You don't need an iPad. But once you try one, you won't be able to resist.

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
April 5 2010 11:44 AM

You Don't Need an iPad

But once you try one, you won't be able to resist.

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These aren't bugs; they're deliberate limitations that are inspired by the iPad's design philosophy. In many cases these constraints make sense, but for some users in some situations, they can be extremely frustrating. Choire Sicha says that the iPad spurns creative people, but it seems more appropriate to say that it resists "power users," people who like to customize their machines to do things better, faster, and more productively. The iPad resists customization; there is only one way to do most things on this device—Apple's way.

To be sure, the iPad strips out a lot of what we find frustrating about PCs—the application-installation process, the hierarchical folder file system, the need to back up and save your work, and any danger of malware. It's also true that most people who use computers aren't power users, and even power users don't want to be power users all the time. That's where the iPad comes in—we can all do with a few limitations now and then. Yet as much as I love the iPad's model of computing, I doubt that it will ever make the PC obsolete. The iPad is likely the first of a new class of limited-use, appliancelike computers that we'll increasingly see populating our kitchens, cars, and bedrooms. Still, we will probably always need fully functional general-purpose PCs that don't dumb things down.

Fortunately, there's room for both: I'm writing this article on my Windows 7 PC, which does pretty much everything I ask of it. But I need to take a break after all this writing. For that, the iPad is my perfect companion.

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Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for the New York Times and the author of True Enough.