What NOT to put on your Christmas list: iPad (or any other tablet).

I have a netbook (HP Mini), so I haven't been dying for a tablet like the iPad. Ok, I'm lying.  It has been tempting from time to time, especially when my clients would ask me help them setup email or some other app on their iPad. The iPad is an impressive device, and even though I'm not an Apple guy, I have been trying to justify buying one.

I know many people are probably adding an iPad to their Christmas list, and I personally was considering it, but I don't think I am now. I'd also recommend that if you take it off your list as well.

What changed my mind?

Short answer:  1st Quarter 2011 is coming
Long answer:  There are 2 major reasons why I'm not buying the iPad (or any tablet) this Christmas season.

  1. I never buy 1st generation hardware/software.
    Ok, so this is more of a guideline than a rule, but it makes me think the decision through before buying. When a new device comes out, there are always problems and glitches, not to mention it's usually expensive. Think about it, is the iPad worth the $500 for the cheapest model? At best, I would say maybe, but the fully loaded iPad will run you almost $900, and I can confidently say there is no legitimate business use to justify that price point.

    In all fairness, I'm not picking on Apple, I didn't buy the 1st gen Android phone (Nexus 1), nor the recently released Windows Phone 7. In the tablet world, Apple, until recently, was the only show in town. They set the bar high with the iPad, which leads me to my 2nd reason for not buying a tablet this Christmas season.
  2. Choice is coming in early 2011
    Apple rocked the tablet world with the future-forward iPad. Window's geeks argued that Microsoft had tablets 10 years ago, and it's true they did have something called a tablet, but seriously there is no comparison. I was one of those Windows geeks making that argument, until I got an iPad in my hands. After 30 seconds, I knew this was not like any of the so called tablets I had ever used before.

    Apple has shown the market what a tablet can be, and the market has told devices makers that they want it BAD. Those device makers have been working hard to create some respectable competition for the iPad, and 30+ devices are coming in the 1st quarter of 2011.

    There have been a few devices released recently like the HP Slate (running Windows 7) and the Samsung Tab (running Android). Don't by these either. Both are very cool, but were rushed to the market to provide some temporary alternative to the iPad, and to conduct consumer research on tablet usage.

    We'll begin to see the payoff from the consumer research in early 2011. Many hardware makers have already announced tablets of all sizes with amazing features. Choice is coming, and with choice comes competition, and with competition comes better technology & lower prices.

Here's a quick list of things to expect from the tablet market in 2011:

  • 2nd generation iPad with better battery life, front and rear facing cameras. I'm predicting the pricing will be the same as the current iPads ($500 - $900), which means...
  • 1st generation iPads will see a 50% price drop (I might snatch one up then).
  • Google is releasing a version of the Android OS that will be tailored to tablets. The current Android tablets, like the Samsung Tab, are running Android 2.2 or lower, which were meant for a phone. It works pretty well, but you can tell it's not quite right.
  • Intel will be releasing a new chip specifically designed for tablets. These chips will increase performance and battery life for tablets.
  • USB, HDMI and other ports. Why is this important? Have you ever tried transfering a file to an iPad? It's not the easiest thing to do, especially if you don't have your sync cable. A usb port in a tablet will let you easily transfer files, connect a keyboard, and much more.

Basically early 2011 will bring tablets that are cheaper, faster and feature rich. You can make the argument that any time you buy technology, there will be better technology 1-2 months later. This is true, but the jump coming for tablets will be extremely significant, and worth waiting for.

Have a great time shopping for Christmas, and if a loved one wants a tablet from Santa, give them a picture of an iPad and tell them you'll get it for them in a couple months. They'll think you're crazy at the moment, but will thank you later :-)


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