A Response to the iPad

28 January 2010

Last night we saw the announcement of the long rumoured tablet computer made by Apple.  Steve Jobs took to the stage and after announcing the sale of the 250 millionth iPod put up a quote from the Wall Street Journal "last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on" (Apple's Hard to Swallow Tablet, 30th Dec 2009).  Jobs took the device, named the iPad, and showed off his latest creation, something that he says will fit in the gap between laptops and smart phones.

The technical details of this device are:




What is right about the iPad:

First off the design... it is an iPod touch with a larger screen and body.  The design is a very nice cross between all of the products that Apple have made so far, and it is something that they are good at, it could of done without the big thick black rim around the screen, however it will fix perfectly next to an iMac or MacBook Pro.

Using existing iPhone apps is really the only thing to do for it.  The iPad runs a glorified version of the iPhone OS so having the existing apps run on the thing just makes sense, I would go as far as to say that it would be foolishness not to!  I remain to be convinced that scaling up the application to run full screen is the right way to do things, however I will hold my judgement there.

What is great is that Apple have written some really great applications of their own for it, having a native media player that looks great, and their photo library just looks stunning.  That really will be worth using.  Also creating a version of iWorks for the machine just means that it is going to appeal even more to a business market, I'm not going to lie; when I saw that Pages and Keynote were available for it my use for the iPad went up tenfold!

The price is spectacularly low in America, $499 for the base range model.  Now assuming Apple did a proper conversion that would make the iPad £325, Apple being Apple the price will probably be nearer £450, but keeping the device at an affordable price is brilliant.  One of the things that Jobs said is that they was wanted this device to be affordable, and it is.

What is wrong about the iPad

The price... yes I know I just said the price was one of the things that Apple got right, however they also got it horrifically wrong.  One of the nice additions was a 3G model, enabling access to the internet where WiFi is not available, if you are going to do this for you laptop it will cost you about £30 to pick up a little USB dongle to plug into your computer... Apple are charging $130 (£80) for this.

No multitasking is a painful thing.  One of the restrictions of both the iPhone and now the iPad is that only one app can run at a time.  While I get that each program will run very well on that 1Ghz chip, what if I want to run the Spotify app while mashing out some text in pages.  Sad sad thing.

The iPad is supposed to be the natural way to view the internet.  However one of the main things about the internet is that it has Flash on it, YouTube, iPlayer, pretty much every game worth playing, etc run off flash and the iPad (nor the iPhone) support flash.  This just doesn't make sense if Apple want this to be the device you use to view the internet.

As I mentioned above, this device is going to appeal to business folk.  I am really curious why they didn't put a camera in the thing.  Creating a version of iChat for the iPad would of been a logical thing to do, you can have business meetings on your pad through iChat with the addition of the camera.  The microphone and speakers are already there.

Tethering would of been nice for the iPad, however I'm not going to get too cut up about that, what I am going to get a little bit annoyed about is the fact that it is being branded the new way to watch films.  The screen resolution is 1024x768, which puts the aspect ratio at 4:3 which is pretty much what your old CRT monitor was (this isn't much of a complaint, just a statement of fact).  A typical film is filmed in widescreen, which will have an aspect ratio of either 16:9 or 2.35:1.  What this means is that when watching a film you will get black tram lines on the top and bottom of your film, roughly half of the screen will be given over to these black bars when watching films.



Concluding

What am I concluding? Firstly I think that the iPad is a great first step, in the same way that the first iMac was a first great step, the first iPod was a first great step, the first iPhone was a great first step, however all these first steps have all been revised and improved, to products that are just getting better and better.  I think that the iMac is there, the iPod was there (they started adding cameras, seriously why?) and the iPhone is so close.

The iPad has jumped straight to where the iPhone is, it is so close to being right, of the list of things that need improvement it is only the 3G price, lack of multitasking and lack of flash that really put me off the device.  If Apple gets those sorted in iPad 2G then I think I will be sold on it.

That is enough of my thoughts, what do you think of it? You can watch the unveiling of the iPad at the Apple Keynote event, or just read the details at apple.com/ipad, also Funny or Die's take on the iPad is worth a watch too!  Please leave your comments and thoughts below.

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