JANUARY 27, 2010

Apple introduced the iPad, my take

Today marks a new era in computing as Apple introduced its new iPad, a real tablet computer starting at $499, that falls between a MacBook and an iPod Touch with a special 9.7" multitouch screen and running a new version of the iPhone OS. The Wi-Fi-only models ($499-699) will ship in late March and the 3G models ($629-829) will ship in April. The 3G capability requires a data plan at additional cost.

Looking at it I can't help thinking back to Dale Baggett's and my speculative predictions about the then upcoming new iMac following the lamp-style one. We basically said the new iMac should be a smart screen that could be carried about but we were way ahead of the times. The new iPad is it, only untethered to a base (we said put the iMac's "guts" in the keyboard as a base) by Wi-Fi and with multitouch capabilities and other current technology.

The iPad is 7.47" by 9.56" and a half-inch thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds for the Wi-Fi-only model and 1.6 pounds for the 3G model. It has a 9.7" LED-backlit glossy screen with 1024x768 resolution at 132 pixels per inch and what Apple calls IPS technology. It comes with n-speed Wi-Fi (yay!), optionally 3G cell phone networking for $130, Bluetooth 2.1, a SIM card slot (3G models), GPS (3G models), accelerometers, microphone, speaker, headphone jack, 30-pin dock connector, a 10W AC adaptor and a fantastic 10-hour battery that lets you watch video the entire way from San Francisco to Tokyo! It runs off an Apple A4 1GHz processor, the fruit of an earlier Apple purchase, and has 16-64GB of flash memory depending on which model one buys. Of course, it also meets Apple's green environmental standards.

Extra cost accessories include a standalone dock, a keyboard dock, a camera connection kit and an iPad case that acts like a stand. Apple's wireless keyboard works with the iPad.

All 140,000 iPhone Apps run on the iPad right out of the box, either iPhone size or full screen by doubling up on the pixels. Developers can use a new kit to re-tune their apps for the bigger screen and iPad capabilities if they want and most will, of course.

There's a new app called iBook (its baaaack!) and the iBook Store, the iPad's answer to Amazon's Kindle. It directly accesses books online from the five largest publishers for $8-15 or so.

Apple has produced iWork for iPad with special editions of Keynote, Numbers and Pages for $9.99 each so the iPad can do real work with its on-screen keyboard just like a MacBook.

The iPad is really cool. The key question to me is can it replace my MacBook Air? I've got to think about it for awhile but right now it looks like it could. [Update: It's looking less likely after a little more research and thought. There's no video camera for iChat's. Photoshop for iPhone may work for modifying images on the iPad but that will have to be tested first hand. The probable killer so far is that the iPad does not have Microsoft Exchange support, something the iPhone has and I need. [Update 2--Yes, the iPad has Microsoft Exchange support equivalent to the iPhone!] It is only a probable killer because of the iPhone's capability so I'll have to get my hands on the iPad to see as there are somewhat inconvenient workarounds such as email forwarding in Outlook.] [Bill Fox]

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