Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Article excerpt

In the end I ignored my own advice and bought an Apple iPad, purely, as I explained to my wife, 'for the purposes of research'. The very same 'research' that has by now filled two or three desk drawers with a ridiculous assortment of electrical chargers, the devices they once charged mostly lost, burnt out or forgotten.

Weeks later, my verdict on the thing is curiously complicated. What I mean by this is that the Apple iPad is a magnificent, life enhancing device, which in many ways lights a future path for technology. . . and I really do like it: but I'm just not quite sure that you should buy one.

What Apple has undoubtedly proved is that a monolithic, connected, large touch-screen tablet with a wide choice of applications may be the ideal future format for personal computing. That's the good news. However, I still don't believe there is any reason why Apple should have a monopoly over this idea. You see, the really impressive bit about the tablet isn't what's inside it - it's the tablet shape itself.

What this device has shown me - for the first time - is the incredible limitations of a laptop. I have suddenly realised that, unless you have a level surface of just the right height, a laptop is almost unusable without some kind of physical contortion. The seatback tables on trains and aircraft are almost all the wrong height (the tables on aircraft are nastily placed at groin level, as though you are a child in a high chair) and most public areas have no normal tables, or only coffee tables at knee height. Despite its name, unless you are of an unusually simian body shape, the one place you certainly can't use a laptop is on your lap. …

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