So earlier today, I fully drank from Apple’s vat of Kool-Aid. I wrote about Apple’s new iPad and how I think that it will be a game-changer. I still think that it has definitely drawn the line in the sand for the competition to go after, but when you report on any ground-breaking technology, you need to look at it from many different angles. So, did it really move the needle? I still think it did. Read my initial “happy thoughts” here, and below, you can see the “reality-check” come into play.
Now I have had a few more hours to think about the iPad a bit more and I feel compelled to come back to write about it but from a bit more realistic (pessimistic?) perspective.
- Lacking a Full Video Experience – Let’s face it, the iPad is a bit one-sided. While it has the rich-glory of a larger screen compared to the iPhone/Touch, it is missing some core features to bring it on par with even the most basic (and less expensive) Netbook. There is no Webcam, so you won’t be able to have face-to-face iChat video calls or Skype calls. If there had been a front-facing webcam, suddenly the iPad takes on a new meaning for multimedia, business use, family sharing, you name it. Similarly, the aspect ratio is still a 4:3. While in landscape mode, I’m sure movies and TV shows will look glorious, but to make viewing even more stellar, the ratio should have been 16:9. I wonder if a wide-screen version will be coming. To overcome this limitation, even the inclusion of a mini-HDMI port would have gone a long ways. Of course, with those types of “upgrades” comes a price point and a performance and battery hit. I’m sure they were considered but then dropped to prevent sticker-shock.
- No Flashing Allowed – While I must admit, Safari on the iPhone and now on the iPad is truly a pleasure to use. The rendering of sites is amazing and quick…but every so often, you will see that lovely empty white box with the little blue “plugin-missing” icon, begging to simply say “too bad you can’t see the fancy flash stuff here”. Well, it seems that with this version of the iPhone/Touch OS, Adobe Flash is still not supported. However, with recent implementations of HTML5 on YouTube as well as the new Google Voice HTML5 web application, perhaps Apple is just adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Oh, and the other interpretation of “flashing” (not the one that can land you in jail for indecent exposure), I’m sure that the iPhone jailbreaking community is chomping at the bit to get their hands on this device. While Apple does say that most of the iPhone/Touch apps work on the iPad, I seriously wonder how many 3rd party (non-Apple approved) apps will work. It should be interesting to see what comes out in the next few months.
- No Multitasking – Getting Push Notifications on the iPhone was just the first step to true multi-tasking, or just a way to cut corners and move on to the next thing. Push is NOT multitasking, it is just some small background processes running. The iPad will be no different from the current iPhone/Touch. I do expect in the next major rev of the iPhone OS (e.g., 4.0) that there will be better support TOWARDS getting a full multitasking OS, but I’m still a bit skeptical. Those sorts of things compromise performance and battery life so I am sure that Apple will proceed cautiously with this particular thing. So, while I’m not surprised there is no full multitasking, I do understand why…I guess we will have to deal with plain ol’ Push for now.
- A Secondary Device – I truly don’t see people rushing out to the store to buy this as their primary computer, and it is (obviously) not a cell phone. So what is it? In my opinion, it is a nice-to-have device, something that complements an existing Apple infrastructure (like iPod Touch/iPhone/MacBook/etc.). There is, however, the eBook Reader component, especially to those people who have been on the fence about getting a Kindle. These users might already have an iPhone or an iPod so this would be a logical addition as they are accustomed to the user interface. Also, iPads also might be amazing for Schools to use so there is a huge market opportunity there. But again, just a simple, comparably-priced netbook will give you more flexibility and function than an elegant looking “iPod Touch on steroids.”
- Accessory Compatibility – It looks to me that the only dock connector is on the bottom when the iPad is vertical. Honestly, I would have liked to have had it on both the bottom AND side. This would allow the iPad to be “docked” in both vertical and horizontal modes. It looks like the iPad can only be docked in a vertical position (which is great for document writing and I guess why they did it that way). I’m hoping that the optional dock will allow for other devices to be connected to the iPad. Be prepared for an onslaught of cases and holders from 3rd parties to overwhelm us. I will be more interested to see what type of creative accessories can be created to extend the iPad’s functionality.
- “Assisted” GPS? – For those of you wondering, there is not a true GPS built into the iPad. It simply depends on wifi hotspot locating and 3G cellular triangulation to “approximate” your location. Yeah, having a full-fledged GPS built it would (again) have increased the price-point and decreased performance/battery life, so I’m a bit indifferent about this one.
- Strong enough processors? – Ok, Apple “created” the processor so we know very little about it. Has it gone through extended burn-in tests and load tests? How will it perform over time? You should always think twice before buying a 1st generation product (even though I jumped right in and got the 1st iPhone right when it came out!). There are not too many details on the Apple iPad processor. It’s a “1 GHz Apple A4 chip”. Uh ok. Is that supposed to mean something to me? I might trust something from Intel or AMD but who knows about this A4 chip? But, supposedly it’s made by PS Semi, whom Apple acquired and the US Government used for some chips for military equipment. I don’t think that Apple would choose something that wasn’t good though.
- Not an “Open” Platform – While this is no different than iPhone, will innovation still come? I personally think that Apple should release an iLife-type of app to help create iPhone/iPad apps easily. This would help to grow the ecosystem and may help them move to a bit more open and consumer-oriented and driven marketplace.
- Data Plans Still Too Expensive – Upon further reflection, the data pricing plans are still too expensive. For example, only people who will be using the iPad for extremely light internet and book downloads would benefit from the 250 MB plan. I, for example, download multiple Podcasts (video/audio) which are pretty large in size so I would blow through that 250 MB allotment very quickly. And I’m not sure that I would be willing to pay an additional $30/mo on top of the data-plan that I have for my iPhone. Too bad you can’t tether your iPhone to your iPad and share the data plans that way! Also, I think that Apple should do a “free” data plan for very light usage of book/newspaper downloads only to encourage competition against the Kindle. Oh, and WHY AT&T again? Isn’t their data network super-saturated already? Do we need to strain it even more? Let’s get some other carriers in the mix please!
- External media cards – Nope, none there! I guess Steve didn’t want to mar up the sides with extra ports and holes. Makes sense from a weight and price perspective, but this is STANDARD on Netbooks, for example. But you can get some optional adapters that will let you plug in USB cables and SD cards (called the “Camera Connection Kit”):
- The Name “iPad” – While “iPad” works, it is just a little too close to iPod (you better proofread when you are writing about both). And let’s face it, MadTV already beat Apple to the punch with this one:
Well, there you have it, the flip side to my first (fresh out of the box) thoughts on the iPad. Again, you can read my initial impressions here. However, all being said, I think that Apple has really developed the framework for what will be a great new product line for them. However, I think it might be a good idea to hold off on this first generation release and see what comes along next year. Still, I wouldn’t say No to someone if I was offered an iPad. Just like last time, I would love to hear your comments. Leave them below!
HTD says: Even after all that I said above, I still really like the concept and design of the iPad!