The IPAD Phenomenon – When Paradigms Shift Drastically

There are times and there are times. And there’s this week. My IPAD arrived Monday (thanks Madhavi and Amol). Today is Thursday night and I am sitting in front of it, the device propped up on a custom-made, solid teak-wood stand designed by Murthy (thanks Murthy), touch-typing this piece on the Pages app. The only reason I miss Microsoft Word is the absence of a word counter, but I am sure that my editor will be able to sort things out in case I go overboard.
Ever since the IPAD has been announced, people have been making profound ‘expert’ comments, discussing it’s pros and cons even though most of them have never even seen one, forget about having used one. It’s been called everything from a net book to a Kindle-killer to a glorified photo-frame. And guess what…it is all of these and more.
So what is it! It is first of all NOT just an ebook reader like the Kindle. In fact with the Kindle app available on the IPAD it doesn’t even matter anymore whether you use the IBooks app or the Kindle app to read books.
To me, the IPAD is a completely new computer platform, familiar in some ways if you’ve been using an IPhone, but still different in many other ways. Depending on the kind of work you do on a computer, the IPAD can probably take care of about 80-90% of your needs. Email? Check. Web-surfing? Check. RSS newsreader? Check. Calendar? Check. YouTube? Check. Facebook? Check. Twitter? Check. Music? Check.
From a work and productivity perspective, the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps provide basic word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation capabilities, respectively. In fact, Keynote can probably take care of the presentation needs of more than 90% of the people, 90% of the times and I was able to use it and connect to an LCD projector on Tuesday itself. For those in the scientific fields, the Papers app is perhaps the best reason to have the IPAD – all your .pdfs, perfectly PUBMED catalogued, available at your fingertips….literally. And, the Things app is perhaps the best To-Do management tool ever. The battery-life is a good 10-12 hours…essentially you charge it at night and the IPAD works throughout the day on that one single charge. And every app/program opens virtually instantaneously, though you can use one only app at a time.
Downsides? It’s heavily net dependant and good connectivity is a must. File management and transfer are a bit of a pain and if you want to type fast you can’t just hold it in your hands…it needs to be propped up.
Each new device will have individual pros and cons that can be discussed ad nauseum in all kinds of forums. What is radically different about the IPAD, is it’s form and design and the way it changes how you use and experience a laptop. There is no lid, no power cord and no mouse, just your fingers. You can use it tilted, sideways, or straight-up. You can lie flat and hold it above you. You can cradle it in one arm or hold it in front with two. You and the device are connected by just your fingertips; no wires or cords…it can’t get more intimate than this.
There will soon be more devices like the IPAD, from other manufacturers. And at some point, in the not-too-distant future, virtually all computing except for some heavy-duty, professional or proprietary stuff, will be done only on devices like this.
I am holding the future of personal computing in my hands. And typing this piece on it. And emailing it as a Word doc to the Mirror office from the device itself. How much better can it get?

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