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Apple iPad: revolutionary, or just a silly idea?

Alex Christie

10 February 2010

The tablet computer, which is generally defined as a computer format with wireless capability and a touch screen, is not a new idea.  Arguably conceived from science-fiction television shows, often seen in Battlestar Galactica for instance, these computers are seen as lifestyle tools.

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So when the design savvi, hugely successful, technology company Apple Corporation recently announced that they were going to release a tablet computer called iPad, there was a surprising lack of excitement and enthusiasm from the general electronic consumer communities; these buffs referring it simply as a big version of an iPhone/iTouch, arguing why should they need something that sits between an Apple Mac computer and an iPhone?

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For me personally, I’m really exciting about this product.  I won’t ramble on about it’s specifications, but lets just say it’s a slow computer, probably a little bit speedier than an iPhone.

The bits I’m really excited about are: it’s a tablet computer, it has 10 hours of battery life, it has a UK price tag of around £450-500 for the cheapest model, and it uses a solid state hard drive.

On paper, this sounds like a product in the netbook or cheap laptop computer market, so what’s the big deal?  Crucially, for me, it’s a tablet computer in this very market that excites me.  I believe the iPad will open up tablet computing to the masses.

In the current market, the only mainstream tablet PCs widely available are very expensive, and highly engineered.  Even with the release of Microsoft’s Windows 7 in October 2009, few personal computer manufacturers have managed to integrate new Windows touch-screen technology to their portable computers in a cheap way.

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What else is special about the iPad?   Well, for me, it means I have a totally silent computer experience, where I don’t have to put up with hot air blowing out from one side and be sensitive to the fact that any sharp movements might corrupt the spinning disk, and hence my data.  It also means that I can do all the usual netbook/laptop stuff, but do it using an interface which is intuitive and extremely responsive; allowing me to access data quickly, and to focus on required information, rather than how to access it.   And on top of all of this, do it with style and elegance.

Making tablet computing widely available does beg the question; will it affect how we use computers in our daily lives?  For me, I can imagine being snuggled in bed watching a screencast on best practices for iPhone apps development, or read a pdf file with lots of  big diagrams, which you can’t do with an eReader… I know, so sad :-) .

I’m gonna agree with Apple on this one, and predict this is the computer revolution of the year.

I think I’m gonna be annoyed with mainstream PC manufacturers later this year, as I predict Apple is going to lead by design and function again, and they are going to have to follow like sheep.  Being a PC user, this is very frustrating.

It looks like my little piggie is gonna have to be cracked open for one of these babies this summer :-) .

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