Apple’s iPad: What We Know, What We Don’t, and Whether to Buy, Wait, or Pine

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January 27, 2010

I will be honest.  Today I took a longer than normal lunch so that I could watch live coverage of the Apple event on TWiT.  As a self-proclaimed fanboi, I was excited and intrigued by the latest thing I didn’t know I needed until Steve Jobs told me I did.

All joking aside, this is an interesting device.  Apple is positioning it as a media player, content creator, book reader, and TV.  It’s a lot to fit into something .5″ thick, but they seem to have done a pretty good job.  You can go to Apple’s iPad site for all the gory details and places like Engadget and TUAW for even more.  But here’s a brief overview:

  1. It has a pretty 9.5 x 7.5″ LCD screen with an iPhone-style capacitive touch interface (there is a pretty wide bezel, but the people who have played with it say that it makes sense because you have to have some place to hold it without touching the multi-touch screen).
  2. The screen is 1024 x 768 pixels which mean that HD movies are going to look pretty good on your lap.
  3. It will have a full browser, email app, photo app, notes app, etc (think iphone standard apps).
  4. They have totally revamped iWork’s UI to make it intuitive on a touch screen. Even keynote’s graphics-intensive elements seem to work without a strain.
  5. It will have a new app called iBooks that is a book reader as well as an iBook Store.  They have already secured major US publishers and are adding more.
  6. It has built in speakers (and 3.5mm headphone jack), mic and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR but no camera (there is no way this will be absent from the 2.0 release)
  7. It will output VGA and standard A/V cable.
  8. There will be models with 16, 32 and 64 GB of storage available.
  9. It will have wifi built in and an optional 3G modem.
  10. There will be a dock, keyboard dock, and case (with stand) available.
  11. Though they released an updated SDK today, almost all iPhone apps will work on the device and can be used in their native size or at 2x to come closer to filling the screen..
  12. Apple says it has 10 Hours of battery life (doesn’t seem like this is possible, but no one has them to test as of yet).
  13. It will ship in 60 days starting at an un-Apple price point: $499

What it doesn’t have:

  1. Multi-tasking
  2. Support for flash
  3. Across the board true GPS (only available in 3g model which is $130 more)
  4. USB ports
  5. Did I mention camera!??!

Now, that is a lot, but there are several things that are unclear:

  1. Will it have the ability for external storage?  There are adapters that allow you to connect  USB and SD to the 30-pin iPod connector, but Apple says they are for importing pictures.
  2. Will it sync with Mobile Me?  They say it will sync with a computer, but did not mention their “cloud” service.
  3. Will there be magazines?  It seems logical, but was not announced.
  4. The hands on experience.  This one is big, until people get to really sit down with it, we won’t know exactly how reality stacks up with apple’s claims

Overall, I am interested in the product, but I will probably not buy one for one simple reason: Apple’s second generation is usually far better than the first.  I did the same thing with the iPhone, and I got the 3G, and am not disappointed.

Apple generally sacrifices features for stability and user experience on the 1.0.  After they work out all the bugs, they release a product that seems complete.  The iPhone 3g added GPS, third party apps, streaming audio over 3g, push e-mail, and other niceties.  I fully expect the iPad 2.0 to have a camera, (maybe even two) some form of external storage (if that is not part of this version), higher quality screen (OLED?), and a couple more pieces of glory that I can’t forsee right now.

Bottom line: should you seriously consider buying it?

  • If you were considering a netbook because of it’s size: yes.
  • If you wanted a netbook because of its price and storage capacity: no.
  • If you were considering a new laptop and do not need video editing or large amounts of storage (in other words you primarily use it for email and word processing): yes.
  • If you have a church administrator who loves Apple and will let you play with $500: yes
  • If you use keynote for your talks and cant afford a macbook but want something more portable than a mac mini: yes.
  • If you need to run any traditional apps like Photoshop, Final Cut, etc.: no.
  • If you were considering an ebook reader but couldn’t justify almost $300 on something for that single purpose: yes.
  • If you are secretly in love with Steve Jobs and want to show him your undying devotion: yes.

There you have it.  Let us know what you think!  Although I said I was not buying one for myself, you are more than welcome to send me one in the mail, I would not even come close to turning it down… I am a fanboi after all.

5 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Joe and I spent about 20 minutes talking about it tonight – and we both agree — there is really no need for this device. It can’t multi-task..ugh! That is lame! And it’s not a phone. And who wants to carry around a phone and this thing? But – that is just us…the bottom line is that there are many people that will find a NEED to have this thing, and they will spend the $400 on it (and I bet they will no idea that it doesn’t multi-task).

    Reply
  2. Paul Halliday

    I’ve been looking Into if this could replace my laptop. And the answer has come to is possibly?

    Here’s my thoughts. When it comes to editing videos etc. I always do this on my desktop even though my laptop could do it, the same with the little bit of photo editing. My laptop is primarily used for doing word, PowerPoint and excel or in my case their mac equivelent.if I can do this as easy as on my laptop, and this waits to be seen. And I can easily transfer files on and off, and print. This could be a cheaper more portable option with much longer battery life. I’ll be untreated in knowing others thoughts.

    Reply
  3. Jeremy Steele

    I am totally feeling you, but we’ll have to see how it works. If it, for example, could save the state of the app when you switch to another one so that it came up exactly as you left it… that would eliminate the need of true multi tasking for me, but I doubt that will be in the 1.0.

    I think there is a plce for it, but it is yet to be seen how large that place is. Now, if this is just the beginning of a new category (think of the first time you knew someone with a palm, or worse the first person with a smart phone) this is a pretty good first viable model for a new category of devices, because at the current rate of innovation, I can imagine a future with all but the biggest video producers needing only a laptop (the end of the desktop computer), and this being the portable device.

    Of course all of what you said and much more would have to be fixed in subsequent models. For me, I am content to let the early adopters discover all the shortcomings so I can buy a more full-featured device in a couple of years.

    Reply
  4. Anthony

    Not to bash Apple or anything, but Madtv did a sketch 3 years ago that talked about the iPad but it had different uses then this one. youtube it if you want, but when they were sitting down to think of what they should name this device, a quick google search might have been profitable to avoid embarrassment.

    Reply
  5. Rick

    How can you recommend this as a book reader? I don’t care how pretty the screen is, I would never sit and read a full book on a back-lit screen. it’d kill your eyes. i see no reason to buy this aside from being a cool apple toy. overgrown ipod touch is all it is

    Reply

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