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So they called it the iPad.

We’ve waited so long for it but in the end, and as cool as it is, if I find it just a little meh but at the same time I want one does that make me a bad person? Sure, I had hoped for something in-between the iPhone and a MacBook, in terms of size that is exactly what it is. But, I’ll be honest my first impression was that “it’s just a giant iPod Touch” (or iPod Touch 3GXL…)

hardware-01-20100127

It is running what is basically the iPhone OS, with slightly bigger icons, and plenty of space between them on the home screen. I mean plenty. A small child could thump their paw down on the screen an only hit one app. It has the general iPhone feel (flick/pinch/swipe etc) to the interface, with the exception of the OS X style dock, also with really spaced out icons (I wonder how many you can actually put on it?).

Great Good So-So
Price point
Design
Speed
No Flash
Delicious Library… err, I mean iBooks
It runs iPhone apps (including those you already own)
Tech specs - seem pretty good for the price
Redesigned core apps
Claimed battery life
The Bezel
The way iPhone apps run
No Camera
Additional cost for 3G
The name. iPad? hmm…

The Name?

Why iPad? Why Apple? Why? Why does its have to being with an ‘i’? Its very much got the appearance of a ‘pro’ product, what with its aluminium back and glass front, but the name ‘iPad’ doesn’t have anything ‘pro’ about it. Its too similar to ‘iPod’ for starters (maybe they chose it because the iPad is just a giant iPod). But tablet, slate or canvas, in my opinion, would have all been better.

Part of me wonders though when they decided on the name, a lot of rumours were around late last year referring to the device as the ‘slate’ or ‘iSlate’, and then CES rolled around and the HP ‘slate’ was shown off by that crazy bald dude from Microsoft. Was there a hasty rebranding of the, then unreleased, Apple product that we now know as the iPad? I guess we’ll never know.

iPad Apps? There’s an iPhone app for that

All the same apps that you get on the iPhone are there - Safari, mail, calendar, contacts, maps, YouTube, music, videos etc. They’ve apparently all been redeveloped specifically for the iPad’s larger screen (and they look hot), and its probably reasonable to assume that some of the smaller UI differences might make an appearance in iPhone 4.0 later in the year. It also runs all other iPhone apps (140,000+) by floating them in the middle of the screen, or upscaling them… hrm, a little dodgy but better than nothing. Oh and only one app a time…

Hopefully the iPad SDK will result in iPad specific version of all the good apps being released along side their iPhone counterparts. Personally I think an iPad version of The Hit List would work very nicely, but I guess we need to wait for the iPhone version to materialise. I’m being patient. Honest.

Design

I really quite like the design, its a bit iPhone and a bit MacBook Pro, and it looks great. The only thing I’m not so sure on is the massive bezel around the screen. I’m sure there are technical packaging reasons why this was necessary, but it makes the device seem considerably larger than it might have otherwise been. It might only be half an inch thick, but I would have no worry with that blowing out a slight fraction if it meant less bezel. Or they could keep it the same physical size and throw a bigger screen in, I don’t mind ;)

Gruber says the wide bezel is so that you’ve got somewhere to rest your thumbs. Ok fair point, but how wide are some peoples thumbs that the bezel needs to be so large? (Yes I know my exceptionally narrow thumbs are the exception, not the rule, but still). Maybe the press images are deceptive (possible), but the bezel looks like it could be half the width and still leave plenty of room to rest your thumbs. But again, that’s just my opinion.

No camera? really?

I would have hoped for at least one (they’ve got plenty of room in that bezel), surely the camera component used above the MacBook Pro screens could have been squeezed in there somewhere. Then they could have added an iPad version of Photobooth, think of all the cool photo morphing fun that you could have had using an in-built camera and the iPad’s touch interface. Maybe we’ll see a camera in the next generation, I’m guessing there are quite a few things people would like to see in the next generation.

Although it would be nice if they’d put one in, the lack of a camera isn’t a deal breaker for me. Remember this is just the first generation iPad. After all the camera in the the first and second gen iPhones was pretty ordinary.

Giant iPhone or keyboard-less netbook-sized MacBook?

Or something else entirely? I think the intention is to target the netbook end of the market, but I think they’ve made it a little too iPhone-like, but again thats just my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the iPhone OS, its mostly great (lack of multi-tasking being a downer), it just looks a little weird on a much larger screen… maybe I just need time for it to grow on me.

A big benefit of being very iPhone-like is that the millions and millions of people who already own iPhones will already know how to use the iPad, which I’m guessing was a big motivating factor for Apple. Another completely different user experience would like scare a lot of people away.

