The iPad Air –A Truly Mass Market Personal Computer

by Ben Bajarin   |   October 29th, 2013

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With the iPad Air, Apple has created the world’s thinest and lightest full size tablet. And by adding their 64-bit A7 processor they have made it extremely powerful as well. After using the iPad Air for the past week I’m convinced that it is the perfect personal computer for the masses.

Thinnest and Lightest
I use more tablets of different sizes and operating systems than I care to admit. At last count I now have in my possession 12 working tablets of different varieties. When I compare the iPad Air with all of these and others on the market it is clear that Apple’s claim’s that the iPad Air is the thinnest and lightest full size tablet on the market is accurate. The new iPad Air is so light you have to feel it to believe it.

The iPad Mini weighs .69 pounds and the iPad Air weighs 1 pound. But when you hold them at the same time the weight difference feels negligible. The iPad Air distributes its weight in a way that holding it and using it feels about as light as the iPad Mini.

The iPad Air is easily the best designed iPad yet.

Notebook or iPad?
Every year, I field many questions from friends and family on whether I can recommend that they buy an iPad rather than a new notebook. Of course, this question has to be followed with another question related to how they primarily use their notebook. If you sit at a desk all day, use a keyboard and mouse to input, and run software that requires a hard-core Intel or AMD processor then you probably need a notebook or desktop. However, for most consumers when they are at home or even if they don’t have a desk job, the iPad is the ideal personal computer.

The iPad has become as versatile as any personal computer on the market. In fact, any time I need to be reminded of the role of the iPad, I remember a quote from Steve Jobs when it was launched:

“The iPad is more intimate than a notebook and more capable than a smartphone.” — Steve Jobs

The iPad, iOS and the entire ecosystem of over 470,000 iPad apps all built with a touch interface are simply easier to use, less intimidating, and often more empowering than many apps that exist only on notebooks and desktops. My kids use the iPad to play games, read, create movies, make music, paint and draw, and a host of other things they would never be able to do on a PC with its mouse and keyboard input. The iPad is not computing dumbed down; it is powerful computing simplified. And simple solutions require sophisticated technology. That is exactly what the iPad and the new iPad Air is–powerful computing. And for many consumers the iPad Air will be the most empowering personal computer they have ever owned.

I am a heavy PC user. So I tried an experiment. Over the past week, I used the iPad Air to do many things that I normally only do on my MacBook Air. I used the iPad Air to make movies using iMovie. I used it to record some music in GarageBand. I used it to respond to emails, some very long. I used it to create and edit documents for our clients. I used it to write articles for our site here. In all of these use cases and more the iPad exceeded my expectations as a creation tool.

Apple has strengthened the value proposition of the iPad and the new iPad Air as a mobile personal computer by offering iWork and iLife apps for free. Now the iPad can be used  out of the box to create movies, make music, create documents and presentations, and a lot more, at no extra cost. Unless you are a Microsoft Office power user, iWork will more than meet your needs.1 iLife opens the door to a creative world unparalleled on any other tablet platform. Where iWork may have a competitor on other platforms, iLife does not. When it comes to the creative arts, the iPad is unparalleled from a software standpoint.

The iPad has proven to be more than just a simple consumption device. A lot of that has to do with the breadth and depth of apps particularly in the creative arts for the iPad. While it is true that existing iPad owners benefit from all the software advancements I mention above, the new design of the iPad Air and the power of the A7 make it more usable than ever. And for most, this may be the only personal computer they really need.

The A7 and Future Proofing
When recommending products to consumers I always encourage them to look at it as an investment. Whether someone is buying a PC, TV, smartphone, or tablet, it is best to get one that is worthy of your money and will last. What makes the iPad Air interesting–from the view of personal computing–is the A7 processor.

Much has been written about the power of the A7. Creativity apps like iMovie and GarageBand run extremely smoothly and fast on the A7. I made a 4-minute high definition movie on the iPad Air and it exported in just under one minute. When I attempted the same on the iPad 4 it took just over three minutes. When it comes to exporting movies or even compressing video or a photo to upload to the web, send in an email, or even using AirDrop the A7 does it all faster.

