My take on the iPad

Apple iPad

It’s been a day since live tweeted the Apple iPad announcement, and there’s been a tsunami of discussion on the intertubes ever since, a lot of it negative.

I think these naysayers (mostly tech people) are missing the point. Sure, in the absolute the iPad is basically a larger iPod touch with optional 3G. What’s the big deal? I think it’s greater than the sum of its parts, like many other Apple products…

Overall, the iPad announcement met my expectations. I have some concerns and reservations (see below), but how could anyone not be excited about a 1/2″ thick, 1.5 lbs computer with a 9.7″ capacitive touchscreen? This is Star Trek grade tech come to life :)

First, let’s look at the hardware. As an engineer I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off a device like this – not for $500!

There’s never been anything this thin with a color screen that size (at least not self-contained or self-powered). There’s never been a capacitive touchscreen this large yet this precise. Not to mention, only a handful of manufacturers have the expertise to custom design a processor.

Then there’s Apple’s legendary industrial design. Those who have used the iPad report that it looks and feels fantastic. That’s no surprise, really – it’s all glass and aluminum! But what other hardware in this price range match this level of crafsmanship? Maybe some phones.

Second, let’s look at the software. For both users and developers it’s an easy platform to jump into since it’s based on the iPhone OS.

But after watching the video of the event, I think something’s missing. The software looks unfinished to me, and I write code for living. It feels like Apple avoided showing some things, like notifications.

I think there’s more to it, and I’m not the only one. Maybe multitasking is still in the cards? As for the lack of Flash, I’m not surprised – it’s both a blessing and a curse…

Third, let’s look at the optional 3G. It’s not been mentioned much, but it’s probably the most disruptive aspect of the iPad.

The device’s 3G radio is unlocked – hurray :) Of course, it uses a 3FF SIM instead of a regular SIM, but it’s easy to cut a regular SIM down to 3FF SIM size and use an adapter to go back and forth.

AT&T’s unlimited data plan for the iPad is $30 per month, and is contract free. That’s very reasonable pricing, and frankly rather unexpected. Sure, AT&T’s not ideal, but it’s nice to see Apple sticking to GSM.

To wrap it up here’s my score sheet.

Pluses:
– Affordable
– Thin & light
– Über sexy
– Glass & aluminum
– Gorgeous IPS capacitive touchscreen
– Super fast
– Good battery life
– Runs iPhone OS and apps
– No Flash
– WiFi a/b/g/n
– Bluetooth with keyboard support
– Unlocked 3G radio
– GPS on 3G radio

Minuses:
– No multitasking?
– No notifications?
– No widgets on the home screen
– No Flash
– No webcam
– Mono speaker
– No USB port for peripherals
– No SD card slot
– 3FF SIM instead of regular SIM

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30 Responses to My take on the iPad

  1. jrtokarz says:

    “First, let’s look at the hardware. As an engineer I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off a device like this – not for $500!”

    What about the JooJoo?

  2. It doesn’t support Flash like the iPhone.

    That’s a major disadvantage imo since the screensize would be able to allow a decent browsing experience.

    And it’s closed for apps that won’t be approved by Apple I guess…I hate to be forced to draw between the lines. :/

    Greets

  3. Tina Holmboe says:

    Well … one COULD not be excited ’cause it’s about 5″ BIGGER than a paperback and has very low DPI, so as an e-book reader it, well, isn’t very exciting …

    It has a capacitive screen with poor resolution so I can’t use it as a portable drawing board without an extra, special, stylus or resorting to fingerpainting, and – depending on who deliver the software – I can’t chat, surf and listen to music at the same time.

    Now, it CAN play HD, but only by scaling it to roughly NTSC size since, again, the resolution is poorly chosen.

    Yup. I can definetly manage not to be excited :) But perhaps others will find it useful; it fills no slot in my life tho.

    I could imagine SO many neat uses. But it isn’t up to the ones I’d like to use it for. Alas.

    • tnkgrl says:

      Initial reports from people who played with it indicate that despite the 1024×768 resolution, font rendering is extremely good.

      Also, keep in mind that the Kindle 6″ screen is only 800×600.

      • Tina Holmboe says:

        I’m sure that’s correct, but it is still only around 132 dpi. The N900, which I do believe you’ve had a chance to play with :), is at 266 dpi and far easier to carry.

        As an e-book reader I’m putting my money with the N900, to be honest.

        It seems to me that the iPad is a good, if not new, idea half baked … alas.

    • tnkgrl says:

      I think it’s going to be extremely successful exactly because it’s *not* designed for tech savvy people like you and me…

      As for screen density, it’s not that big a deal to me. Frankly, I’m looking forward to a device with a larger screen for a change!

      Even corrected, my eyes are not great, and I struggle with smaller higher density screens. There are many people like me out there!

      I prefer the screen on my Nexus One to the screen on my N900 because of its larger size, and despite the lower pixel density.

  4. mikecane says:

    Yes, I said the iPad is unfinished too:

    http://ebooktest.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/the-unfinished-ipad/

    And I think I know what’s missing:

    http://ebooktest.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/ipad-the-missing-heart-of-it/

    Yours is an excellent writeup! You appreciate it!

