iPad Debute…Sizzle or Fizzle?

I observed the ‘great unveiling’ of the iPad via live updates on Wired…meh.  Later I watched it on YouTube.  Initially I was a bit disappointed.  Where was the cell phone, and the camera?  But then I warmed to the idea of it.  Now, maybe I am showing my age, but I think this is just what I’ve been looking for… (elaborate fade to flashback 1989)

Since I had my first laptop, I’ve really wanted something truly portable that I could use as an adjunct to the heavier laptop/workstation.  I tried various PDAs to no avail.  Handwriting recognition was a stinker (I never had an Apple Newton – so I don’t know if that was better or not), and the things were too small and delicate (damaged, lost, or in the case of the early Palm Pilots corrosion munged the runs on the board ugh).  Years went by and I continued lug around multiple laptops (2 for work, 1 for personal).

Enter netbooks — I got an ASUS eepc – running Linux, of course.  I loved it, and I hated it at the same time.   The keyboard was too small for my ham-fisted typing, and the screen looked like a postage stamp when sitting on my lap.  I loved that I could load my favorite free development software easily using the package manager…but I couldn’t really use it.  I ended up giving it to my wife, who was happy to have it (the tiny hand cabal wins again).

I looked at various pen based computers over the years too — but most of the ones I’ve seen were as heavy as a laptop, and the operating system on them was just a ‘desktop’ operating system, made to use a touch screen.  Yawn.  Might as well keep lugging around the MacBook (fast forward to the present).

So, like some mello modern day hippie Moses – Steve Jobs came down from the mountain and delivered his iPad.  And much like the ten commandments, it is a simple device.  If you want a full featured general purpose computer – this thing is not for you (the vast majority of the complaints I see are along this vein – stop whining already).  Get another pad based computer or a laptop if that is what you want.

However if you want a device that is ubiquitous as a legal pad, contains all the books and documents you want to keep close (a library in your hands), with your calendar synchronized  – on top of games and music, when not reading fiction to keep you entertained when you’re forced to wait (for the bus, or a long meeting…), with the ability to view web pages and various document formats – then this thing is for you.  I’m not a fan of Flash — so that isn’t a deal breaker for me either.

That being said, there is only one thing that needs to shake out before I will plop down the $699 (yes I want the Wifi-only 64Gig model – if I can’t find an errant wifi signal to use where I am sitting and it is that dang important – I’ll move my fat ass):  Will you be able to sync documents to the device directly (e.g. PDF, DOC, TXT etc)?  I have a large library of PDF files and text files and information that I’ve created over the years that I find extremely useful to have at my fingertips when questions arise about technology and other subjects.  Using spotlight to index and search these on the fly would be very nice.

Everything else looks fine to me – I guess I’m easy to please.  Time will tell once I get my hands on the thing and have to live with it day in and day out.

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