Don’t tell anyone, but I am not sure I like my new iPad

It’s very embarrassing, but I think my iPad annoys me. Baruch feels that he should be raving about his iPad. It’s the biggest thing to hit consumer tech since, well since the iPhone 3G took off. When the history of early 21st century tech is written, it might even be  a more important product than the iPhone. And here am I, on record, complaining about it. I’m going to be that guy from IBM who said in I think 1945 that there would only ever be like, 5 computers.

So, why don’t I like my iPad?

1) Flash — ahh-aaaaahh! I miss Flash on my iPad like I don’t on my iPhone. I (mostly) understand The Great Jobbso’s reasons for treating Flash like a vampire looks at garlic, but I have somehow failed to make my 4-year old understand them as well. All he knows is that he is unable to play his favourite Flash-based Teletubbies game on the CBBC website. It doesn’t work, and he wants Daddy to fix it. Obviously Daddy can’t. He gets cross. So the poor little tyke’s had to go back to the PC for his Teletubbies.

Daddy had a similar experience with the Daily Show. Watching the Daily Show online is, for Baruch, almost the whole point of having The Internet. And it’s flash based. And its not just John Stewart, it’s like half the commercial video on the internet, from retail sites, to (I am told) porn, to hotel websites. Baruch hates those little lego blocks in the middle of the space where his video should be. His heart sinks when he sees them. He wonders what he’s missing.

I don’t have the same level of expectation with my iPhone. After so many false dawns in the mobile internet, I secretly think I am not supposed to surf the web on my phone, so anything I can do on it in that direction I still find mildly incredible. I don’t typically use it for streaming video. And I didn’t buy an iPad as a replacement for my iPhone.

Anyway, lack of Flash is a major problem on the iPad that I didn’t think about when I bought it. Here are more:

2) It needs to decide which way “up” is, not me. It is too polite. The start of a session on my iPad is always preceded by a period of negotiation where I have to flip it around before we both agree which side of the screen should be the top. It’s like when you meet someone in a narrow passage, and you both shuffle off the same side to pass, blocking each other repeatedly and grinning sheepishly. I don’t have very strong opinions about which side of my iPad should be up, and am happy to let my iPad decide.

Actually, thinking about this, it is sort of cute that my iPad does this.

3) Aren’t I supposed to be watching movies on my iPad by now? Well I can’t. It was part of the story I was sold. I wanted to keep the kids happy on long aeroplane trips, making them watch educational videos about quantum physics or C17th philosophy, but don’t have any idea how to get any video on it at all! I can’t load anything on it except from iTunes and the App Store. iTunes in Switzerland only got music on it. No video as far as I can see. I am sure someone will write in and tell me how to get movies on my iPad, but as it will probably involve downloading all sorts of software and dropping things in my iTunes folder, reconverting them to H.S24 or whatever and then. . . no. Forget it. I’m not going to do it. I want to do it easily. Multiple steps to do things which should be simple intimidate me.  I am supposed to get 8 hours of video off this thing. Well, maybe I could. IF I COULD WATCH ANY EFFING VIDEO ON IT YOU APPLE FRIGTARDS. I am a bit cross about this, I have to admit.

4) My iPad is sort of slow. Maybe I am imagining it. But when it’s processing big multimedia websites I feel I have more latency than on my PC. My expectations, I think, are unreasonable: the iPad processor is a pimpsy yet efficient A4 from Apple itself, that sips power from an external battery. My PC is a 2.2ghz dual core Intel monster with what was 2 years ago the top of the range NVIDIA graphics, which is has access to all power in the mighty grid itself. Of course it is faster, what should I expect, my analytic brain tells itself? However my lizard brain, my consumer brain, which has absorbed the hype and the marketing of the iPad, is disappointed.

So those are the key reasons why Baruch is cross with his iPad. What did I have in mind when I bought it? I was going to have a neato replacement for my 2 bulky old notebooks, which are big, heavy, last 30 minutes away from a plug and burn sweaty patches onto my lap they run so hot. I cannot tell you how annoying I find the constant updates (many of them from Apple) that make my PC want to restart itself all the time, the incredibly frustrating antivirus prompts, all the crap that keeps asking to be my primary video player or music player or whatever. Finally, with the iPad, I would find true mobility. I also liked the idea of watching movies on it.

