I can’t say I was disappointed with the new iPad Apple unveiled on Wednesday because my expectations weren’t high to begin with. Let me explain. I figured that there was about zero prospect of Apple fixing my main complaints about my iPad 2 and I was right. I’m certainly not excited about the new iPad, and the likelihood of my trading up is also only slightly greater than zero.
Frankly, the feature that entices me most on the new iPad is the 5 megapixel iSight camera with its much higher resolution CMOS and the better-quality optics it shares with the iPhone 4S, although the handset has even greater 8 megapixel resolution. I’m finding the iPad 2′s camera, pedestrian performer that is, still handy in that I’m inclined to just use it for snapshot duty rather than dragging a second device in the form of my 12 megapixel Sony Cyber-Shot cam.
Anyway, that’s not a strong enough reason to entertain the idea of moving up to the third-generation iPad, and as for the other stuff, my reaction is pretty much “meh.” I can certainly live without a 2048 x 1536 resolution, 3.1 million pixel display in a 9.7-inch tablet. The 44 percent greater color saturation would be no hardship to have, but I’ll live, and I’m actually not sure I don’t prefer the lower performance overhead of the 1064 x 768 resolution display in my iPad 2. LTE support doesn’t speak loudly to me either. There’s no network support where I live anyway, my current iPad is a WiFi unit, and a new iPad would be likewise if I were to get one.
Apple execs directed some harsh commentary toward their tablet sector competition at their special event, singling out what they deem deficiencies of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, making fun of its smartphone-esque Twitter app. I don’t dispute that the iPad’s Twitter app is better, or that the same could be said for a lot of the more than 585,000 apps available on the iOS App Store, and that’s one of the reasons I have an iPad, but I was fascinated by the riposte that Informationweek’s Eric Zeman reports that Samsung Mobile’s U.S. PR chief sent an email to journalists pointing out stuff the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 running Android 3.1 Honeycomb can do that the the new iPad can’t, such as work with two apps at the same time, cut-and-paste content between two apps side-by-side, take notes in one app while viewing content in another app, and edit and write with high levels of precision thanks to the S-Pen, none of which the new iPad can do. Samsung also brags about the Note’s lighter and thinner form factor, USB device support, and expandable storage options. Its Polaris Office productivity app allows you to create, edit, view, and cloud-store Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
Now, the thing is that that’s just about precisely the feature set I’d love to have on my iPad, but prudently didn’t dare hope for. If perchance Apple had given the third-gen iPad those capabilities, I would have been at the front of the pre-order queue, instead of left wondering why I’m not using a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 instead of an iPad and the comparatively handicapped iOS.
For me, a computer, whether it be a PC or a tablet, is primarily a writing and communications tool, and the big beefs I have with the iPad and the iOS is their incredible, stupefying lameness when it comes to text manipulation and editing, and lack of non-wireless I/O support. I would be delighted—nay, overjoyed—if my iPad could do everything I require of a production platform. But, it can’t by a very long shot, and a Retina display, LTE availability, a quad-core graphics processing engine, and most of the other third-gen iPad tweaks don’t change that harsh reality one iota. Apple did essentially nothing to address iPad’s work platform deficiencies with either its new hardware announcements or with the iOS 5.1 update.
I contend that the iPad will never be a satisfactory work platform for serious content producers until (at least) the following deficiencies are remedied:
Access to the file directory at a document level is non-negotiably necessary.
A better means of cursor control, especially for text selection, is crucial, ideally including a mouse driver.
Some form of non-wireless, non-iTunes-mediated data transfer is implemented.
Consequently, Samsung’s response to Apple’s diss of its Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is something of an eye-opener. I’ve been a fiercely loyal Mac-user and advocate for 20 years, but if Apple doesn’t care to provide the practical functionality that I need in the iPad, why am I not using a tablet that does? Perhaps it’s time for a rethink before I upgrade.