Updated 01/22/2013 05:00 AM
Tech Beat: Public kiosks could soon let people borrow iPads
People who did not buy a tablet in 2012 may still get an easy opportunity to use one in 2013. Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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Even if after the holiday season 2012 you still don't own a tablet, 2013 might be the year you get access to one anyway to use how you like...without buying it. That's because soon you may start seeing these MediaSurfer kiosks, for renting iPads.
"So a customer comes into a hotel and wants to borrow an iPad, rent an iPad. So we have this kiosk that allows anybody to walk up with a credit card, swipe their card, borrow an iPad, do whatever they'd normally do with an iPad -- online shopping, download books, anything you'd normally do," says Bill Payne of MediaSurfer.
Developers say through their research, they believe the rental cost will likely be around $3.50 per half-hour, if the kiosk is in a place like a hotel or airport.
MediaSurfer executives say they are actually hoping to primarily have the kiosks installed in libraries, where users could borrow an iPad for free with a library card, just as they would a book.
Some people may be concerned about entering credit card information or email addresses into a publicly used tablet, but developers insist the information is wiped from the iPad as soon as it is returned.
"We're wiping it out completely and then resetting it back to its initial state, and that's vital, that's important," says Payne. "In addition, we're recharging, doing diagnostics to make the machine's in sound and good condition as well."
The case for the rental iPad is a bit bulky on purpose. It not only helps protect the iPad, but also helps it conform to the size of the kiosks' slots. Since new iPads come out each year, all developers have to do is make sure the newest model fits inside the case, so that the entire kiosk is not rendered obsolete after every new release.