The A7 being a 64-bit processor has laid a new foundation in mobile computing and it is one will help the iPad Air stand the test of time. There was a time not too long ago when PC purchasing advisors recommended to consumers to buy as much processor as they could afford. These were the days when megahertz were going to gigahertz. While I don’t recommend consumers buy products solely based on specs, I think the same advice applies to the iPad Air. The A7 helps future proof the iPad Air helping to extend its life and the performance of the tablet well into the future.

For many who do not depend daily on a desktop workstation or portable desktop (notebook) the iPad Air will more than suffice as their everyday personal computer. Thanks to the holdable form form factor the iPad is much more mobile than a notebook as well. The iPad Air starts at $499. Here is a link to compare prices and specs across the iPad lineup.

  1. iWork can open Microsoft Office documents and export them in Office formats as well. photo []

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • pawhite524

    Ben,

    Thanks for helping me decide between the iPad Air and the iPad r-mini.

    I am not surprised to find this analysis at techpinions nor your byline attached to this analysis.

    What is surprising is there have been no “Of course you wrote this ______ you are nothing but a fanboy…” gobbledygook from some one of a contrary point of view who misbelieves their opinion “can walk on water” because he or she believes it to be so.

    All the best,

    Peter

    • benbajarin

      HA! Thanks. While I do love a good comment troll, I’m glad we don’t have many of them here at Tech.pinions.

    • gjgustav

      A general rule of thumb seems to be forming: “if you need to carry a laptop and an iPad, get the mini, if you don’t need to carry the laptop, get the Air.”

  • http://www.BarnesFamily.com/ davebarnes

    Does it run Windows so you can access an app store with only 60K apps? NO.
    Does it run Android so you can easily download malware? NO.
    Can you easily bend it because it is made of cheap plastic? NO.
    NO reason to buy it.

  • Shameer Mulji

    “The iPad is not computing dumbed down; it is powerful computing simplified”

    This line sums up what the iPad truly is. Well said. Right in line with what Ben Thompson has been saying in his blog posts regarding iPad / Magic / Liberals and his interview on the most recent Vector podcast with Rene Ritchie.

    One point to regarding future proofing the iPad Air, I do wish Apple stepped up the RAM to 2GB, at least on the iPad Air. I read Anand Shimpi’s review over at Anandtech, and he mentioned there were stability issues with iOS regarding 64-bit processes because the iPad Air has only 1GB of RAM. I wonder if Apple’s engineers are able to optimize that with software tweaks?

    Other than that, the iPad Air seems to garnering really rave reviews all around. Can’t wait to get my hands on one.

    • benbajarin

      I talked to Anand and Brian and it seems that we are all in agreement that iOS 7 is doing some form of compressed memory technique similar to OS X. But I agree with you, however, I tried a lot of use cases using the iPad Air extensively as my primary compute device and I never had any memory issues or App crashes.

      And I’m sure you will find Ben Thompson and I agree on many things. :)

      • Shameer Mulji

        That’s definitely positive news. And I’ve been listening to your new Cubed podcast and it’s definitely a breath of fresh air as far as tech podcasts go.

        • benbajarin

          I really appreciate that. Thanks.

      • Defendor

        Anandtech just posted their iPad Air review, and he is reporting more crashes with the iPad air. Usually for Low memory. 64 bit programs seem to be stressing the memory management a bit more:

        http://www.anandtech.com/show/7460/apple-ipad-air-review/9

        • steve_wildstrom

          To put that in context, here’s what Anand wrote:
          “Although things seem to have improved with iOS 7.0.3, the 64-bit builds of the OS still seem to run into stability issues more frequently than their 32-bit counterparts. I still see low memory errors associated with any crashes. It could just be that the move to 64-bit applications (and associated memory pressure) is putting more stress on iOS’ memory management routines, which in turn exposes some weaknesses. The iPad Air crashed a couple of times on me (3 times total during the past week), but no where near as much as earlier devices running iOS 7.0.1.”

          • LAN8

            Yes, but to Ben’s point above, in the same article he points out he’s running several types of really low-level tests trying to determine exactly what’s going on in the A7, he’s also pounding the thing with the most stressful tests he can devise to determine the punishment it can take too. All for us, of course, so we can see in his extremely detailed evaluations. It’s not clear if any of this may have crashed his iPad, he doesn’t say in the article one way or the other.

        • benbajarin

          As we know, Anand is a power user and tests these devices in way most consumers who will use this as a PC replacement do not do. That being said I used it extensively over the past week and haven’t had an app crash one time.

