Why I'm disappointed in Apple's new iPad

by Rick Altman

March 16 2012

Rick Altman is the host of the Presentation Summit, a user conference dedicated to improving the art of creating and delivering presentations,

Presentations specialist Rick Altman explains that while the new iPad is gorgeous, it's useless for the presentation community.

I have read all about the new iPad, watched the videos, read the white papers, held one in my hands, and test-drove it.

And I am disappointed beyond belief.

While I’m a Windows guy to the core, I own seven iPods and two iPads. I think it’s marvelous the way the user community invents uses for the iPad, and I credit Apple with this. The big gamble with the iPad was that its developers didn’t really know how consumers would use it. In many ways, they left it up to us to figure out what its purpose and applications would be.

That gamble paid off, as restaurant servers now take our orders with it, hotel sales managers show rooms and suites to meeting planners with it, shoppers can dress up virtual manikins with it.

We users have largely determined how the iPad is to be used, and that’s the actual definition of “application.” In a sense, we are the killer apps for the iPad.

But through this wonderful epiphany, the presentation community has been left out in the cold, and it is with sadness that I must conclude that the third iteration of iPad does nothing to address this.

I have written about this before (The iPad Predicament, Feb 2011). I was dumbfounded to discover that the original iPad offered no support for remote advancing of slides. Here’s an excerpt from one year ago:

I got so close — I transferred all of my slides, converted them accurately, and successfully projected them on screen. And now when it comes time to actually deliver the presentation, I am required to stand behind a lectern so I can stay close to the device? I have spent the last five years advocating against the use of lecterns. This little gadget was about to turn me into a hypocrite.

Here is where the irony becomes almost too much to bear. Can you imagine if Steve Jobs were tasked with presenting from his iPad? The master of modern-day presentation, having to stand behind a lectern??

Granted, there are some ways to remotely control an iPad and Keynote using an iPhone on the same Wi-Fi network. But at best, these are inelegant solutions. 

No USB port on the iPad means no effective presenting

Apple’s decision to not include a USB port with the first generation iPad has effectively prevented me from using it in my profession.

The iPad 2 was a much better device than the original and I have enjoyed using mine. I am confident that I got a job the other day because I showed my portfolio on it — I looked cool doing it.

I love leading small meetings with it, where we can all gather around it. And we’ve all heard the rumors of Microsoft’s imminent support for Office on the iPad. This, coupled with the announcement of the third iteration, buoyed my hopes that this most significant of omissions would be addressed.

Instead, the iPad 3 has given us a nicer-looking screen, a faster processor, and a better camera. I’m still trying to find a single user who thought that the screen resolution was deficient, the processor slow, or the camera weak. Apple improved three areas that nobody felt were lacking in the first place.

And still no USB port.

To the legions of presentation professionals, who watch technology with rapt interest, the iPad remains a curiosity and a toy.

To the community of writers like me, who offer comment on the state of our art, the iPad remains on our can’t-recommend list. That’s a shame, because it could be so much more.


(A version of this article first appeared on BetterPresenting.com.)

Rick Altman is the host of the Presentation Summit, a user conference dedicated to improving the art of creating and delivering presentations,

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  • bfrench
    2 years 7 months ago


    Certainly, I hate lecterns too. However, I have two basic issues with your article.

    1. It's dated. It was written at a time when the first-gen ipad was the only iPad. And while iPad (One) was indeed, presentation constrained, which affected the period beginning April 3, 2010 until about March, 2011, iPad (as a presentation tool) took significant steps forward more than a year ago and only 11 months after its birth as a new technology.

    2. I think it's disingenuous to pin presentation requirements solely on a hardware device that is designed to solve such a wide variety of problems or provide a massive array of experiences across many industry compass headings. Your expectations would be warranted if iPad was marketed as a business presentation tool. iPad (and all iOS devices for that matter) are designed to be shape-shifters, the shapes of which are [largely] software based. And software is limited by native iOS access to the hardware.

    I would be less concerned with the dated assertions in the post if you had brought the perspective forward (here at TabTimes) and included mentions of how people are able to use iPad (both 1st and 2nd gen) for presentations. There's no mention of Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation), no mention of iOS's air-share or mirroring capabilities, and no mention of tools such as Parrot and Reflection. Even with a VGA dongle (also not mentioned), presenters can get away from the lectern. There is also no mention of a new breed of wireless projectors that fit in the palm of your hand and integrate directly with Apple TV. And no mention of iPad and a laptop working in unison to overcome remote slide manipulation.

    In my view, the horizon of presentation opportunities for iPad is both broad and quite useful in many contexts.

    It would be nice if all venues eliminated lecterns and iPad had a USB port but the reality is that these issues are likely here for the long haul. I get it - lecterns are bad, USB is good. But neither of these constraints [today] stand in the way of a good presentation with iPad.

  • glennsmith42
    2 years 7 months ago

    I have been using the BlackBerry PlayBook for a while now and it offers the presentation tools necessary including a micro USB and HDMI port. It also supports Docs to Go including PowerPoint. As an added bonus you can also use your BlackBerry phone as a remote control for the PlayBook Finally, it is truly multitasking allowing you to use two gestures to switch from one app to the other and also allowing you to go into presentation mode whereby you can continue a presentation on a projector while doing another task on the PlayBook. I know, apps - there are now more than 60000 and it has added support for Android apps in the latest OS.
    Really give it a try - I know others who have the device and love it for this and more.

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