I have a weakness, and it’s to do with technology. Allow me to explain this in more detail. When manufacturers bring out a new product, I get quite excited, and really want to get one. To draw from a recent example of this, let’s talk about the Apple iPad. I find it an amazing piece of kit, it looks the business, does loads of cool stuff, and I really wouldn’t mind having one. Except the biggest reason I want it, isn’t really because its features are going to improve my life and bring lasting happiness, its because I want to play with it, experiment with it and admire how cool it is.
This last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about how I could justify getting one, probably for University. Apple do say it will revolutionise everything, including education, but as of yet, I can’t see how. The one place where I could see an advantage, would be in note-taking. If you were using a laptop to take notes, the iPad is a lot smaller and thinner, and only 2 dimensional, which makes it a bit more natural. Or if your walking along, and need to note something down quickly, its easy to put out and write into. But I don’t use a computer for taking notes – for educational purposes at least. It is accepted that writing your notes with a pen and paper will help you recall more effectively what you’ve learnt. Moreover I have terrible experiences, having tried to use a computer to take notes before, drawing diagrams, for instance. And then lets come on to doing some real work. While an iPad may be fine for writing in text, and dropping in some pictures, it feels restricting in what more it can do. It is definitely not a replacement for a laptop.
So what is it good at? It’s a very good tool for executives to use, in meetings, to say “my company’s got more money that yours”. It would be the equivalent of parking their BMW behind their chair in the boardroom. In other words, it doesn’t seem to do anything, that something a lot cheaper cant already do.
And then once I’d shaken that off me, along came a web-ad for the new Google Chromebook. Getting excited I clicked on it, thinking; “a laptop that is small, and does nothing more than browsing the internet, that must be really cheap”. But little did I know, I was going to be sorely disappointed, since the Chromebook costs at least £350, or £400 if you want it with 3g. That’s very ambitious of them, to say that it costs almost as much as an iPad, and does much, much less. The Chromebook boats being able to boot in 8 seconds, and giving you access to all of your web services, and your documents through the cloud. In my eyes, the iPad is what it’s competing with.
But this casts light on another problem. Where does all this end? There’s a lot of emphasis right now on products that allow you to play work on the go, yet products that are currently hitting the market are becoming increasingly less productive. Yes the iPad can implement stunning graphics in to documents, but if my dad, who is by trade a Quantity Surveyor, wanted to get some work done, he couldn’t. And the Chomebook looks like it will be great for writing essays and essays of text, but when I come to prepare it for publication, I’m going to be strangled.
Nope, I fear that all we have here are a fleet of over glorified V-techs, that claim the way forward is to spend more money in exchange for less. For me, I’m going to spend less than an iPad costs, on a fully functional computer. And if it be that I need access to something I can write on within 8 seconds, we’ll I’ll cross my fingers that my notepad doesn’t crash.