With both NVIDIA’s Fermi and Apple’s iPad released recently, people are asking what techies think of these gizmos. I’ve read reviews, I’ve seen videos, and I’ve tried to formulate a sufficiently cynical reason as to why both these products are inferior/silly/completely out of place in today’s market. I can’t come up with one.

NVIDIA’S FERMI

geforce-gtx-480,1-B-242399-13geforce-gtx-470,1-D-242401-3NVIDIA has released its GTX470/480 cards to partners, and has lifted all NDAs on reviews. So far, there are mixed reactions. People are not happy with the temperatures, power draw, or the returns that normally come with buying such a high-priced product.

The GTX470 costs $350, which will likely work out to R4000+ for us poor saps.

Nvidia boasts a substantial amount of CUDA-compatible applications. And the list keeps growing.

Nvidia boasts a substantial amount of CUDA-compatible applications. And the list keeps growing.

For all the cons that reviewers have come up with, the new series still has that familiar vibe – that it might usher in a new way of thinking – and Fermi does exactly that. The ability to run C++ code, among other things, natively on the GPU suddenly turns an SLI rig into a power house of note. Compiling and executing debug code for C++ now takes literally seconds to complete using the GPGPU feature inherent in all Fermi-based GPUs. And yes, all new cards based on GF100/104 will have this feature.

While everyone mentions GPGPU, it’s getting boring for some people. What else can save the series? Well, it’s a given that the cards will beat ATI’s offerings, but the best thing is support. Zero-day support for games and programs is not always something ATI can boast, and NVIDIA’s TWIMTBP campaign certainly makes its lineup more appealing for gamers. Also, with 3D slowly taking off it will be a wiser choice to go with Fermi, as older generations suffer quite a bit with this feature turned on.

The bottom line? ATI is all about great speed, ATI Stream, Eyefinity, good driver support and price. Nvidia is all about great speed, Physx, CUDA, excellent driver support, future-proofing, and now 3D Vision and GPGPU, among others. Even coming from an ATI fan, an NVIDIA graphics card is remarkably tempting.

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They simply have much more to offer.

APPLE’S iPAD

I played around with an HP TC1100 recently. I have a PC at work that does everything I need, but the sheer portability of a tablet is amazing. I can walk around the shop, collating data and prices for quotes and insurance replacements, and write it all down on the tablet using the stylus. I send my report via e-mail to my boss using the wireless network, and then carry on reading posts on the NAG forums. Life could not be simpler.

OB-HP187_ipad02_G_20100217200930If a customer came in, I’d ask them to give us their details on the tablet. Initially there was some shock, but I began to see regulars taking to it quite quickly. After a week with it and using it for real work, I can see why Apple’s iPad will be another success, at least in its second generation.

Even though you’re tied to the Apple platform and all it brings with it, it’s a remarkably good idea. Its not for heavy work, but a lot of other things that people will discover as they carry on playing with it. Apple’s e-book app will start flying, and eventually everyone will want one! Well, at least those not attached to Windows and Linux.

Hell, even a Linux tablet would be a killer, and apparently Google also thinks so. Are either of these products silly? They’re only silly to those outside the target market.

The iPad remains a good investment for the rich, light user, at least until HP’s Slate surfaces. Until then, it will rule.