Monday, June 07, 2010

Should I buy and I-Pad and what would I use it for?

I visited an Apple store during my lunch hour to take a look at the new I-Pad. I have to admit I am tempted. As the store only had the most expensive models in stock checked my impulse buy and a period of reflection.

I like the way that Apple stores are set out to actively encourage you to play with the products. From the age of 14 when I started to take an unhealthy interest in technology Dixons shop assistants we constantly discouraging me from teaching myself programming on Saturday mornings in the very early ‘80s and so I find this approach refreshing. (Note to self:- I should have asked out the girl that asked me to dance at Anthony’s party, while I was trying to be hard with my mates and our halves of lager.)

I do like the I-Pad, the look and feel of it and the way in which I can interact with the content in ways that I cannot on my laptop or PC. There are a few niggling issues that helped stave off that impulse to buy the top end model solely on the basis that I could have one now.

As Andrew Clarke pointed out to me via Facebook on the day of its launch, the I-Pad does not play media clips from the BBC website. Given that I most want an I-Pad to be able to interact with some of my favourite websites from the comfort of my sofa this is a drawback. I understand there is some industry politics going on which I won’t go into here.

It would be useful if I could get the I-Pad to synch with my Address Book, Contacts List, To Do and Notepad. This is a set of personal data that I have maintained for well over a decade now and has lived and migrated across a range of devices, currently sitting on Lotus Notes on my Laptop which I use for work, my Blackberry and my Palm Pilot. As there is only one of me, I took the decision years ago to maintain one diary and this has stood me in good stead.

The bright young sales assistant helped me come to the conclusion that there was no way of achieving this easily.

The Mobile-Me service at around £60 per year is not a satisfactory solution to this dilemma, it does not easily synch with Lotus Notes and is a cloud based solution ideal if all you own are Apple devices and are prepared to pay for the privilege. There are Apps that may do this from the server, however I doubt I could or indeed should attempt to connect an I-pad to my company’s intranet, what I wish to do is synch directly from my .nsf file on my laptop. There may be a way of synching with Outlook or through my personal Yahoo Mail yet that may extend my synching chain from Palm - Lotus Notes – Blackberry – Outlook – Yahoo Mail – I-Pad, which is far too many links in the chain and do I really want to be bothered.

So I have to accept that the I-Pad will not do all of the things my PC will do and perhaps that does not matter, its about understanding what an I-Pad is and what its for. If I want to make a phone call I use my phone. If I want to write a document, create a spreadsheet or a project plan, that is work and I will do that at my desk on my PC or Laptop.

I really want an I-pad to belong in the living room, next to my sofa. I want to browse the net, listen to music, watch on line content (BBC clips excluded), check my social networking, read online newspapers. Currently to do that I either have to sit in my office, which is too much like working and I do enough of that. Or I undock my laptop and bring it downstairs, which annoys the cat and still does not give me the tactile interaction with content where the I-Pad really scores.

The I-pad is a great product, its not a PC, perhaps I don’t need it to be, it would have a use in my living room, I just need to work out what it is, what’s its for and can I justify the price. Or do I wait until something else comes on the market, a tablet PC perhaps?

No comments: