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Computer is to iPad as Airplane is to [blank]

So I’m getting to be a little bit of an apple iPad fanboy apparently I’m not alone [The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again? By Stephen Fry] But the OS holy wars appear to have begun as the haters and doubters raise some collumn inches and their hit count. If you want some of the counter examples of ‘Apple Fanboys’ please see:

I’m passing on the “is it evil” discussion in favor of my personal use case.

I recently tried a Sony eReader and found it a little wanting. I’ve got a number of PDF reference files I would like to have with me and want to access either while I am doing something else on my laptop or without pulling out my laptop. These PDFs are from two areas the Technical Documentation for my programming and network management work and the Aviation Documents for my use as a recreational pilot.

I found Sony (and other readers) not great for PDFs that are formatted for printer output. Specifically the large margins and whitespace caused you to constantly zoom in and out. It is especially annoying trying to replace my flying documentation with an electronic source. As a recreational pilot I only fly every few weeks yet I must subscribe to a range of publications that drop 5 pounds of paper on my doorstep every 56 days.

The current technology solutions for Electronic flight bags are aimed at corporate or airline systems with $5,000 hardware and $1000/yr in ongoing costs. Even the current crop of the General Aviation GPS tools are in the $2000+ range. With the advent of Foreflight and similar applications for the iPhone and the space of a iPad I can have a sub-$1000 solution with a sub $100/yr ongoing cost.

Now my iPad won’t replace my primary flight instruments, but a Garmin GPS wasn’t going to do that either. I want something that gets me the planning and recording tools in a useful package that I can carry in and out of my Flying Club’s airplanes.

Here some more examples of iPad in Aviation as a use case:

So the “Is it great?”, “Is it Horrible?” discussion will continue. But amazingly the aviation world gave me another bit of clarity.

Computer is to iPad, as Airplane is to [Blank]

Well it finally clicked when I listened to Stephen Force great podcast Airspeed. He was talking about the ongoing battles in the next generation of aviation “systems” and the answer came:

Computer is to iPad, as Airplane is to UAV

The trade off is between the richness and serendipity of the experience versus the efficiency in achieving a specific mission. Interestingly, I found myself on different sides in each of these cases. I’m not going to turn in my pilot’s license for a RC airplane anytime soon. Actually, I never even had any interest in flying a RC airplane once I’d flown the real thing. And I expect Mr Doctorow would have a similar feeling about computers and the iPad.

Yet in the case of the iPad, I have little problem trading off the capability of my laptop for a simpler, lighter, mobile tool for use – among other things – when I’m flying.


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