So today Apple launched their long expected/anticipated/wanted/drooled over tablet-like device.
[I have to say… gdgt.com’s live coverage was the only live blogger that didn’t time-out on me while I was watching. Gizmodo and Engagdet both went down, possibly because of the larger (?) viewership. Yay for gdgt.com!]
Here are the crucial specs:
- 1/2inch thick
- 9.7in screen (diagonal?)
- IPS based LED backlit screen
- 10 hours battery life
- 802.11 N wifi
- AT&T 3G
- 1Ghz Apple A4 processor
- 16-64GB flash storage
- iPhone OS
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Here’s why we needed it:
There is a niche in between a smartphone like the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, Android, etc and a full fledged laptop. As we move forward, people want and need to be connected to more and be able to do productive (or anti-productive) things while online. So you get a laptop. But even a small laptop isn’t really feasible to carry around *everywhere* you might go and for the most part battery life will prevent you from keeping it on all day.
A smartphone is a decent compromise, especially with the advent of apps where you can do many of the same things but just in a smaller and maybe more limited way. But there is still lots of times where you need to do a bit… more… than you can on a phone. Either because of the speed of the device, the screen size is difficult to work on, or the app interface is otherwise limited.
I’m not sure if netbooks were ever supposed to be a solution. They are really just good for browsing the web and checking email as they are too crippled to do anything really useful (Steve Jobs mentioned as much in his address). The screen resolution (not necessarily the physical screen size) is too small, the processor too slow, the RAM too limited. But they are cheap!
So what is needed is a device that is small enough to carry around everywhere, has connectivity to the internet anywhere you go, big enough to see what you’re doing, enough juice to last throughout the day, and powerful enough to do what you need when you don’t have access to a full-powered laptop or desktop. Oh yeah, and replace at least SOME of the devices you’re already carrying around (phone, mp3 player, camera, laptop, etc).
Here’s why it’s good:
Apple hit the mark on some of the items. It definitely looks like it’s got the horsepower to do what you need as it seemed very responsive while Mr. Jobs was typing away and there were a couple of game demos by EA and some other company that did a first-person shooter. Apple says you can get 10 hours out of it. I’m not so sure it will last 10 hours, but if you can get 6-8 hours that should be enough. The screen is big enough and looks hi-res enough to actually get some work or reading done on it. I’m guesstimating about 1280×720-ish or maybe 1280×1080-ish since it is kinda square shaped and looks closer to 4:3 ratio than a 16:9 or 16:10.
Of course you get all the Apple “coolness” like the sleek look, slim design, light weight, great build quality, tons of accessories, etc. The iPhone OS is a very slick operating system with multi-touch and great usability. One thing Apple always does well is make things easy to use.
The announced plans with AT&T are $14.99 for 250mb or $29.99 for unlimited. I think if you’re going to get this, the $29.99 plan is CLEARLY the way to go. No contract, cancel anytime is superb. Interesting choice that… Because they could have had a subsidized $100-$200 iPad and charged a lot more per month ($50-60 for most data only plans). I guess Apple doesn’t want their iPad buyers tied to AT&T for 2 years. Makes sense to me.
Prices start at $499 for a 16GB wifi only model all the way up to $829 for a 64GB wifi+3G model.
Here’s why it’s bad:
THE NAME. I’ve already seen several references to feminine products.
It isn’t something you can carry everywhere. Unless you stuff it into your man-bag. But any man-bag big enough to carry this would also carry a small laptop (hello MacBook Air?). So the competition for this then is a laptop. Does this do full-fledged laptop programs? Not that i can see. Looks like apps and browser based stuff only since it seems to be running a stock iPhone OS. And it doesn’t replace your phone unless you’re going to use something like Skype or Google voice… both of which I think AT&T would frown at having them taking up bandwidth (ahem which they don’t have) on their network. So… it doesn’t replace either your laptop or your phone.
As Jeff Atwood said on twitter “enjoy your EXTRA BIG ASS IPHONE! Would you like another EXTRA BIG ASS IPHONE?! http://goo.gl/BVuY” (note the idiocracy reference). It isn’t even an EXTRA BIG ASS IPHONE, it’s more like an EXTRA BIG ASS ITOUCH since it has no phone. I think it’s more like what a netbook *should* be… and add multi-touch.
Jeff Somogyi from dealnews tweets: “Y’know, I’m not sure anyone should want / need to do the company payroll spreadsheet while on the bus…” I can see where you might want to… but it’s funny nonetheless.
The interface that isn’t multi-touch is clearly going to be a love/hate thing. It’s small enough where you want to hold it with one hand (especially if you’re mobile) but then you’d be typing onscreen with one finger in the hunt-and-peck method. If you put it on your lap or a table then it’s kinda small (like a netbook) to type on.
No multi-tasking. On a system physically this big , and something your actually supposed to be able to “work” on, not being able to multi-task is a huge disappointment. I put this up there with a lack of copy&paste on the original iPhone/iTouch.
No camera! Another shocker. If you had done a video with some CEO sitting on the beach while on a video conference call you would sell millions (not that they won’t anyway). Add multitasking to the mix and you could be checking email and opening a report somebody sent you while talking to them FROM THE BEACH. But you can’t. Because there is no camera, you can’t multi-task and most importantly you won’t get a signal from AT&T.
AT&T… again. I’m more than a little surprised they are sticking with AT&T. AT&T can’t handle the iPhone users currently on the network. And now they want to add bajillions of people with data only connections for $15-30/month? Oh, and that “unlimited” plan? Is it REALLY unlimited? or their normal unlimited which has a 5GB cap? I see an epic FAIL on the horizon.
iTunes. Ew. ‘Nuff said there.
iBooks. I like the idea of reading books on a device this size. However, I can’t say it’s “better” than the Kindle/Nook eInk solution (as Jobs insinuated) since an active screen is MUCH harder on the eyes. And the bookshelf, looking like a real bookshelf? Really? Are we ten years old? Not want.
What are people saying?
Gizmodo has “Apple iPad: Everything You Need to Know”
Engadget has “Apple iPad first hands-on!”
Apple’s iPad site
TechCrunch has “The iPad: our take”
CNet has “Apple’s iPad: What you need to know”
So what’s the bottom line?
Let’s face it. Apple fanboys are going to buy this regardless. Lots of other people are going to buy it because it’s cool looking and they want the latest. Some other people are going to buy it because they have no idea what it is but Apple made it so it must be good.
But i really am not sure I see the point. Unless I’m missing something, you can only run iPhone apps on it, so if you already have an iPhone or iTouch it’s just the same… only with a bigger screen.
I expect Apple to make a(nother) fortune selling these things.
Are you going to get one?