iPad. Why I shall be shelling out (again)...
Much discussion above about how iPad isn't sufficiently differentiated from smartphone to drive a major transformation in the market. Here's a few reasons why, for me, it WILL be worth getting one. Rather than looking at the issue in the abstract, I looked back at all the activities I have carried out on my iPhone and/or MacBook Pro (MBP) in the last 7 days and identified those which would have been easier to conduct on an iPad.
1) Trading financial options whilst on WiFi in Caffe Nero, using MBP, using BT OpenZone free WiFi minutes bundled with my BT landline contract. Definite win for iPad. Screen big enough to do the job. Free third party WiFi usable. 5lbs less weight to lug about.
2) Trading financial options whilst on WiFi in Starbucks, using iPhone, using O2 unlimited free WiFi minutes bundled with my £20/month iPhone contract, via BT OpenZone. Definite win for iPad, but for slightly different reasons, primarily because iPhone screen too small for the job. Free third party WiFi usable. Means lugging about the iPad in addition to the iPhone, but REALLY worth it to be able to see a number of financial positions simultaneously, particularly when prices are changing fast in volatile markets.
3) Watching Hollywood movie on long train journey on iPhone. Obvious win for iPad. Not just because of larger screen real estate and vastly better viewing angle, but Apple's cover accessory will make it easy to stand the device up on the train table to get a good viewing position without having to constantly hold the device.
4) Playing Real Racing on iPhone whilst bored in the back row of a conference hall. Small form factor of iPhone enables discreet distraction from some twazzock's interminable crap PPT, but larger iPad screen will enable the inclusion of more controls and functions, notably a permanently-visible rear view mirror: dead handy when deciding the best moment to slam the brakes on to cause havoc behind. iPad will not be as easy to hide...
5) Delivering 4 presentations using Keynote and Numbers, editing them whilst travelling to venue. This is the key one for me. 100% delighted that Apple will be marketing what appears to be a thoroughly reworked iWorks Suite at launch of iPad. Some of the functions look like they might even be EASIER to use on the multi-touch UI than in the (already excellent) Mac implementation. This means I will be able to make edits on the iPad as I tweak shows to specific audiences.
So, it appears that I will be able to ditch the MBP for EVERY session where I am presenting to small groups (3 or 4 people) and just use the iPad. Huge weight saving and convenience here.
But, for larger groups I will need to hook up to a projector in the normal manner. From Apple website this appears to work via the 30-pin connector in the back of the device itself, or alternatively in the back of the dock. Some questions will need to be answered there before it becomes clear whether the iPad can replace the MBP in this situation. Namely:
a) Can the iPad charge and output video at the same time? Or can the one connector ONLY be used for ONE of these functions at once?
b) Apple's tech specs show a good range of image and media types handled (Flash isn't an issue for me) but the video connections could be limiting. Lack of any DVI/HDMI may be a real hinderance.
APPLE SPEC FOR VIDEO OUTPUT Support for 1024 x 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite Cable.
It would probably be impossible to use Component or Composite cables with 99% of conference room projectors anyway, so it looks like it's a step back to 1024x768. Subsidiary question: will the the iPad automatically scale and/and letterbox and/or aspect adjust Keynote presentation that have been made on the Mac version of iWorks at larger resolutions (eg 1920 x 1080)?
APPLE SPEC FOR VIDEO HANDLING INTERNALLY. H.264 video up to 720p.
This has a huge upside for Apple, namely that the vast bulk of video formatted for Apple TV (and that's over 8000 movie and TV titles) will run on the iPad with no transcoding in a quality that will really demo the iPad screen to its full effect. However, for me in presentation terms this could be a problem. I use a lot of Full HD 1080p video (using H.264 codecs) embedded in my Keynote shows.
Summary: for 95% of day-to-day Keynote and Numbers work, iPad will work fine. The 5% of really high-end stuff may need some video transcoding. Not a showstopper for me: spending a few hours whilst files render through Q-Master will be worth it when I walk my monthly usual several miles walking through airports and rail stations with ONE bag (iPad in cabin-baggage-sized overnight case) instead of TWO (overnight AND laptop cases).
6) Word Processing on the go. Pages looks good. In common with all customers for current generation iMacs, I already have a WiFi keyboard lying around, so will be able to use that when at desk. On screen keyboard looks pretty nifty. Proof will be in the using. Anticipate iPad document creation/reading abilities will be perfectly sufficient for on-the-road. Will still use desktop Mac with large screen for major document creation.
7) Duplication of iPhone costs/3G in iPad issues? Like many UK iPhone owners, mine's just emerged from its original O2 contract. The phone is fully depreciated in the accounts. O2's current retention deal (£20 month with unlimited data and no lock-in) is very keenly priced and only slightly more than one would pay for a bog standard RubbishFone. So iPad is an additional cost at acquisition, but network access costs will be nil. I will not get 3G on the iPad, will continue to use iPhone for email when not in WiFi coverage. If there's any email which comes in whilst WiFi is inaccessible (say a complicated .doc attachment that requires editing) I would pick this up first on the iPhone to review and for initial response. Would then pick up on iPad at next WiFi opportunity for editing. Or will it be possible to transfer files from iPhone to iPad using Bluetooth?
All-in-all, iPad looks like a buy for me. Projector connectivity could be a hassle. But additional screen size and optimised iWork apps look very strong. Will keep iPhone. Remains to be seen if MBP becomes entirely superfluous.
I strongly suspect that better video-out will be a feature in iPad 2.0, but not having to lug MBP to many events is already a strong enough rationale for me to get v 1.0 in full knowledge that compromises are being made.
IMHO, pricing of iPad looks like a game-changer.