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Old 31st Dec 2010, 10:20   #1
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Is the iPad the future of computing?

Here’s the crux of my thought – imagine a PC that doesn’t fail, yet is cool, fun and easy to use....

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2010/12...-of-computing/
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 10:33   #2
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Simplicity, yes, reliability, yes, but I'm not sure the class of os used by the iPad would lend itself to the more serious sort of work a "PC" would be expected to undertake.

One of the first problems they would have to resolve is the lack of a mouse as using a touchscreen on your desk for 8+ hours would result in a serous case of gorilla arm syndrome.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 10:47   #3
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To answer that question we need to look at how most computing tech is used by most people (=! Geeks R Us). We then get grossly speaking three camps: PCs are used at work, for work. Game consoles are used at home for play. Smartphones are used everywhere for social networking and casual browsing and gaming.

The iPad is a device for the latter, only more so. It will not replace work PCs or game consoles, but for the majority of people who could not care less about consoles and see PCs as something they have to put up with at work, perhaps, but would never let cross the doorstep of their own home, an iPad is just the ticket.

People on this forum struggle to see that, because they use computers for so much more than casual stuff. But the majority of people see computers as capricious, awkward to use and clunky devices. The iPad is simple, reliable and convenient.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:24   #4
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I experimented in the week before Christmas by only taking my iPad and a bluetooth keyboard into work, instead of my MacBook Pro. Normally I have to connect the MacBook through Remote Desktop to the Windows Terminal Server, since our corporate incarnation of Exchange is too elderly to play well with OS X.
For some reason, the iPad does connect well to Exchange — better, in fact, than our desktop PCs and my Remote Desktop, at least in terms of reliability and functionality.
Needless to say, anything complicated like laying out a document in QuarkXPress had to be done on someone else's machine. The iPad doesn't run Lightroom either. But, then, outside of my department which runs the PR, marketing and graphics for our 2,000-strong organisation, none of the desktop PCs do either. They are exclusively used for Outlook, Word, Powerpoint and Excel, and most of us spend 95% of our time reading documents and giving short email replies, and 5% or less of our time creating documents.
The iPad is a lot easier than a desktop PC for reading documents, plus it doesn't break the unwritten meeting-etiquette when you take it into a Board meeting.
Aside from the stuff that only my team do, I discovered I could live very happily with the iPad, at least for a week, and no desktop. My guess is that the vast majority of my colleagues could do the same.
I'm not sure about it requiring a larger form factor. The ease of scrolling and pinching on the iPad is so good that I didn't miss a big screen for document work. In fact, I rather enjoyed not having all the clutter, though that probably says more about all the extraneous rubbish on a typical Outlook screen than it does about screen size.
A part of me is still geek, and wants only to have machines which I can rebuild by hand, fix when they go wrong, and upgrade whenever I want to. But, seriously, I haven't taken a hard drive enclosure to bits for months, and I haven't swapped out components in a desktop for years. At work, if I tried to do anything of the kind, IT would have me up on charges of breaching their policies and protocols: our machines are so locked down we can't even install WinZip.
The part of me that just wants to get on with the job and work through the technology rather than with the technology loves the iPad. I agree: for most people, a keyboard and mouse equipped iPad is probably all the computer they need.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:32   #5
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Well I definitely think you're on the right lines. Certainly for a lot of home users the actual need for a full fat PC is not there. Most people word process, email, web browse, watch video, game and store pictures. You're pretty much 90% there already with a good tablet. Throw in some sort of docking station for the mouse, keyboard and maybe a screen and you're probably 95% of the way there today (have a look at the NotionInk Adam for just how close this is).

Business users are still a lot further off though. Firstly they are (a lot) slower to adopt new tech because its a cost to them. However the biggest reason though is apps. Every single business has some sort of specialist app be it financial, management or just part of their core business that they cannot often easily move away from. Its for this reason that although I very often replace the servers in SMBs with Linux ones I have never recommended that switch for desktops. I'm not saying its not going to happen because people are slowly moving things to web based infrastructure but it's going to be a slow move and not for everyone.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:39   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
But the majority of people see computers as capricious, awkward to use and clunky devices. The iPad is simple, reliable and convenient.
That is so true. Including the other parts of that post which I didn't quote.

Chatting with my work colleges, who all know their way around a computer being hardware engineers, they say they have hardly touched their home computer for non-work related since getting their smartphones.

For normal computing use, smartphones are almost perfect, only downside is it's screen size, which is fixed by the iPad.

If I'm not so into FPS gaming with keyboard and mice, I would have gotten a console and an iPad.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:44   #7
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Maybe, but not from Apple. They are just to restrictive interms of what you can and can't use ....software and hardware.

