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Why the Apple iPad Isn't For Animators

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Why the Apple iPad Isn't For Animators
So many people have said the Apple iPad will change the way we do everything--from reading to shopping to watching videos. The hype has painted it as the next generation in portable computing, with some even touting it as a futuristic data pad-style device capable of replacing ordinary computers...although Apple has never made those claims, and the iPad isn't anywhere close to that capability. The iPad can't replace a computer; what it can do is combine some features of a laptop with other features of a palm device, with some benefits and extreme limitations. What it can't do is...well, almost anything else a computer can do. The iPad definitely isn't for animators, in case you ever had any doubts (and many have apparently had doubts; you have no idea how many emails I've received about this).

Why? Well, this list should give you a good start:

  • The iPad isn't a content creation tool; it's a content consumption tool. There are no creativity tools on the device, and most apps you can download won't lend themselves to trying. It would be like trying to animate using your television (and not as a monitor attached to your TV). You can absorb others' content; you can't create your own.

  • The iPad isn't a tablet, either. Yes, it has a touch screen. It's not the sort of touch screen you can bend towards drawing and animating with a stylus.

  • No multitasking. There's a rumor that a future OS update will introduce multitasking, but until then it's as limited as an iPhone: one screen, one application. No multitasking, no tabbing through windows, no windowed display. I don't know about you, but I'm bad enough about stopping to tweet when I'm on a laptop; I'd never leave Twitter to get any work done if it was the only thing I could have open on my screen.

  • It just doesn't have the power. And that's the real killer; the iPad doesn't have the processor power, memory, or storage space needed for more than very basic animations in a very limited program. It's not a computer. At best it could be used to preview animations, and you know what? Your monitor works just as well for that.
So if you were thinking of getting the iPad to replace your Cintiq or other touchscreen tablet device, don't. Be aware of its limitations, and its overall purpose. While it's a nifty device (and I kinda want one to replace my Sony Reader Touch), it's not for us. One day we may have an iPad-like device capable of combining computing and tablet functionality in a way that's effective for animators...but our day isn't yet here.

Why do you think the iPad is or isn't suited for animators?

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