My iPad has — mostly — delivered. Having it now, as I do, I can’t go back. But on none of their products I have used have Apple’s pathologies been so stark. The company’s preference for closed systems and their need for total control makes this revolutionary device not all that it could be.

So it comes to this. I am going to want an Android tablet. It will have Flash. It will have multiple ways in which to download films and TV shows. I will still not have to deal with crapware; Google and the ecosystem know we won’t put up with that any more, a realisation the Wintel world still has problems getting their hands around. Hats off to Apple for that. And I will have the opportunity to buy many different Android tablets early next year, probably before the RIM Playmate Playbook finally graduates from vaporware to concrete reality. Acer will have one, so will HTC, Dell, Lenovo, Motorola, uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all (sorry, HP, I don’t think I will want to go the Palm OS route). I have great faith that all these tablets will have great specs, superfast processors, lovely screens, and be even cheaper than the iPad!

I have great fear for the PC industry next year. So far as I know, none of these tablet computers will have a single Intel chip in them. None of them will use Windows. Great changes are afoot, dear readers.

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16 thoughts on “Don’t tell anyone, but I am not sure I like my new iPad”

  1. If you would like to play movies download vlcplayer for ipad and load them through the apps tab of the iPad in iTunes. Does not require any conversion and runs very smoothly for non 720p+ video

  2. 1. Get Handbrake
    2. Insert DVD
    3. Rip to iTunes
    4. Sync iTunes with iPad
    5. Give iPad to kids to watch the movie

    Job done.

  3. “So far as I know, none of these tablet computers will have a single Intel chip in them”…

    So what will they have in them? Thanks…

  4. @Rafi: They will have processors from ARM manufactured by Qualcomm or Samsung (like the “A4 from Apple itself”, which is actually an ARM Cortex-A8 made by Samsung). Not that it matters, since these tablets are still mostly useless without a full-fledged Intel/AMD PC. (The ipad doesn’t even work without first connecting it to a PC.)

  5. Baruch, you are an embarrassment to this blog.

    1. There are no tablets or iPhones that play Flash currently. There is a good reason for that. When they do arrive, the user experience will suck for two reasons: Because it will be molasses slow, and because Flash games are meant to be used with mice and keyboards, not touch screens. Be a mensch and buy some apps for your kid, will you?

    2. Only point number 2 and you are already desperate for arguments?

    3. Next time you don’t know how to do something like watch video on your iPad, email me and I will walk you through downloading VLC player.

    4. No, you are wrong. And you will be wrong when the Android competitors come out — those will be slow compared to the iPad, coz the A4 is a remarkably fast feat of engineering — just download and ogle Epic Citadel to see what it can do.

  6. Hey I just write what I feel.

    1. WRONG. Samsung has a tablet out right now. Overpriced, wrong Android SW, but a tablet. Has Flash. No iPhones out w flash but gnnn, duh. All Android smartphones have Flash.
    2. yes, well it annoys/ed me. Is not in order of importance.
    3. My point is I don’t WANT to have to download anything to watch videos. I want to be able to do it RIGHT NOW
    4. A4 is an excellent ARM based chip. NVIDIA Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragons which these other guys will be running are ARM based too and are supposed to be super, too. Snapdragon powers most Android smartphones, I don’t hear any complaints.

  7. Agree with you 100%… which is why I was thankfully able to resist the consumerist urge to buy one of those things. I find the Kindle much more comfortable for news and blog reading (which is most of what I do on the web), and my laptop perfect for everything else I might want to do on a computer.

    Apple’s insistence on restricting you to doing things their way and their way only is a real turnoff… once the shiny new toy gets all scuffed up and you have to spend time fiddling to get them to work the way you want them to, they are a lot less attractive.

  8. Hey baruch!

    I like your style of writing. Amusing.

    If you want to watch movies, go to veetle.com.
    It says on the header of the site that you can watch stuff w/o and app. Just go there in your browser. Go to the site on your pc and see what i’m talking about. You can’t play video on your pc, though, w/o downloading some veetle software. But, the site says no app or software needed with safari on iphone or ipad.