The iPad does strike me as a victory of form over function.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:55   #8
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I've been using my brother's iPad for the last week and have to admit it's a pretty neat little device, ideal for web browsing and light document processing. However, for more serious stuff, a mouse and keyboard is still the way forward.

The iPad is also about three times too expensive for what it is.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 11:57   #9
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I think the tablet and mobile market are following a similar pattern to the PC when it first started being adopted socially on a large scale. bear with me.

The PC was introduced in the early 80s and got adopted to use mainly for work purposes. There were games but not nearly as much as these days, and there was bearly any video capability. It then went through a phase of "Multimedia" branded advertising and hardware slogans as PCs got more distrubuted throughout people homes. The hardware became better with a focus on video and gaming, more power = more pleasure.

The tablet market has started off with this multimedia aspect e.g. video and gaming + browsing. And I am sure it will adopt the further "work computer" aspect too. It still has to develop more in terms of software, but all the hardware is there and ready and I am sure that in some specialised industries they actually use tablet PCs with specific software for their work.

People already use laptops and notebooks for work and lug them around with them. It is a great idea to have a more compact device that can also be used for work, the only aspect that needs more work is portable peripherals such as folderable keyboards which already exist.

Finally ther other barrier is the closed system of the iPad. This wont be a problem with specialised software taylored for specific jobs but for jobs that require more function then just "click on this app" the OS needs to incorporate a filing system.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 12:04   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerbob69
Maybe, but not from Apple. They are just to restrictive interms of what you can and can't use ....software and hardware.

The iPad does strike me as a victory of form over function.
But the entire point of the iPad is not having to worry about your hardware or software, there's no messing around with the device, it just works.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 12:09   #11
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One other catch is for anyone with kids. My boy uses a PC or laptop at home for educational stuff, some of it communicated through his school.

Whilst I am sure there are educational things you can access with an iPad, I am not so sure it is flexible enough to cope with the things he needs to do. The mouse and keyboard are required here.

In addition, an awful lot of people use a PC at work and I am fairly sure that even more people will need to in future. Learning to use a PC, keyboard and mouse is now a key facet of work experience. I am not sure that knowing how to use an iPad will be considered a must-have skill by most prospective employers.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 12:19   #12
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Quote:
A device that’s as neat as an iMac, cheaper than a conventional PC and as easy to use as the iPad should have a big future.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the iPad is more expensive than the sort of PC most people would be content with?

All in all though, an interesting concept and definitely one with some merit.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 12:41   #13
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There are many myths surrounding the computer industry. Fanbois tend to wage great religious wars over them.

Some myths around the iPad:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete J View Post
The iPad is also about three times too expensive for what it is.
If that is so, why has no competitor brought out an equally specced tablet for less money --especially if those specs are so poor, as many people argue? Every attempt to underprice the iPad has been accompanied by a cut in quality, such as a smaller screen, a poorer quality touch screen, inferior use of materials, a more limited battery life. Strangely enough, the inclusion of features the absence of which is lamented on the iPad, such as USB ports, SD cards and cameras does not seem to make them any more compelling.

Quote:
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Whilst I am sure there are educational things you can access with an iPad, I am not so sure it is flexible enough to cope with the things he needs to do.
There is already a booming market in educational apps, and some of them are already going way beyond what is available on the PC. From a beautiful interactive version of Alice in Wonderland and Dr. Suess' The Cat in The Hat to Starwalk guide to the heavens (hold the iPad up to the sky and it shows you a maginfied view of the constellations, like a virtual telescope), or MathBoard (a virtual blackboard on which you work out equations by hand, suitable for ages 4-13), the possibilities are only just being explored.

Quote:
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The iPad does strike me as a victory of form over function.
If that is so, why is everybody raving over its easy usability? Grannies use it; 4-year olds use it. Seems to me it is a triumph of real-life application over abstract meaningless specifications.

This is where the PC market fails: it advertises PCs as having an "Intel Dual Core Processor (dah-dun-dah-dun!) and so-many terabytes of harddisk!". Big whoop. Most people don't even know what a "core" is, why "dual core" is a good thing, or how many holiday snaps and music tracks fit on a harddisk of X Terabyte. What is a Terabyte anyway --never mind, what is a hard disk? Most people don't actually know. You are dealing with a population 60% of which could not reliably point out their own stomach or liver, let alone where the CPU is in a PC.

Apple on the other hand, does not bother with specs. It just shows the iMac, the iPhone, the iPad and says: "These are the cool things you can do with it". It looks snazzy. It looks fun. It looks uncomplicated. Guess what appeals to people more?

