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back to article A multitasking iPad? Let's bin the netbook

It hasn't taken long for the iPad to be seen as a bit more than a pointless and expensive luxury lifestyle accessory. Just nine weeks - and in that time the hardware spec hasn't changed at all. But last week's iPhone 4.0 preview, which isn't due on the iPad until autumn, already makes it look much more attractive as a netbook or …

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Silver badge

Deal breakers: price, USB, and Apple's attitude

You're very much correct that multitasking vastly improves the potential of the iPad. However, it still isn't up to even the technical capabilities of my phone, let alone a decent netbook.

That aside - the iPad isn't supposed to be a laptop - the big problem for me, in addition to those stated in the article, is Apple themselves. Their attitude regarding the app store, which in itself isn't nearly as open as other platforms' software sources, sucks. As a techie boy, I would not want to have my software choices dictated to me, even in part. If I want to use Opera, Fennec, etc then I bloody well will.

Again, these won't affect the majority of the population, who will regard the software on the iPad simply as a part of the product. But it would certainly affect me, as well as any existing tablet/netbook users with their own software preferences.

As for jailbreaking, sod that. I shouldn't have to re-flash an expensive, premium computing device just to be able to install my own choice of software. I wouldn't accept that on a laptop, or a phone, so why should I accept it on a tablet?

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185,000

@Greg J Preece said: 'Their attitude regarding the app store, which in itself isn't nearly as open as other platforms' software sources, sucks. As a techie boy, I would not want to have my software choices dictated to me, even in part.'

Somehow I don't think most rational people would find the 185,000 programs offered at the Apple app store as anyway 'limiting'

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FAIL

57 channels and nothing on

That depends on what you mean by "limited". If you are happy to install 10,000 fart apps instead of something you want (Opera or Fennec in this case) then it's not limited. The Apps are limited to those SJ allows you to have - he dictates your choice.

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FAIL

Millions and millions

By the same measure there are 10s if not 100s of millions of apps for windows machines. The key difference is that I don't have to wait for Steve to approve my windows app, and I'm not at risk of the approval being revoked in the future either.

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"but mostly dog slow"

Perhaps you should run a proper Linux on a netbook - just a thought.

I, for one wouldn't like to edit code, use a spreadsheet or a host of other things without a keyboard, even a netbook keyboard when traveling - and, no, I don't want an addon.

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FAIL

Ah yes, Linux on a netbook

Is a good idea if you want flash to be unusably slow

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Re : Ah yes, Linux on a netbook

Works for me !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ah yes, Linux on a netbook

Flash? He said he uses his netbook to write code and edit spreadsheets, you know, work.

Nobody with a serious job actually needs flash for anything. Maybe some self-styled 'web designers' use it in the same way that one might use Asbestos to insulate one's house but that's it. Flash is on life support and the day Youtube embraces HTML5 will effectively be the day the internet "pulls the plug".

So the 12 year olds won't be able to make and distribute their awful flash games anymore, if that's the price we pay, I for one consider it a bargain.

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FAIL

Fail

It's usably fast for me. Upgrade to iPad if you want it to be unusably absent.

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Unhappy

Flash isn't going anywhere

As much as I'd like to be rid of Flash, let's be realistic. None of IE6, IE7 and IE8 support HTML5, and even if they did, which codec would they support?

Until the entire Internet Explorer ecosystem has been decimated and replaced with something that can run HTML5, Flash will continue to be the default choice for any developer looking to maintain platform compatibility. Considering Flash is on 99% of computers and HTML5 is charitably on about 50% and of that 50% there is no consensus on codecs. Why would anyone dump Flash any time soon (no matter how much I wish they would)?

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Re: Flash isn't going anywhere

"any developer looking to maintain platform compatibility"

You sure about that? It might be true for "any developer writing annoying web-based craplets to be used instead of equally portable and significantly faster HTML equivalents", but that's a small group. We heard similar prophecies of "IE6 forever" for a year or so before Opera and Firefox gathered enough market share to make it easier to write portable code rather than explain yet again to your customer base why your site doesn't work in their browser.

In both cases, there were/are things you could do in the old platform that couldn't be done portably. In both cases, developers found/will-find that they can live without most of those things.

