The Apple iPad: Predictions and Impressions

| Editorial

There comes a time in technology when it doesn't pay to wait to ship any longer. There were a lot of things to get right with the iPad, hence the delay, but it also holds so much more promise for the future. The low introductory price takes the sting out of that dilemma.

First, I want to take a look at my predictions from September 25.

iPad predictions-2

What's of interest is that the iPad is apparently an even lower power device that I had anticipated. Unless Apple's stated battery life is somehow severely fudged, the iPad is generating 2.5 watts in normal use with a smallish 25 W-h battery to give a 10 hour life. That's amazing.

I was also surprised by the screen format of about 1.36:1 rather than 1.78:1 (HDTV). I would have assumed that the onboard processor would handle 1080p videos natively on a 1.78:1 display. Instead, it looks like everything gets scaled to 720p - and maybe letterboxed at that.

In terms of storage, I was hoping for a replaceable, upgradable SSD. That way one could go from 64 or 128 GB to 256 GB. Instead, likely due to power constraints, the iPad uses NAND Flash, like the iPhone. What this means is that, despite the low introductory price, one will be wise to buy the high capacity 64 GB unit if heavy use is expected. Good-bye $499, unless it's for a youngster in the family.

So much for predictions. On to some observations.

I was disappointed to see that only one iPhone app could run at a time. We've all been expecting multitasking, but again, ease of use and power limitations may have made that difficult.

For all those people who wondered about standing and typing, now we know. Just watch Steve Jobs with the iPad couched on his legs and typing with both hands. And then there's the dock with its keyboard. There wasn't as much invention there as we had hoped.

One has to wonder if Apple's enhanced apps for the iPad will eventually become available for Mac OS X. Perhaps Apple intends to differentiate the products with the divergence. Time will tell.

iWork for the iPad has to be one of those "Say What?" moments. I don't think the meaning of this will become clear for awhile. Clearly the iPad is a content consumption device while a Mac OS X-based Mac is a content creation device. So what's the deal with content creation via iWork when one doesn't have access to all the other neat utilities and tools we use for content creation on a Mac? I think that situation will change in time as developers re-cast their classic Mac OS X apps into the iPad environment. As with the iPhone and native apps, this process is going to take about a year.

I suspect that Verizon wouldn't deal with Apple on the low cost data plan. I suspect that AT&T's network is going to become slammed, even more than before. I suspect that Verizon will eventually become a 3G data option.

Now we have three major platforms, not counting the Apple TV. There's the Mac OS X-based machines and then the iPhone OS-based iPad and iPhone. That's two out of three systems that are subject to Apple's iTunes store and approval process. Is this Apple's vision of the future? Some thought that Cocoa and Carbon would co-exist together forever. Some may be worrying now about the fate of the legacy Mac OS X-based computer. But that's a decision that's years away. It all depends on the sales numbers for the iPad.

My biggest question is, for the average Apple customer, "Do I have to have one of these?" I think if the price were the normal premium Apple price, one might be tempted to say: "No way." However, the entry level price makes buying a low end model a no brainer for many who want to get in on the ground floor. One can grow with the technology and not commit huge funds. After all, the TCO for an iPhone 3GS with monthly payments is just under $3,000. The iPad is a good device to experiment with until later versions with more complete software and better hardware come out. The iPad line is a computer to grow with for the next ten years, moving up with subsequent models.  It'll be a lot of fun.

Finally, where's that darn forward-facing iSight camera for video conferencing?

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Comments

daemon

For me the “Say What” moment was when Steve said “iPad.” What a horrid name.

John Martellaro

Not only that, daemon, but it’s a proofreading nightmare.  How many times will we all type iPod when we meant iPad?

Pustoolio

For me the ?Say What? moment was when Steve said ?iPad.? What a horrid name.

Yeah, i had the same reaction in art school when told I would need to purchase a sketch pad. Don’t know why people are acting all junior high about the name.

Robert

I like that iWork is available for it. I think that almost makes it perfect for students. One problem though. How do you print the documents you create with this?

Gareth Harris

So many are thinking only about one more personal gadget.

Instead, I think apple has hit the business target for the working digital clipboard which is integrated to run local databases and displays and sync remotely . I can see factories and warehouses running over with these things, not to mention POS uses. Because of its integration, almost every truck driver will have one.

Time for me to start writing and moving over bizapps.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I could see buying these for three of my four 85+ year old grandparents. The other one just doesn’t want anything to do with computers. He’s the sensible one of the bunch. I’ve run my “Jobs looked like an old man on the couch” quip by a bunch of people (mostly Apple fans) and gotten quite a few “yeah, that was kinda unfortunate” replies.

Currently missing from the discussion… Outdoor readability. The Kindle is just amazing for that. How will iPad look on the sunny side of the kitchen table?

Also missing… Doubling down on AT&T. Probably missing because it’s optional. It’s like Apple is pulling down it’s pants and mooning Verizon, but too close in proximity to Verizon’s boot. The commercials are gonna be rich.

Gareth Harris

One more comment, John. I noticed many missing things like the camera too, but after all this is Distributed Portable Computing 1.0 ! And the init entry price has to be low low low. At least it starts with external and bluetooth keyboards abilities AND the ability to hook to VGA projectors with keynote.

John Martellaro

Bosco: I had the same discussion with Tim Robertson on OWC radio this afternoon. (See main TMO page.)  The iPad is the perfect gift for computer challenged parents!  Or, with all due and much respect, tech challenged spouses.

wilf53

How do you print the documents you create with this?

The same way as you print from the iPhone and the iPod Touch. There’s an app for that:)
I was just thinking that this one might replace my aging mother’s aging Mini!

daemon

Yeah, i had the same reaction in art school when told I would need to purchase a sketch pad. Don?t know why people are acting all junior high about the name.

