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Apple iPad uncovered – its features and why we’re not quite jumping with joy

The Apple iPad is now official giving us all a chance to let the impressions from the first look sink in, a chance to evaluate what Steve Jobs and Apple just presented compared to what we all in our head had built up as expectations over the last few months of heavy rumors – did the Apple iPad deliver on expectations?

There is no doubt that Apple delivered a great looking device in the Apple iPad, true to what we have grown accustomed to from Apple when it comes to design and coolness, and it is packed with some really great features, but is it as revolutionary as Apple wants us to believe or as good as we all hoped it would be? We have looked at all the features and will explain why we are not quite jumping with joy, and why we still think the Apple iPad will become a success for Apple.

The official Apple iPad

The Features of the Apple iPad

Looking a the Apple iPad in all its glorius design makes me want it right now. It looks like the lovechild of an iPhone and a macbook pro with its sleak unibody design, sleek curves, and that nice interface that we have grown accustomed to from the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It is quite impressive that Apple has been able to put all this into a device that is 0.5 inches thick, weighs only 1.5 pounds, and features a 9.7 inch LED backlit IPS display that looks very crisp and handles HD content really well.

Besides the look and design of the Apple iPad, the biggest surprise was how fast it seemed to respond in the presentation, and reports from hands-on testing confirms that it feels faster than the iPhone 3GS. This is largely down to the 1GHz Apple A4 chip that is engineered for the Apple iPad to be very powerful while still be extremely power efficient, and it looks like it is working just as they had hoped for. The efficient processor is likely also the reason why the battery life in usage is up to an impressive 10 hours with standby time of up to a month according to Apple themselves.

All models come with built in 802.11 N wireless network  and bluetooth 2.1 + EDR allowing connection to wireless devices, including headsets and wireless keyboards etc. There will also be models that come with 3G network capabilities, all unlocked allowing you to choose which network you want to use. In the US Apple is continuing their relationship with AT&T by offering a non-contract prepaid unlimited data plan at $29.99 per month, but with no contract there is no subsidized prices on the Apple iPad itself either.

The Apple iPad comes with a 30 pin dock connector that will allow you to sync or dock the device using USB to a computer, or to dock it to a charging station or other accessories such as the camera connection kit or the keyboard dock, which both are accessories that we would think most people would like to buy together with the Apple iPad itself.

The official Apple iPad

Some of the key benefits of the Apple iPad compared to many of its digital bookreader / netbook competitors, besides its size and looks, is the applications that are available for it. Apple has been able to give the iPad a massive advantage by making the 100,000+ apps from the iTunes App Store instantly available for the iPad as well. With the additional benefit of iWork applications that gives you access to tools for creating presentations, spreadsheets, and documents etc. makes it competitive against the netbook market as well.

Apple iPad digital bookreader app iBooksIt was expected that one of the key  markets targeted by Apple for the iPad was the digital bookreader market dominated by Amazon Kindle, and by giving the iPad the native iBook application and access to the brand new iTunes Bookstore, the Kindle has found itselfs its match and a half as the presentation of the functionality of the iBook app on the iPad looked really impressive and well designed. How good it actually is we don’t know until having a chance to test it, but at first sight it looked very impressive. Perhaps more importantly though creating a digital bookreader has opened up a whole new source of revenue for Apple to get a piece of the digital book market.

The presentation also highlighted the gaming possibilities of the Apple iPad and its larger touchscreen, showing examples of how current games for the iPhone can be blown up to twice its normal size without loosing too much of the great graphics you are used to.

Other benefits and technical specifications include:

  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution
  • Built in speakers and microphone
  • SIM card tray
  • Voice over screen reader
  • Full screen zoom magnifications
  • fingerprint resistant coating

The Apple iPad is definitely trying a be the jack-of-all-trades for entertainment junkies, and there are many of us out there, providing great functionality for reading, websurfing, watching movies, play games, and play with the thousands of apps available through the iTunes App Store. With the new SDK launched together with the iPad we can only start expecting more iPad specifically designed and developed apps that take advantage of the full features of the device.

Price, size, and availability of the Apple iPad

The Apple iPad will be available in 3 sizes, just like the iPod Touch, with 16GB being the baby iPad and the 64GB as the top model, and prizes starting from $499 for the 16GB model without 3G going up to $829 for the 64GB model with 3G.

  • 16gb – $499
  • 16gb 3G – $629
  • 32gb – $599
  • 32gb 3G – $729
  • 64gb – $699
  • 64gb 3G – $829

According to Apple the standard edition will ship in the next 60 days while we will have to wait an extra 30 days or so for the 3G version as they need to secure deals with mobile networks in selected markets worldwide first.

We will come back with more details on where to buy and price tables as the information becomes available.

So why are we not jumping with joy….

There is no doubt that Apple delivered a good quality product in the Apple iPad today, but is it a product that fills a void in our lives? is there need for a product that is wanting to fill a void between the iPhone and the laptop? Is the Apple iPad at the moment just an iPod Touch on steroids?