Flash isn't going anywhere because it is dead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Flash isn't going anywhere

To take Youtube as an example, as they are an extremely popular flash based site with a vested interest in pushing Chrome (or just about any other browser except IE really). If they ditched IE support tonight, all IE users would be Chrome users by tomorrow morning.

They're just waiting for the right time to do it, I'm convinced of it. They're in a position to deal a devastating blow to Microsoft and Adobe in one fell swoop. They WOULD NOT mess that opportunity up by going off half cocked. The time will come though.

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deal breakers

1- file transfer. From what I've been reading, it's a major pain to transfer files to/from the iPad. From what I gathered, no removable cards, no USB, no LAN access over wifi nor bluetooth... Basically the iPad doesn't do any kind of LAN ?

2- BT keyboard and mouse indeed. If i'm doing semi-serious typing, I want a mouse/trackpad/trackpoint/trackball, not touch.

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Assumptions

1) The file sharing cloud is being built in NC, USA and will be online soon. Also, OS4 opens this much further. OS 4 was originally planned for the iPad, but is greatly delayed. iTunes file sharing integration was a last minute adjustment to accommodate Os 3.2.

2) mouse is not required, for an OS designed for multitouch and guestures it in fact would be a huge negative. BT keyboard was available from Day 1 on the iPad, OS 4 brings it to the iPHONE, and that is a mistake in documentation in this article.

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WTF?

MOUSE?!

You don't want a tablet then... Apple have you covered though; MacBook Pro

There that was easy.

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Re: Mouse

"""Apple have you covered though; MacBook Pro"""

Yes, that does have a rather nice touch pad (Only place I've ever thought that multi-touch offered anything useful) but I wish they'd include a keyboard instead of that pile of buttons that they think looks better. The real shame is that /every/ manufacturer is copying this crappy idea, so Apple has managed to kill off 90% of laptop options for me.

And it could stand to use 500g to make it portable. I've previously had 2 laptops (Well a laptop and a netbook...) that combined to weigh less than my 13" MBP, and they each managed the same number of pixels.

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Jobs Horns

Deal breakers

1) the ability to touch type, can't really do that if you can't feel the keys

2) lack of 3rd party hardware support, I can't plug in any old mouse and use that

3) no control over what I want to do with *my* device

4) no control over what applications I want on my device, I can't fire up VS, test it on an emulator then put it on my device like I can with a netbook/laptop/mobile

5) no flash support

6) no silverlight support

7) no java support

8) no ability to dual boot Windows/Linux

9) you fold a netbook, the screen is secured by a big bit of plastic

10) it's a mobile phone OS, it'll never support hardware which requires driver

11) no full, proper HD, nor proper widescreen

12) it's too gimicky

13) tied in to Safari instead of Opera/Chrome/IE/Firefox

14) I want to give my money to a monopoly who we know are a monopoly, not one that does monopolistic practises but never gets slammed for it

15) the features on the iPad will be on the iPhone, if you have one, you don't need two

16) Apple are mediocre at best when it comes to sound

17) designed by an art student and not by an engineer

18) etc..

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Fair enough

I like the iPad, but anyone who thinks it will replace the functionality of a proper laptop is misguided. Hell, you need a computer to use it anyway, which is as good as saying "this is an accessory, not a computer".

Very cool accessory. Maybe that'll change in five years, but for now, it's not a laptop replacement.

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response

1) i thought the same thing, but i easily type 50wpm on my iPhone. Yes, for extended typing, a BT keyboard on an iPad would be most welcome, but it is not primarily a content generator, it;s an content consumption and editing device. Making the device hermetically sealed by not including a keyboard, thinner and lighter and cheaper as well, is a worthy sacrifice for the few times a keyboard may be required. If you really need that much hard core editing on a portable device, and also require full media playback function, go get a NOTEbook and spend the extra $300-400, that;'s your business case. Stop trying to make the device fit into classifications it is not designed for and select the appropriate device for your needs. Wishing it did this or that doesn't change the fact it;s a media device, not a computer.

2) There is 3rd party hardware support, through the dock connector and through bluetooth. That said: mouse is useless on a gesture based multitouch OS (you'd need 2 mice!). USB and SD requirements should be rare as well since the cloud and WiFi file access are the intended method for moving data.

