Why the iPad is Not a Laptop Replacement

What’s not there to like about an iPad these days? Most people are psyched by all the power you get in this portable device; it’s easier to write with and read from than smart phones, it’s more mobile-friendly than a notebook computer, it’s a gamers’ best friend on-the-go…

Even so, there’s plenty of room for improvement, to be sure. Remember the iPad is just a three-year-old platform. The device isn’t even made it to kidergarten, but already professional users are calling it how they see it: that the future of the iPad is or is not intended for professional use.

Let me just say up front that it’s annoying this discussion is still going on amongst the professional community. Several thoughtful pundits have pointed out Apple has already given us their vision publicly for their products, yet professionals grumble when not all of their unique and individual wants are met with each Apple product.

Apple never claimed that all their products were suitable as high-end professional tools. They have made it clear they serve two markets: the professional and the consumer markets. And they don’t intentionally serve both in a single product. Generally speaking, the iPod Touch is for consumers, and the iPhone is for professionals. The Macbook Air is primarily for consumers, and the Macbook Pro is for… wait for it… professionals.

The writer on FiftyFootShadows.com made a brutal assessment of the iPad’s un-user-friendly feature set. Like many people that want to use their devices to make a living, they demand their devices be “powerful.” They need their computers to be all things and do all things. Quite frankly, this is a legit position to take, and I experience this writer’s frustrations at times with Apple products when they don’t bend to my own will. But, he misses out on Apple’s point of view as so many critics do.

I would say a good 90 percent of the debate on the iPads usefulness as a computer is coming from writers and casual users and this is where I find the debate getting a little one sided. Of course a writer would like the ipad. The tools most needed to get their work done are right there for the taking, you can hunt and gather all day long and it does make a fantastic, distraction free space to write in. I can wholeheartedly agree that the iPad is an increasingly great tool to gather ideas, write stories/articles, and stay in touch but for the time being this is where the road unfortunately ends. For many, including myself, the iPad is still not much more than a high tech note pad.

It’s true the iPad is well-suited for writers, but let me qualify that statement: it’s a proper writing tool when you get the good writing apps and add a full-sized bluetooth-enabled keyboard. And that’s not criticism—that’s just the truth. Writing is something for consumers and prosumers with an iPad as it comes without the better writing tools out of the box.

But as the writer on FiftyFootShadows goes on to explain from his point of view, there are not good accessories and apps that make the iPad feature-rich for photographers and other kinds of creatives. His primary angst is brought on by the lack of powerful photographer-friendly features.

I have tried using the iPad as a photography tool more times than I care to admit, that is, until I finally gave up on the idea and now take my laptop with me whenever I know I will be shooting a lot. I would be curious to hear what others experiences are that may have tried similar things.

I’m such a professional, and I agree 100%. I’ve attempted to use the iPad and the iPhone for their creative potential, and right now it takes a lot out of a creative to be creative with these devices. The iPad is not well-suited for professional photography. I’ll go a step further: nor is it intended to be at this time.

The iPad is also not suitable for professional video editing. It’s not especially good for Excel spreadsheets, programming, web development, or CGI. This is how it’s meant to be at this time.

Like Apple has said, they are as proud of the things they have said “no” to as the things they have said “yes” to. And they have had to say “no” about a thousand times for everything they have said “yes.”

In other words, Apple has chosen to not make a highlight of the iPad’s early years it’s power for content creation. Rather, they met the needs consumers (and, surprisingly, some professionals with gifted imaginations) were experiencing that a power laptop and desktop machine couldn’t meet. The iPad is intentionally suited for delivering the very content that it’s not fit to create in many instances.

It’s not all about content creation. If it were, who would there be to consume it? The iPad makes consuming a very rich experience.

As it stands, the iPad is amazing. I use it every single day for writing, browsing the news, sketching ideas, and reading though email or tech riders and I love every minute of it. It f complements my daily life and on days when I don’t need to get any real work done, I leave my laptop at home. But when it comes to honest creative work I can not help but find the iPad as little more than a sidekick. I can say with certainty though, that this is far from the last word on this. I can clearly see a future where touch screen devices such as the iPad become more and more viable for the kind of things I have discussed here today. It is still new territory being explored and I for one can not wait to see where it takes us. »

I added the emphasis to “real.” The writer of FiftyFootShadows is not using a logic or common sense led point of view. He’s led by too many wants that are pulling him in too many conflicting directions; he’s overly complicated a very simple issue. The iPad is great for creativity and for work. As Tim Cook has pointed out, he mostly uses an iPad for all of his work, and Cook is the CEO of Apple.

The difference between Apple’s view and FiftyFootShadow’s is this: the iPad is for a new and growing form of content creation. It’s highlights are not the same as laptops’ and desktops’. The iPad meets needs that are different and yet to be explored. In the meantime, it’s self-evident where the iPad excels. It’s a superb consumer device, and there’s no doubt its worth every penny in what it does for viewing photography, movies, playing games, reading books, etc.