In terms of revolutionizing the market with a new device the initial feeling is that Apple has failed. There was so much potential for the iPad but in the end there were too many important elements left out. Some of the key failures of the Apple iPad are:

  • No flash support – it quickly became obvious during the presentation that flash is not supported on the device as browsing a website with a flash banner just displayed the missing plugin icon.  It has probably been left out on the iPad for the same reasons as with the iPhone, to protect their own revenue stream, but for us users the lack of flash is another reason to say no for now.
  • Multitasking – During the presentation we were just waiting for them to show several apps running at the same time, but again Apple dissappointed in bringing this important feature to its new “revolutionary” device. It could however well be that this is a functionality that will come in furure firmware upgrades, such as for an iPhone 4G firmware upgrade.
  • Lack of camera -Suprisingly there was no camera featured on the iPad. No camera at the back like on the iPhone, and no frontfacing webcam either, which was even more disappointing. We are surprised that Apple on a device like this can miss out having a frontfacing camera for videochats and videocalling.
  • HDMI – It would have been great to be able to connect the iPad to a tv with an HDMI cable.
  • Tethering – There was no news about possibilities of tethering between iPad and iPhone, or tethering 3G connection to other devices through the iPad.

The lack of some of these we could probably accept, given that the price point were well below what the market was expecting, but some of them, like multitasking and flash are something that we are used to, both from laptops and netbooks, and even some smartphones, so why could not Apple be able to put that into the iPad when they launched it as a revolutionary device.

Personally i struggle to see how i would use the iPad that i can not already do with my iPhone 3GS or my laptop. If i were to get an iPad it would probably primarily be for digital book reading and potentially magazine apps. For those that are predicting the death to paper following the iPad, we are likely quite a long way from that yet, at least when it comes to books.
For now we agree with so many other that has commented on the Apple iPad post launch; a great looking device that just did not deliver quite enough of what we were looking for. However we have no doubt that many will take advantage of the price point to get one, and it will definitely hurt the sale of the iPod Touch going forward!

Where will the Apple iPad succeed

Besides our lack of feeling the “wow-factor” from the launch of the Apple iPad we see the potential in the device for many user groups out there, including many professional user groups that can take advantage of the touchscreen and size of the iPad for form inputs, presentations etc. We have already read reports from doctors, engineers, and others about how the iPad can make their daily life easier.

The Apple iPad is of course more than a niche market product, and Apple want the iPad the become the next big mass-market product that everyone will aspire to own. We can see its usefulness as an entertainment station for people on the move, a device for gamers on the go, and not to mention for kids of all ages as a replacement for in-car entertainment stations, portable DVD players, and to a certain degree netbooks used primarily for entertainment purposes.

We too look forward to testing the Apple iPad, and who knows, it might change our mind about the device.

We are also keen to hear your opinion about the Apple iPad so please comment below or participate in our little poll below.

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We have now also launched cheapest Apple iPad tables for the UK for those that want to check price comparison on the Apple iPad.

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Filed in: Apple iPAD, Lead Story

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5 Responses to "Apple iPad uncovered – its features and why we’re not quite jumping with joy"

  1. retry4 says:

    It laks lots of features: camera, FM tuner, MAC OS X and even memory! I like the way it looks, price is realonable but PLEASE, ADD FEATURES APPLE!

    -retry4

  2. Hi there, I have been lurking on your blog for a couple weeks. I really like your writing and your whole site! Looking forward to reading more!

  3. Neil says:

    Had a good butchers at this, defintetly created for the eBook market and will see newspapers/magazines trying to sell content through iTunes. People who have iPhones and iTouch alone will be their target market, and people who would use this more for leisure, and not a work device with it’s basic Gb offering. The one downside I see being it not being able to multi-task, so when the new OS for iPhones gets rolled out it will probably get multi-task. No camera either. Probably a few years until the full Macbook touch, as in power and work standing. If you have a Macbook you’d never buy this.

  4. Farokh says:

    A couple of additional points. The SIM card is the new micro card which means that you cannot change providers. AT&T is the only provider supporting the new format.

    Battery life is amazing. But not one review has commented on whether you can change the battery or not.

    From a tech point of view, this unit leaves wanting. No HDMI is minor. MY HDMI supporting TV will more than likely be connected to a dedicated computer or a laptop. I doubt I would ever use a unit such as the iPad to download movies.

    No multitasking is a bigger issue, though it appears that the target market is not likely to know how to use multitasking. The geek is not the market for this product.

  5. Wozzle says:

    I’m writing this from my new I pad, I recieved for christmas.
    OK so it’s missing a camera and a web cam, my friend were disappointed that I couldn’t face time them to their I phones.
    I don’t have an I phone (although the pad has got me hooked and I will be getting one) I do have a lap top and also a blackberry.
    So where does this I pad fit in to my life? It fits in to a gap I never knew I had.
    The gap where, it’s faster than my lap top not as big and easier to carry around.
    The gap where, its bigger than my phone the Internet and emails are easier to see and easier to use.
    The gap where, when I go on holiday or on a long journey I don’t have to take books, magazines, DVD player and my ds.
    Because my friends my I pad does all this and more, the fact it doesn’t support flash is not a personal issue for me but I could see it might be.
    Summary- if you’ve got the cash go buy one I’m pretty certain you won’t regret it

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