iPhone Life Bloggers respond...

ipad heroThere has been no shortage of opinions about Apple's new iPad on our iPhoneLife.com blogs. Busy mother Tracy Sebastian wants one yesterday. Conrad Blickenstorfer of PenComputing.com thinks Steve Jobs may have created a superior alternative to the Netbook for computing tasks and on-the-go entertainment. And developer and consumer Todd Bernhard says he will buy one in spite of some disappointments.

Mom wants an iPad

By Tracy Sebastian

I want an iPad!

I'm a busy mom and use my iPhone all the time. I love it, but it doesn't do everything I need it to do, and the screen is a bit small for my over-40 eyes. I spend a lot of time hauling kids around and waiting to pick them up from school, soccer, gymnastics, doctor's appointments, and more. It would be nice to have something to do while I'm waiting, but I don't really want a laptop (too expensive and bulky) or a Netbook (no Windows/PC for me). The iPad is perfect. It's as thick as a deck of cards, bit smaller than a piece of paper, and weighs only 1.5 lbs. It will fit nicely in my purse—or a diaper bag!

If I need to get a document, I can still access it from MobileMe iDisk and use the Quickoffice Mobile Suite app on the iPad to open and edit it. If I need to print something I can use the Print & Share app. And I'll use Evernote on the iPad to store and save all my other research notes.

The feature that really excites me is iBook. I can't use it while I'm driving, but it will sure help me pass the time in the doctor's waiting room. (I'll put the eReader app on the iPad for the eBooks I've already purchased.)

Speaking of books, the iPad looks like it will be perfect for my son who is going off to college next year. He can download his text books to it, take notes, and monitor his class schedule. And when he wants to relax, he can listen to music, watch YouTube, connect with his "homies" on Facebook, or play a few games.

Finally, Apple has included changes in the new iPhone SDK that makes it possible to do Voice over IP (VoIP) over cellular networks. That means that I should even be able to make phone calls with the 3G version of the iPad over AT&T's 3G data network. (The 3G enabled iPad notably does not include any voice service with its $30/month unlimited data plan, but it does include a microphone and speaker.)

All in all, the iPad looks perfect for me—I want one!

"Magical" iPad—the sweet spot 
between smartphone and laptop?

By Conrad Blickenstorfer

Apple felt that there was something missing between an iPhone/iPod touch and a full-fledged PowerBook. They felt that something in the middle would be far better at some key tasks such as Web browsing, e-mail, enjoying and sharing photos, video, music, games, and reading books. In his presentation, Steve Jobs emphasized that if there is to be such a third category, it has to be better at these tasks, or else there would be no reason for being. He bluntly stated that Netbooks, while they are selling by the millions, are slow, use pokey PC software, have low quality displays, and aren't really better at anything. Enter the "magical" iPad.

The hardware

The iPad is a tablet that uses the same high-powered multi-touch technology that so endeared the iPhone to millions. The footprint of the iPad is roughly the same as that of a Netbook, although the iPad is a little wider because its display uses the more conventional 4:3 aspect ratio. However, since the iPad is a tablet and not a clamshell, it is thinner and lighter than a Netbook. While most Netbooks are in the 2.5 pound range, the iPad weighs just 1.5 pounds. It also feels even thinner than it is, thanks to the same beveling trick Apple used with the MacBook Air.

If Netbooks have failed to provide adequate performance to drive some of the more demanding PC software applications (most painfully HD video), how can Apple hope to offer a better user experience in the almost impossibly lightweight and sleek iPad? The key to answering this question is the fact that that the iPad is not a scaled-down version of a MacBook, it's a scaled-up version of the iPhone. The iPad is not meant to run desktop versions of power-hungry applications like Adobe Photoshop or Quark Xpress. Instead, it is designed to run almost all of the iPhone apps that are currently available, as well as a rapidly growing lineup of apps specially developed or enhanced for the iPad.

As a result, the iPad does not need very powerful (or power-hungry) hardware to do what it does quickly and effortlessly. While the Netbook—with its 1.6GHz Intel Atom chip, gigabyte of RAM, and 160GB hard disk—struggles to run many applications, the iPad cruised through demos, smoothly, speedily, and with the same aplomb that we're used to from the iPhone. How it runs 10 hours on a 25 watt-hour battery is a mystery, but apparently it does.

