iPad Signals the Waning Days of the Laptop

I remember the first day our big screen TV arrived. It was a Mitsubishi projection TV, the size of a small car, and took up the entire corner of our wood-paneled den. When we turned it on, it was magical. We weren't merely part of the action, we were in the action. It was awesome, but even more so because there was just no comparison against the 27 inch Samsung tube we were used to.

Flash forward to the iPod generation. I love my Touch. To this day it's my favorite consumer electronics gadget. All my media in a handheld device, tied to the iTunes and App Store eco-system, web access, and that gorgeous 3.5 inch, 380x420 screen. It's perfect.

Apple iPad
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Apple iPad

And then, last week, I got my hands on the big screen version of iPod, the iPad, a device that when it was unveiled was certainly nifty, but in my estimation, still searching for a market.

I wrote the day after its release in January that the iPad was a case of "need versus want," and that it might be "more the latter than the former." I added that "I'll certainly give it a shot, but it's just not quite the no-brainer iPod and iPhone seemed to be."

That "chomp, chomp, chomp" you hear is me, the chump, chump, chump eating his words. I love, love, love this thing.

Size matters and in the case of iPod, bigger is most definitely better. More to the point, since I got the iPad, I haven't had any reason at all to open up my MacBookPro. Sure, I'm not a big spreadsheet guy, I'm not a heavy computer user, I need web access, I download a lot of digital entertainment like movies, music and TV shows, I send and receive a pretty good volume of email. When it comes time to upload digital photos from my camera, I'll return to my laptop, but with more and more of the digital world heading to the cloud, and companies like Google making so many rudimentary efficiency programs available on the web, the days of the laptop are dwindling. I'm not saying the laptop is dead, but it's dying. Not quite on life-support, but the Autumn of its days are upon us.

Thanks to iPad.

Once again, Apple hasn't invented something. But because Apple has "re-invented" the tablet as we know it, the company has launched a revolution. Again. There will be tablets hence, and there certainly have been tablets past, but not until iPad has the marketplace truly seen the potential and possibilities of this platform and this technology.

Why so gushing? iPad, just like Apple hardware before it, beautifully blends the device and the software that runs it. The screen is sublime, the device feels good in your hands, and spending time with whatever apps or video you're watching is strangely -- yet comfortably -- addicting. iPad? iLike.

From the moment I took it out of the box and instantly synced with my iTunes, it was no fuss, no muss. I have the wi-fi version and that seems fine for me. 3G might be nice, but it's another monthly bill I can certainly do without, and with the prevalence of wi-fi where I would likely take my iPad, I just don't need 3G, or its added expense. I have my Blackberry if I need connectivity in a pinch. (Oh, and a note on my Blackberry: I still use this, crave it, because I can't seem to get used to typing on the iPhone keypad. I love my Blackberry. However, typing on the iPad is infinitely easier on those much-bigger keys on the screen.)

Battery life on the iPad rocks. Seems to be much, much better than the battery life on my MacBook. And one key thing that I think doesn't get nearly enough attention: When you travel with the iPad, it is still considered a "mobile" device and not a computer, or a laptop, at least as far as the Transportation Security Administration is concerned. In other words, head to the airport and go through security and the TSA doesn't make you take the iPad out of your bag the way it does with laptops. That's not to say that curious TSA types may not ask you to remove it just so they can get a better look at this thing, but I imagine that will subside as iPads become more ubiquitous.

Realistically, this will be yet another device to shlep along when I travel, depending on where I'm going. I'll still have my Blackberry, and I'll still likely take along my Touch. You really can't go to the gym with an iPad, or take it down the beach. It's not as portable as the Touch, which is why the Touch is still my favorite device. I'll dive into the Adobe Flash controversy for a sec: Not having Flash on iPad sucks. It's the biggest difference I notice between my MacBook and my iPad. The former has it; the latter doesn't. And it is very, very noticeable. But for so many other of life's real world applications, the iPad is awesome. Great for the plane, great for downstairs, great for fun and well worth the price of admission.

Tablets prior left a question mark hanging above the market. Current tablets will likely do the same: Can I get away with not merely augmenting my laptop lifestyle with a tablet, but replacing my laptop with one? Apple answers that question with a resounding "yes," and then some. For so long, the PC industry has been busy selling Ferrari capabilities when the vast majority of the market would be happy with Fords, or even BMWs. For powerful video editing, and very complex creativity, the laptop — and desktop for that matter — will continue to live on. But for the rest of us, iPad is a game-changer. Infinitely better than a netbook; and just about everything you'd need. And want.

iPad, quite simply, is yummy. And I should know: Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

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