iPad update (or: can this thing replace a netbook?)


Recently I took a trip to Seattle.  The trip was mostly for fun, but I ended up working quite a bit while I was out there.  For the first time I had the opportunity to take only my iPad with me on a trip.  I decided to bring my Netbook as well and let me tell you I’m glad I did!

Overall the iPad is a great experience when you’re not trying to work or do any heavy research.  When you’re watching media, doing light web surfing, emailing or taking notes the iPad is terrific.  However when I’m working I do a lot more than that.

Part of my psyche is when I have some down time I think of new things to do research on.  I’m always on the lookout for new software or gadgets that I can play with.  Currently I’m obsessed with Leo Laporte and his amazing podcasts.  This Week in Tech and his other podcasts are amazing from (among other things) a pure production standpoint.  As an aside, if I could make money doing podcasts I would seriously consider doing it full time.

I was doing research on his setup and I came across a piece of software called Wirecast.  While it’s not exactly what Leo uses, the software does a lot of similar things.  So I decided to check it out.  Doing my research I found that a lot of content about the product (movies, online interface demos, etc) simply wouldn’t show up on the iPad (I’m guessing because it was Flash).  I finally found a link to a video on the Apple site that I thought would give me more information.


However, I couldn’t get the video to play on my iPad and I have no idea why!  It’s one thing for Flash video to not play on the iPad (as frustrating as that is) but a video on Apple’s site not playing is beyond excusable.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Later that day I decided to set up a Twitter account that focuses on games.  The first step is that I wanted to create a Twitter account that syndicates gaming feeds.  Once I got that set up, I wanted to run a Twitter Bot to find as many gaming-related Twitter accounts as possible.  My goal for this Twitter account is to keep very current with all the gaming news and gossip.

Well, let me tell you there wasn’t a single part of that task which could be done using the iPad.  I couldn’t get the content syndication site (Twitterfeed) to work with iPad.  Once I went through the headache of getting the feeds into Twitterfeed I received some random errors that prevented me from setting up my account.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Then trying to get the Twitter account set up and getting my followers set up using a bot is not possible at all using an iPad.  There is no mass search and add functionality for Twitter on the iPad.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Next, I tried to check in for my flight using the iPad.  Unfortunately, JetBlue uses Flash for their seat assignment and checkin, and it didn’t work on the iPad.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Finally, on the flight home I tried to do my weekly status report for work.  For me to do my status report, I need to read the status reports from my team (which are sent to me in email) and roll them up into a combined status report (in Word format) which I then send to my manager.

What normally takes me 15 minutes to do on my Netbook took almost an hour using my iPad.  Here’s the workflow on an iPad:

– Open email
– Copy the appropriate text from the email
– Close email
– Open Pages
– Paste the text in Pages and rewrite as necessary
– Format the text to match the rest of the document
– Close Pages
– Repeat for each issue for each status report (between 20-30 per week)

This completely drove me over the edge.  I can’t imagine how a simple task like this could be made more difficult.

For all these issues I blame myself in part because the iPad just wasn’t made to do everything a computer does.  My guess is, as the iPad matures as a platform it will be better equipped to handle these types of tasks.  For now however, I think for me it’s a glorified notepad with basic email functionality and media consumption device.

I really hope it becomes more than that for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my iPad, but I now realize how limited the functionality truly is.