      • TheEternalEmperor

        Anyplace to get more info about this memory technique’s iOS or is OS X’s implementation.

  • klahanas

    A tablet can replace a PC for may, if not most, users. But unless you’re willing to remove “general purpose” from the expectation (if not the definition) of a PC, then tablets are not PC’s. If you do, then you have to decide what to call a small general purpose computer. PC’s have had that moniker too long.

    Calling tablets PC’s is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Tablets and smartphones are a separate valuable category. There’s a lot of cynical redefinition going on. Look at the latest moves on iWork. It’s been dumbed down to bring a closer parity with the tablet versions. This is because tablets don’t have the oomph (hype notwithstanding) to run the higher level software. So by dumbing down the PC functionality, you get to more easily draw comparison to the tablet as a PC.

    To which I say fine. What then will you call what has for generations has been called the PC?

    • gjgustav

      General purpose doesn’t mean every purpose. It means the purposes that most people want. The tablet fits this definition fine. But why does it matter? This is not confusing consumers. Customers know if they want a desktop, laptop, or tablet. As you said, a tablet can replace a PC for many users. This is why it is also called a PC. It fits the definition. Saying a tablet is not a PC is like saying a lower powered laptop is not a PC because you need a powerful desktop for what you do.

      The dumbing down of iWork, was to re-architect the desktop apps to have the same core as the tablet apps, so they can advance together. It’ll make keeping feature parity much easier in the future. And where it makes sense to have desktop-only features like Applescript or keyboard shortcuts, they’ll come back. They just didn’t make it into this release.

      • klahanas

        I can get into architectural reasons why they are distinct, from a fundamental computer science perspective, and not even get into performance issues. Performance issues are less relevant. Words matter, concepts matter. If a technical concept is being pitched, “Tablets are PC’s”, it should have a valid technical basis.

        I submit to you that “Just get a tablet” is less confusing to customers, than “Tablets are PC’s” which only adds ambiguity.

        And yes, general purpose does mean every purpose within technological practicality. These things pre-existed and are here to stay. What, pray tell, shall we call them?

        • gjgustav

          Well, in fact, beyond pundits and geeks like us, most people don’t even use the term PC anymore. They just say “computer, laptop, or tablet” so it’s not really a big issue. The main reason for calling them PCs is for business analysis. It’s valid there, because people are buying them instead of desktops or laptops, and are doing the same tasks as they would have on a desktop or laptop.

          • http://www.lazyprogrammers.com Eugene Kim

            Yeah, I gotta side with gjgustav here. The main reason calling the table a PC is a big deal, is because of the way it is eroding the entire PC market. Thinking that the PC market is simply in a slump and will recover, and treating the tablet like a separate market, is only burying your head in the sand to what’s actually happening (not you personally klahanas, business analysts in general). The tablet (more notably the iPad) is the poster child of low-end disruptive innovation of the PC market, and the iPad Air will only accelerate that trend.

          • klahanas

            And yet, it still has the “mopeds and bicycles are outselling motorcycles” flavor to it….

          • LAN8

            No, it doesn’t. All 3 devices (and heck, let’s even include phones, smartwatches, Google glass and whatever else comes along) are essentially just brain extension tools now. Each has a form factor or capability that is distinct, true. But even mopeds, bikes, motorcyles, car, trucks, semis, trains, planes, etc. are just vehicles. Everything else is semantics and not even useful to the consumer. Just as no consumer would consider taking a plane for their daily commute (unless it’s some ungodly type of commute – yikes!), no consumer would consider using an iPad where they knew they would need a 4K monitor and high-end 3-D rendering software.

            PC (personal computer) SHOULD be extended to all these devices as an umbrella grouping, because that’s what it does, it computes for your brain on some personal level (or proffessional level). PCs are now a generic class of objects with specific implementations (Tablet, notebook, etc.)

          • klahanas

            Okay. I really didn’t want to say this here, because I’ve said it before. If a computer is to be truly personal, it should be under the COMPLETE control of it’s owner and general purpose. The owner can CHOOSE to abdicate that responsibility to their manufacturer as an option, not as a requirement. Yes, I’m talking about curation.

