The Apple IPad tries to be a bit of everything, which is why we also regard it as an E-Reader, even though of course it is much more than that. Depending on where you stand in your opinion about Apple you were either counting the days to the official announcement OR you were tired of the hype about yet another Apple product, however one thing you cannot deny is the fact that the Ipad is just beautiful to look at.
However (And this is the first however, followed by some more below), as it tries to be everything at the same time, it is not really good in anything. As an E-Reader, to stay on the topic of this size, it is simply to heavy to give you a comfortable reading experience, and therefore it immediately looses against the Kindle in our opinion. But here is a review, mostly from engadget, who had a hands-on opportunity right after the presentation:
By now you’ve probably read more on Apple’s iPad then you ever dreamed possible. In the last few days we’ve covered a lot of angles on the tablet and compiled a lot of data. Still, we felt that we hadn’t given you clear hands-on impressions and collected the myriad details about the device in one, easy-to-reach place. So we’ve decided to bundle all of that info into a single feature, joining our first-hand encounters with the iPad together with all of the data and details you should be aware of — including specs, plans, release schedules, pics, and video. So read on for everything we know (so far) about Cupertino’s first tablet!
The iPad is a beast of a machine, so here’s a rundown of what makes up Apple’s latest and greatest.
•CPU: Apple’s custom 1GHz A4 SOC, manufactured by Samsung. And we can tell you, it’s blazingly fast.
•Display: 9.7-inch, 1024 x 786 (132 PPI), LED backlit IPS with capacitive touch and oleophobic coating.
•Storage: The iPad will come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variations.
•RAM: No word on this from Apple (just like with the iPhone and iPod touch). We assume it’s more than the iPhone 3GS’s 256MB, but we won’t know for sure till we see a full breakdown.
•Wireless: The devices comes standard with 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1. You can also purchase a version which has 3G connectivity (UMTS / HSDPA 850, 1900, 2100MHz and GSM / EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz). Sorry everyone, AT&T only here in the US — and if you’re thinking about using your iPhone SIM, think again. The iPad uses new micro SIMs.
•Other sensors: The iPad has a digital compass, there’s AGPS on-board in the 3G version, and both versions have an accelerometer and ambient light sensor.
•Ports / input / output: Headphone jack, 30-pin dock connector, built-in microphone, built-in speaker.
•Battery life: Apple claims “up to” 10 hours web surfing on WiFi, listening to music, or watching video, and over a month on standby.
•Dimensions: height: 9.56-inches, width: 7.47-inches, depth: 0.5-inches, weight: 1.5 pounds (1.6 for the 3G model).
In case you can’t tell by looking at the thing, the iPad does — indeed — resemble a large iPhone (actually, more like an iPod touch). The front of the device is a large, smooth piece of glass with no buttons save for the familiar “home” button in a bottom center location. The 9.7-inch display is surrounded by thick black bezel. Around back the look is familiar as well, something of a cross between the back of a 3GS and a MacBook Air — smooth aluminum which slightly curves and tapers along the sides. On the top of the iPad there’s a power / sleep button on the right and a headphone jack on the left, while along the right side you’ve got a volume rocker and sound kill switch. On the bottom of the pad is a 30-pin dock connector jack and speaker vents.
The iPad is running a modified version of the iPhone OS (3.2 at this point), which has some new user interface additions (and allows apps to be coded for that bigger screen). The biggest changes to the software come in the form of new contextual drop-down menus in applications, split screen app display (as we saw in the mail application), and modal pop-overs (little windows that snap up over your current work area — as seen in the iTunes store). Specific changes to applications are abundant, as pretty much every installed app has been upgraded and recoded for the larger screen, including mail, calendar, Mobile Safari, the iTunes and App Stores, photos, YouTube, and more. There are also two new apps: iBooks, an e-reader application, and its accompanying store, which lets you download books right to the device. The store interfaces are much more robust than their iPhone counterparts, now feeling more closely related to the desktop versions. Interestingly, Apple didn’t include its stock or weather applications on the demo units we saw, and they’re not present on the official site.
There’s no phone or SMS functionality on this device, and no iChat, though the iPad can run “almost” (Steve’s words) all of the 140,000 apps made for the iPhone and iPod touch. It does this in two ways; the first is by running a regular sized version of the app in the center of the screen, and the second way is by scaling up the application so it fills the screen. The effect looks good on games, though seems a little silly on applications such as Facebook.
The iPad has a new keyboard that spans the length of the device (both in landscape and portrait) which looks similar to a standard QWERTY keyboard, and it also has a number of contextual keyboards which pop up for different uses (such as a data entry, where you want a numeric keypad).
If you’re wondering about notifications, we have yet to see how they work. Whether or not they’ll be pop-ups as on the iPhone remains to be seen. Other non-changes include multitasking, meaning… multitasking is also out as of now. You can only run one app at a time here (though like the iPhone, we assume Apple will make allowances for iPod functionality, Safari, and mail).
