Technologizer: The iPad vs. Everything Else

johnd

By Harry McCracken

What, precisely, is the iPad? Compared with its iconic ancestors, the iPod and the iPhone, that’s a surprisingly tough question to answer. It runs the same operating system as the iPhone–but you can’t make phone calls on it. It has been hailed as the gadget that may save the publishing industry–though its e-reader software, which isn’t preinstalled, does not display magazines and newspapers. It features a bevy of games–but it’s neither an Xbox 360-killer nor a handheld device like a Nintendo DSi.

Most paradoxically of all, the iPad takes on the Windows world of netbooks and even more full-featured PCs, though it doesn’t run all Web apps. Or print. Or provide a file system that lets you get to all your documents in any app. Those shortcomings would make the very concept of competing with PCs laughable, if weren’t for the way its small size, touch interface, and impressive battery life add up to one of the best devices ever built for consuming content of all kinds, from Web pages to books to feature films. It’s both more fundamentally limited than a PC and an exciting sneak peek at where interfaces are likely to go–which is why it makes much more sense as a supplement to the other computers in your life than as a replacement for any of them.

In short, Apple’s tablet competes with an array of existing devices without mimicking any of them. And the best way to figure out whether it’s a plausible alternative to a PC, an e-reader, a game console, or any other better-established gizmo is to give it a whirl.

So we did–read on to see what we found.

[This post is excerpted with Harry McCracken’s permission from his Technologizer blog.]

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2 thoughts on “Technologizer: The iPad vs. Everything Else”

  1. Most paradoxically of all, the iPad takes on the Windows world of netbooks and even more full-featured PCs, though it doesn’t run all Web apps. Or print. Or provide a file system that lets you get to all your documents in any app. Those shortcomings would make the very concept of competing with PCs laughable, if weren’t for the way its small size, touch interface, and impressive battery life add up to one of the best devices ever built for consuming content of all kinds, from Web pages to books to feature films. It’s both more fundamentally limited than a PC and an exciting sneak peek at where interfaces are likely to go–which is why it makes much more sense as a supplement to the other computers in your life than as a replacement for any of them.

  2. Harry,
    Thanks for your article since it answered some things on my mind regarding the iPad as it relates to being an e-Reader. I both write and program e-Readers using Microsoft’s SDK license to convert what I write into a MS Reader format. The MS Reader is a free download as you likely know. It works on both desktop P C’s and laptops better than good. I don’t see the logic of paying for a small cute device which is substandard in my mind to say a laptop for those wanting and needing a fully functional Reader. However, I also think the world is flat so what do I know~ Yikes; I have revealed my stupidity in print-heck.
    Again thanks for the informative article and I don’t typically do responses to articles still I’ll share the above with you. Your thought that the iPad may be a hint of things to come is possibly directly on target and likely its strongest attribute. It may be another building block which provides a helping hand to the publishing industry yet the MS Reader with a little work and sweat can convert stuff from magazines or newspapers to their e-reader format. I am not a gamer so can’t address that facet of your article but my son is. He has mixed emotions about the iPad with some being + and others being – ! I clicked on the following hotlink you provided which I have bookmarked: So we did–[read on to see what we found. ] It was interesting and brought back fond memories of hard copy PC Magazine. I receive the online version yet still miss holding the magazine while relaxing in my recliner. I am a recliner potato and am past the point of being converted to ALL THINGS DIGITAL; other than my digital jogging work-out every other day.
    With a warm handshake,
    DB Horton

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