    I watch stuff occasionally on my pc from there and it’s a good site.

  9. I’m skeptical that those Android tablets will indeed arrive without crapware. Android phones are already beginning to arrive with unwanted software from now-bankrupt companies, and you can’t tell me a company like Dell has suddenly found religion on the issue.

    As for video, the fact that the DMCA is keeping companies from selling nice, convenient ways to rip DVDs like you can CDs just depresses me. Think how many more shiny gadgets we’d be producing without that stupid law.

  10. Hey Baruch,
    I was positively gleeful when I saw the start of your iPad rant. I suspect many others are afraid to admit that they do not LOVE everything Apple does. I’ve been waiting for a little push-back.
    I found my iPod Touch to be a big disappointment. I had picked it up more than a year ago to replace my much loved but very much stolen Palm PDA. I figured for the same price I could get more gigs of memory, the calendar/address book functions and all those apps. (And for all kinds of reasons I didn’t want to be on a constant electronic leash with a smart phone.) But guess what?! After I brought my shiny, beautifully designed gadget home I discovered it did not even have a search function. Can you imagine? It never even occurred to me to ask if you could conduct searches for phone numbers on the iPod Touch. About six months later I was given the opportunity to pay $10 for a search function that is just one big joke. And the address book design is insane. Clunky. And did I mention how much I hate the virtual keyboard?
    So I have been feeling alone in my inability to fall in love with my Apple device — although I do enjoy listening to podcasts while filling a basket with groceries and I joyously whip it out to show pictures of the kids. On long trips, the kids listen to stories, watch short videos from the iTunes store, and play games on it. We have our moments. But it is a rocky relationship.
    In the coming year I will upgrade to something else — the Android? — and to my son’s delight and my relief –he will probably inherit my iPod Touch.

  11. None of them will use Windows. Great changes are afoot, dear readers.

    Do you have a job? If so, what do they run on the computers there?

    Don’t get me wrong; I have hated Microsoft since long before it was hip. But I have heard — and made — arguments about “the death of the PC” before, many many times. I will believe it when I see it.

  12. Well Nance, we are an apparent minority of non-Kool aid drinkers, but I have to admit that the iPad is something special nevertheless. Even if it could be better.

    Nemo, I am not predicting the death of the pc. Merely the end of its dominance, and the collapse of its long term growth trajectory. We still have horses around the place, even though we have cars, no?

  13. I like the iPad and have more or less appropriated the one my wife bought, but I am not having a good experience with Apple products more generally and am thinking, after decades of loyalty, of switching. Basically, I have encountered a serious mechanical flaw with every Apple product I have bought for the last five years: 1) the flash memory on my new Macbook Air died, after I bought a solid-state machine so I wouldn’t ever have another hard drive crash; 2) the thing has a battery life of, as Baruch suggests, about half an hour; 3) my two Macbook Pros had terrible, crippling problems caused by bad mechanical design, one of them with the hinge fraying the wire leading from the motherboard to the screen, and the other with latch problems; 4) when I finally got an iPod, it failed to start up when I linked it to my computer; 5) when I buy electronic media, it should belong to me and be downloadable to new devices–I shouldn’t have to deal with peculiar, balky backup procedures or risk losing it forever. As a contrarian investor, I am experiencing a strong temptation to switch to the Zune.

  14. There’s not a lot wrong with the iPad hardware, it’s beautifully made and works well. A USB port would have provided essential connectivity.

    The big problem is the restrictive Apple software, why hasn’t this company been prosecuted before now – they are clearly profiting by restricting people’s freedoms to use their own devices. No wonder that Android is outselling Apple 4:1 – that should have been a wakeup call to Jobs but instead he gets worse by banning an iPad app that is an Android magazine ! They’ve shown the world how to build a decent mobile device and then through their own idiocy, allow the world to move on without them. Why don’t they just concentrate on the beautiful hardware and leave the software to people who know what the customer wants ?

    In response to Bento, Flash works extremely well on my HTC Desire and I can stream live video from the likes of the BBC iPlayer, Youtube etc. and I suppose I could play Teletubbies as well.

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