            To make up an example… Let’s say a University professor wrote some applets in Java over the years, and want’s to run them on an iPad for the students. Maybe as some programs to help them with the coursework. Guess what. No go! If the iPad were a truly general purpose computer, someone would have developed a Java compiler or interpreter and the applets could run. To get them on the machine they might require access to the filesystem. Oops! Wrong again. So, you could say to me that the professor should learn Objective-C, Xcode, and get a Mac. Doesn’t sound too “personal” to me… The Mac, yes, the iPad, no.

            Even more fundamentally, as I just suggested, a computer whose implementation REQUIRES another computer to program it, is not general purpose. Further, in the case of iOS devices, it specifically requires a Mac, and even further departure of general purposeless.

            I do see your point though, and I’m not playing with words. An “individual” computer is what you described, not a “personal” one. When it’s programming is so restricted, it’s personal to whom? Do most PC users need/want a PC? Probably not. Do they use their PC’s as if they are tablets? Probably many do. But let’s not confuse or blur the difference between them. Because it’s not just usage patterns of “most” users that matters.

          • LAN8

            That’s just silliness dude. You just want an argument over semantics. There is no REQUIREMENT for another computing device to run iOS (at least anymore). If that’s your “requirement” then anyone who uses a router/bridge/other network equipment is equally dependent on another device, and the use of the network itself (or internet) invalidates the PC because suddenly the user doesn’t own the network or the content (and maybe rents the router from their cable provider or something). The analogy you’re using completely falls apart.

            Look, a car is restricted too (speed limits, engine type, parts it will take, lease/loan, whatever…) THAT does not invalidate it as a vehicle. There is no requirement that PCs be anything but a computing device a person uses. It doesn’t have to be all-purpose or general purpose. The term has evolved beyond how we thought about it circa 1970/80. Actually the introduction of the internet, and mobile is what evolved it. Just because it’s a mobile thing that doesn’t play well with certain other things does not change the fact that it computes for it’s person/user.

          • klahanas

            No argument over them being computers, it’s what kind of computers.

          • DocNo42

            “it’s what kind of computers.”

            Who cares? End users don’t. When it comes to phones and tablets, I don’t. I just want the darn thing to work. That’s where curation shines. If I want curation free I can jailbreak or just pull out my Mac or Windows boxes.

            Is my microwave any less useful to me because the firmware in it isn’t “open”? Nope!

            Your mixing religion (“Open”) with the value of a tool (what practical work can the device do for me). Your in the vast minority of people who care about such nuance.

            Now if all other computing devices were outlawed and jack booted thugs were confiscating all other computing technology other than iOS devices then I might share a smidgen of your concern. But we are far from that.

            Let’s flip it around since I’m sure the whole choice argument isn’t far off – what’s wrong with letting people choose to have a curated environment if they want it? It doesn’t work for you – great! Luckily for you there are other environments like Android that aren’t curated – as much. And open – a little anyway. But why must every platform follow the same fundamental models? I love my iPhone and iPads precisely because I *don’t* think of them as computers – personal or otherwise. They are, as someone else put it earlier, an extension of my brain – of who I am. They are tools that do meaningful work for me and from a technology standpoint they are transparent. That’s a wonderful thing!

            As for “Open” and non-curated, there’s a price to pay for that complexity; just looking at the malware situation on Android. That’s a huge consequences to having that Laissez-faire attitude.

            For me curation isn’t stifling – it’s liberating because the technology becomes transparent and more effective. I tried Android on a work provided device, and found what I suspected – much of it’s advantages over iOS were optional and had to be customized by myself. It didn’t come out of the box “superior”. I also had to take a much more proactive role in managing the device – malware, task managers to kill apps in order to get anything resembling decent battery life, etc. And updates – if I wanted the latest OS for year old hardware I would have to root the phone – which would have violated my companies security policy (oh the irony). A consequence of providing choice to the carriers who are not interested in incurring expenses on old devices. They would rather sell you a new one (with a contract renewal). Ironic that Apple is accused of “planned obsolescence when they are the ones that demanded and got as a concession from AT&T the ability to retain ownership of the software and patching of said software.

            And to reiterate, I can root my iPhone and bypass the curation too if that’s so important to you, so Android really doesn’t have an advantage there either if you want to continue to split hairs. Indeed, to do many of the things Android people tout as advantages over iOS, you have to root your Android device too. Android people just tend to take that for granted and gloss over it (Geek goggles – see: Beer Goggles).

