A Student’s Take on the iPad

Since Apple announced the iPad last week, opinions are abound, with many predicting failure for a device whose capability seems to lie somewhere  between Apple’s  MacBook and iPod Touch in the company’s attempt to replace or reinvent the traditional computer. In that regard the iPad isn’t well suited in its current stage: it lacks a video camera so you can’t iChat, there is no iLife for content creation, for some reason multi-tasking is still a no-show even with the iPad’s bumped-up specs, and in terms of using this for browsing the web, it’s good but not great, lacking the Flash support that is used on many web sites across the web, like ESPN and Hulu.

As a student, though, even with all these flaws I see a lot of potential for the iPad. I actually believe that this could be a great device, and am really eager to pick one up for this reason alone—this could finally be the perfect school computer.

As a fellow high school student like many of you, textbooks are killer. They’re heavy, smelly, old and in most cases just no fun to read. The pictures on the pages for say a Chemistry book, are confusing and not really great at grabbing the attention of someone not really into Chem. I know there are times when I go through a textbook to try to get a better understanding of something, and come away more confused.

Do I think the iPad will fix this? I honestly don’t know. It is far too early to tell how well this device will perform, but the potential for a McGraw-Hill or other textbook makers to create an iBook version of their textbook with the ability to put in videos and audio around the standard text to better explain topics would be a tremendous asset. In fact, many textbook publishers are saying that they are currently working on putting e-textbooks on the iPad and other eBooks. But on a more basic level, the advantages of a single 1.5 lb device instead of several weighty textbooks cannot be under-emphasized, and especially when the device is a fraction of the cost of their physical counterparts (the exact discount between the digital and physical versions will depend on the publisher but there will invariably be somewhat of a cheaper price). This already would be a strong reason for me to drop $499 on one.

Another big draw of the iPad to me is the great potential for notes. Now I’m not talking about using the large, on-screen keyboard (which I don’t know how anyone could take serious notes on), but by using the keyboard dock accessory (which while an expensive $69, is something I consider a must have). Together you still get a great real and full size keyboard that is pretty thin itself (just go into an Apple Store and look at their Bluetooth keyboards—they’re mad thin and this looks to be exactly like it); and with iWork and the Pages app, the iPad easily becomes a great note taking device. True it is three pieces as opposed to a small netbook, but you’re getting a full keyboard and a great screen, which when propped up using the dock, should make it very easy to use for even the most intense history notes– and much better than trying to type on a more cramped netbook.

This is as a plus on top of all the other “fun” things of the iPad, with the App Store and great music, movie and game experiences.

So my first impression of the Apple’s iPad intro—the perfect student device, which will not only be great for school, but a solid device for other tasks like browsing the web, playing games and playing back music, movies, and viewing pix. And hopefully some of those aforementioned issues like lack of multi-tasking and Flash playback will be addressed in a software update to make this device even better.

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but right now, I’m really looking forward to the launch of the iPad and being able to really get my hands on it to see how it lives up to doing these and other tasks. And remember, the iPad was announced only last week, and if the past success of the iPhone, iTouch and App Store are any indication, I truly believe that it is a device that will only get better as developers get a chance to built apps made for the iPad, a bunch of which I fully expect will be ready by the time the WiFi-only iPad launches in about 50 days. Until then, let’s wait and see before passing judgment that the iPad is a failure (honestly, the hype online the past few months was so high that it was near impossible for people to be happy with whatever Apple announced).

What you think—will the iPad be the killer device for school use; would you use it? You happy or unhappy with what the iPad is after all the speculation? Sound off in the comments.

The opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily shared by others at TeenTechBlog. If you would prefer to email me your thoughts on how the iPad relates to students, you can email me at eli@teentechblog.com

Posted on February 5, 2010, in Apple, Opinion, Tablets and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I still think we’re a little bit away from the time that an iPad (or Kindle) can replace the traditional textbook. The promise of multimedia should be a step in the right direction, but it will be difficult to reproduce the actual reading/studying (jumping back and forth in the text) of the physical book.

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