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For the last few years I’ve been hearing people complain that while tablets are great for content consumption, they’re no good for content creation due to their slow processors and the lack of physical keyboards. But time and again developers have been proving us wrong by coming up with new and interesting ways for smartphone and tablet users to create and share content with these mobile devices.

It turns out there’s more than one way to produce something new and original. I’d rather have a full sized QWERTY keyboard than anything else when it comes to writing emails, blog posts, or… well, that’s most of what I write. But the case isn’t nearly as cut and dry when it comes to shooting and editing photos and videos or creating original music compositions.

I wouldn’t even think of using my laptop’s webcam to shoot an unboxing or video review for this site. Instead I typically rely on a Canon PowerShot camera to shoot the video, and then I copy the file from the SD card to a PC for editing, transcoding, and uploading to YouTube. But I’ve also used my iPod touch to do the same thing. The difference is I can shoot, edit, and upload the video all from my iPod touch. It has a 720p HD video recorder, a $4.99 iMovie app for making simple edits, and it will automatically transcode the app to reduce the file size before uploading it to YouTube. The process is actually a lot simpler and faster than using a camera and computer — the only reason I don’t do it more often is because my camera produce slightly higher quality images and video.

But surely, you’d think that a computer with a high performance multi-core processor would at least be faster at CPU-intensive tasks such as transcoding a video, right? Not necessarily.

The folks at AppAdvice noticed that the iPad 2 is actually faster than almost any Mac computer when it comes to transcoding H.264 video files shot on a 4th generation iPod touch. That’s when running the mobile iMovie app on the iPad or the full version on the Mac computers. While the iPad 2 was the king of the hill with pure transcoding jobs, high-end Mac machines were a little faster when it came to rendering videos with added titles, images, and music. But they weren’t that much faster.

Does that mean Apple’s new A5 processor is almost as fast as a multi-core Intel chip? Not necessarily. It’s just that the A5 chip has integrated support for transcoding H.264 videos, and the iMovie app for iOS is designed specifically to take advantage of the hardware on iOS devices.

That said, do you really care why the iPad 2 is so fast at performing tasks such as video rendering and transcoding? I’m just impressed that Apple has optimized its hardware and software so that you really can get some real work done on a mobile device — provided you’re interested in shooting and editing video rather than, say, writing out the great American novel using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard.

We’ve also seen plenty of instances of people using iPads and other tablets to create and edit music, photos, and other digital media, and Apple has join in the action with the launch of new Garage Band and iPhoto apps for the platform.

This doesn’t mean that notebook and desktop computers are on the way out anytime soon. But you need the proper tools for any job, and it turns out that despite early claims that “content creation” required a more traditional PC, it’s becoming clear that’s not always true.

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5 replies on “It turns out that tablets are good for content creation… sometimes”

  1. Brad

    You might try additional lights for your next shoot. Better lighting will probably narrow the quality gap further allowing you to use the faster-to-youtube iPod Touch option. 🙂

  2. I have some friends that shot and edited a music video on Friday/Saturday so they could be the first people to do a music video on the iPad2. It really is pretty good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUfxclbWavE

    I really was an attempt at getting some publicity around the ipad 2 release but I can see it as another example of the walls of content creation breaking down.

  3. Yeah, with an Android Honeycomb tablet you don’t even have to purchase the movie editing app–it comes free on all Android devices now. Also with an Android Honeycomb tablet you can easily attach your keyboard and MOUSE (Apple is anti-mouse for some reason) to make editing even easier. That’s why devices like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer will be a big hit because, they will be hybrid tablets & netbooks–all the fun of a tablet with all the functionality of a netbook/laptop 😉
    and they won’t come with crippled hardware (0.7 mp cameras. . are you serious apple?)

    Just one more reason the iPad won’t be a top seller for long.

    1. The iPad 2 can import AVHCD files from Panasonic cameras,h.264 mov files from Canon/Sony cameras.
      The XOOM only works with the .3gp files created by the tablet.
      You can take the iPad2 w/ you on vacation along with a camera connector kit and actually use your dslr/video camera files and edit them on the fly.

      $5 is not a big deal considering you can use the same app on your phone and tablet(making it $2.50)
      XOOM has problems transcoding and playing anything higher than a 2K bitrate high profile 720p file.

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