            In the 10 months since your original comments, if anything Apple has consolidated their hold on the 70%+ profits from the mobile device industry they have held since the iPhone exploded onto the mobile scene in spite of the often quoted 80%+ Android “market share”. With tomorrows launch of the iPhone 6 it will be interesting to see if there is a significant migration from Android to iOS. I think there will be – I personally have three tech savvy friends and a dozen or so non-tech family members that were waiting for their contracts to be up and who will be switching to iOS from Android now that the iPhone 6 is here. About 50% of the Android toting people I know at work are planning to make the switch and were either waiting for their contracts to expire or the larger iPhone 6′s to be introduced as well.

            I think this will be the most interesting quarter for iPhone sales yet. As they say, time will tell – but the mobile market has hardly been decided. Not by a long shot :)

          • klahanas

            Again, “most” people are the customers. Geeks in any field, be it medicine, science, education, law etc. keep the players in that field honest. Okay, maybe not law :).

            This is a technical topic, and it must have technical merit. As far as business analysts go, I agree it’s valid in principle, but they often are, how shall I say….less rigorous with their truthiness (Thanks Steven Colbert), and promote hype. I do agree about looking at the impact of one metric over the other, but since it’s a technical topic, this can’t go unrebutted.

          • regexp

            This isn’t a technical topic. And having been in the IT field since the 80s – I don’t even use the term “PC” anymore. Haven’t for quite a while. Words and concepts evolve and change. Perhaps you need to as well.

          • klahanas

            If discussing computers is not a technical topic, then please enlighten as to what kind of topic it is.

          • Space Gorilla

            More and more it’s a mainstream topic about tasks which can be done effectively on X device. I think that’s what upsets the nerds so much, the abstraction of the computer, the move towards it being a simple appliance, the removal of the technical aspect. How many technical discussions do people have about their washing machine, or their flat screen TV, or their car, etc? Certainly it’s not zero, but it’s not much among normal consumers. These are things we use to accomplish tasks, to serve our needs. The technical aspect disappears over time.

          • DocNo42

            Discussing things like programming, the management of are technical topics. Topics which are germane to a very narrow audience. Important topics, mind you, but very narrow. Discussing what a tool can enable you to accomplish – now that’s something that *everyone* can appreciate. The difference really isn’t that subtle except for those who can’t see the forest of the universe through the trees of technology for technologies sake…

        • DocNo42

          “I can get into architectural reasons why they are distinct, from a fundamental computer science perspective, and not even get into performance issues.”
          And 90% (or more) of the humans out there couldn’t care less. To people like my parents computers are not some technological marvel to be adored in and of themselves. They don’t even ask themselves “can I send an email” or “can I post a picture on Facebook for my friends”, they ask questions like “Can I email Aunt Sara” or “I wonder what Phil has been up to for the last 20 years”.

          Apple answers those questions far better than any other technology company right now. Think I’m making a baseless assumption? Let’s look at their balance sheet and cash on hand, eh? Let’s look at how revenue generated by device, usage by device pretty much negate Android’s only claim to fame – “winning” at marketshare (and when iOS vaults past Android in the US – for the first time – at the end of this quarter, I wonder what the litany of excuses will be. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so tiresome after 40 years of Apple being doomed).

          You can dwell down in the murky layers of pedantry – have at it. You can insist the iPad (and let’s stop kidding around – there is the iPad, then everything else) is not a “real” computer. And there are probably plenty that will be willing to come to your defense.

          So what. It. Matters. Not. As long as Apple makes devices that speak to people from the perspective of being an enabling tool rather than a box of technology with all the right checklist items that meet the definition of “real”, Apple’s devices will matter to more people than all the other stuff combined. This is what drives “technologists” nuts – Apple really does make computers “for the rest of us” which, by definition, isn’t hard-nosed geeks who think that technology is special and should be denied to all but the “pure”.

          Enjoy your technical points, extreme parsing and extreme feats of logic to justify why the iPad is just a “moped”. Keep trying to convince yourself it’s just a media tablet and not a real tool. Meanwhile the marketplace has spoken, and will continue to speak. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.

