With every new smartphone, tablet or multifunction-Wi-Fi-enabled personal doohickey comes at least one prediction that this latest device is really—really!—the long-awaited laptop killer. In the early 2000s, before mobile processors evolved to be as powerful as the ones found in the typical desktop computer rental, the notion of a “desktop replacement” laptop was only a dream. But now that high-end units like our MacBook Pro rental are more potent than many desktops, the battle is on to see which phone, tablet, or geegaw will emerge as the laptop replacement. As the frontrunner in the tablet race, Apple’s mega-selling tablet is first up: So, can an iPad replace your laptop?
When the original iPad debuted in 2010, it was the “Year of the Netbooks,” those low-priced 9-to-11-inch mini-laptops that were generally far less expensive than the iPad. When CRE stocked its first iPad rental, it was something like a netbook without a keyboard—but it was also like a supersized iPod touch. Had it been built to run OS X, it may have qualified as a “little computer.” But it came with iOS, which limited your installation options, abandoned Flash, and came up far short of being a full-fledged computer OS. (The current version, iOS 6, still isn’t one.) At the same time, this brought improvements in its simple and ergonomical ease-of-use. The Windows-based tablet PCs had some of the right puzzle pieces—touch capability, handwriting recognition, convertible operation—but were, and arguably still are, works in progress. (Microsoft’s Surface Pro debuts in January 2013. Is it a laptop killer, or a new paradigm?)
Fast-forward now: The iPad 2 added cameras, the third generation debuted the Retina Display, and now the supply of iOS apps is in the zillions. Users are still quarantined behind the “walled garden” of apps, but web-based tools are proliferating – capitalizing on the user-friendly interface. There are any number of things that an iPad can do as well or better than a laptop (or desktop)—reading, managing e-mail, watching movies/TV, staying plugged in to social media, and gaming. These activities may also be work-related, though some people consider the iPad better for watching entertainment than producing it. Yet, with every new advanced app in every area of media expertise—content, production, PR, even event planning—this is changing.
For example, the newly updated iMovie and iPhoto apps are powerful enough for video and photo editing/management, capturing HD (stills, video), audio recording, and more. Media pros still use such advanced computer-based tools as our AJA IO HD, but can now integrate the iPad into their workflow, on-set and in the editing bay, for a variety of purposes.
Given its growing capabilities—running major office programs, leveraging cloud storage, doing lots of cross-platform tasks—the iPad can now probably be considered a replacement for that secondary laptop you use for traveling (or when the kids take over the PC). How long until it replaces your number one computer? Stay tuned…!