5 reasons not to buy an iPad

Update: This article was corrected to fix an error in the description of the iPad’s multitasking limitations. Thanks to John Gruber for help with that.

Yes, it’s awesome. But should you blow five hundred bucks or more on Apple’s new iPad tablet computer? If you’re looking for reasons to back out, we’ve got ‘em. In descending order of dealbreaking:

  1. You can only one run non-Apple application at a time. iPad runs the iPhone operating system, not Mac OS X. The official documentation for software developers states clearly that there’s no “multitasking” — only one non-Apple-built-in application can run at a time on the iPad. Presuming it works like a current iPhone or iPod Touch, you can listen to iTunes and read a book at the same time, but you can’t listen to Pandora and read a book at the same time. If you make a Skype call, you can’t punch up another app during the conversation. Twitterholics will find themselves hopping back and forth awkwardly between apps. In short, iPad is not a MacBook replacement. If you’re a content creator, you’ll be stumped.
  2. You can’t run Flash applications on Web pages. This means video won’t play unless it’s on YouTube, for which iPad has a special player. This also means many components on many websites won’t even appear, let alone work. Ignore the “good riddance to Flash” apologists currently packing Techmeme. You’re not willing to give up that large a chunk of the Web 2.0 Internet.
  3. It’s not up to par with modern TV. The screen is 4:3 ratio, not 16:9, so you’ll need to watch movies in disappointing “letterbox” mode. And you can’t connect the iPad to your HDTV.
  4. No camera, and no way to add one. There are hints in the software and documentation that future iPads may have a camera. But for now, you can’t use it for video chats or to snap photos of yourself for Facebook. (Apple’s iPad camera adapter is for transferring photos from a camera, not for shooting new pictures.)
  5. It’s unproven as an e-reader. iPad lacks the Amazon Kindle’s non-backlit screen and long battery life, designed to make reading an entire novel comfortable. I don’t personally believe this makes it a bad e-reader, but I’d want to spend some time test-reading before committing to it.

[Photo of iJustine: Alexia Tsotsis]

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