What is the iPad?

So much media attention and fuss has been generated over the introduction of Apple's iPad that it's hard to focus on what the device really is. Many pundits make comparisons with existing computers, and then draw a connection to the price point of the iPad to suggest that the iPad competes with Netbooks in the market. My opinion is that kind of thinking misses the mark.

The iPad is not a traditional computer. It does some traditional computer things, sure, but mostly its about defining a new way of doing the things a computer does, while making the computer part of the equation fade into the background. The iPad doesn't want to be another computer in your life, it wants to be the life in your computer.

Forget about any of the traditional concepts of maintenance on the computer, forget about backups, forget about endless patches and upgrades, forget about incompatibilities, forget about synchronizing data, forget about all those computer things and instead focus on the work and play you use a computer for.

Handle email, consult and update your calendar, look someone up in your address book, all confident that your actions are available to all your devices; it's faster and simpler on the iPad. You'll have all the usual iPod functions available; music, videos, audio-books, but add to that the new iBooks application and suddenly your library is all portable. Need to read 10 books over the next month of travel? They're with you and they don't weigh anything.

Oddly, using the web is more enjoyable on the iPad! Its crystal clear screen is sized just right for web pages and its responsiveness is amazing.

Apple has released its iWork applications suite; Pages, Numbers and Keynote, for the iPad. I'm sure others will quickly compare feature for feature what's different, but here's a key point that likely will not see enough press; lots of work done computers used to be done with hands and working on the iPad brings hands back into the mix, and it's an improvement!

Where will the iPad make its initial converts? Home, school and office. Any home user will instantly find wonderful things about it, school users will love the idea of being able to carry all their textbooks, notes, lectures, papers and research on a device weighing just more than a pound, and office users will finally be able to unplug from their desks and get deep into the workings of their company with all their tools with them.

The iPad will win many people over for its glossy screen, speedy performance, and perhaps just a bit of the gimmicky "it's the latest thing" aspect, but what will keep people using this in every corner of the home, office and school is that it takes the best things about a computer and ignores all the worst. It's a whole new class of device and it's worth a trip to an Apple Store to spend a little time playing with one.

500 Words!

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