The software

Apple says that virtually all iPhone apps run on the iPod unmodified. In fact, you can simply sync the iPad and load all of your existing iPhone apps onto it. However, new apps will be released that take advantage of the iPad's strengths.

Among the initial demos shown at the product launch was a new New York Times app just for the iPad, with a layout that looks just like a regular print paper. With it, you can watch embedded video, and resize and adjust things using "pop-over" menus—a new thing found in apps designed specifically for the iPad. Game developer EA showed off its "Need for Speed Shift" game which moved at a snappy clip, and MLB demonstrated a baseball app.

The big news in the eBook arena was the new iBooks app which has a very appealing interface that displays the covers of your books sitting on a nice wooden bookshelf. When you rotate the bookshelf, it takes you to Apple's new iBook online bookstore. Books and book pages look like real books and you can easily change fonts and font sizes via a pop-up.

As a preview of coming attractions, Apple showed the iWorks suite for the iPad. These apps have been reworked for the iPad in a way that preserves their functionality but takes advantage of the iPad's features.

So did Apple deliver? I think the answer is "yes!" The device itself is gorgeous and seems as meticulously engineered as anything I've seen. The iPad will answer the prayers of many who have found that they use the iPhone for much more than they initially thought they would, but wish it were larger. Apple very elegantly handled the pricing and wireless plan issues by offering the iPad at an affordable price, offering both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G versions, and by offering an unlimited wireless data plan that is pleasantly affordable.

iPad disappointments...and
 why I will buy one on Day 1!

By Todd Bernhard

The shine is off the Apple, so to speak. Now that the rumors have been put to rest, we can examine the iPad objectively and in detail. There are some significant advances and as Apple would put it, elements of magic in this new device. And make no mistake; I will definitely be buying one. However, I am disappointed in a few areas.

  1. No camera: Speculation had been that the iPad might have two cameras: one facing forward for taking photos and one facing back for videoconferencing. Alas, the lack of any camera limits what developers could have done with their apps. For example, users might have been able to take their own picture and insert themselves into a game, and Augmented Reality apps could have thrived on the iPad. Even if a camera is added on a later version of the device, there will be millions of iPad's out there without one—app developers typically target the lowest common denominator.

  2. No multitasking: A more powerful Apple-designed custom chip ensures the iPad handles the extra screen resolution, but the iPad still doesn't run more than one app at a time. I would love to download movies while surfing the Web or playing a game. It's a shame that I can do that, albeit slowly, with a $300 Netbook, but not with this "magical" device.

  3. No tethering: I spend enough with AT&T for unlimited data. The reality is that my iPhone is always with me and an iPad would be an occasional companion. I would like to be able to leverage my iPhone's 3G service by connecting the iPad to the iPhone via Bluetooth or a cable. To AT&T's credit, they introduced inexpensive data plans—$15/month for 250MB and $30/month for unlimited data—with no contract. They will make it easier for someone who only has an iPad. But someone who has an iPhone and an iPad will be spending $90/month for AT&T data service.

  4. Limited memory: What the classic iPod did for music the iPad could do for video. Unfortunately, higher definition video takes up a lot of storage space, and the 16GB of file storage found on the basic version of the iPad will be used up pretty quickly. I understand that Apple wanted to achieve a low price point, but memory is cheap. In addition, the configuration of the iPad highlights the "locked-down" architecture preferred by Apple. An SD card slot would not have cost that much and would have allowed users to add storage and leverage higher capacities and lower costs.

Having said all that, I will be buying the entry-level $499, 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model. I would be tempted by the 3G model and the unlimited data plan, but only if an iChat client with a camera was offered. However, with Wi-Fi becoming more prevalent, another 3G fee is hard to justify. Plus I would rather buy a less expensive iPad now, and then purchase a second generation iPad later when some of problems listed above have been addressed.

iPad: Two Say it's Magical, One Has Reservations
Spring 2010
iOS Devices
TOC Weight: