1. Removable Batteries: Many tablet computers support removable batteries. This allows you to have a second and in many cases replace a standard battery with an extra long life battery. In addition, when they wear out you can replace them with a simple trip to the store by yourself.
2. WebCam/Skype: When you are travling virtually all Tablet PCs support either an internal or external Webcam. You can Skype with customers, co-workers, friends, relatives, children or your spouse.
3. GPS Update Capability: Every 28 days your panel mounted GPS (Garmin 300/430/480/530/etc.) needs to be updated to be legal and safe. If your trip crosses the boundry you may find the need for an update. Your crew car GPS might also need an update. A windows based computer is standard for updating all types of GPS units. An iPad has no USB ports at all, so cannot be used for these simple tasks.
4. Corporate VPN/EMAIL: General Aviation allows unlimited freedom for the Road Warrior to travel. When away from the office you may find the need to connect to a corporate VPN. Most PKI/Token based systems require a USB port and a full operating system to connect. Examples are Cisco Anywhere Client, SecureID and others. Microsoft OWA requires a Windows browser to function. Make sure that you can maximize your travel and still connect to the office exchange server and file share.
5. Flash/Hulu: While away from home, who doesn't want to connect to Hulu and catch up on your favorite TV series. It's a well known fact that the iPAD does not support Flash. Many websites are flash based today and Adobe Flash is part of nearly every computer based training system. If you want to learn a language with Rosetta Stone, Watch Hulu or even find your nearest Denny's for breakfast, Flash is a must.
6. Mutitasking: While every pilot learns to multitask to handle the demands for flying an airplane, the iPAD is a terrestrial device limited to a single task. Tablet PCs at the very least can check email, provide full word processing, and surf the Internet all at the same time. Many tablet PCs have dual-core or even quad-core processors in addition, so they are really fast and efficient multitasking devices. You can have multiple programs running and don't have to close one program to run another. Pilots should never be constrained to one task!
7. Keyboard/Mouse: While a touch screen keyboard is excellent for short inputs or even answering an email with the preverbable "OK", a lengthy response or document is best on a keyboard. While carrying a seperate keyboard with you is possible for the iPAD, it ads weight, bulk, and one more thing to remember. The iPAD never supports a mouse. Sometimes there is no substitute for a keyboard and mouse, especially for a last minuted edit to that PowerPoint presentation before the customer sees it.
8. Internet Access from Verizon or Sprint: While we all love AT&T commercials and their customer service, some people choose to use Sprint, Verizon or Virgin Mobile for Internet Access. By using a tablet PC, you can choose your Mobile Internet Provider.
9. HDMI/VGA out (Presentations) High Resolution: The iPAD is an extension of the iPOD. It only provides a 4:3 output ration at 480p. Most tablets can provide 16:9 as well as 1024x768 or greater output resolution. In addition most tablets come with a standard VGA connector on the side for fast hookup to a projector. If you forget a special adapter it is usually pretty hard to find one on short notice.
10. Ports! USB is how nearly every peripheral connects, such as GPS programmers, external flash memory and other storage devices, DVD players, SD cards used by most digital cameras, and so much more. Nothing would be worse than needing to connect to a flash drive to get an updated presentation and not being able to do so. The iPad has zero USB ports. PCs usually have at least two USB ports. What about that media card from your digital camera? Again, no media ports on an iPad, but these are standard on a PC. Ethernet port? Nope, not on an iPad. Wifi isn't always available, or many hotels charge extra for it but don't charge for plugging into the Ethernet port in the room, and the Ethernet port will usually be much faster, more reliable, and a lot more secure than wifi.
Apple will never allow you to connect a DVD ROM and watch your own videos and bypass their iTunes store. You deserve the freedom to buy/acquire videos and software where and how you want. Only a PC provides the freedom to do what you want to do.
11. Memory: Okay...so 11 things, not 10, but this is a big one. iPad memory is flash memory and serves the exact same purpose as the hard drive or solid state drive in a PC. Like any flash memory, iPad memory will degrade in performance over time, with the iPad showing significant signs of slowing in as little as a year of frequent use. With a PC, you can replace the hard or solid state drive yourself, very easily, with any of hundreds of options (so very inexpensively.) You can even increase the size of the drive (memory) anytime you want. You are not constrained to only 32GB or 64GB of memory with no expansion options. In most PCs you can install terabytes of "memory." A terabyte is 1,000 GB...an iPad has a max of only 64 GB of memory. By comparison, you can buy a 640GB hard drive - that's 10 times the max memory you can have in an iPad - for about $69.
Top sum it up, the iPad is a fantastic device for someone to travel with if you don't already have an iPhone, and to watch iTunes movies and check email quickly at Starbucks, but there are real limitations for the flying and business community. The greatest liability is that you will still have to carry a laptop if you use corporate applications, VPNs, run any software, need to print, etc.
Pinch and gestures are great on the ground, but a little light chop and it's hard to control. iPAD overheating issues in airplanes are well publicized, as well as backup/download issues via iTunes. iTunes was not designed to deliver 4-6GB of content and tens of thousands of files (seamless charts with any EFB are comprised of over 100,000 jpg files.)
One last thing to know...the most popular iPad EFB app is very busy with menus and option screens, difficult to navigate...a real vacuum for your fingertips, while Chartflier has been designed to "just work" and be very easy to use, like a paper chart! The last thing you need in a busy single-pilot IFR cockpit is more work.
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