  5. [...] tnkgrl Says! My take on the iPad First, let’s look at the hardware. As an engineer I don’t think anyone else could have pulled [...]

  6. Patrick says:

    Weigh??

    3G version is almost 800 grams!! That is not far away from a notebook weight.. Still we need to see how other manufacturers will tackle the weight point in their tablets.

    • tnkgrl says:

      Then again, how many netbooks do you know are made of glass and aluminum? Have you ever looked at Apple’s craftsmanship?

      Even the Nokia Booklet 3G (glass and aluminum) is not as well made, and its heavier.

      • Patrick says:

        That’s true. Hmm Kindle DX is also 540 grams, it is in acceptable margins but it has lesser battery and no capacitive screen. Archos 9 has 800 grams without 3G but it has classical hard disk and resistive screen. Stays to see who will (and if it will anyone) approach 500 gram mark on a 10″ tablet device..

      • Patrick says:

        Sony Vaio X made of mainly carbon fiber has 700 grams, it’s a netbook and has a 11″ screen.. costs US$1300. I think i would pay premium for ultra light tablet.

  7. Ridley says:

    I just don’t get what it’s for. What gadget of mine does it replace?

    It’s not as good an ereader as the Kindle, since it’s so heavy and the books are expensive, it’s not powerful enough to replace my netbook, since it can’t multi-task or run flash and it’d be awkward to type on for very long, it’s too big for an iPod replacement.

    Why would I buy it if I still need to own an iPod, phone, netbook and dedicated ereader separately? Just to have it, since it’s nifty? $499 is a lot of money for a whim in this economy.

  8. Dennisvjames says:

    I have an older Motion 1600 sitting next to my spot on the couch. My wife will look at me and say, “Look in the ‘magic box’ and see who that actor is.” Or sometimes I get bored watching the Dog Whisperer and I surf. I take notes and sometimes just sit out on the porch and do some creative thinking. My Motion is 3 pounds which you might think isn’t much but it gets heavy after a while. The iPad could do the same stuff pretty well. While I would prefer a not-backlit screen to read books in bed(and not bother my wife) I would sorely miss OneNote, I think this might just be right for a lot of other casual Webbing around. Is it worth $500 to $800 to do this? That’s another question to answer another day. Let’s see what the reviewers say before we call it sinner or saint.

    :-)

  9. Bill says:

    Whats interesting is that people say its just a big ipod touch and I say exactly! Bigger screen = more information = different usage. Its like saying that a top of a line Desktop computer is just a big netbook. I think it hit home when i saw during the keynote the MLB app where they showed video with stats scrolling across the screen I was like Thats alot of info. And also when Schiller was demo’ing iWorks, you can’t do that on an ipod touch.

  10. Sri Lankan at the Stanford GSB says:

    My thoughts exactly, I think the pricing and form factor is really what could make this a new class of device, and of course the fact that all of the iphone app developers are already up to speed with ipad development (essentially the same sdk).

    http://srilankangsb.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/apple-unveils-ipad-aggressive-pricing-sleek-design-and-multimedia-focus/

  11. medah4rick says:

    Are u that certain that u can swap the sim from the ipad and get an adapter and use 3g on other devices? Where can i find these adapters?

  12. Joel says:

    Excellent review. As a fellow techie though I suggest that many people are missing the point. This isn’t a techie device.

    My humble perspective:

    http://maineboatman.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/the-ipad-isnt-what-you-think-it-is/

  13. Lots of of bloggers not very happy with this new iPad.There was 2 much hoopla about it and alot people got disapointed.You see, I can actually see lots of the cool potential uses of this gadget. Third-party apps for playing tunes, games, newsprints and magazine and FFS books, all kinds of cool stuff, but they just didn’t really sell it properly (excluding the books). It smells sort of undercooked

  14. [...] others: My take on the iPad Left Out A New Angle on the iPad Why the iPad Matters Future Shock Same Ol’ Same Ol’… [...]

  15. AnTiPODows says:

    realistically it appears that apple is loosing their design magic in favor of hyped marketing. While they still have the opportunity to get into the netbook market, they were a little late to make the same revered impact that the ipod/iphone did. This is a last minute attempt to keep R&D low (by employing the same OS as the iphone) and still attempt to enter the UMPC market at the wrong time. Making it look nice and lightweight is a sad entry towards a niche UMPC market that is already dominated by faster, lower-priced, 3G ready, and multi-task capable netbooks. Sorry apple, but it’s time to get the Samsung Marketing team back on.

    • tnkgrl says:

      That’s a very shortsighted point of view…

      As I mentioned in my post, nobody else but Apple can pull off such a neatly integrated package at this price point.

      Whether the tech pundits like it or not, leveraging the iPhone software for the iPad was a very smart move, and the hardware is first class.

      No netbook comes close in terms of UX!

      Apple is planning long term with the iPad, and I think it’s going to be a hit with the normobs.

  16. [...] week we discussed Mobile World Congress (Windows Phone 7 Series & MeeGo), the Apple iPad, the Motorola Devour, and the LG [...]

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