If you’re thinking that using the iPad is a lot like getting around on an iPhone, you’re dead right — and that’s by design. Apple clearly wants users to have a painless transition from their smaller devices to this — Steve even said as much during the launch. The experience is almost identical, save for a few places where Apple has extended or tweaked functionality to utilize the expansive screen space. In general, getting around is what you expect — lots of icons in a grid on the homescreens. No widgets here, no extra data, no real additions at a glance. Moving into and out of apps is the same single press experience. Even the lock screen is identical (though it does include a button for starting up a slideshow of pics — yay!).
It’s the apps that are really different. For instance, in mail you now have a view of your message list and your current email in one look — if you switch to portrait, you get just a message view with a drop down menu for your list. The calendar app is completely different, coming off more like a date book than just a grid of days or list. We didn’t get a lot of time to play with it, but it looks far more robust than its iPhone counterpart. Apple’s new ebook app — iBooks — is one of the more visually impressive pieces of software on the device, giving you handsomely animated page turns, along with display settings and search functionally accessible through a contextual menu. The iBooks app also uses a handsome (though awfully familiar) bookshelf motif which allows you to navigate your collection.
The App Store
As we said before, the Store apps now share more functionality with their desktop big brothers. When you’re looking at music or apps, you can call up a pop-over display that gives you a snapshot of info. It’s a great UI change that we hope makes it to some iPhone apps. Instead of the common in-one-screen-out-to-another use that you’re familiar with, this provides a much more contextual and speedy solution.
Applications like Safari and maps utilize the previously mentioned drop-down menus, but also take advantage of Apple’s pinch zooming functionality. Obviously getting around in these two applications will feel very familiar, but it should be noted that Apple hasn’t really added any additional gestures, such as being able to rotate the map you’re looking at (something we’ve seen on the Surface, and seems to make sense here). Safari works just as you’d expect it, even the tabs are handled with separate “cards,” though it does add drop-downs for the bookmarks and share options. Oh, and another thing about Safari — there’s still no Flash support here, so if you were expecting to enjoy your favorite NBC programs or watch HD Vimeo content while lounging around your apartment, you’re out of luck.
Typing on the iPad can be a little difficult. Holding it in your lap is fairly easy, but as you can see in our video up above, when it’s flat on its back on a table, it tends to move around a bit given that it’s curved. If you’re holding the device in portrait mode, it’s possible (though not that easy) to type with your thumbs, but you’re more likely to be hunting and pecking with a single hand (unless you have some large paws). Luckily, when it comes to holding it, Apple provides that large bezel around the side, so you’re not actually touching the screen when you’re gripping it. If you’re interested in handwriting recognition or stylus input — you’re out of luck. From what we can tell there’s no handwriting recognition here besides the Asian character input, and Apple certainly isn’t selling a stylus accessory for this device. The company seems to be sure that the way to go with the iPad is keyboard-only input. Hell, they’ll even sell you an external keyboard!
Overall, this isn’t a sea-change experience. If you know the iPhone and iPod touch, you know this device… and that’s how Apple wants it. However, we’re not ruling out the possibility that between now and the launch date Apple won’t include some new functionality with this thing — as said earlier, the weather and stock apps are conspicuously missing, which gives rise to the possibility that Apple may have a widget concept in mind here. We’re hoping the company decides to expand on some of this at least — particularly when it comes to running more than one app at a time, because we don’t think the use cases shown off are super compelling for most users at this point.
Here’s the breakdown for cost on the hardware alone:
•WiFi, 16GB: $499
•WiFi, 32GB: $599
•WiFi, 64GB: $699
•3G, WiFi, 16GB: $629
•3G, WiFi, 32GB: $729
•3G, WiFi, 64GB: $829
We only spent a small amount of time with the device, and we’re not nearly ready to draw any final conclusions about this thing. There is clearly huge potential for the iPad, but Apple has also made some glaring omissions with the software (and at least one with the hardware). The lack of multitasking, and the unimaginative use of all that screen real estate within the OS is disappointing and raises questions about how useful this will be as a stand in for something like a netbook (a comparison Jobs was happy to make). Overall, while the UI changes are nice and clearly the iPhone OS scales well, there seems to be a lack of maturity and imagination in the OS — one that could make lots of users question the device’s utility. On the hardware front, the missed opportunity of a webcam for things like video calls seems like a real hit here — what better way to speak face-to-face with someone than with a device like this in your hands?
Those issues aside, the combination of beautiful hardware and elegant software is undeniable, and what Apple may have lacked in imagination, the legion of iPhone developers certainly will not. The possibilities for this device are huge, and we have no doubt that devs around the globe will take full advantage of that — just as they have on the iPhone and iPod touch. We also won’t rule out the possibility that Apple itself isn’t done tinkering here; there could very well be surprises lying in store for us before that launch date arrives. A two month window is no small matter. Regardless, it’s clear that Apple has taken the ball and is running with it when it comes to touch based computing — the only question is whether they can barrel this thing into the endzone.