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Thursday
Feb182010

Is the iPad an iFad?

Apple unveils the iPad in January 2010

So Apple revealed their newest hardware peripheral to the family of Macs and "i" devices, the iPad. I have been very interested on their take of the netbook or tablet pc. You can find the complete technical specs here iPad Tech specs, but here are the major ones:

  • Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)

  • Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)

  • Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)

  • Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology

  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)

  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

  • UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)

  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)

  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

  • Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery

  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

  • Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

  • Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

As usual for Apple products, the device looks gorgeous. They use the same single mold aluminum back casing found on the new macbook lines. The screen is full color with the same capacitive glass screen technology the iPhone/iPod Touch use. There are 2 models- a WiFi only and WiFi/3G. You will be able to purchase a 3G monthly plan from AT&T anytime without a contract, cancelable at anytime and all of this can be done right from the device (pretty sweet). How much is this puppy? Take a gander:

 

Another question my post could have asked was: "Who is mad at the iPad?" There has been a huge backlash against the device and the lack of its capabilities as a full fledged computer. Most of the backlash has come from the tech world, Geeks like myself. Though I am not in that camp- I see their point. I don't think they see Apples- or really care to.

I made the same mistake myself years ago when Nintendo announced their Wii product. I thought- it ain't gonna sell. My prediction of a device being bought my parents and grandparents, only to be used on family nights like a board game were mostly true. The detail I missed was the massive amounts of those units they would sell to the audience they built this thing for, the casual audience. Their bet was spot on selling 67.4 million units worldwide to date. Why is that? Was it the new motion controller? The Nintendo Brand? Mario?

It was all of these things and a very concise and clear marketing direction. They knew who to sell this to- not the hard core gamer (who my feet are firmly planted with), but to all the non-gamers out there. You know, the rest of the world. The Wii could not measure up with the Xbox 360 or PS3 in terms of hardware or video output, but it was not the concern of Mom's across the nation or Nintendo. People understood how to wave the Wiimote and point it at the tv and press a big button. Nintendo removed the difficulty found in today's controllers and packaged it in family friendly attire.

Switch to Apple who is following in Nintendo's footprints. Now I am not saying that the iPad is introducing a new revolutionary way to interact with a computer- ala the Wiimote. I am saying the iPad doesn't need to do that- the iPhone already did it. Apples major revolution is the iPhone OS, their multi-touch technology. Tap an icon and the program opens up. No real setup, no compatibility issues- the installation is done when it is downloaded. Very easy for the non-tech saavy. It makes sense that they leverage the innovation they created to build a larger device that can seemingly do everything you want to do with a hand-held device the size of a hardback novel. Surf the web, watch movies, listen to music, check your email, visit Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The biggest geek complaint of the iPad is it is just a big old iPod Touch. I can't argue that point specifically. My question is, what is wrong with that? The iPhone is a very good OS. It has the potential to do many more things than it has been restricted to do. I am not sure if many of my fellow geeks have used a netbook device, but they are no where near the experience you can find on a full fledged laptop or desktop computer. They are slow, not very responsive, they have tiny screens with a Windows OS that just doesn't fit- there is a lot of screen scrolling as you navigate. You won't use these devices to do any "hard core" computing. They are marketed as net devices, or internet devices, that allow a user the freedom to consume media and the internet in a lightweight form factor. You are kidding yourself if you think a netbook is going to allow you to listen to music and Photoshop photos, check your emails and create a PowerPoint presentation all at the same time. The thing will screech to a halt.

But that's where we circle back to the iPad. It is a simple device that will allow you to consume media. There is a misnomer many websites and tech folks have been throwing about and that is that the iPhone and iPod Touch can't mutlitask. That is not true- they very much can. It was Apple's decision to restirct all mutlitasking to just their apps and not third party ones. Apps like the music player and mail client all run in the background. The reason cited was for battery life. Whatever the reason, know that Apple simply could allow mutlitasking through a software update. It makes sense to have that on the iPad and I am fairly certain it will happen. My guess is that they will allow the user to set what apps run in the background in the settings area, a sort of toggle for those apps.

This article will not convince my geek bretheren to buy this device (though I believe many will despite what they say), I just wanted to add a bit of perspective. I was over my sisters house and my niece (who is 29) asked me about the iPad. She wanted one really bad. She got an iPhone, after she saw my first gen one. She has a netbook for checking her emails, YouTubing and Facebook. She was excited about it- was putting away money to get one in March. I was surprised she even knew about it. Then her sister said she would like one and my sister chimed up that she wanted one. We geeks have our desktop computers, laptops, iPods, phones and a bevvy of gadgets we either need or just plain desire. This is just another device that may fit in with some of those devices. But for my niece- the iPad is all she needs.

**I certainly can see myself with this device. I also see Apple expanding the capabilities of the OS to allow more flexibility to do much more than it can do in the next year. I guarantee that it will have some bells and whistles not shown when it releases. Apple was never going to please everyone with the iPad- expectaons were to high. I always said that if my iPhone could be doubled in size it would be great. Steve heard me but more than quadrupled my wish. The iPad will be an interesting device to see after 1 year.

L8r

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