Julie’s Gadget Diary – 08-19-11

@Julie, great article, hope you get well soon.

Hospital WiFi can be surprisingly good, especially if no one else is using it besides you. even with low signal strength I’ve managed to get youtube working just fine on my netbook. although, I don’t think I was in the same wing as the router either as the signal was strongest by the window. This of course may vary by hospital.

Sure beats reading a book or watching TV all day when you got work piling up though.

@Smythe Richbourg, the iPad is a great tablet but lets not exaggerate. the iPad is not intended as a mobile workstation.

That the iPad can be useful at all for real work is great enough but describing it much beyond that leads to the reason for most criticism the iPad gets. Not because there is anything wrong with the iPad but because it gets so obviously over the top hyped by its fans that it distracts and confuses people to whether the iPad would actually be useful to them or not and makes people who know better feel that it’s insulting their intelligence.

People just like ARM based tablets because of their low weight, general longer run times, and ease of use. however, tablets by nature are limited. the need for a physical keyboard for serious work being just one of the obvious limitations.

Apple did great work with iOS, it’s the main reason the iPad became a success when all the previous tablets failed, but it’s still a OS originally designed for Smart Phones and isn’t capable of all the things that OSX can do. Ditto for Android versus Windows or Linux btw. Honeycomb gives a bit of edge to Android but it’s still has limitations.

So while you can find an app for just about anything, few will be as useful as more powerful programs made for more powerful OS like OSX.

The hardware performance is another factor. ARM based systems are more power efficient and use less power but they’re also less powerful. even the next gen ARM systems are only now starting to rival even Netbook ATOM processors for CPU performance.

Among other limitations common for ARM systems, like the processors are only 32bit, 64bit memory management is only starting to be introduced, they’re still 45-40nm, SSDs made for them are generally much slower than those used in 2.5″ drives.

The iPad specifically lacks the usual ports and relies heavily on connections through the dock port, which also means you need to carry more accessories and that negates the normal weight savings.

Though graphically, the original iPad had roughly about the same performance as an ATOM GPU, while the iPad 2 boosted that up to a max of 9 times. So graphics are its strongest feature now and the iPad 3 will take more advantage of that with a retina display.

While the 10+ hours of actual use is totally real and great, rare even among other ARM tablets, but that’s only when new and the battery is not user replaceable.

Problem being Lithium batteries degrade over time, even if you don’t use them, but degrade faster with heavy use.

So depending on use you can expect it to drop to about half the usable time after a year or so, like Sasha from netbooknews reported his iPad dropped to 6+ hours after just 9 months, but Apple would want you to start thinking about the next iPad by then anyway, which for now will be right on time for the iPad 3.

Though that isn’t just marketing, even though Apple does have a pretty short planned obsolescence for most of its products, but making such thin and light tablets also makes it harder to allow any user access to the innards of these tablets. Also the ARM market has a faster product cycle than the regular PC market. So not much different from say Nvidia coming out with a new Tegra every single year.

Apple is also working on improving the iPad usability, like iOS 5 finally lets you use the iPad without a computer, but we’re still years away from really comparing a iPad to a real workstation of anywhere near the highest order.

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