iDontGetIt

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I’ve read over the various press releases and news stories about the iPad. And… iDontGetIt.

A recent Daring Fireball post said something really smart about any forthcoming tablet product from Apple. (I’m paraphrasing) “What are they good for, besides surfing the web from the bathroom? Apple must have a compelling answer to that question.”

From everything I’ve read, I just don’t see what the compelling answer is. To my eyes, the iPad is a smaller, lighter laptop. With limitations. Let’s talk about conventional laptop keyboards. They currently provide a number of functions.

  • Obviously, they provide a hardware keyboard. And this is a really useful thing; it allows my display to be dedicated to my content, rather than tying up some portion of the display to be used as an input device.
  • When a laptop is closed, the keyboard provides physical protection for the relatively fragile display.
  • A dedicated hardware keyboard provides some measure of ergonomic support, in that it allows the display to be presented vertically in front of the user while the keyboard is lower and parallel to the palms.

I don’t think it makes sense to deviate away from that design unless you can present clearly superior solutions. And does the iPad? Not by my accounting. No hardware keyboard, so for a lot of usage scenarios, my display is occupied by the software keyboard. There’s no protection for the screen; you’ll want a slip cover of case for your iPad. And there’s no propstand for the iPad, you’ll have to hold it in your lap and crane your neck to view it, Or hold it up with one hand and type (vertically) with the other. Ugh.

It seems to me, for what the iPad delivers, a smaller (less powerful) laptop (dare I say, netbook?) would be a superior solution.

And, don’t even get me started on the name? iPad? That pales besides every other noun I saw suggested. Tablet, Canvas, Notepad, Slate all would have been far less mockable.

I’d love to be proven wrong. But so far… this one isn’t making sense to me.

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