3) you can jailbreak it anytime you want and load all the illegal apps you want, or any that contain identity theft issues or prove completely useless. Apple rejects apps that a) violate carrier contracts, b) violate IP of others, c) steal your information, and d) don't work right. If you want those things, YOU CAN HAVE THEM... NO ONE is stoping you from doing what you want, there are a QUARTER MILLION legally distributed apps, you can also write your own in small groups (up to 100 devices), and you can jailbreak to go beyond.

4) The emulator costs $100.... yes you can. you can't control what's in the STORE, but you CAN control what you otherwise load from illegitimate sources, apple just refuses to support the OS if you do (well within their rights).

5) That was a good argument a year ago, not so much today, and it will be completely irrelevant a year from now.

DUMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Silver badge

There's nothing illegal or inherently wrong with being a monopoly

The NHS is a state monopoly. Does it upset you that they have monopolistic practices but never get slammed for it?

I'd suggest you mean a monopoly that is using its weight to artificially suppress competition.

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IT Angle

Of course you can, but you'll need a can opener

I do agree that with enough effort and technical know-how, you can make just about any device in existence do just about anything you want.

But having said that, there is a point to be made: we (the techies who read El Reg et al) do have such skills, but what about the poor sods who just wanna use their new toys the way that _they_ want to?

With the other choices on the market (i.e. netbooks, laptops, PCs, smartphones, etc.) this kind of freedom of choice is available out-the-box. You don't need to hack or jailbreak anything. If you don't like a piece of software, try something else without any hinderance or restriction. Buy it, try it or even write your own. A similar freedom is available for hardware. USB is difficult to live without these days.

The iPad has great potential for future usefulness, and I'm keen to see how it evolves. But for now, it's a bit too much of a one-trick pony to really be worth the expense.

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WTF?

Windows...

So your problem with this Apple product is that it doesn't run Windows...

OK, noted.

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Title Required.

The health system is a social service, not a company selling services in a market place.

Repeat after me: social and not profitable is not corporate no matter who owns it.

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I agree entirely

"The health system is a social service, not a company selling services in a market place."

Yes, I was making the point that when the coward said "I want to give my money to a monopoly who we know are a monopoly, not one that does monopolistic practises but never gets slammed for it" he or she clearly wasn't saying what he or she actually meant. You've been willing to take a guess at a distinction that might have been intended, I wasn't willing to.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Deal Breakers

"2) lack of 3rd party hardware support, I can't plug in any old mouse and use that"

Absolutely spot on - the first thing (or should that be the second?) I would consider when buying a touchscreen device is 'where can I plug in my mouse?'

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jai
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Jobs Halo

laptops too

i have a laptop that i use when i'm too lazy to walk into the other room to use the desktop to surf the web or write some emails

so for me, the appeal of the iPad is even greater since it's far lighter and smaller than my laptop

my main worry is that it'll reduce the functionality of my iPhone to be just a phone and an iPod. 90% of the apps i'd rather use on the iPad's larger screen

there are no deal breakers that i can think of yet. if i need to use something that the iPad can't accomodate, i've got a desktop in the other room with all the connectivity and horsepower i'm likely to need... if i can just be bothered to get off the sofa and walk the 10 feet to the desk....

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FAIL

Here's one...

You have an iPhone, a laptop and a desktop. Phone is on you, laptop same room and desktop 10 feet away...

But spending $600 or whatever the hell it is on something bigger than the phone but less powerful than the laptop isn't a dealbreaker...?

What recession?

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Jobs Halo

Blasphemer

Well lookie here, looks like we got ourselves an iPad lover. Get him boys...

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It's crap.

Good looking crap.

But still crap.

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"What are your deal breakers?"

A purpose.

I don't mind if a particular piece of kit doesn't know what it's for (it might take time to find out) though I do mind paying a premium while the manufacturer works it out.

Buy first, buy twice. Applies just as easily to a new type of washing machine or TV as a new type of iPod, iPhone or iP(h)ad.

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Use

Deal Braker for what ?