          Finally, to indulge you in your performance swipe – several game developers equated the processing power of the iPad 2 as being comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3 – the iPad 3 went backwards a little because of Retina, but with the iPad Air, Apple has once again progressed and I have seen recent articles equating it to being on par with Intel HD4000 graphics. I’m amused to think what an overclocked A7 that doesn’t have to worry about running from battery, leveraging the new controller API’s introduced with iOS7 could do to take on game consoles. Not this year – no need to “go there”. Plus it would be wise to let the market respond to the new controller APIs to build up that accessory ecosystem that Apple really showed they know how to cultivate starting with the iMac (USB) and iPod (30 pin connector). But this time next year? Should be fun times indeed…

          • klahanas

            You are correct. Everything you said is true. For many (most?) people it suffices, and performs the simple stuff better than most PC’s. That’s not what makes it a PC. What do you say to the hypothetical professor I mention in this thread? Is it “personal” to their needs? Please don’t answer “most people” because then I bring up the airport example, also in this thread.
            I never said anything about “real”. Perhaps your sensitized, I said general purpose is a requirement for a personal computer, if not, the what will the market classify the “traditional PC”?

    • pawhite524

      Be forewarned.

      Klahanas is a first-rate intellect, first-rate debater, and first-rate contrarian. In experience with his or her writings I believe he is ultimately looking for someone to tell the truth and get away from believing their own PR. Getting into a “debate” may eventually be rewarding but it will be time-consuming.

      All the best to one and all.

      • klahanas

        You too are first rate in your kindness, and your excessive generosity.
        Thank you.

    • qka

      In early 2012, no less an authority than Steve Ballmer said that tablets are PCs.

      Should we argue? ;)

      • klahanas

        A salesman, acting as a salesman, is no more qualified than a politician seeking truth! :-)
        Though his tablet, is a PC. It’s main criticisms is that it’s not “tablet” enough.

  • Defendor

    Just a note on the power of the A7

    http://daringfireball.net/2013/10/the_ipad_air

    Geekbench 3 Benchmark (Higher Is Better)
    Device: Single core – - – Multi core
    iPad Air: 1,476 – - – 2,673
    MB Air: 871 – - – 1,438

    The A7 is now nearly double the performance envelope of the 2010 Macbook Air.

    HW is not a bottleneck here. SW functionality will keep growing. The laptop running a desktop OS, may soon be an anachronism.

    • r00fus

      Just another point of interest – my Dad has a Macbook Air 2010 – that thing is no slouch. He runs multiple trading windows on it (older JVM-based) and aside from getting slightly warm, it’s still fast, usable outside of that activity and a wonder to behold and feel.

      Maybe part of the “Air” branding is that this effectively replaces an more full-configured “Air” (i.e., the macbook) of mature vintage.

  • AhmadZainiChia

    I just read this review and John Gruber’s review at Daring Fireball. Two very interesting and complementary pieces, which gave me a sudden ‘insight’:

    John gave two use cases for iPads: as an alternative to a laptop, or complementary for a laptop. Your piece is more on using the iPad as a primary computer, period. Both pieces made sense, but seem to be taking different views. That’s when it hit me; we think of the iPad as ‘alternatives’ or ‘complementary’ to laptops/PC’s because we are already so ingrained to using laptops as our personal computers.

    But what about kids and teens? They are probably exposed more to iPads than PC’s. So in the long arc of time, I think the iPad truly will become more commonly used than PC’s, simply because kids who use iPads and never used PC’s will grow up and take over a larger percentage of computer users. Sure, the tablet right now still has certain weaknesses but it seems to be quite clear that the tablet will evolve to become more and more capable; maybe with a really good keyboard accessory, I don’t know. But it will definitely happen. Couple that with the iPads simplicity over PC’s (and even Mac’s), with the fact that there are more iPad users being born each day than PC/Mac users, and I really feel that the tablet will become the new ‘personal computer’ for the mass market.

    I remember one Steve Jobs video at the D Conferences where he said that when he first started out making computers, one of the troubles he faced was that people just couldn’t type. And he said half-jokingly “Well death would take care of that.” I see a very similar parallel here. The older computer users are too used to driving ‘trucks’, and hence find ‘cars’ weird to drive. But the new, younger users are showing much larger preferences for cars. Hence, over the long period of time, there will definitely be more cars than trucks.

    p.s. sorry for that over-used analogy.

