The PC is Dead! Long Live the PC!

I bought a 3rd generation iPad the day they were first available. I didn’t camp in line or anything of that sort. I simply went to Best Buy after work, walked up to the counter and selected the model (black, 32 Gb, WiFi) I’d intended to buy. There were 6 remaining. By the time I’d left the store there was 1 remaining, so sales were pretty brisk.

I used the upcoming spring break family vacation to rationalize making the purchase on the first day the new iPad was available (I’d intended to buy one anyway). I also grabbed the Camera Connection Kit and a Smart Cover.

Setup was a breeze since I already have an iPhone. Just spend a few minutes syncing with iTunes and I was good to go. I was pleasantly surprised to find my iPad had 100% charge on its battery. I’d expected to have to charge it first.

I let the kids pick out a few games since I knew there would be quite a bit of driving for this vacation. I was hoping the new iPad would keep them entertained during the drive. Worked like a champ! Not only did it keep the kids entertained, with a minimal amount of fighting over who gets the iPad next, the battery life exceeded my expectations. Seven hours of continuous use playing games and the battery had only been drained down to 20-25%!

Every hotel these days has a free WiFi connection so I never missed not paying the extra $150 for the 4G LTE connection for the iPad. It was nice at night to chill out and everyone tell their friends what they did that day on Facebook. I was responsible for uploading, editing and organizing the day’s photos – that’s why I grabbed the Camera Connection Kit – posting the ‘Photo of the Day’ on Facebook. It was in doing this task that I discovered the iPad will charge your camera. This seems like a pretty useful feature, but I couldn’t find a way to control it. It appears the iPad is going to start charging your camera whether you want it to or not. I could imagine in low battery situations where you may not want it to.

You’ve all heard the new retina display is gorgeous and it’s true. Text looks printed, not displayed. Let me put it this way – it’s easier to read than my Nook which uses E Ink and is a dedicated e-reader. Pictures are fabulous and really made my Nikon CoolPix S8200 shine. You should consider the new iPad for digital picture viewing alone. Nothing compares.

Since I didn’t have another computer with me for the week I got adept at touch typing on the iPad. I still have problems with my left pinky hitting either ‘q’, ‘w’ or even sometimes ‘a’ (ha!) So it isn’t without issue. It’s the auto-correct feature that makes it work so well. While the single-key error rate is a terrible-sounding 20%, especially where the left pinky is conerned, the iPad is able to determine what word you meant to type and automatically insert that word instead. The auto-correct feature is accurate greater than 95% of the time so overall touch typing is quite pleasant on the iPad. And it certainly beats using your thumbs.

To make typing perfect the next iPad needs a haptic keyboard. That way your fingertips can rest on the keys, feel the ridge on the home keys, and detect the push that your depressing that key. You could do some serious typing with such a keyboard. In my opinion that would be worth the purchase price of a new iPad just to get that one new feature!

So far I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know – the iPad is a consumption device with a gorgeous display that now coupled with the Camera Connection Kit allows you to import/edit/organize your photos. But what else can you do with it? Would you believe programming?

All you need is the Gambit Scheme application, available in the App Store for 99¢! I was reading Paul Graham’s On Lisp on the iPad – remember the iPad is a great e-reader? – when I got to the chapter on continuations. Paul first explores how continuations are used in Scheme before considering how to implement them in Lisp. Using Gambit I was able to follow along just fine creating and running sample applications on my iPad. The Gambit REPL though makes you acutely aware of the keyboard problem. There’s no auto-correct for Scheme source so that 20% single-key error rate starts to grate on your nerves. Otherwise you’re able to create and run Scheme programs on your iPad! (And yes, this is what geeks do when chilling out on vacation – program! We just like to program something different from what we’re doing at work at the time).

Adding to the iPad’s producing cred is the fact Apple has brought out their iLife and iWork application suites for the iPad, priced at $4.99 per app. Adobe has already released Photoshop Touch for the iPad priced at $9.99. Even Microsoft is rumored to be bringing out their Office suite on the iPad later this year, though no pricing is available.

Clearly this all points to the death of the PC, especially for typical home/family usage. So why long live the PC? A colleague recently pointed out you wouldn’t want to do your taxes on an iPad. He’s right – the keyboard would drive you nuts. Likewise a typical knowledge worker in an office environment is not going to want to use an iPad either. Even if it had an awesome haptic keyboard. It’s simply not the right tool for the job. So there’s room for the PC for the foreseeable future, especially in the workplace. But for everywhere else? Watch out! The PC may be going the way of the dodo bird.


About taylodl

I'm an enterprise architect/developer who enjoys programming, math, music, physics, martial arts and beer
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