Apple displayed its “latest creation” at the much talked about “event” yesterday. The device dubbed iPad (wonder which genius came up with that name), is basically a very large iPhone, without the phone of course. The device sports a 9.7” display capable of displaying a resolution of 1024X768-pixels. It’s got most of the iPhone’s features like capacitive multitouch, accelerometer, compass, flash memory storage as well as a speaker and a microphone. It supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G (3G plans from Apple’s beloved AT&T). Under the hood, it runs on a new custom, 1 GHz processor (the A4) that Apple developed and has a rated battery life of 10 hours with a standby time of about a month. And the non 3G version starts at $500. So with that price point it seems like a sweet deal.

Here’s my take on the device – Appearances aren’t everything!! And everything seems wrong with it. I really don’t know where to begin, but I guess let’s start with the name. I pretty sure Apple has a lot of marketing whiz kids drawing six figure salaries and all they could come up with, is iPad? I think the alternatives tossed around like iSlate and iTab actually sounded better than iPad. iPad sounds more like a product line of sanitary napkins than a premium tablet computer.

Next up is the design. I have always admired Apple for the sleek, almost minimalistic design of its products. However, with so many design gurus at Apple, is this the best that they could come up with? The early mockup renders of the device actually looked better than the final product in my opinion.

But let’s not be too harsh and judge a book by its cover. Going a bit further, I am really surprised that Apple chose to use the iPhone OS without any upgrades. I mean you spend so much money on the device and then what are you reduced to – using one application at a time? Lack of multi-tasking is a serious drawback on a device like this one.

Jobs, in his presentation, claimed that the device would offer the best browsing experience ever experienced. Without Flash? Considering the widespread prevalence of Adobe Flash on the net, especially for streaming video on YouTube and several other websites, one wonders what kind of online experience you would have on the device.

The device also provides maps. But without GPS, using maps on the mobile device is practically pointless. Sure, you could “multi-touch gesture” your way to finding your current location, but what’s the use? I mean if you knew where you were in the first place, you wouldn’t really need a map now would you?

I can go on and on with stuff like a not-so-great virtual keyboard, lack of camera (would be great to use as a webcam) etc. (Did I mention it’s got no USB??) I think its biggest drawback is that it does no one thing properly. It messes up by trying to be all things to all people.

If you are a die-hard gamer (as opposed to a casual one) you are probably better off with a console or a handheld like the PSP or Nintendo than the iPad. I have no idea as to how multi-touch is going to replace a lot of complicated key combinations that today’s bestselling games use. So until there is some sort of revolutionary breakthrough, if you want to play the latest First Person Shooter, maybe the iPad isn’t for you. (Just realized though that multi-touch might do wonders for real-time strategy games)

If you want to surf the web and consume rich content like streaming video, lack of flash is going to seriously kill your online experience. Also you won’t be able to multi-task on the iPad, running e-mail, chat and maybe a twitter client along with your favorite music, as you surf. And wait, it just supports Apple’s video formats. So want to play all your media in other formats on the device? Forget about it, buddy! Not without converting it first. I guess you are probably better off with the laptop or netbook that you, in all likelihood, already have.

If you are a die-hard reader, reading more than a book a month, you are probably better off with an e-book reader that uses e-ink. The iPad does offer a rich “color” experience to reading, but it remains to be seen how that translates in long reading sessions. If my previous experiences with LCD screens are anything to go by, you may be in for some serious eye fatigue (I may be wrong here, and OLED may actually be good). Besides this, it will be some time before a wide enough selection of books is available for the iPad from official Apple sources. (Though you ought to be set if third party iPhone apps work on the iPad as advertised) Lastly the 10 hour battery life looks pitiful when compared to the two or three weeks that the current crop of e-readers give per charge.

And lastly, if you are buying it for the apps, I think you are better off with the iPhone/ Nexus One/ Palm Pre etc. I don’t think the larger screen will present significant advantages to running apps as yet. Nor do I think that the iPad platform presents anything unique that would make for a more compelling app experience. (Again I may be wrong, but that’s the way it looks like now)

The device will however appeal to those that don’t really indulge in the above activities and of course the Mac Fanboys. So for a casual reader, gamer, surfer etc. the iPad will probably be good enough. And I think that it’s this audience that Apple is targeting. So if you are a book lover that held out on all those e-book readers, hoping that Apple’s magical tablet will be just for you, I’m sorry pal but you’re out of luck.

In summary, I’d like to say that for me, especially on the e-reader front, the device was underwhelming. It certainly has things going for it and a lot of the points that I mentioned are fixable. It will be interesting to see how Apple addresses a lot of the early criticism of its device in the days and months to come.

Did you like this? Share it:

One Comment

  1. Is iPad a game changer for e-books? | { enygmatic } says:

    […] the end, like I mentioned in an earlier post, the iPad is a flawed device that does have tremendous potential and I guess time will tell if […]