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I bought the 16 GB WiFi-equipped iPad when it first came out. Like many others, I returned it a month later.
As much as I liked Apple’s latest gizmo, I just couldn’t find a way to consistently use it. Sure, the iPad was more portable than a notebook, but it doesn’t run OS X. Instead, Apple decided that the iPad should run on iOS, the mobile version of its desktop operating system.
And therein lies my problem. OS X applications don't run on iOS. That means I can't run Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, the two tools that I need to stay productive. There are applications in Apple’s App Store that serve as quasi-substitutes, but paying more for a program that I already have (with fewer functions) isn’t what I need.
Whatever I gained in portability, I lost in productivity. The iPad is a solid content consumption device; it's not nearly as suited to creation. If you want to be productive, you still need a computer.
The next time you’re at an airport, watch the professionals in suits. If they’re typing a Word document, editing a spreadsheet, or uploading a file to the corporate VPN, they’re still using a notebook to do it. Meanwhile, tablet users are working on crossword puzzles, writing email, playing Cut the Rope, or browsing the Web. That’s the limitation of a tablet; it’s really more about passing time.
To be fair, there are people who can be productive with a tablet (even in the office here, there are Tom's Hardware staff who do most of their communication on an iPad). But that group is eclipsed by the number of people using tablets for entertainment. We admit it: sharing photos at a party is more fun (and easier) on an iPad compared to a notebook. If you work all day in front of a computer, plopping down in front of the TV with an iPad to surf the Web somehow feels relaxing. Pulling out the notebook and balancing it on your lap still feels like a remnant of work.
However, “fun” only stays fun if you color within the lines. As they exist today, tablets suffer a number of shortcomings, including limited Adobe Flash and multitasking support. Performance is nothing to write home about, either. Fortunately, tablets are constantly evolving. The tablets we see today are going to be followed by many more. But if you want the latest and greatest now, let’s see how far this development segment has come with an extremely in-depth look at Apple’s iPad 2.