iPad is not it

This Mac devotee doesn’t think Apple’s iPad is “it”: SHOCK. I’m glad I didn’t invest much in the hype, with Apple’s pronouncements that it would fundamentally change what we would expect out of a tablet device. Sad to say, the iPad really does come across as a large iPod Touch.

Positively, for artists an updated Brushes app is cool. I’m sure my younger brother wouldn’t mind one of these for his studies at the Toledo Museum of Art — a touch-sensitive digital canvass.

The potential for game playback on this much larger screen and faster processor, using built-in motion sensors, will keep the boy teenagers happy.

And perhaps Apple’s announced iBookstore will dent Amazon’s Kindle. But I’m hardly going to spend $500 for an e-reader; I don’t read $500 worth of books! And I expect iBookstore to have many DRM-locked items (while Kindle lets you add your own material, like Word docs and PDFs, to read).

But many absences make this fall far short of revolutionary:

  • No built-in camera (video conferencing from the living room)
  • No multitasking (what? no listening to music while web browsing?)
  • No video out (can’t connect to your tv)
  • Touch keyboard larger, but not well designed

But as other pundits have pointed out, the iPad isn’t designed for people like me. Instead, its potential probably lies more with the likes of my mom, who won’t go near a computer but may like the idea of listening to her music collection and reading her library on it, with the bonus of a digital photo frame while it’s charging.

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Depressed in my disappointment, I came across articles on Mircosoft’s tablet concept, called Courier. It’s a clam-shell device, consisting of a pair of touch screens. Input is driven by a pen stylus and by finger gestures (touch, drag, flipping). It’s aim appears to be to replace pen and paper in idea capturing, then sharing your individual notebooks with others (to read/comment/feedback/collaborate).

While at one end of the market the Courier could be used by the likes of graphic designers, I see significant potential for a mass market, for all of us who like to jot ideas and cut-and-paste snippets, whether from the web or items we see in real life (built-in camera takes care of this).

In a way, this is an evolution of the Evernote app, which collects all your web and camera clippings and allows you to search them all by content, thanks to its OCR technology.

A Courier piece of hardware with an Evernote/OCR feature would be just amazing.

This Courier concept is more of what I expected from Apple’s announcement. Just as the iPod changed our music listening experience, and arguably Amazon’s Kindle your library on a slate, Courier has the potential to replace pen and paper, while complementing your existing laptop/pc.

Indeed. I don’t want a laptop *replacement* — I’ll still need a proper computer to create edited movies, crunch numbers in Excel, and mess around building websites.

What I want and am ready to pay for is something that I can use to handwrite notes during a meeting, doodle org charts, and compile a life journal of sorts. Courier is the right name.

I would prefer a pen stylus over any keyboard. But I’m old enough in that my essays used to be mainly written by hand, not typed; younger folk may have never written cursive for more than a few hundred words.

For hand writing input, I’d like to see a system app that learns your own script. Companies that offer personalised fonts already provide a set of words for you to write, to create the according set of characters.

I hope this or some other viable life journal succeeds. To keep us Mac users content, just allow some syncing into a cloud that we can access from anywhere (a la Evernote). Bliss.

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