After the iPad hype... the let-down

John Stokdyk adds his personal impressions to the stream of reactions that followed last week’s launch of the Apple iPad.

After all the anticipation and pre-publicity surrounding the iPad, the product itself is something of a letdown. “It is the same size as your laptop but hasn't got a keyboard. You'll just look like a saddo trying to be trendy,” commented the daughter of tax software developer David Forbes.

Here’s what the fuss was all about – a 9.7in backlit LED touchscreen, just 1.5in thick and weighing less than a kilo, running a scaled up version of the iPhone operating software on a new “A4” processor with a claimed battery life of 10 hours. All for a price starting at $499 – you can probably assume the currency symbol will just change to pounds when it reaches the UK.

The iPad’s main functions will be consumer-oriented activities such as surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, and listening to music. The device includes built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi with automatic network location and sign-in routines; 2.1 Bluetooth connectivity lets you use the iPad with wireless headphones, keyboards and other peripherals. A 3G iPad will also be available supporting data speeds up to 7.2 Mbps.

The analysis from the younger Forbes is not far from the mark – the iPad could be thought of as a supersized iPod Touch in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash memory models, but enhanced by a built-in microphone, speaker and accessories such as a Camera Connection Kit and keyboard dock.

Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs have cultivated a reputation for innovation, but for once the centre of attention appears to be less of a visionary paradigm-breaker than an engineering cut-and-paste job rushed out to gain a foothold in what looks to be the next hot spot for hardware manufacturers. To these eyes at least, the iPad appears to be aiming at a gap that doesn’t need filling. Seeing Jobs holding what one commentator likened to a “dinner tray” just looked wrong – for something that size, you might as well lug around a netbook. The iPhone and its surfing buddy the iTouch did create a new paradigm, but the PC manufacturers appear to have seen an opportunity for slightly larger devices that give a better user experience, but still fit in a handbag or pocket.

Rather than wanting to rush out and buy an iPad, I’m suddenly much more interested in finding out more about smaller alternatives such as:

  • Toshiba JournE Touch, priced around £250
  • The HP “slate” and two similar devices demonstrated by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month.
  • Dell's prototype 5in tablet has a smaller, more energy efficient OLED screen than the iPad, plus a 5 megapixel camera and a memory extension slot, “like an Android iPod Touch” said one admirer.

Aside from the Dell, most of these devices run Windows 7, which now supports touch gestures. But the iPhone operating system is much simpler and idiot-proof, which is an important requirement for this kind of consumer device. Elsewhere, prototype slates are being developed around  Google’s Android/Chrome operating system. The Telegraph predicts that 5-10in devices will soon appear with a touch-driven user interface optimised to surf and run applications within the Chrome browser.

While the nerds will argue about the merits of different hardware specs, form factors and operating systems, the real crunch for these new devices will come down to the available software and this is where Apple has a head start. Using the iPhone architecture means there will be a ready supply of around 140,000 apps to run on the iPad including the iTunes media player, maps and games. But the device still can’t cope with media files stored in Adobe’s popular Flash format, nor can it run applications simultaneously.

The iPad launch stimulated well informed responses from AccountingWEB blogger David Watson and Gary Turner and other members of our Cloud accounting discussion group, who are speculating about the degree to which the device might become a client system for web-based applications.  Feel free to add your thoughts to the iPad debate.

Comments
ExSync's picture

Platform Independant Web Applications

ExSync | | Permalink

Web application development tools are becoming so powerful, they are cross platfom, it will be a choice as to whether you like Windows, Apple, Solaris, Linux...... It just will not matter anymore.

Apple just do it in a unique style! Is style good?

-- Jason Richards

Paperless Office?

charleslaneco | | Permalink

Surely the iPad would make the perfect paperless system. Email your accounts/tax returns to your Zosh/e-signature account then simply take out to clients and have them authorise these documents directly on to the screen (stylus available from 3rd party makers).

Hey presto no more paper or hassle. If clients would like paper copies you could make them available (including their digital signature) for a small fee. 

 

nigel's picture

Kindle killer?

nigel | | Permalink

John - you have overlooked Amazon's Kindle. Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPad as an e-book reader and a lot of the chatter on US IT sites is already talking of the iPad as a Kindle killer. They argue that Amazon is a specialist in  content, not hardware, and that it might even welcome the iPad as a step towards wider acceptance of e-books (which it could supply, while Apple supplies the hardware). The Kindle's unique feature is the built-in 3G phone connectivity, so you can browse Amazon on it and then download books instantly.

The iPad needs to be upgraded to a fully-featured large format iPhone, then we'd have a serious toy to play with! Of course, we'll still need our old iPhones to carry in a pocket and make calls on. And the larger capacity iPod to hold all our music. Oh, yes, and an iPod Nano for shooting quick YouTube videos and listening to FM radio. And a big bag to carry them all around in!

ronnie123's picture

iPad software issues

ronnie123 | | Permalink

I am a big fan of apple products and have been using iphone for the last two years. I love it but there are certain basic areas which apple needs improvement, especially ipad - becoming a note book, it should have multi tasking feature. iPhone also lacks this as well where as other competitive phones including blackberry and nokia offers multi tasking. The other major issue with the iPad, which is also in iphone is the ability to play flash. there are also other which might be pinching to other but not really to me is the ability to transfer media file using Bluetooth, syncing with just one itunes library etc.

Are the third party developers making these applications to run on ipad and iphone to make it a real solid gadget of the year 2010? Well it’s still being a question? I also feel that enabling of bluetooth to transfer media files will open new horizons for ipad accessories development, especially bluetooth enables accessories
 

iPad for you may be a second-generation

YolandaCollins | | Permalink

If all of that concerns you, the best iPad for you may be a second-generation one.  iPad is changing the way instructors educate and learners understand, read more interesting essay about it, follow the link.

 

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