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So what's it good for?

I've discussed why I would find an iPad useful. However, what are some other scenarios?

Sam Ruby presents the idea of using an iPad as a wireless display for a development machine. (This obviously depends on the quality of the VNC or other remote connect client.) It doesn't allow for moving toward independent development, which I think Tim Bray was getting at in his post "Nothing Creative" but it does allow for a reasonable facsimile. It remains to be seen whether or not the iPad would be useful as a remote terminal for a development machine.

One of my friends is working on her Master's thesis. To this end, she has had to go to several herbariums to measure specimens. Her body of research is kept on a large, heavy laptop on which she keeps the rest of her life. Traveling with the laptop is always a concern because of how important it is and how difficult transport is. Since all of her data lives in a spreadsheet currently, she could copy that to the iPad and use the Numbers app to make the changes to her spreadsheet to support added or changed data points. This would let her leave her laptop in the hotel room, or even home, keeping it safe and out of harm's way.

Joseph Kim presents ten ways that the iPad could help doctors improve patient care. I'll personally have to use one to see if I, as a patient, prefer filling out forms on an iPad rather than using paper forms on a clipboard but I can definitely see the use here. And as others see the use, it will evolve over time.

I had a realization a few days ago. If we measure the iPad purely on the scale of the clock speed of its processor (this is silly, I know), we have a handheld device with a 1 GHz CPU. PCs of this speed weren't common until 2001. (This is based on personal experience and may be slightly wrong.) According to Wikipedia, version 6.0 of Adobe Premiere Pro was released in January 2001. So the only thing preventing us from making movie content on the iPad is the lack of an application. Such an application would probably only handle editing and the encoding of raw video would be offloaded to a proper computer. It's possible we won't see anything like this on the first iteration of the iPad but we may see it in a future product generation.

I wish I could remember the exact line but in one of the episodes of the acclaimed Connections mini-series, James Burke says something like "This is one of those times where the possibilities are virtually limitless." (I wish I could remember the exact topic he's speaking of at that time too so I could refer to it and someone would correct me.) I think, I feel, that the iPad will revolutionize the way we do business, the way we use the internet, but it will take us several years to realize fully all of the possibilities because they could really be virtually limitless.


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