For work (content creation) - too many to mention - about half of A/C 12/4/2010 11:26 's list above (I don't need Silverlight and to dual boot Linux and Windows etc. etc.).

For home (content viewing) - only one - front facing webcam so I can videoconference / webchat with friends and relatives in Spain / Canada / USA etc. Unlike a laptop, I would think there would only need to be one for the home.

Apple need to convince the BBC that they can produce content in HTML5 so Flash is not required.

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Multitasking?

The kind of multitasking that is being added to the iphone OS 4.0 is insulting! Why can't Apple just give us something we want without placing a ton of limitations and restrictions on it?

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Anonymous Coward

I had a super title but it ran away.

"Why can't Apple just give us something we want without placing a ton of limitations and restrictions on it?"

Because they don´t want to.

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Anonymous Coward

Battery Life.

They told you. Battery life.

Sad but true.

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FAIL

I give up

Know much about multitasking in resource restricted environments? No, you don't. What they have come up with is actually a very clever solution and a very tricky problem.

Please give me a technical argument of the advantages the multitasking 'you want' would give you over their 'insulting' implementation.

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It's the same as WebOS

Your multitasking app gets woken to deal with events that it has an interest in, but isn't allowed to run constantly. I'm sorry that's insulting for you, but isn't it how every well-behaved GUI application is written?

I guess probably you mean the list of specific events is too restrictive? You want to be able to use software that while invisible does something other than (i) produce audio; (ii) provide location-aware info; (iii) provide voIP functionality; or (iv) alert you to something at specified intervals? That's definitely some limitations and restrictions, but hardly a ton — I bet it covers 80% of the software you want and 99% of the software that an average user wants.

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Jobs Halo

RE Multitasking........

They do............

Its called a Macbook

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Because....

The haven't given you multitasking, it's not intended as a new feature for the benefit of users, it's a requirement for their ad-serving platform and nothing more. The fact that so many people are crying out for it is just a bonus.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Multitasking?

Although Apple, are adding some additional restrictions, the multitasking that iPhone OS 4.0 works in the same way as Android - it's not as if the latter is limitless and has no restrictions.

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A netbook that can't print?

Unless ol' Stevie has a plan to completely redo printing somehow (and let's face it innovation in that space would be welcome) it's a big PDA, not a netbook.

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The iPad is not a computer

It's a media player and, secondarily, a games machine. And Apple is increasingly making sure it stays that way: Limitations on what applications can contain, limitations on tools for application development, lack of standardised ports, etc.

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the problem with the ipad is

that while it is not difficult to find reasons to buy one it is difficult to find a use for it.

It does a lot but nothing better.

Sure you can read books, so can a kindle (at a third of the weight with al lot more batterytime) sure you can do email, so can my iphone and if you have a lot of email i'd buy a blackberry or a proper laptop. Which is what i'd do if i had to do any serious work anyway.

my iphone does most things better than the ipad (except video ) and has one thing the ipad can't which is make phonecalls.

video? the screen had the wrong size and does not do hd, a 65 euro mobile dvd player works bettter.

games? have played some, can't say i liked touch for anything buy cardgames, so a psp of ds would work better.

given the options i's rather have one of those 4g htc phones, if they make a version with a keyboard perfect

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Go

Target market

I think I am in the target market for this thing. I work in the tech industries, I sometimes do techie things. However I'm a manager.

When I need to do techie things, I RDP from my desktop to the stack of servers sat in the datacentre (so I can use Informatica etc).

I also spend 2 hours each way commuting into London, sometimes I want to catch up on my emails, have a quick look at some spreadsheets, review some PDFs, update my time reporting system, or watch a bit of Enterprise that I've ripped from DVD.

All these things I can do with an iPad - and given the seat sizes on First Capital Connect or the Central Line, I can do them a lot easier than getting my 15" Macbook Pro out.

I'm not going to be cutting code on it, but then I don't cut code on the train anyway, I may need to monitor a session, but I do that already with my iPhone and RDP - and that can only be better with the iPad's screen estate.

To be honest, I can't see a reason not to get one. Sure I can't install linux on it, but I've got any number of boxes at home that do have it on - again, just a VNC/SSH away.

