The computer is dead, long live the computer. When Steve Jobs introduced the new iPad 2 a few weeks ago, he seems to think we are entering the post-PC era. While some may agree or disagree, others were not sure what he was talking about. Devices like the iPad 2, and other tablet devices coming later this year, have enough power to replace a full computer.
I know that this is a bold statement. How could a small touch tablet replace a Mac or other computer? It really depends on what you need in a computer. For many users, a computer needs to do certain basic tasks. This might include - writing and editing documents, surfing the web, email, contacts, calendar, chat, blogging, gaming, listening to music, watching video, and reading books.
The iPad 2 can do all of these things and so much more. The updated processor and graphics chip in the iPad 2 have turned the iPad from a consumption device into a creation device. As part of the iPad 2 launch, Apple showed two new iPad Apps - iMovie and Garage Band. They are available separately on the Apple App Store for only $4.99 each.
Both the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch have built-in HD video cameras and their own version of iMovie. Since the new iPad 2 now has built-in cameras, Apple created an iPad version of iMovie. This new version works on the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and latest iPod Touch. The original iPad is out.
Being able to edit video on a phone was a marvel. The iPad 2 brings a much bigger screen to the game and the new version of iMovie takes full advantage of it. Precision editing is also taken to a new level. When performing a precision edit you get to see clips from both sides of the transition point. This lets you see and set just the right spot for the edit to take place.
After your masterpiece is done you now need to show it. This can be done in many ways. Of course you can watch it right on the iPad 2. With the new iOS 4.3 operating system, video can be sent out through accessory video cables to an HDTV, VGA monitor, or even a video projector. If you have an Apple TV 2 you can use AirPlay to play the video on your HDTV.
Along with viewing your movie locally, there are plenty of ways to share it on the Internet. If you have a MobileMe account, you have the perfect place on the web for your friends and family to watch your creations. There is also built-in access to other popular sites (you need to have active accounts with these sites) where you can upload your videos. These include - YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and even the new CNN iReport.
Now for some real fun Garage Band. It has been a Mac staple since 2004. It's one of the pieces in the iLife suite for the Mac, along with iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, and iDVD. While a fun and useful tool on the Mac, the iPad version is even more so. The touch interface of the iPad is just the perfect 'missing' piece in Garage Band.
Now you can have up to eight audio tracks to layer many different types of music, virtual instruments, live audio, and live instruments. Just like the Mac version, you can get an interface to plug a guitar directly into the iPad and choose different amp styles. I am not sure if there is or will be a Midi interface for the iPad, but my hopes are that someone is working on one. Then you could attach a keyboard or other electronic instrument.
The iPad 2 is now an amazing 'creation' device. With it, and a few inexpensive Apps, you can use an iPad 2 to record video, edit it, add music-effects-titles, add voiceovers, insert photos, and upload it to your favorite sharing web site. All this can be done easily on a Mac laptop or desktop, but it can now be done on a thin light touch tablet device you can carry almost anywhere with you. The iPad 2 starts at $499.
Could we really be in a post-PC era? I think we could be at the beginning of an evolutionary change. Of course the Mac is not dead by any means. A tablet is not going to replace an iMac, a MacBook, or especially a Mac Pro tower. But many people are using their smartphones, like the iPhone 4 or some of the new Android based models now hitting the market, as their only portable computer. The iPad 2 is bigger a probably faster.
Anyone looking for a portable device that can be used to consume and create should take a close look at the iPad 2. Apple is shipping its next generation tablet now, giving them a commanding lead in the tablet market. The iPad 2 is the tablet to beat this year and could bring the start of the post-pc era.