Thursday, April 8, 2010

The iPad is Finally Here!

It’s finally here. After years of rumors, Apple has finally released a tablet form factor device. Steve Jobs called it the device that files the gap between lap tops and phones. The name left many opportunities for crude jokes by late night show host and bloggers alike. The iPad’s name caught a lot of people by surprise. Many were expecting it to be called the iSlate, or even iTablet. Interestingly enough, a quick look at Google Trends shows that the term iPad started being search in strength by last March while “apple tablet” didn’t even make a noticeable mark until two months later.

This may be due to another companies product that has the same name. MagTek’s iPad PIN device seems to dominate the search queries at that point in time. A Chinese company called Shenzhen has even made a product called iPad. Oddly enough, it is a tablet computer that runs a version of Windows 7 that looks very similar to Apple’s iPad. They are currently deciding whether or not to pursue legal action against Apple for trademark infringement.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the iPad before it came out. So many rumors surrounded the device that it was hard to keep them all straight. Some said it would run OS X. other credible sources reported it would be released during the second quarter. From OS specs, to case quality, there was no shortage of rumors spread all throughout the spectrum. Many suspect that Apple did this intentionally just to see were all these leaks were coming from. Regardless of whether not these sources were actually credible or made up by some guy in his mom’s basement, there

Now that it’s finally here, all the rumors may be put to rest. The iPad is a 1.6 pound unit with a 9.7 inch LED screen coming in at a resolution of 1024 by768. It packs a custom silicon 1GHz Apple A4 and has a built in 16, 32, or 64 GB flash drive depending on the model. The base unit has wifi, and maybe 3G, depending on the thickness of your wallet. Prices range from $499 to $829 depending on the feature combinations.

Apple’s website does not list a webcam, but here again rumors abound. Apparently there is room for one within the bezel, but it’s not there yet. Many suspect Apple intends to add this as a last minute surprise feature to surprise customers. Specifically since the new OS supports video calls. This feature seems ridiculously useless unless there’s a webcam.

One of the primary downfalls of the iPad is the fact that it does not support flash. This leaves many features on the web inaccessible to the iPad. And for a device that’s marketed primarily for web browsing, this is a significant hindrance. I find this to be particularly annoying. Flash seems to be bending over backwards with its Open Screen Project to help many device makers to be compatible. They even came out with a youtube video talking about how Google’s Android supports flash and it makes browsing the web more complete. There has been some question as to whether or not this feature will be added later, but I doubt that. After eighteen months of the App Store, if Apple intended to add flash, they would have done it by now. But you never know, they may change their minds in the future.

Another aspect that many people have complained about is the iPad only has a 10 hour battery life. Since it is primarily seen as an eReader, it’s primary competition is Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle’s battery life far surpasses that of the iPad. While you may be able to read your ebook on the iPad during the entire flight from New York City to Tokyo, The Kindle’s battery lasts the better part of a week. Steve’s response to this is, “you won’t be reading for more than ten hours at a time.” That may be true, but as anyone who has an experience with electronic gadgets can tell you, battery life specifications tend to be more fiction than fact in the first place. I wouldn’t be surprised if under normal use iPad’s battery would be closer to six or eight hours.

Personally, I was excited when I hear that the iPad was launched with an entry price of $499. I was ready to go buy one right then. But once I learned what it actually was, I began to have doubts. Had originally expected OS X, or at least a slimmed down version of it. I was looking at it as a way to actually get work done, not just a casual eReader. To me, the iPad is just an overgrown iPod Touch. Even though it may have enormous potential as a way to browse the web, I will be waiting to the Google Chrome OS Tablet.

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