For the first time in ages I find myself agreeing with Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs: The iPad is a revolutionary device (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ battery) .
But, while Jobs believes the iPad itself will usher in a new era of Apple dominance, I think the device is just a sneak peak at what is coming down the pipe from other manufacturers (Sony VGP-BPS8 battery) .
Tablet computers are the future. The iPad is proof of that. More than two million iPads were sold in its first 59 days of being available on the market (SONY VGP-BPS8 battery) .
Why has the device proven so popular? "It just works,'' as Apple would say.
There lies the success of the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. They just work (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ battery) .
Apple Inc. deserves monstrous applause here. Standing ovation applause even. The company did what no one else has been able to do thus far -- it made touch-screen devices easy to use and coveted by the average consumer (Sony VGP-BPL9 battery) .
Heck, the company made the devices so easy to use that my two-year-old son can use an iPad, and I'm not talking about him swiping his fingers around the screen and wasting time while not actually accomplishing anything. If I take the iPad and put it on the floor, he will swipe to move the applications over, open YouTube with a tap and then pinch his fingers out to expand his Thomas The Tank Engine video (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery) .
It's even more impressive when he opens the Toy Story app and begins "painting" Woody and Buzz.
If the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch shipped with OS X, Windows 7 or even Unbuntu they would be complete failures, even though the hardware within the devices is immensely impressive (Sony VGP-BPL15 battery) .
For decades, numerous companies have tried to do exactly what Apple is now doing with touch-screen devices. Palm Inc. couldn't make it work. HP Corp. couldn't make it work -- you can see that in the delays with the company's much anticipated "Slate" tablet computer (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ4000 Battery) .
So, why does the iPad work? It's because someone at Apple, and that someone is likely Jobs, said on Day One of the iPhone's development that the software powering the device needed to be made with fingers in mind (ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Battery) .
Using your fingers is a lot different than using a mouse, and software needs to be up to the challenge. Late last year when HP sent over one of its TouchSmart PCs running Windows 7, I was far less impressed than I am with the iPad. Despite the ability to put fingers on the HP screen, the software was not created with touch in mind. It was awkward and ultimately I felt like I needed to reach for a mouse (Dell Inspiron 6400 battery) .
While the TouchSmart seemed to lack, the iPad simply shines. You want to touch it and press on icons, drag things around the screen and resize images by pinching your fingers outward. Using the device feels more like playing a game than being productive (Toshiba PA3399U-2BAS Battery) .
The device's components are also top-notch, allowing applications to load quickly and ensuring the battery has enough life in it to chug for days. I found a single charge to the iPad's battery lasted at least two days (IBM ThinkPad T40 Battery) .
Then there is the whole portability aspect. It's about the size of a magazine and weighs less than two pounds, making it easy to tote around (Sony VGN-FZ460E battery) .
It's far more portable than a laptop or netbook and allows users to access the Internet, stay on top of e-mail or follow breaking news wherever they may be (Dell Inspiron 6000 battery) .
It's easy to tout the device's uses and features, including iBooks which has a catalogue of thousands of ebooks ready to be downloaded and more coming. Reading books and magazines on the iPad is as easy as reading real books in real life. Pages are animated and users just flip through by sliding a finger across the bottom of the screen (Dell Inspiron E1505 Battery) .
Then there is the App Store, which is full of applications aimed at making users more productive or have fun. The Pages app is like a word processor for the iPad that lets users create amazingly detailed documents and presentations (Fujitsu Lifebook S6120 battery) .
Marvel Comics' app presents the world's favourite superheros in an electronic format and apps for the BBC and Bloomberg keep iPad users on top of all the news (Apple M9848LL/A battery) .
The device is almost perfectly suited to students, allowing them to access books and the web while in class. However, it does need a better app to allow students to scribble notes that can be captured by the device. So far there is nothing available to capture a person's hand-drawn scribbles on the iPad's screen. However, with an App store that already has more 200,000 apps, and more coming daily, I'm sure it won't be long before something is released (Apple A1281 battery) .
Having said all of that, the iPad isn't perfect.
Despite the fact that some models can connect to a cellular phone network, the device cannot make cellular phone calls. Storage will become an issue, as the most expensive iPad only offers 64 GB of storage space -- which a user will chew through especially if they download a lot of apps or videos. The on-screen keyboard also takes a little getting used to (HP PAVILION DV3 Battery) .
The biggest problem is that the device is Apple's vision of Utopia, which is a total drag for people who want something that Apple isn't offering (HP PAVILION DV2 Battery) .
All of the content on the iPad comes from iTunes. Files that don't play nice with iTunes or videos that may be in your PC's personal collection, such as .Avi or Divx, can't be moved over to iPad easily (HP PAVILION DV9700t Battery) .
Similarly, software for the device must be approved and distributed by Apple through its App Store.
Adobe Inc.'s Flash Player, the world standard for video on the Internet, is not supported by the device. Jobs opted to go with the upcoming HTML 5 Internet technology, which doesn't need Flash, on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch (ACER Aspire 3000 Battery) .
The omission is noticeable, especially on news-related websites which have their videos blocked by iPad. Rogers on Demand Online, which catalogues and offers hundreds of TV shows and movies to be viewed over the Internet, is also blocked (ASUS A3000 Battery) .
Leaving Flash off of the device was enough to push YouTube, which relies on Flash, to create its own iPad app which streams video to the device that users can see (ACER Travelmate 2300 Battery) .
It seems that virtually moving into the equivalent of a gated community patrolled by security guards from Cupertino, California, is the price for making the iPad "just work." Apple controls the hardware, Apple controls the software and Apple controls the content and to a certain extent, thanks to the lack of Flash, Apple controls what websites you can see (ACER Aspire 3020 Battery) .
For some people, giving up control isn't a problem. After all, with more than 60,000 apps added to the App store monthly, millions of songs and thousands of movies and TV shows available on iTunes, it's not like the device is lacking content or software (HP PAVILION DV3000 Battery) .
Still, to those who already have libraries of music and movies, or for those who are more liberal-minded and want to install what they want when they want, Apple's tight grip on the device will be a deterrent (HP PAVILION DV2000 Battery) .
All this brings us back to the initial point. While the iPad is revolutionary, the revolution is only beginning (Dell INSPIRON 1525Battery) .
HP has taken notice of the demand for tablet devices and wants to make sure its attempts at entering this market are fruitful. The company acquired Palm Inc. earlier this year and analysts expect the first HP tablets, or Slates, to begin shipping with Palm's critically acclaimed WebOS software later this year (Sony VGP-BPS3 battery) .
Many other manufacturers, including giants like South Korea's Samsung, are also venturing into the tablet computer market with the help of Google Inc's massively popular Android Operating System. In the cellular phone space, Android phones now outsell iPhones in North America, according to market researcher NPD. Android, another operating system designed specifically for touch-screen devices, has quickly risen in popularity (Sony VGP-BPS2 battery) .
People shouldn't count Microsoft Corp. out just yet either. The company's new Windows 7 Mobile Operating System is about to be released. The operating system has been redesigned to ditch the pointer (IBM THINKPAD R50 Battery) .
Still, all of these newcomers are entering the market a little late. If Apple has proven anything with its iPod devices its that the company is a very difficult target to catch, especially when it has a head start (HP PAVILION DV9700 Battery).