NEWS AND RESOURCES

What's New in Technology for May, 2010

Technology: The iPad...decisions, decisions, decisions

If you are as technologically dependent as most bosses and business owners today, you've been watching the launch of the iPad and wondering whether to get one. Here are some thoughts to mull over if you are contemplating buying a tablet.

What does it offer? Do you need one?

First of all, let's consider what the iPad is and what key features it offers.

  • What is it? First of all, the iPad is hard to classify. It's not a computer and lacks some of the features and capabilities we usually expect from a computer. It will not replace your notebook, but it is more advanced than a smart phone or personal digital device. Individuals will need to look at key features to see if this new hybrid fits their current pattern of Internet usage, and if it is a good investment.
  • Who is most likely to make good use of it? People who love e-reading and Internet-based entertainment. The iPad is perhaps most appealing to people who like to read books online, e-readers and those who browse the Web frequently, watch movies or play games on their current Internet-enabled device. Its larger screen, Wi-Fi capabilities and, in the case of the higher-end models, 3-G Internet connectivity are big pluses for many users. The battery is designed to last 10 hours even with lots of usage.
  • What about costs for hardware and subscriptions? Models start at around $500, but you'll need to pay around $800 for 3G capability and 64GB of storage. Is that pricey for what the iPad provides? Perhaps. Subscription rates for 3G capability with an unlimited data plan that will provide almost constant access to the Internet go for a reasonable $30 a month. Accessories are available (purchased separately). They include a docking capability that comes with an external keyboard.
  • What are its limitations? The iPad doesn't offer a USB port, an optical disc drive, a keyboard (unless you purchase the keyboard accessory package) or a mouse.
  • What about applications/software? Your software options are to be found in the iPhone App store. The iPad doesn’t allow users to open multiple apps simultaneously, so if this is an important feature to you, it probably won’t suit you. The iPad is compatible with the iPhone operating system but not the MAC operating system.

The iPad has competition. Rival tablets all retail for about the same as the iPad base model, and each one offers features that the iPad and the others don’t have. Here are some of them:

  • JooJoo is aimed at Web surfers and has shortcuts to Twitter and Facebook. It has a webcam and is designed to provide high-quality streaming HD video. Its battery life is about half that of the iPad.
  • Entourage Edge runs on Google Android and has a camera and two screens, one for e-readers and one for Web use. Its batteries last 16 hours in e-reading mode and six hours for color use.

One other product, The Notion Ink Adam, is slated for launch in June. It will offer an HDMI port, a memory card slot and a camera.

Determining if the iPad is a useful addition to your technology tool kit is something that each of us has to decide for ourselves. There will always be early adopters who want to try new technology first, but there is a larger contingent that patiently waits for more feedback from the first users, and for prices to drop.

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