The Apple iPad, first released in 2010, is a slate computer with a 10-inch touch screen. Hyped by Apple as a completely new form of computing, the iPad indeed offers an experience very different from that of a laptop computer. However, that experience is not for everyone. There are certain disadvantages with using an iPad as your primary portable computer, and it is important to know those disadvantages before purchasing one.
The iPad does not have a physical keyboard like a laptop. Although it is possible to put the unit on a stand and use an external keyboard, this is a cumbersome set-up that detracts from the portability of the device. For users who opt not to use an external keyboard, text entry on the iPad can be slow; in 2010, PC World wrote that the iPad was adequate for short text entry but slower than a laptop for long e-mails and blog posts.
The iPad is not a full computer and cannot run software written for Windows or Macs. Rather, software for the iPad must be downloaded from the iTunes App Store. Although thousands of applications are available on the App Store, all applications must be approved by Apple before they become available to the public. This is very different from PC and Mac software, which anyone can write and distribute. Due to Apple's policies for application approval, some types of applications are not available on the App Store.
Most computers can be expanded with the addition of new hardware such as memory, hard drives, printers, scanners and joysticks. It is not possible to add additional storage capacity to the iPad, so you are stuck with the capacity selected at the time of purchase for as long as you own the device. Additionally, the iPad does not have a USB port and cannot use external hardware designed for computers.
The iPad has a screen with a 1024x768 resolution. This is not a widescreen aspect ratio, making the iPad less than ideal for viewing movies. If you watch a widescreen film on the iPad, you must choose between having black bars on the top and bottom of the screen or zooming the video to fill the entire screen and losing content from the left and right edges.
No Unlimited Data Plan
The 3G version of the iPad has cellular data access through AT&T Wireless for an additional fee. However, as of 2010, the iPad has no unlimited data plan as many smartphones do. The highest-tier plan available costs £16 per month and is limited to a maximum of 2 GB data transfer. However, the iPad can also connect to wireless access points, which does not use data from the cellular plan.