Friday, 28 May 2010

Apple iPad launches in UK. To buy or not to buy?

The long awaited Apple iPad has launched in the UK today.

Apple are the new darlings of the computer world with the overall value of the company edging ahead of Microsoft this week, and it appears that all they touch turns to gold. We all seem to have an iPod, we all have or are thinking of getting an iPhone, so will the iPad be just as sought after?

Initial indications are that the iPad will be the next BIG thing, despite most people not understanding what it actually does or why they want one. So, what does it do and why would you want one?

With a 9.7 inch screen it is considerably smaller than a laptop but much larger than an iPhone. So it is no surprise that it does more than a phone (except it can't be used as a phone) and less than a laptop.

It is very quick to boot up, it is very light (1.5 lbs or 0.68 kg) and it does have great battery life (up to 10 hours use). It will also run all the Apps which have been created for the iPhone as well as specific iPad Apps. But at a starting price of £429 it is as expensive as a reasonable laptop without the functionality.

Apple promote features such as the ability to browse the web, look at photos, read e-books and watch movies. Some of which you can already do on your iPhone and all of which you can do on a laptop. But, you require a computer in order to load these things onto the iPad, unless they are downloadable from the web. If the computer you already have is a laptop, then why add to your gadgetry with an iPad?

The iPad is essentially a NetBook. Useful for taking out and about, surfing the web or sending and receiving emails, but you won't be able to install Office programmes such as Word or Excel. Web surfing is either through Wi-Fi (which may be available free, depending on where you are) or the faster 3G which requires a separate contract with a mobile provider. And it doesn't have a WebCam, which seems a surprising omission.

Would I buy one? Definitely not, yet. It is a very expensive toy, but will hopefully improve over time to become more useful than that. Microsoft have been moving us towards renting Office programmes which are then delivered via the web for some time now. Once that becomes a feasible reality the iPad will replace the bulkier laptop as the computer of choice.

Will everyone else buy one? Definitely. Apple can do no wrong and their products are seen as sexy, must-haves.

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