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The Apple iPad – Paper is finally dead

Alex Christie

27 January 2010

Minutes ago Steve Jobs announced the latest product to change the world. We are of course talking about the much hyped and eagerly anticipated iTablet, iSlate, iPad. That’s right, they called it the iPad…

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Will it actually be as good as the hype suggests?

Well here’s a breakdown of the features of the iPad:

  1. The screen is a 9.7″ high resolution screen capable of displaying HD content
  2. Processor is a 1GHZ A4
  3. Available in 16, 32 and 64GB versions available with optional 3G
  4. The keyboard shown is a larger version of the standard iPhone QWERTY layout
  5. Comes complete with the latest wireless N connectivity
  6. Using pixel doubling means that existing apps can be run full screen
  7. Starting price of $499
  8. Released internationally in June / July

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You have to look hard to find a product that Apple released that wasn’t a hit in recent years. The only thing even close that springs to mind was the Motorla ROKR featuring an iPod music player. Firmware and poor transfer speeds meant it was a poor user experience but I imagine Apple had little control over those aspects. A few years later they released the iPhone anyway which blew the competition out of the water and still does.

The iPad is more of the iPhone than the ROKR and looks to continue the trend of ‘must-have’ gadgets. The price is right for people to get one for no other reason than they want one. Do you really need a reason?

Tablets, didn’t we already have those?

There have been tablet PCs before. Some laptops have the ability to completely rotate the screen and become tablets, so what’s wrong with those? Well for a start they aren’t sexy, they aren’t skinny and they aren’t very usable.

Apple has a knack for design objects that people want even before they know what it object is. A case of “I’ve seen it, I want it, what is it?”. To do this continually is a great credit to the Apple design teams, it would be really interesting to see their cutting room floor, so to speak, and drool over some of the ‘could-have-been’s and the ‘what-if’s.

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It boils down to the new Apple tablet being a small enough form factor, fast enough processor and widest sppeal to be the best mobile computing system ever.  This is not just a computing device, this is a multimedia entertainment device… and it’s sexy as hell!

User experience

The user experience is, as expected, very sleek and smooth. Scrolling looks quick and responsive as well as being super-smooth. The UI is borrowed and updated from the iPhone and that is one of the best mobile UIs around today. What that means is there really isn’t much innovation regarding how you would expect to use it. Maybe that’s a good thing, it means no learning curves to make the most of the device and a familiarity with an established user experience.

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iWork and Keynote run on the iPad but Keynote only in landscape mode, which makes sense as slides are normally in this orientation. This is fine for showing slides but what happens when you need to edit the slides? It’s as simple as double tapping and using muti-finger gestures similar to browsing the web. In the demonstration, Phil Schiller shows how simple it is to do even advance tasks such as masking.

Moving through slides, pages and photos is as simple as tapping on the right hand side of the screen. Again, the UI is truly a thing to behold, with care and attention covering even the smallest of details.

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This has been in development for the last 10 years and as such, there was no way it would see the light of say unless it was perfect. There is a lot of coveting of Apple devices and this will be no different, it IS the way tablets should be and will raise the bar for any competitors. Dell are working on their own tablet but it will most likely be more… PC.

The competition

The iPad is now directly competing with all portable DVD player, all media players, all tablet PCs and all e-book readers. The iPad not only uses the app store but will have it’s own book store called, surprisingly enough, iBooks.  iBooks will undoubtedly create a massive push for content to be converted to e-reader format from the iPad’s competitors such as Kindle.

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The Kindle is approaching e-reading as its primary focus though and the technology behind that is designed to replicate the contrast of real paper while the iPad has an HD high res screen and capable of showing more than just books.

What else happened?

What else was revealed at the Apple press conference? Well far too long was spent talking about iWork for the iPad and there were a lot of tweets about how boring people felt listening to how to use a spreadsheet with multi-touch. Other than that, nothing else happened. This was all about the ipad.

Let’s talk about the cons

Unfortunately this is nothing we haven’t seen before. There are no new ‘wow’ features and it looks very similar to the iPhone, just bigger. Nothing as revolutionary as was expected.

The release for international sales looksto be June / July time. The US data plans are $14.99/month for 250MB or $29.99/month for unlimited, both through AT&T and will be locked.

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The basic 16GB version, while being only $499, does NOT include 3G. For this you have to pay an additional $130 on top which I’m sure most people would want and will probably not be too phased by paying more.

Generally speaking, these ‘cons’ are really just nitpicking. The number of pros far out-way the cons and with delivery in 60-90 days. I’m sure many people have already spent the top price of $829.

In conclusion

A portable, high definition, sexy multimedia entertainment device that starts at $499. Fantastic! It will do to the e-reader and PMP market what the iPhone did to the phone market – take it to a new level.

However, on the face of it, the iPad is a giant iPhone. The UI is the same, just bigger and you have to make compromises if you want to use it as more of a MacBook than an iPhone with potentially fiddly gestures.

Check out the newly updated http://www.apple.com/ for more details.

A big thank you to Gizmodo, GDGT and Engadget for providing live blogging services and credit for the images go to them where appropriate.

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Oh, and it can also be used as a picture frame.

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