LG, iPad, and the Tablet Creation Myth

You needn't look far to find criticism of Apple's iPad as a device for consumption, not creation.

The latest volley comes from Chang Ma, vice president of marketing for LG's mobile device unit, who hyped LG's upcoming Android tablet as a productivity tool. Paraphrasing Ma, the Wall Street Journal says he likes the iPad, but doesn't do much work on it, and that's where the LG tablet will stand apart.

I call bull. While Ma is right that the iPad flounders with creativity in some areas -- but not others -- the iPad's limitations are often inherent to its form. But don't take my word for it. Let's look at some other "iPad consumption vs. creation" arguments and consider whether another tablet could do better.

Here's Anthony Ha from VentureBeat:

[I]t's hard to situate the iPad in the right relationship to my body for typing. At my desk it feels a little too high, like I have to peer over my hands to see my words on the top half of the screen. Sitting on the couch, the device sits awkwardly on my lap, and I have to hunch over it uncomfortably.

Tablets are not comfortable work tools. Heck, even the laptop is a stretch compared to the comfort of a standalone keyboard and big monitor.

Mike Melanson at ReadWriteWeb:

The netbook ... has a few of my favorite, most used features - a mouse (with both a right and left button), a keyboard (nearly full-sized, even), a web cam (though I'm not personally big for being on camera) and multitasking. If I'm going to actually sit myself down and get on the Internet, I'm going to be doing five things at once, likely typing like a madman the whole while. I'm cutting and pasting, switching from one app to another, one tab to another, and editing photos along the way.

So my question becomes, where does the iPad fit into this equation? The answer for me is "nowhere".

Photograph: Marc Simon
The iPad will get multitasking long before many iPadversaries materialize, and I wouldn't be surprised if the same was true for the web cam, but nonetheless, if you need to get some serious work done, you need a laptop.

Erik Rostad at the Entrepreneur School:

But for now, one program that I often use during the website design process is Adobe Fireworks. Many others use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. These are not available on the iPad.

These are valid software gripes for any tablet that doesn't run Windows, and we'll have to see whether Windows tablets are powerful enough to run these programs to begin with.

Bruce Nussbaum for Businessweek, paraphrasing his students at Parsons:

No phone? So we need to carry both an iPhone and an iPad? We need to talk on an iPhone to discuss what we're seeing on the iPad?

Call me when a meaningful number of large-screen tablets support voice calls.

Jeff Jarvis:

Why no USB? Well, I can only imagine that Apple doesn't want us to think what Walt Mossberg did in his review -- the polar opposite of Pogue's -- that this pad could replace its more expensive laptops.

Sure, the iPad's lack of USB and SD slots is a major drawback, and the $29 Camera Connection Kit is a slap in the face. But is USB really the key to laptop parity? On my laptop, I use USB almost exclusively to attach a mouse and keyboard, which on a tablet would defeat the whole purpose.

I won't argue that the iPad's creation abilities can't be improved upon -- same goes for the product itself -- but I'm not convinced that tablets will ever be able to rival laptops in productivity. If they could, laptop-like tablets would've been industry game-changers long before the iPad came along.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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