    • Space Gorilla

      Yes, my four kids all have iPads in ZAGG keyboard cases, and the iPad is their personal computer (iPad 2). They do all sorts of creating/computing on their iPads. They have no need for a MacBook and they rarely need to use the family iMac.

    • LAN8

      As I say above, there’s a convergence (possibly “the singularity”) around with all these devices. I have no doubt some part of it may even be implanted one day (bone conduction bluetooth speakers or something like that maybe, just behind the ear). We’ll use the phone always, go to the iPad like devices for minor/personal media content creation and consumption and move on to some more stationary device only when we need to. It’ll be a bit like the Starship Enterprise, where they sit at some station in engineering to fix the ship, or at the science station to determine the current threat/situation but then just use the PADD/iPad for more personal things, or just talk out load to computer/Siri or the like for immediate needs. I think Star Trek really did get it pretty close to right here.

    • TechManMike

      Bingo my friend! This is what I’ve been saying for quite some time. A lot of geeks just do not understand that the tasks that are RIGHT NOW considered “power computing,” will be able to be done with just a few taps of a screen in the future. The more technology increases the easier tasks get….this has ALWAYS been the main objective of technology in general. So I don’t understand why is there such a huge disconnect with these so-called geeks rattling off about all these things that the iPad doesn’t have……like USB ports, hardware keyboards etc. None of those things are conducive to furthering technology. They’re only an effort to bridge a gap that won’t allow itself to be bridged.

  • red

    This article is spot on. iPads have replaced traditional computers for my mother, father, brother, and about 5 of my friends. Their use is usually media consumption, basic word processing, emails, games and social media. The iPad is easier to use, with less hassle, a longer battery life and supreme portability compared to a desktop or laptop. Its also much cheaper and lasts longer.

    For those who have jobs requiring advanced word processing or desktop based programs, there is a desktop at work. Work stay at work, personal stuff goes on the iPad and iPhone and its all synced. One of my friends is an engineer. All his work is done on the work computer at the office. Everything else is done on an iPad. He doesn’t own a “traditional” computer anymore. Another is a paramedic. He does not need a computer for work beyond storing a resume and answering emails.

    I believe the iPad is becoming far more personal than the PC ever was. Soon they will switch roles…the iPad will be used for nearly everything and as a day to day computer for many people, while desktops/laptops will be used for specific purposes only.

  • Nangka

    “The iPad is not computing dumbed down; it is powerful computing simplified.”

    “Power simplified” is the one thing Apple gets it, while the rest don’t.

    • klahanas

      I have to agree with you there…

  • Naofumi

    Where do you think people who use the iPad Air as their “only” device should store their movies? Having a couple of small kids, my photo library alone easily fills up the majority of space on my 64G iPhone, even without the videos. I absolutely need a Mac, even only for the storage.

    Maybe iCloud will eventually allow us to store hundreds of gigabytes cheaply.

    • Naofumi

      It’s important to note that while the CPU performance of iOS devices has almost doubled every year, the same cannot be said of storage.

      • steve_wildstrom

        Storage is still expensive. Having seen the storage module for the Mac Pro, Apple could put in a terabyte. But you’d have a $1,500 iPad.

        • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

          Exactly. Cloud storage is cheaper so that probably is the way to go, but as I understand it, using the cloud to store more than you can fit into your iOS device is still far from a transparent experience.

  • Pedram

    There are many interesting points mentioned in this review. I’ve always believed that tablets will be the “personal computer” that many of us will go towards and the usage of laptops/desktops will begin to fade through time. However, my main concern for tablets, including the iPad air, at the moment is typing. I’ve been using the iPad air for some time now and I really can not see anyone typing anything other than some e-mails, web browsing, etc on it. The reason I say this, is when your touch typing for a while on any iPad either flat on a surface or propped up with the smart cover, there is a lot of STRAIN on the neck and spine. Its actually quiet simple, I’m studying kinesiology at the moment and since the neck is flexed for a prolonged amount of time, the entire weight of your head is supported merely by your cervical bones. One can say to either buy an external keyboard, a case with different viewing angles, or even use the so called “hybrid” such as the surface, but this defeats the entire idea of using just a tablet. Personally, if I were to go with any of the alternatives mentioned above, I might as well just use a laptop. There will probably be a whole new way to type solely on a tablet in the near future, but until then, I find it very painful to type on one for a prolonged amount of time.