I figure I’ll contribute to the noise and add my $0.02 about the Apple iPad, which was announced today with much fanfare.
Quick rundown for folks living under a rock who for some reason read my blog and no other news outlet:
- 9.7″ 1024×768 132ppi glass multitouch widescreen display
- 1 GHz Apple A4 processor/SoC
- 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB flash storage
- 802.11b/g/n WiFi
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- 3G model supports UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz, i.e., AT&T), GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
- Compass, cellular network location service (i.e., no GPS)
- 25 Whr battery, 10 hours battery life in use, one month standby
- 3.5″ headphone jack, speakers, mic
- Standard Apple A/V format playback, H.264 video up to 720p
- Access to Apple App Store, iTunes Music Store, and new iBookstore
The pricing is pretty good, too. The cheapest, a 16 GB without 3G, is $499. The most expensive, 64 GB with 3G, runs $829 + $30 monthly for 3G service. Kudos to Apple for negotiating a no-contract deal with AT&T. That’s right—iPad users are not locked into AT&T contractually. They’re just locked into AT&T if they want 3G service. Here’s hoping that T-Mobile springs up similar plans for folks who want T-Mobile and for whom EDGE service will suffice.
In theory, it’s pretty slick device. Lots of innovation, right?
Hardware-wise, I pronounce that Apple has done it again. It’s a new idea, a new form-factor, a new audience. Apple’s going after the folks who love e-book readers and who maybe need to do some typing every now and then. They’re going after the on-the-go designer, or presenter, or other person who would benefit from having, essentially, the capabilities of the iPhone but with a larger screen and faster processor.
There’s a few accessories for it, including a keyboard dock and a case. The case doubles as a bit of a stand, as well. The dock gives the user a keyboard (it’s not clear to me whether or not the keyboard is included) with which to type in programs such as a new mobile edition of iWork for the iPad. It’s a novel idea, but not terribly innovative. It has an audio jack for in-place speakers and likely relies on a USB keyboard or, more likely, Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, it lacks several things it could really use:
- Web cam, front-facing or user facing — no Skype video, folks
- GPS — there has to be room inside for it, and it would make the device truly mobile like the iPhone
- Lid — I understand that this is where the “upsell upsell upsell” case comes in, but I would have really liked to see some kind of lid or carrier. ZAGG will no doubt have a screen protector for the iPad immediately.
- USB ports — sayonara, expandability
Hardware-wise, I’d buy it if I had a use for it. It’s slim, mobile, and the battery lasts forever. Package up a mobile Bluetooth keyboard, and I’d have a nice on-the-go machine for CES or something.
That’s where the good ends. If you’re an Apple fanboy, now’s the time to go elsewhere.
It’s the software which makes it irrelevant to me. It’s a giant iPhone without voice capability. Or, it’s a giant iPod Touch with 3G data capability. Or, it’s a music player in which the only jeans it would be found are JNCO jeans.
It’s an embedded device, as far as I’m concerned, with its own ecosystem (as giant as it may be, given that iPhone apps run on it, too). The books from the iBookstore are DRM-locked to the device, and there’s been no indication if Apple will allow books purchased on it to be transferred to new devices or to desktop machines.
Another big missing feature: Adobe Flash. No Hulu, no web sites which use Flash. This lack makes it somewhat useless as a laptop replacement computer.
Worst of all, and the real deal killer for anyone who would use the iPad in place of a real computer: no multitasking. That means that you can’t listen to Last.fm or Pandora while working on a paper; locally stored music only. AFAIK, there’s not a VoIP calling application on the App Store yet, and there likely won’t ever be, so forget using the iPad as a call center of any kind.
Could Apple figure out multitasking for the iPhone OS, thereby quashing this point and silencing the Android fanboys (myself included) who constantly berate iPhone users on their inability to check email while listening to Internet music while surfing the web while reading a book and not losing place when switching between any of these? Sure, Apple could. Then iPhone and iPad users would realize that their little snappy device is no longer snappy when they try to run more than one or two apps a time.
Oh, how I could go on and on about such a fun topic as multitasking and its necessity to any computer user expecting a real computer experience.
So, software-wise, Apple fails on the iPad software-wise. Had it been granted Mac OS X privileges, plus the camera, I think it could sway a lot more people. It would be a great platform for we Linux geeks to hack upon, and I can’t wait to see what the open source community tries to do with it.
More evidence of the Jobsian Nation’s collective disappointment: my company is comprised of tens of Apple fanboys, and I only heard one or two saying that they’d get the iPad.
Kudos to Apple for actually using its P.A. Semi property—I was hoping to see something out of it.
Apple iPad is great hardware, but the software makes it stupid. I won’t buy one, likely ever.
If you don’t mind being locked to the Apple ecosystem, go for it. I’d love to play with it, just not bring it home and take care of it.
Engadget has a good hands on of the iPad. Mashable has a great discussion, too, and we’re in agreement on a major disappointment: “It’s an unprecedented win for closed computing.” If you’ve seen some other good articles, post them in the comments.