No thank you for iPad

iPad showing Gizmodo site - 8-things-that-suck-about-the-ipad


Recently at work we bought a couple of iPads. These are in the hands of Martin Weller and Karen Cropper both of whom are now keen users. Last week Karen let me have her iPad to use for a week and I expected it to hook me as well. There certainly are some nice things about the iPad – it feels good to browse with it, Flipboard is a great way to follow streams, reading books in iBooks feels slick, and playing iBubble on its large touch screen is addictive. BUT in the end it was not for me and I was able to give it back into Karen’s eager hands without any great wrench.

The reasons for this I feel fall into two parts. First there was just too much that did not feel as if it worked as well as it could. This is exactly where the strengths of Apple normally lie, but on the iPad the wi-fi was too flaky and the missing camera limits possibilities. For me the disappointing capabilities of two add-ons flag up that this machine is not as good as it could be: the VGA adapter only works for some programs, and the SD card reader only allows thumbnail views.

This brings me to my second point that the iPad underperforms as a work machine. I had thought it would be great to use the touch features for collaborative brainstorming; but I could not project to the large screen. And I expected to take photos and instantly put the camera card in to show them off; but to do this I had to slowly pick and transfer the files first. In particular I thought the iPad would be great for having PDF documents loaded to replace paper in meetings; but too cumbersome to switch between the documents so I was better off with my laptop (and best off with paper!). I also was in a meeting where five other people had iPads – the effect was of looking at the top of people’s heads as they found documents or made notes. I felt more part of the meeting behind my laptop screen.

Throughout my week I kept putting the iPad to one side and using my Macbook Pro instead. The one win at work was when I had to carry out workplan approvals – a job where I needed to bring up page after page and click a button, this was much more satisfying with the touch screen rather than a mouse.

The iPad does feel like a first generation – I remember feeling just the same when I got an early model iPod Touch. That has been transformed by software upgrades and hardware improvements so that I am now a constant user of the iPhone 3GS I have (though notably it is not my phone – that remains an ancient Nokia).

At the moment then  no iPad for openpad, but I suspect I will waver in the future – though whether this time Apple has gone too far with its gradual upgrading approach and will allow others too leap ahead remains to be seen. Philosophically an openish Android would better match my views than the proprietary iPad so my colleague Liam Green Hughes may yet win in this argument!

5 Responses to No thank you for iPad

  1. Pingback: No thank you for iPad « Padded thoughts | iPad all around the World

  2. Hi Patrick, interesting post. I haven’t found the wifi to be at all problematic and didn’t feel the need for a camera, SD card reader or VGA adapter so I guess I must work in a different way from you. I also think the machine is less or a barrier than a laptop so interesting to hear your observation about the tops of people’s heads…

    For me the main drawback is the lack of multi-tasking. Also the battery now appears to be stuffed and literally takes four days to charge fully so I’ll need to get that replaced.

    The key I think is that this is not designed to be a complete replacement for the PC/Mac – it fills a gap between the smartphone and the laptop. Better portability than the laptop. Better readability than both the laptop and the smartphone. I detailed my thoughts in June at and my opinion hasn’t changed.

  3. Patrick says:

    Hi Niall,
    I suspect the dodgy wi-fi comes with old home router technology – but other devices cope so iPad deserves part of the blame. I suspect that as with other machines if I owned one I wouldn’t use half the things it has but while trying out the gadgets I did feel they were not as well thought out or flexible as they might have been. After all for the VGA adapter all I was asking was that the 1024×768 screen was mirrored to the projector – but it seemed to want to do something cleverer than that, and failed to be useful.

    Whether it is more intrusive in a meeting than a laptop or not is interesting. It might depend a bit whether people are trying to type or using it just to get at information. I know your group at the OU have adopted the iPad so you will have more experience than I do. Thanks for the pointer back at your earlier article – at the time you flag up the killer application as reading documents. I was slightly inhibited by having a borrowed iPad and so could not use all of the ways to get data onto it, notably iBooks, and that might affect my view. Even so the chance to only have one window on the go meant I got more lost in shuffling through the electronic papers than the real ones.

    I also had thought the iPad as a reader would be a great advantage: I showed books preloaded into iBooks to my Mother-in-law who has poor vision at the moment. Changing the font size meant she could find a size that helped her read – but overall she did not feel it was for her. I intend to investigate the Kindle to see if a dedicated reader has the edge for this – again a colleague has one (Ross Allen) so I may take the chance to check it out.

    I will see how you are getting on with your iPad in future meetings – I remember you declared you were going paper-free!

  4. Gill Clough says:

    Fascinating post and responses. I feel duty bound to include a link to my posts about how I expected to use the iPad, and how the reality lived up to my expectations

    The main difference is that I emphatically do not use the iPad for work. I do so much typing and my entire electronic work ‘environment’ is so embedded in my macbook pro that I just couldn’t be without it in the work context.

    I use the iPad exclusively for entertainment, but that excludes reading. Maybe I’ve just not tried hard enough – I have ibooks and have downloaded many favourites, but just can’t bring myself to read them. I find the iPad essential for journeys, music, entertainment and internet connectivity. It is also a real help when it comes to navigating from the passenger seat of the car (mapapp is fantastic), but I use it so much for connecting to the internet that by the time I’m ready to read, I want a rest from looking at the screen.

    When I go out, however, I have to admit that I often take not only my iPhone but also my iPad. It all depends on whether I’m going out on a ‘big handbag’ event or a ‘small handbag’ event. Technology use dictated by handbag size 🙂

  5. Patrick says:

    Hi Gill,
    Your blog does give a good list of things that make the iPad worth it for you. It is definitely worth noting that so far everyone who has an iPad says that I have got it wrong and the advantages of size, slickness and quality make it worth having. I was also trying to make it fit my work pattern in particular which was not the niche that you planned for your iPad. So reading papers and typing up notes in meetings were the main challenge – and there we both would stick to the Macbook.

    I am very glad the iPad has been worth it for you – and if I was after an entertainment machine I may have found it suited the roel better.

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