The Disadvantages of an iPad
By John Papiewski
Although Apple's iPad has a strong following among tablet computer users, commanding over 60 percent of the market as of September 2012, fans of the device contend with high prices and a closed design. Similar devices from other vendors are less expensive and have more options for software programs and hardware expansion. IPad owners must also confront the reality of obsolescence as Apple releases new models at a rapid pace.
Apple has a history of charging premium prices for their technology products. The fourth-generation iPad, announced in October 2012, sells for $499 for the base 16GB Wi-Fi model. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, a competing device with a similar-sized screen, retails for $50 to $150 less. Apple's recently-announced iPad mini, with a 7-inch display, carries a $350 pricetag; comparable models such as Google's Nexus 7 sell for $250. As a buyer, you must decide if Apple's products are worth the significantly higher cost.
Many of the iPad's competitors offer expansion features such as SD card memory slots and standard USB ports to connect with other devices. In addition, some have an HDMI socket that lets you show the screen's content on an external high-definition television. The iPad has only two connectors: a headphone jack and a "Lightning" port; Apple offers no way to augment or upgrade the tablet's memory.
The iPad is neither a PC nor a Mac and cannot run software meant for Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X. It runs only software written for the iOS operating system it shares with the iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Apple recommends that you purchase programs only through its App Store; although you can "jailbreak" the iPad and open it to alternate program sources, doing this voids the warranty and makes software upgrades more difficult.
Apple updates its mobile devices on an annual schedule, releasing minor changes roughly every year and major ones every other year, with the iPad 4, Apple has replaced the previous model in six months. Although mobile technology companies in general have aggressive product upgrade schedules, Apple risks customer backlash with the combination of rapid obsolescence and premium prices.
Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."