MIXED REVIEWS ON THE iPAD
By Derek Keist
MONMOUTH — The coming release of the iPad will change the way people perform their everyday activities. That was the prediction of Bryn Lawrence, Monmouth College's Coordinator of Web Services.
Lawrence said tablet computers have been around for a while with little success. However, he believes the iPad will change all that.
“This could be a water shed moment for tabloids because it brings together good hardware, solid battery life, a much better touch screen, an operating system which is designed for a tabloid and software that is also designed to run by touch,” Lawrence said. “There is also the 3G component makes it usable anywhere."
However, there are still some who worry about the iPad's limitations. Marta Tucker, a Monmouth College professor and the department chair of mathematics and computer science, said her concern is the lack of a USB drive and the inability to support multi-tasking.
“I think most of us have gotten used to computing environments where we have lots of different programs running simultaneously and I think to go back to running one program at a time would be a real step backwards,” Tucker said.
That is also a concern among some who have grown up using computers.
"It's [the iPad] got all this processing power, all this battery power, and you can't do more than one thing at one time," said Andy Drea, a sophomore at Monmouth College. "You either can work on a word processor or you can update your twitter. There's no multi-tasking."
Others are hesitant about the decision to create a sole touch screen computer.
James Mayfield, an assistant computer science professor at Monmouth College, said he owns a tablet, which features touch technology, but also has a keyboard.
"What’s nice about this [tabloid] is that it’s a Swiss army knife,” Mayfield said. “If I need the screwdriver — a keyboard — I can use my keyboard. If I need the pen, I can use the pen. If I need the touch, I can use the touch. Apple says no, it’s all touch based.”
Tucker, who owns an iPod Touch, said she loved the interface and the number of activities she could perform on it.
“It’s great for accessing e-mail quickly, for looking something up on the Internet, and for having basically mobile access to the Internet,” Tucker said. “It’s a really nice device.”
While the iPad might lack certain capabilities, it could become a major part of people's everyday lives.
“They [Apple] are able to influence people well,” Mayfield said. “They will probably sell like hotcakes and people will claim them to be absolutely wonderful, because people already do that with Apple products, whether or not they’re any better or worse than other products."
Tucker said she believes the iPad will filter out into the community, starting with high school students.
Lawrence said the iPad, much like the iPhone, will bring the technology to the attention of the general public.
“The iPhone’s launch was an interesting time because the smart phone market really took off after that was introduced,” Lawrence said. “Apple does a good job of making a big show when they launch a device, and I think it will make people more aware that there are devices out there like this. They don’t only do a good job of marketing stuff for themselves, but it gets the word out that there is technology out there like this and makes it more mainstream.”
Locally, however, the iPad might not make a large mark, at least early on. Alpha Omega, a Monmouth computer store, said they do not deal with Apple and will not carry the iPad. Monmouth College will probably not be placing a large order for the new Apple product either.
“Most schools are really looking at things like pen-based technology, which we [Monmouth College] are already starting to use here,” Mayfield said. “Using our hands is pretty fundamental. The mouse is an obvious precursor to that. Pens are a little nicer and just being able to touch some stuff and interact with it in a way is good. It makes a lot of sense that that’s the way things will be going.”
The launch of the iPad is a step forward in touch technology, but some still contend there will always be a place for desktops or laptops.
“There are still certain kinds of work that require a different kind of interface than the touch, Tucker said. “For example, I would rather not write a 10-page paper on an iTouch. I need to sit down at my desk and interface with the computer in a different way than if I’m reading a book or browsing the Internet.”
Mayfield also noted that while mobile phones and other touch technology will take on a bigger effect on our everyday lives, there will still most likely be a place for desktops.
“There’s no silver bullet with technology," he said. "There’s always going to be a place for desktop and desktop-like computers.”