No Flash? Awesome.

There a a lot of people complaining that the iPad doesn’t support Flash. I don’t really care. I hate Flash. It’s not Flash’s fault, its the fault of people who think that its justifiable to create entire websites in Flash. Flash advertising also annoys the crap out of me, so browsing the net on the iPad would be good simply because all those annoying Flash banners won’t work. Yes, its moderately disappointing that the lack of Flash means that you can’t play ‘cool’ Flash games etc, but I can live with that.

I’ve seen a few people mention that the iPad should have Flash so that video services such as Hulu can be used on this fantastic new device. Firstly, we can’t use Hulu in Australia so I don’t care. Secondly, perhaps websites providing video services should start to move away from using Flash for their videos, or at least make an alternative available - like YouTube has done.

Kindle-killer

I’ve never used a kindle so I can’t really comment on whether the iPad will kill it, or by how much it will do so. But on the face of it the iPad does look like a solid competitor, especially given the amount of additional functionality that you get in addition to being a snazzy e-reader.

I’ve also only tried a couple of e-books on the iPhone, and I didn’t hate the experience, but it just seemed wierd on a device the size of that size. However, I can definitely see the experience being more likable on the iPad’s larger screen

Tech specs

Obviously I haven’t played with one yet, but from what people are saying the Apple A4 processor is really quick which is a good thing, and hopefully something that will flow over into the next-gen iPhone in a few months time. As far as connectivity goes it is equipped with WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 and on the 3G model there is support for HSDPA and GSM/EDGE (data only, not calls).

The 9.7-inch (would it have killed them to go full 10-inch…) screen is 1024x768 pixels and sports 132 pixels per inch (ppi) which is a long way off the iPhone’s 163 ppi. If you’re interested, if the screen had the same pixel density as the iPhone it could have been 1260x950 pixels and iPad still would have been the same size (although probably more expensive).

Something I didn’t know is that the pixels per inch for the latest iMacs is apparently north of 200, putting both the iPhone and iPad to shame. At that ppi you’d nearly get a full widescreen HD display onto the iPad (it would obviously have to be slightly longer and narrower).

They’re even making a relatively wide range of storage sizes available, with 16, 32 or 64GB models available (both 3G and non-3G versions of each). I suspect that 128GB SSDs are still too pricey to make them worthwhile.

iPad 3G

The 3G model, which will come along a little while after the WiFi only version goes on sale, will use a mini-sim - which feels to me a little bit too much like they’ve made it different to the iPhone just so you can’t swap and change sim cards between the two easily. It also appears that the only real extra in the 3G model is 3G support (oh and ‘assisted GPS’), and yet it costs $130 extra - which in the case of the 16GB model a whopping 25% more than the non-3G version - and then you’re expected to pay for a monthly data contract as well.

My question is, that if I’m already paying $50 per month for my iPhone (including phone payments) on a plan that includes 500 MB of data per month, then why can’t get a second sim for this same account to go in my iPad so I can actually make use of the downloads I’m already paying for? According to the stats on my iPhone (which say they’ve never been reset) I’ve used just 637 MB in TOTAL since I got my iPhone 18 months ago. Surely there has to be someway they can make this happen. But then again mobile providers are evil.

Good (slightly misleading) marketing

If you watch the demo videos on apple.com, you probably noticed a couple of quotes when they are expressing how awesome they think the device is. “The best way to watch movies”, really? I’ve got a 40-inch HD digital TV that’s pretty good for that, not to mention the surround sound speakers I’ve got hooked up. And “with a screen this large you can just see more of the web”, again, really? So you’re saying that all this time I’ve been browsing the internet on my 24-inch Cinema Display with nearly 4x the pixels of the iPad that I’ve been missing bits of the web, wow, wish someone had told me sooner….

Verdict

Do I want one, yeah I kind of do. The demonstration videos make me want one, even if I’m not sure I need one. I guess thats the point of the videos. In fact the more I simply read about it the more I want one.

Will I buy one? Maybe, it’ll depend on how much they end up costing down here, and when they’re available how much extra the 3G version will be. Also I’m planning on updating to the next-gen iPhone when they arrive so if it comes down to me having to choose one over the other I’ll probably go for the new iPhone, and hold out for the second gen iPad. Maybe, unless I change my mind. After all I never intended to get an iPhone either… and then I got up at 4 in the morning to get in the queue. Damn you Apple and your sexy products.

One more thing

If I do get one I want to be able to purchase a twelvesouth iPad-sized ‘BookBook’ to put it in. So go over here: http://bit.ly/bNvTXK and let them know you’d like one too. Thx.