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iPad mania

April 3rd is the day the rest of us may experience what could be either a laptop screen without a keyboard or just an iPhone on steroids. So, what can the iPad really be?

Although I am not one of those blessed with time and access to play with one of the prototypes, I did get excited at the announcement. My first thought, what a great thing to have on the coffee table at a party. During any argument, you could look up the real answer, or find out the titles of the last three movies by that actress whose last name you can’t remember. Then I thought, how cool would it be for quiet writing in a coffee shop without having to be hidden or scrunched over a laptop with the lid up, hiding from the rest of the table and shop. But, wait, how clean will the “keyboard” stay, after all it is just “glass” that I can wipe off (actually it is something with “fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating,” so finger prints won’t really stick around.) It has to be an improvement over the food crumbs that I shake out of my keyboard each month.  And, I could doodle on it, right? Read books, watch movies (you say it is a small screen?, my kids already watch movies on iPods without complaint.) listen to music, handle email, plan my day … It really seems like those pads in Star Trek, giving the hint of what might come, like the ones in Avatar.

But, I didn’t order one on March 12th, why not? Well, I like to keep at least a few things open at the same time, the iPad does not seem to multitask which isn’t a surprise as the iPhone doesn’t either. (There are rumors that the next version of the iPhone/iPad operating system might handle multitasking.) There is no camera on this pad, meaning I can not make a video call to the parents, for example. No USB connector, but what would I want that for? Oh, I might want to print out something, some pages from an ebook, an email, a receipt from a web site, hmmm, not quite the everyday basic laptop replacement I am searching for. And, I would have to buy another data plan for this device, currently AT&T is the only US cellular carrier covering the data needs of the iPad.

So, I guess I am not an early adopter, helping to figure out what this can do. But, I am sure that imaginative engineers will come up with something, just as they have figured out how to add microscope capabilities to camera-equipped cellphones so that these nearly ubiquitous devices can be used in remote or rural areas for blood testing.

Apple iPad, http://www.apple.com/ipad/

NY Times article on cellphone as microscope, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/business/08novel.html