And to all those people who do need to do all those things... well then don't buy one. Nobody is forcing you. Perhaps we sometimes forget that the computer is a tool, for me the iPad is a tool that could make my life easier. If it doesn't make your life easier, or prevents you doing what you need to do, then there are other choices out there. What's the problem?

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I'll buy one

Not version 1, mind, never buy version 1 anything Apple, but in time I will

We moved house recently and whilst our stuff is in storage/transit, Spouse has taken over the MacBook Pro, so I've been forced to use my iPhone for pretty much every thing

and honestly, for what I want - in the evening, on the tram, in the train, at the station, at my office (a rabid bank where Thou Shalt Not Touch The Network Or Your Own Email) the iPhone is mostly perfect, just too small, and a bit small.

so a bigger, better iPhone will do the job hundreds.

Clearly my needs to completely different to most techies, and my religious I-Dont-Care-About-The-Browser-Or-Gubbins stance puts me at odds with most readers of this forum, but too bad: it'll suit me and my needs jjjjuuuussssttttt fine

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Linux

Multitasking

Happy enough with my N900 - works for me as a tablet/phone combo.

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Bod

"but mostly dog slow"

A view formed on the early low spec netbooks perhaps?

Most people who say they're slow have not used a decent netbook. And I'm not talking about running Linux either. XP can run plenty fast enough for general use.

Of course it depends what you want to use them for. Yes, they're not power beasts and you won't be running Photoshop and top end games on it. That's not what they're for. However, for web browsing, office apps, and dare I say even video, they can be cracking.

Mine is just a humble Atom based netbook running XP, and yet it plays HD video flawlessly (with the right codecs). I use it hooked up to my HD telly and it's fine even upscaling SD to 1080p. It makes a perfect video player, and it's great on flights too as the battery lasts 6 or 7 hours, especially as you can run it in low power and/or lowest brightness on a flight given the relatively high illumination you get at the lowest brightness setting in a dark cabin. Result is a compact device that is great for meetings, office work, email, browsing, video, and doesn't sound like a jet taking off like many of the power beast desktop replacement laptops out there.

The iPad won't be any different in performance terms, just you won't get to see it being slow, because no power hungry apps will be allowed to run on it. I'd love to see if it can play HD video properly though (from what I've read so far it currently only plays "true" 720p video at 720p, and every other format, bigger or smaller is downconverted to a resolution lower than 720p, plus it will only output to a TV at 480p!).

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Common file system

Inabilty to save a file in one app and open it in another is my biggest dealbreaker. Enabling this would open up a whole host of app possibilities for viewers and editors.

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Anonymous Coward

Safari is Shit

Safari is the biggest obstacle for me. Thankfully the iPad already prevents the vileness that is Flash (thank fuck), but as far as I know Safari doesn't allow me to block ads the way Firefox can (with add-ons). If any 3G contract, for example, is paid per data transferred (I've no idea what contracts/pay-as-you-go schemes might pop up for iPad), then I don't want to be paying to download a load of shitty advertisements.

Plus it crashes a lot, or at least it does on my iPhone.

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Ad-blocking

I've never really found the need for an ad blocker on Mobile Safari, because most ads tend to appear in a separate column from the main text of a page (along with site navigation stuff that I only usually need for a few moments). Double-tapping and zooming in on the main text <div> obscures the ads.

However because they're still being downloaded, the sites that I visit still get their much-needed ad revenue.

The tap-to-zoom gesture is actually one of the reasons that I'd consider an iPad over a netbook for general web browsing, and I really wish the desktop browsers would incorporate it in some form.

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Stop

Here We Go....

I wonder how this thread will turn out?

Pow! It doesn't have HD resolution?!

Thwack! It doesn't have a real keyboard

Zaap! It doesn't have quad cores and quad GPUs on board. I mean come on!!

Crunch! I can't use it for running my atomic bomb simulation code!

Perhaps future iPad stories should just limit themselves to something along the lines of "it might be useful to you, it might not. Base your buying decisions on that. Tiresome bleating about why it's no use for launching the space shuttle are just getting fucking annoying now"

Incidentally, I'm thinking of starting a thread about my Ford Focus being completely useless at winning the RAC rally? Those Ford bastards! Who's with me?

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