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May 5, 2010

iPad is NetBook Killer

The king is dead, long live the king!  Say goodbye to the NetBooks, that whole class of machines is dead. The iPad may not kill them off, but future iPads and all the clones that will eventually follow definitely will. Is the PC the next to get bumped off? Not right away, but in the long run, yes.

I have been using the iPad for about a week now. This device is a game changer. For about 90% of the population, it will do everything they need.  Surf the web. Check. Get e-mail? Check. Manage your finances with Quicken?  Eventually, check. Manage your social networks? Check. Play your music and videos? Check and Check. Do simple word processing and document creation? Check.

At its core, the iPad is a web browsing and media playing device. It does both those things exceedingly well. Download speeds are fast and pages look good. Its amazing how much better it is to surf using your finger rather than a mouse. Plus the portability allows me to do this anywhere, anytime. Think about it, can you use a netbook while standing up and drinking a coffee?  Also, the battery seems to last forever. In the week I have had it, the iPad still has not needed a recharge.

But it is not all rainbows and unicorns. There are a few things missing from this first generation device. First, you still have to physically sync it with a PC or Mac that has iTunes to load apps, music, photos, and video on the device.  That is fine for now, but in the future, all that stuff should be stored in the cloud. The other glaring omission is the ability to print. Its cool that you can do word processing and spreadsheets, but the device is still heavily reliant on the PC for this sort of thing.

In two or three years, devices like this will dominate the mobile computing environment. It will be interesting to see if the iPad or its clones, that are sure to follow, will prevail in the end. Whatever happens it going to be very interesting the next couple of years.
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