Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The iPad Is a Magic Machine, But Is the Android Tablet More Magical?

I love my iPad. I used to reserve the word "love" for my kids and wife and these dark chocolate covered marshmallows from Schwartz's Candy. But the iPad is up there: It's my email machine, my movie player, my web browser, my music dispenser, my note taker. It's instant-on (take that, Windows!) and the battery lasts one round trip bus ride between Washington and New York.

But the iPad has a serious and fundamental flaw. With other tablets to choose from, especially those with Google's Android operating system and especially the very exciting Motorola Xoom, Apple has got to stay edgy, innovative and change some of its philosophies. And here's the one that will come back to bite off a piece of the Apple: You must connect your iPad to a computer to activate it. You must connect it to a computer to update the operating system. You must connect it to a computer if some problem requires that you reset it.

Requiring that the iPad be wired to a computer means that you can't give it as a present and have it up and running right out of the box, and you can't update the operating system while you're traveling or if your computer isn't available. It means that if the iPad suffers a big crash (rare, but it happens) while you're on a trip, you're out of luck until you can reconnect it.

This also means that your iPad is dependent on the clunky, extraordinarily slow, and crash-prone program, iTunes.

While most of the time you don't have to ever connect your iPad to a computer, when you must but  you can't, you may be wishing you had an Android.

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