As most of you know, because of the abundance of marketing hype, Apple announced its much awaited tablet – the iPad.
Unfortunately, and I think a mistake by Apple, the product will not ship for at least 60 days (for the WiFi only models, 90 days for the WiFi/3G models).
iPad Models and Pricing
I think this gives consumers some time to get over the excessive hype that was generated, as well as giving Dell, HP, and other PC manufacturers time to respond with their own tablets, which were a huge focus at CES.
It cannot be denied that the hardware is impressive. The device itself only weighs 1.5 lbs, and is only 0.5 inches thick. Apple is claiming 10 hours of battery life which, based on recent tests of Apple devices, should be fairly accurate for real-world usage. Apple’s custom A4 processor seemed to make the user experience much more fluid than the one on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It was almost impossible for Apple to live up to all the rumors, but it is surprising that the device has no camera (or 2 for video conferencing), uses a non wide-screen resolution (1024×768), and could possibly require you to purchase a few adapters depending on your needs (USB, Card Reader, Keyboard, etc.)
Apple again has come up with a UI (user interface) that most users will be able to pick up right away since it is so close to the iPhone UI. It is fully touch based (multi-touch with gestures), and orients to the user no matter how you hold it. Here is a video of the iPad in action (from Engadget):
All current applications in the App Store will work on the iPad, and new applications designed specifically for the iPad are in development. Apple announced a new store for eBooks, the iBookstore. This, in conjunction with the iBooks app, will allow Apple to compete directly with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony in the eReader market. Productivity applications were not left out either, with the introduction of iWork for the iPad.
While iWork may entice some business users, I think this is still a device that is squarely targeted at consumers, at least in the near term. The iPad does not allow multi-tasking, which to me is its biggest weakness. On the iPhone, we can deal with only one app at a time because of the small screen. However, with a device like the iPad it is just unacceptable. There are rumors of multi-tasking support in iPhone OS 4.0, so they may be on the way to fixing this issue. There is also no support for flash which, while tolerable on the iPhone, again is unacceptable on a device like this. Other notable lapses are the apparent lack of printing and wireless syncing capabilities, and no handwriting recognition.
Is the iPad a device that you should consider if you are in the market for a netbook or a secondary computer? Possibly. It really comes back to how you will use the device. There are netbooks in the $299 price range that give you much more functionality in my opinion (Office, iTunes, Flash Video, multi-tasking, etc.)
What Apple has done in my opinion, is set the bar for the kind of hardware device we are looking for in a tablet/netbook/secondary computer. The netbook filled a market need for a relatively cheap second computer that is light weight, has a long battery life, and is easily portable. The netbook is ideal for web-browsing, email, picture viewing, music, ebooks and some limited productivity. The iPad is trying to do the same things, but in a different way, and for that I applaud Apple. I long for the day when I can carry 1 or 2 devices that fit all my needs. Is the iPad revolutionary? Not at all. Is is something that I will run out and buy? No, but it is something that I will look forward to trying in March. Maybe hands on it will completely win me over, as some journalists have mentioned. Only time will tell if Apple fixes the things that I think are currently holding back the iPad, because the potential is there.
For more coverage on the iPad: