The iPad—Another Apple Hit?
I’m glad Apple decided to call it the iPad. The name iTablet is just wrong. Besides, the term “tablet” could have doomed this new product to the fate of all the other so-called tablet computers over the years. Maybe iPad is wordplay on the successful iPod. Anyway, “pad” is a far cooler word than tablet. And this is a pretty cool product.
In his usual black turtleneck shirt and jeans, Steve Jobs introduced what we have been hearing about for weeks now. (Has Jobs ever worn a suit and tie?) Are you surprised? Disappointed? Indifferent? My impression is that Apple gave us exactly what we imagined, a product that’s sort of a cross between a laptop and a smart phone. While I haven’t paid attention to previous tablets, I do like this one. Maybe the time for the tablet is now.
The iPad measures about 9.5 by 7.5 by 0.5 in. and weighs about 1.5 lb. The screen is a backlit LCD with 9.7 in. on the diagonal. It’s a capacitive touchscreen, of course. Overall, it’s a little bigger than the Amazon Kindle. The color screen is what makes the iPad stand out. The iPad also plays video and audio well, including AAC audio and other formats in addition to H.264 video compression providing 720p at 30 fps.
Hardware-wise, the iPad uses Apple’s own A4 processor. It’s probably an enhanced ARM variant made by PA Semiconductor, the company Apple bought back in 2008. It runs at 1 GHz, so it has the horsepower to run all the complicated multimedia stuff inside the iPad. The memory is flash with options for 16, 32, or 64 Gbytes. I/O consists of a pair of speakers, a 3.5-mm stereo jack for headphones, a microphone, and a docking connector. An accelerometer and a light sensor are built in. And, Apple says the lithium-polymer battery is good for 10 hours.
The iPad also has wireless, as 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR are standard in the basic model. A more advanced model to come in April will also have 3G wireless of the GSM/EDGE/UMTS and HSDPA variety (7.2 Mbits/s download) with an AT&T data plan. This gives the iPad two alternative wireless connections.
What can you do with the iPad? Almost everything you could want in a mobile multimedia device. Just a few of the uses include Web browsing with Apple’s Safari software, e-mail, texting, photo storage and display, movies, TV shows, and music videos. It’s also designed to be compatible with YouTube, the iPod, and iTunes, as well as with more than 140,000 apps that are available for the iPhone. The iPad even has a map feature, note-taking capability, and a calendar and contacts feature.
A key inclusion is an e-book reader. This feature brings color to e-reader technology and should be a hit. The iPad is sure to drive Amazon and the book publishers nuts. Publishers may welcome another high volume e-reader, but they aren’t too happy about the pricing model for bestsellers or other books for that matter. Publishers have been dabbling in e-books for years, but the iPad is an eye opener. Welcome to the digital world.
What doesn’t the iPad have? It isn’t a cell phone, so it can’t make calls. The 3G cellular option is strictly data only. It doesn’t have a digital camera or a GPS receiver either. Apple has saved those for its iPhone. So, you have to have a cell phone too if you want those features. I doubt that these missing features will hurt sales, especially if you don’t have to carry around a laptop too. I can’t help but think that the iPad will seriously compete with netbooks and even laptops. Obviously, it depends on what you do with a computer.
I like the iPad and will probably buy one—or my wife will, even though she has a new iMac desktop. We have had Macs in the family since the Mac was first introduced in the mid-1980s. I also just upgraded my original iPhone to the new 3GS. Except for the touch keyboard, it is a great product. The iPad looks like a winner to me. Has the tablet finally arrived? As usual, we shall see.
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