonder if you need cable TV. Conventional content providers should be worried about the iPad since it provides yet another way for the user to determine viewing experience. But if you are still drawn to cable, it makes a fine remote control.
Before people evaluate this new kind of computing, they need to spend a month or so with it to identify what it does well and what would be better left to other kinds of computing solutions. I fear some of the evaluations here (both glowing and critical) are not well informed and so do not serve the readers well. So read these reviews with a critical eye.
October 18 2011 Update:
I continue to find my iPad remarkably productive and productive in ways I would not have anticipated. It does indeed redefine how we can use computing so that it does the work we want to do with minimal impediments. I now leave my laptop at school and take my iPad back and forth since 80 or 90% of the time the iPad does all I need to do. I use it 3 or 4 hours a day.
I just ordered my wife an 11" MacBook Air with the larger RAM and storage, which might seem to contradict what I said in my review. I don't believe it does for the following reasons. She needs to do serious editing of Word documents for the volunteer work she does for the college and still wants the joys of a 2-pound piece of elegant hardware. She is an excellent typist and likes the feel of the Air's keyboard. A keyboard can be added to an iPad, but it's a kludgy add-on that compromises the point of the iPad: an ultra-light slim, touch-interface device that does most of what traditional computing does without the impediments of mouse and keyboard and weight. The 11" Air is a gem of engineering with many of the advantages of the iPad but it is more capable of the production I spoke of in my review since it is a full OS X Lion machine--so it is fully capable of running traditional production software such as Word or Photoshop or, for that matter, Windows.
The Air and the iPad illustrate the difference between a consumption device (iPad) and a production device (Air). Much of what is appealing in the iPad can be had in the Air, but at the cost of an additional several hundred dollars. It's not the solution I want since I don't want the keyboard getting in the way when I want to curl up with a consumption device in my favorite love seat or use it to assist my teaching in class. My wife prefers the Air since email and other typing-intensive production activities are so important to her. In a word, the iPad is distilled essence of computationally assisted consumption.
I guess we will give the phrase "mixed marriage" new meaning!
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Showing 1-10 of 57 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 29, 2011 1:45:58 PM PDT
george jackson says:
Such well written and helpful reviews are rare. Thank you, george
Posted on Apr 29, 2011 1:52:57 PM PDT
george jackson says:
Such well written and helpful reviews are rare. Thank you, george
Posted on May 12, 2011 12:42:17 PM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
Thank you for the well written review!
Posted on May 15, 2011 2:53:21 PM PDT
it was plaasure to read(your review) and learn esp about having to spend at least a month or two with this new kind of computer(Ipad2).Not having a great deal of tech savy one gets discouraged in spending this amt of money on a mystery.It is just to have to buy it first to spend a month or two with it that makes it seem like diving into a pool with an unknown water level. Thanks for the insightful review.
Posted on Jul 29, 2011 12:05:10 PM PDT
This is the type of review I've been looking for in order to determine the merits of a notebook compared to laptop. I appreciate the thoughtful and systematic approach. Your students are very fortunate indeed.
Posted on Aug 7, 2011 8:35:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 7, 2011 8:36:17 AM PDT
Thank you very much for a fair and unbiased review.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2011 9:12:37 AM PDT
Thanks George for such a wonderful review. It has helped me make a decision on what I really need rather than want.
Posted on Aug 19, 2011 8:02:00 AM PDT
John Hernandez says:
I echo the same sentiments!
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2011 3:30:46 AM PDT
@writerholic It's Larry, not George.
Posted on Sep 1, 2011 4:24:23 AM PDT
Except for the slights to hardware (which is typical from the software side), a good review. Thanks.