Let’s face it, you knew it was coming. Apple finally releases a tablet, I’m going to have to post about it.
Depending on who you ask, the iPad is either a grand gift to us mortals from Steve Jobs or complete rubbish, now I’d argue it’s neither. Step back for a second and think about it objectively.
[ The Basics ]
While nowhere near perfect, the iPad is a step in the right direction. Apple has gone about developing a tablet in the right manor at least, they’ve designed an OS with the primary focus of using touch input, too often you see a tablet running the same software as every other computer, this just doesn’t work. Trying to tap little icons and file menus is not a convenient way to use your computer.
The idea isn’t new in and of itself and Apple certainly wasn’t the first to figure this out, the problem with all the other attempts is that they were custom UI applications that ran on top of Windows, so they didn’t deliver anywhere close to a the expected functionality.
Side note: In a sense this still holds true for the iPad, since it is limited in what it can do, you’re not getting the full computer functionality. But at least this is masked by a flashy new user experience, which works.
[ The Oversights ]
Lack of multitasking is almost a death blow by itself (but it’s fixable via jailbreak or software update if Apple chooses). Think about it, would you buy a brand new shiny computer if it advertised that you could only run one program at a time?
Not one USB port. Remember that whole thing where Jobs was saying how this is the perfect device to enjoy your media with? Well, geez, sure wish I had a USB part so I could copy media that didn’t originate from iTunes. And no, I do not accept the Camera Connection Kit as a solution, I shouldn’t have to pay more money just to copy my files to the iPad without using another computer.
No Flash support. Sadly Flash is, in my mind at least, a necessary evil. At least until Hulu moves to HTML 5 + H.264 (fingers crossed).
Network streaming support. I’d really love to see iTunes support media servers (for video streaming) on the iPad, while not a make or break feature, it would be nice.
Home screen widgets. Seriously, have you seen how much wasted space there is on the “slide to unlock” screen? I’d ship a few widgets with it, upcoming calendar events, recent emails, weather, maybe RSS feed support.
[ The Brilliance ]
While I disagree with Ives statement that the iPad is magical, it does hold the potential to redefine the casual users interaction with technology. The promise of being able to roll out of bed (or not) and check your email without waiting for a computer to boot up is rather appealing. Especially when that’s all you need to do.
Portability meets versatility. Depending on your needs, the iPad presents a cheaper way of staying connected. I have clients who pay for internet access and have a desktop just to check their email and browse the web. With built-in 3G for $14.99-$29.99 a month and the added convenience of being able to take it anywhere, it might catch on.
Battery life. 10hrs of video is pretty slick, especially with a 9.7″ screen. The standby time of 1 month isn’t shabby at all. I’m considering turning one into a carputer, no boot time thanks to that 1 month standby time, hooked into a DC charger to keep things rolling while in motion. Tempting me thinks.
[ The Bottom Line ]
While not for everyone, you can’t deny that for a new product release it has its merits. And I do believe that future versions (both software and hardware) will lead to a much more useful platform.
In the interim we’ll likely have to rely on the ingenuity of jailbreakers to provide some of the missing features, good news is that Backgrounder has already been ported to the iPad (mind you just the simulated software version).
My biggest concern is how long it took Apple to push major software updates for the original iPhone, hopefully they don’t make the same mistake with the iPad. In my mind, this is of the utmost importance, since Apple currently has a solid advantage over the competition which they might lose it rather quickly if they don’t address some of the iPad’s shortcomings.
Whenever they become available I plan on picking up a couple of them, after which I’ll post an update to this post and a full review. Who knows, maybe I’ll hate it,