This is second in an indeterminate series of posts
about my experiences with the iPad I bought on
One mistake the Slashdot/Engadget/Digg crowds always make is
assuming that their harware use cases are universal: “It
won’t play my 2 terabytes of Ogg Vorbis files stored on an
NFS server. I can’t self-host the entire GNU toolchain,
therefore it’s useless…” I will try to avoid that
written in this space before about our Acer Aspire netbook.
It’s basically the third computer in the house — where
I use my desktop (a G5 tower) and my office laptop (a 13-inch
MacBook) as machines to “get things done”, the
Ubuntu-based netbook has pretty much functioned for a small set of
- Lightweight web browsing (e.g. acessing Wikipedia, the IMDB,
etc.) when sitting on the couch watching TV.
- A smart terminal for logging into the other machines to compile
code, move files around the network, mess around with the home
- A really portable machine for times when hauling around even my
7-pound Macbook and accessories feels like overkill. (I took it on
our December cruise, for example, and I take it to neighborhood
coffee shops sometimes)
- A small (but still bigger than a smartphone) media player
I will now say, that for the way that I have used a
netbook, the iPad is in most respects a (much) superior
- As it stands, the iPad is one of the most pleasing web-browsing
experiences available right now. The installed build of Mobile
Safari is almost unreasonably fast, on a device that, as I read
specs, sports a single 1GHz RISC core. I haven’t benchmarked
it, but what’s important is that it feels fast.
Pages pop, the rendering and reflow feels close to
instant, subjectively faster than my desktop G5 and on par with my
MacBook. It is far faster than a current Chrome build on
the Atom-powered Acer netbook. It’s not just the speed,
though. There is something very natural about browsing the web on a
magazine-sized device propped against your leg in an easy chair.
Mobile Safari very wisely stays out of the way, with minimal
browser chrome and widgets in your face. All the pinch and zoom and
double-tap to resize DIV stuff you’re probably familiar with
from the iPhone platform is still there, but with a 4x larger
browsing surface it really feels like no-compromise web browsing.
You’ve still got the “gravitational” fingertip
scrolling that’s so pleasant on the iPhone, too. Speaking for
myself, the absence of Flash is a feature, not a bug.
- As a terminal for interacting with other devices, the netbook
wins because of its full (cramped) keyboard. That said, for
the types of device access I tend to do on weekends (e.g. changing
router settings, etc.) the win isn’t a huge one.
- The iPad is far more
usably portable than a netbook. It gets far better battery
life (10+ hours vs. 3), is absolutely cool to the touch (the
netbook gets very warm in the lap), occupies less space
(no pop up screen) in use, and has no fans.
- The netbook plays (theoretically) more media formats, but with
Handbrake and Air Video,
getting any format to the iPad has become pretty trivial. The
netbook struggles mightily with fullscreen h.264, as well. As a
fairly frequent business traveler, I’m looking forward to
taking the iPad on long flights. Everything I’ve heard
suggests that getting 4 full-length films on a single battery
charge is not unreasonable.
It’s true that the iPad is currently more expensive than
most netbook-class machines, but not unreasonably so.
:: /tech/gadgets/iPad |