A Few Weeks with the iPad as a Netbook Replacement

I have used a first generation iPad as my primary mobile computing device for a number of weeks now. More specifically, I have tried to see if this tablet can replace my two-year old netbook. My findings are mixed, as you shall see.

First up, the iPad with me runs iOS 4.3.3, which is the latest version available right now, though iOS 5 is on the way and looks to transform the device. This iPad has 64GB memory built in, which is smaller than the 160GB hard disk of my netbook.

Pros
The iPad is lighter and more portable than my Acer AspirePrime netbook. It also gives waaaaay better battery life, which is an immediate plus in my books. My Acer is out of battery max in 3 hours, while the iPad sees me through a full work day and is still not dead by 10pm.

The iPad is always on, always connected, polling my email, running Yahoo Messenger and running other services as well. The slim profile makes for extra portability and I am able to carry the iPad along to settings that a netbook would have been clumsy to take to.

Before this time, I used to swear by 7-inch tablets, but The 10.1-inch display of the iPad has made me a convert. Having a display that large makes a huge difference in typing out documents, browsing web pages, managing emails and other tasks. From now on, it’s 10.1″ (or thereabouts) all the way for me when it comes to tablets.

Typing on the iPad’s onscreen keyboard is excellent. Superb, really. The display and keys are large enough to type as I would on a proper PC keyboard. I just hammer away! it really feels good typing long documents on this tablet.

Web browsing is great, but avoid Flash-based sites. They just don’t load at all. Music playback quality is great (stunning actually), though I would have loved if the speaker was louder.

Cons
Where the iPad frustrates is with Apple’s gadzooks approach to everything.

Want to send an email attachment? You have to open the app for that file, select the file and send from there. Want to send multiple attachments in one mail? Be my guest.

Want to copy non-media files from PC to the tablet? Look for workarounds or forget it.

You can’t send or receive files by Bluetooth to/from other non-iOS devices.

The iPad does not support a range of video types, and iTunes won’t sync those at all. You have to convert first on PC to get iTunes to copy them over for playback on the iPad. I haven’t had to do that in years, so I just haven’t bothered. I’ve got the video end covered by my Nokia E7.

Open or Closed
The iPad is a mixture of great and terrible. It is a stunning device that limits you in many ways. While there are tons of apps to make up in part for some of those limitations, finding them in the AppStore did not prove easy.

For example, in searching for a Documents Editor, I had to use a wide range of search phrases, each turning out a different set of documents editors that are not thrown up at all when I use other search phrases. Crazy. Tedious. I spent hours finding certain apps. Hopefully, the search performance will be improved some more over time.

If Apple would open up iOS some more, nothing would hold a candle to the iPad, and it would wipe out the competition. But as it is, many people who don’t want to look for workarounds and hacks to maximise their tablets are forced to look elsewhere.

There will always be those who are satisfied with what it offers, as well as those who cannot live with its lockdowns. Its the way the world rolls.

Conclusions
Has the iPad been able to replace my netbook? Not entirely. Some tasks are still easier to carry out on my Acer than on the iPad. For, example, complex formatting of WordPress articles, and medium to advanced graphics editing.

Still, it has done a fairly good job of replacing my netbook for my most common tasks.

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0 thoughts on “A Few Weeks with the iPad as a Netbook Replacement

  1. Good review, YA. This is well appreciated, especially for folks like me who look forward to replaacing Netbook with the tablet. I have been wanting to settle down to make some findings on how it ccompares with Netbook. The implication of your revieww is that I might have slow down a little to find ouit about BB Playbook. That should have no problem synchronising documentsx with Documents To Go. I’ look forward to possibly seeing a comparison done between IPad and the PlayBook.

  2. ‘…as well as those who cannot live with its lockdowns. Its the way the world rolls…’

    I would say, ‘it is the way the cookie crumbles…’

    Some things are so basic, and taken for granted -that – if I am going to go the ‘tablet way’, it is unlikely to be an iPad

    Unless of course those limitations are eventually effectively and comprehensively addressed.

    Truth be told, most nongeeks (that is – ‘most of humanity’) would probably do just fine with a device like this.
    thankfully, there are other ways apart from the Apple Highway..

  3. Besides, I wonder why those limitations are there.

    They are surely not for technical reasons.

    So, why not just make the ‘Apple Way’ confirm to standard STANDARDs?

  4. Nice Read. And to the point without leaving out the minuses. Yes, Apple’s restriction kind of limits the ipad but its expected considering the need to sell MacBook and make money. I think the restrictions were done for commercial/profit reasons. If the iPad was so good and can replace the Pc then there may be no need to buy a MacBook or Pc laptop.

    Also, with iOS 5, many of the problems would be corrected.

    And concerning playing different video CODECS with the iPad I think you may need to download VLC player or cinex Player which do the job very well.

    Despite the shortcomings I’d say the ipad2 may still the best tablet out there. Maybe until the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 becomes readily available. But if you give me to choose now, considering that iOS 5 is right round the corner; I’d pick the IPad.

  5. The iPad is not perfect but it suits the needs of a lot of people out there. Specifically, Apple’s target population – the average Joe on the street. I overheard two middle aged women (actually more like in their 60s) talking about buying the iPad 2. I was stunned. It fills that niche between the smartphone and a laptop. Heck find me a new product that brought in close to $10 billion in its first year of existence and I’ll say you’ve found a winner!

  6. The VLC app is no more available in the Appstore, Apple has yanked it off. What is available is the VLC Streamer. Cinex should be great too.

    It amuses me when an app is available for a function that Apple has refused to allow, well; that is why Developers Love Apple.

    With the way things are going it is now clear that Apple has no choice than to start opening up all those things bit by bit. (With iOS5 we can see that Apple has already started)

    The workarounds to enjoy Apple Devices to the fullest is like what needs to be done to get Honey from a Rock.

    What I love about Apple is the Eco System.

    iTunes is like a 1Stop Shop for all my Entertainment needs. I rent Movies, get songs, TV Shows, lots of Apps, Books, Podcast etc. Its as if Apple thought about everything. I enjoy all this with iTunes on my Laptop and my $99 Apple TV, cant wait to get my iPad2.

    Nice write up.

  7. This is a very nice one.

    Afewgoodmen rightly pointed out that those restrictions are for commercial reasons. Is it not unfair that one would shell out the lot of hundred and something thousand to acquired a device that is supposed to give him services, only to have some those services being deliberately disabled by the manufacturer in a bid to lure you to spend some more money on some other of their product? I mean, loyalty to a brand shouldn’t be coerced, it should rather be coaxed!

  8. i’ve never been sold on a tablet pc even though i think drawing on them would be swicked sweet. It just that $300+ is a lot to spend and still own a laptop. I’d rather buy a really strong laptop and a graphic tablet.I’m not a big apple fan, so….

  9. Nice review… Very honest. I had similar problems for a while till I found my way around it. Thot I’d share the tips.
    1. When it comes to non media file transfers, you can do it on any laptop that has itunes 9.2 or later and you dont need to sync… Just download iphonedrive in the appstore (free) and u can do multiple transfers.
    2. Also, there’s an app that plays all kinds of movie files besides vlc for ipad. Its called yxflash. There are others too.. Plays all kinds from avi to wmv (which are normally not playable) without having to convert them

  10. Olanrewaju David, Are you sure there is any app like xyflash in the apple app store? i searched and found no such thing.

    However the Oplayer HD lite and Oplayer lite mentioned by Dayo in a recent review is fabulous. I’ve had time to play with it and I rate it higher than even the VLC player!

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