Apple announced their iPad yesterday, a tablet-sized version of the iPhone. Other than the unfortunate name, it is an amazing little device. Considering how quickly we all got over the Nintendo Revolution becoming the “Wii”, I think we’ll forgive Apple soon enough.
If you remember my post Friday, I laid out some of the ways Apple could screw up such a product. I’d like to visit some of those points again and compare how they did.
- I mentioned I was worried they’d try and use parts from the MacBook Air (system board, screen, chassis, battery). Thankfully they didn’t even try. The battery life is supposed to be able to play video for up to 10 hours, and standby is rated to last a month. To be sure, the thing was probably in airplane mode (with all radios turned off) and screen brightness was way down, but it’s still better than the 4 hours I get on my laptop.
- I mentioned the pitfalls Microsoft fell into when moving Windows to the tablet. Apple instead kept the iPhone UI much intact and added some extras here and there.
- I mentioned Apple’s DRM paranoia and inability to allow us to save. With the different paintbrush apps and iWork on the thing, you will certainly be able to save.
I’d like to get into some of the other points, but before I do I want to address some of the utter hate that’s already been spewed around the web about the thing. A lot of it seems to be coming from PC users who are convinced that the iPad is just a bucket of failure. The number one complaint is “Why not just buy a netbook with a full fledged OS, larger drive, and a webcam!”.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat; the netbook concept is crap. If you have one it’s because:
- Your grandkids thought you’d like it, but weren’t sure enough to buy you a full computer.
- You got one for dirt cheap as a deal when you bought a full computer.
- You’re 14 years old. Your parents got tired of you whining for a full computer and thought one of these fangled things would be perfect for back to school. You use it to browse MySpace, Facebook, video chat with girls (with your shirt off), and post how much you hate the iPad on Gizmodo.
For the record, I fall into category #2. I have a Dell Mini9 in my office, and it’s just about worthless.
Remember how I described the problem with really thin laptops? Trying to fit a full computer into such a small package only gets you a really underpowered, overheated toy. The solution is simple; don’t make it a full computer!
The iPad is NOT a computer replacement. It’s a personal computing device. It’s that simple. It’s meant to compliment your main desktop computer. If you can only afford one machine, then by all means get a full computer. But if that’s the case, you sure shouldn’t be getting a netbook either. Get an actual computer!
COULD the iPad use a camera? Maybe. But the honest fact is that no one is really sure exactly how people are planning to really use the thing yet. It’s very likely that a camera will come about in the next generation (once again making the early adopters rather angry).
I’ve already done a bulleted AND numbered list this post, but I sort of have to do one more. I shall now present you with a list of just HOW this thing will change everything about personal computing.
- It’s fast. Sure, 1Ghz doesn’t sound very fast this day in age but let us remember that the iPhone 3Gs runs perfectly fine with it’s 550Mhz CPU and it’s the same OS. This translates into a very snappy experience in programs. Plus, let us not not forget the lessons learned from the Core2Duo; just because it runs slower doesn’t mean it’s not running BETTER.
- It’s a touchscreen! That sounds a little silly, but it’s totally true. If you’ve never used a touchscreen phone, it’s hard to explain just why this is so important. Even now, I’m writing this on a Windows 7 tablet. Using a touchscreen (even in Windows) is just so much faster and intuitive that you never want to go back. Working on any other laptop now is frustrating. Being limited to a touchpad or pointer stick just seems so slow and antiquated.
- Its capabilities are unlimited. Sure, in terms of hardware it has limits. But what you can use the thing for are limited only by what programmers are doing for it. Want it to be an E-Reader? Download the app for it. Want it to be a diagnostic system for your car? Download an app (and maybe buy an adapter). A cookbook? EVERY cookbook? People who have never been in the app store may not fully realize it, but there’s more than just Photo Viewers in there!
- Flash is dying. Want to know how you can view YouTube on an iPhone and in Android? Because YouTube renders its video in h.264 HTML-5, not flash! Sure, most browsers don’t support HTML-5 yet, so YouTube still outputs them through a flash player but it’s only a matter of time. Flash will be dead, and soon. HTML-5 doesn’t hog system resources, your CPU isn’t even touched, streams faster, and is rendered directly in the browser as easily as if it were a jpeg.
- It’s connected. Unlimited data is $29.99 through AT&T and that’s without a contract. If you don’t like AT&T (or their service is spotty in your area), it’s unlocked so you can use it on any carrier. All you need is a micro-SIM and you’re good to go. And to the naysayers out there; you just call your carrier and ask for one, it’s not like only AT&T uses micro-SIM technology. This basically makes the device approachable to people who can’t get or don’t want full contracts through AT&T. All those whiny 14 year olds and broke internet experts should be happy about that, I’d think.
- It’s affordable. I defy you to look at anything else in the computer world that can do what the iPad does for the price it does it. I was excited when I heard about the different features the iPad sported. I just about came out of my chair when the price was announced. $499 is unbelievably cheap for such a device. The young’uns of today probably don’t remember when we would buy our PDAs for $699 and our crap computers for $2500. Putting something like this in the $400-900 price range ensures that it is within reach of the masses. And as Apple has shown with both the iPod and the iPhone, nothing makes you an industry leader more convincingly than by EVERYONE BUYING YOUR PRODUCT!
So, it’s out. It will change how people handle personal computing. Even if other manufacturers somehow make a competitor to the iPad, they will be hard pressed to do it with the same capabilities for the same cost. Now all Apple needs to do is get on board with Microsoft’s “Homegroup” system in Windows 7, and every computer (or pad) in the house can work perfectly together.