Quote:
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In addition, an awful lot of people use a PC at work and I am fairly sure that even more people will need to in future. Learning to use a PC, keyboard and mouse is now a key facet of work experience. I am not sure that knowing how to use an iPad will be considered a must-have skill by most prospective employers.
The argument in the article is that if a laptop/desktop-shaped device could be created with the OS of the iPad, then people would not have to learn to use a PC. They'd just use it.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 12:50   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
There is already a booming market in educational apps, and some of them are already going way beyond what is available on the PC. From a beautiful interactive version of Alice in Wonderland and Dr. Suess' The Cat in The Hat to Starwalk guide to the heavens (hold the iPad up to the sky and it shows you a maginfied view of the constellations, like a virtual telescope), or MathBoard (a virtual blackboard on which you work out equations by hand, suitable for ages 4-13), the possibilities are only just being explored.
Fair point, I wasn't aware of this (I don't have an iPad).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
The argument in the article is that if a laptop/desktop-shaped device could be created with the OS of the iPad, then people would not have to learn to use a PC. They'd just use it.
Whilst I see your point, and that of the article, I do not agree. I simply do not see the huge variety of business applications currently in use being run on an iPad-like O/S. Making applications for the lowest common denominator may work in the consumer market but it simply does not work in the business market.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:02   #15
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it6s a nice idea and you make some good points, but i can see one sticking point that will all ways be there...

cheaper than a conventional PC

...good flipping luck with that one if jobs is at the helm. but seriously, i would think about replacing my laptop for one if it cost the same (£320 refurb 2 yrs ago) and you could jailbreak ubuntu on to it
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:13   #16
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Quote:
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Whilst I see your point, and that of the article, I do not agree. I simply do not see the huge variety of business applications currently in use being run on an iPad-like O/S. Making applications for the lowest common denominator may work in the consumer market but it simply does not work in the business market.
Why not? Most PCs are operated by office drones for word processing tasks, perhaps some databasing, perhaps some spreadsheets. The hard-core business applications are limited to a small group of professionals who know how to use PCs at the same level that we do.

There is no reason why office software won't happily run on iOS. There is nothing intrinsically different about iOS from any other OS. We've seen Quake and Unreal run on an iPhone. I think that iOS can manage professional business software.

Of course the iPad in its current incarnation is not suited to those tasks. Then again, I think that any PC with a screen smaller than 24" is not very suited to most office tasks. I also think that MS Office is quite clunky and awkward. Outlook does not work in the way that normal people use diaries. Word is powerful but obtuse. Access and Excel require mid-level ninja PC skills to make proper use of. We are still a long, long way off user-friendly software.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:33   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
Most people don't even know what a "core" is, why "dual core" is a good thing, or how many holiday snaps and music tracks fit on a harddisk of X Terabyte. What is a Terabyte anyway --never mind, what is a hard disk? Most people don't actually know.
I hate to break it to you, fella, but most people don't know what an iPad is. They may have heard of it, what with the huge marketing push it's received, but they'll have heard of a hard disk too.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:42   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fruitloaf
Most people word process, email, web browse, watch video, game and store pictures. You're pretty much 90% there already with a good tablet.
No, you're really not. The only one of those that a tablet can do better than a dirt cheap Windows laptop is, arguably, watching video. And the iPad, with its 4:3 aspect ratio screen is possibly an exception to that rule.

What's it for? Seriously, until you can come up with a compelling answer to that question - and one that can't be countered by pointing out that a cheap laptop/desktop can do it better - the tablet will remain a niche product.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:48   #19
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Someone mentioned in another thread about the iPad competition or lack thereof, and how iPad2 will trump the new range of tablets when the new tablets can eventually match iPad1. Very true, but much more interestingly is not Apples dominance over the market, but how hard they push the tech - we need them to keep pushing it hard because we all benefit in the end with sexy gadgets and improved computing power.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:49   #20
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It's allways the same tbh. As soon as someone mentions Apple the blind haters crawl out of their holes and start cursing without even knowing the most basic of facts.

75% of the people having a PC at home do only stuff with their PC, which they could aswell do with an iPad: browsing the web, playback video and music or some office-tasks like writing an eMail or creating a PowerPoint-presentation etc. iWork for iPad is just excellent actually.

Get a docking-station for the iPad to attach a keyboard, mouse and tv-screen and you can use it just like any other PC.
The only thing lacking on an iPad is the possibility to install software as you like, but that is something not needed for those 75% of users we're talking about anyways.

Wait for the iPad 2 coming in March and see how many people will be pleased by it. iPad 2 will have USB and Camera, which turns it into the device the first iteration should've been.

Yes: I think the future of computing will be slates/tablets for the majority of people outthere as they've got enough power for most tasks you throw at them and because they're easy to use, lightweight and portable. Just what a mobile community wants and needs.
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...and allways remember, that the world is an orange!

Stop using your smartphone as much and look up!
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