Pustoolio are you referring to the 2005 sketch by MadTV called “iPad”? Or are you referring to the number one trending topic on Twitter “iTampon”? Or maybe you’re referring to that nice female news anchor from Fox News whose immediate response to “iPad” was “I don’t like it, it reminds me of feminine hygiene products.”

Lee Dronick

One problem though. How do you print the documents you create with this?

Via network printing I would think. This is not meant to replace a MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro.

daemon

Via network printing I would think. This is not meant to replace a MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro.

iPhone OS currently does not support network printing and unless I missed something in Jobs’ presentation there is no support being added for printers…. network, usb, or bluetooth.

Lee Dronick

iPhone OS currently does not support network printing and unless I missed something in Jobs? presentation there is no support being added for printers?. network, usb, or bluetooth.

I think that a lot was unsaid during that presentation. There are apps at the iTunes Store that print via WiFi, I haven’t yet tried any so no comment from me on how well they work.

wilf53

I haven’t used the app I have on my iPhone but it detects the printer, at least, and my wife has used the same app on her iPod Touch to print documents from that at the school she studies at, so I think it should not be much of a problem…

MonkeyT

I’m guessing iWork is mainly an example of where to go for developers, introducing new techniques, interfaces and protocols for interacting with the tablet, though the Keynote variant is going to see a LOT of use.

I want to know more about iBooks, as in “can you footnote text as you read it in iBooks, referencing a specific entry in Notes to a specific book’s page or line of text?”  “Is there a native version of Grapher?”  “Will textbook publishers price their works in accordance with the fact that this could practically eliminate used book sales?” This could really change the college textbook business if somebody’s got vision.

Lee Dronick

I want to know more about iBooks, as in ?can you footnote text as you read it in iBooks, referencing a specific entry in Notes to a specific book?s page or line of text??? ?Is there a native version of Grapher??? ?Will textbook publishers price their works in accordance with the fact that this could practically eliminate used book sales?? This could really change the college textbook business if somebody?s got vision.

Yes a lot questions yet to answered. Textbooks, my wife is back in college and this could be a great device for her.

I am wondering about connecting it via WiFi at hotspots using my AT&T DSL and iPhone accounts. Also along that line the 3G feature, will my iPhone account include that?

csimmons

Regarding the front-facing camera: given that 3G isn’t robust enough for serious video conferencing, did you all REALLY expect the iPad to have a front facing camera, or a camera at all? Have you thought about the potential physical strain and annoyance of having any sort of camera on a device of that size? AT&T is already catching hell about its network speed during heavy data use; can you imagine how badly they would be criticized once everyone started video chatting?

paikinho

I thought iSlate sounded better. More solid and yet more classic as well. Harkens back to the one room schoolhouse not the stock room in cube world.

If/when I get one, I will always refer to it as my iSlate I think.

geoduck

John Martellaro said on January 27th, 2010 at 5:48 PM:
Bosco: I had the same discussion with Tim Robertson on OWC radio this afternoon. (See main TMO page.)? The iPad is the perfect gift for computer challenged parents!? Or, with all due and much respect, tech challenged spouses.

Actually I was looking at getting one for my 80+ year old mother. Now I won’t. The reason is simple. With a camera we could use Skype for video calls from ~1000km away. Without a camera it would be voice only. Well, she has a cell phone already so the iPad would add nothing. I’m keeping my wallet where it is.

wilf53

Yes, Geoduck, I started to think about that as well. My sister lives in Australia and we in Norway and a camera is essential be it with Skype or iChat. A pity, that. I guess we rather buy her a new Mini then…

Lotharia

It seems to be no more than an over-sized iPod Touch.

Lee Dronick

It seems to be no more than an over-sized iPod Touch.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

rjackb

@MonkeyT
That’s exactly what I was thinking about iWork.

MackyMoto

I need a desktop computer, and I always buy Macs because they’re the best. I need a laptop computer, and again… MacBook Pros. I need a mobile phone, so I spent the extra $$ to get an iPhone - the best toy I’ve ever owned in my entire life! I don’t see the need for a pad/slate/tablet. It’s very cool, and I can see there are times when it would be more convenient than my laptop, but do I really want something else to carry around and something else to manage? Not unless it provides me with some markedly improved benefit or experience. I don’t see that the iPad 1.0 does that. It just seems like an unjustifiable luxury to me.

rjackb

I’ve already posted this comment on another thread but I think it bears repeating.

I don?t think that people will really understand the iPad until they actually hold it in their hands and use it. Its fundamental difference is that it is controlled by touching it with your fingers which is completely natural. That may not seem like a big deal at first blush but I think it really is. Yes, of course, the iPhone already does that but its small scale makes it a much different device.

cb50dc

Re: the no-sow camera ?

Products often seem deliberately to hold back a significant feature ? so that the next stage of production has something to draw in the fence-straddlers.

As cameras do introduce so many more technical and power issues, that seems like a good one to postpone, from a marketing standpoint. Plausible scenario: Let the bugs get worked out via the early adopters, and by October, the next batch of iPads will meet the then well-pent-up demand for a camera. Holiday sales? Cowabunga, baby.

Gotta leave ‘em wanting more.

aardman

Mr. M, I agree with you the ‘Say what?’ moment was iWork on the iPad.  That and the keyboard dock. This is Apple trying out large-screen computing on the iPhoneOS.  The last couple of weeks I made the prediction that iPhoneOS and MacOS will eventually merge in function if not in code base.  If iWork succeeds on iPad then Apple is more likely to port their other large-screen apps (Final Cut, Logic, etc.) on future, more powerful iPad models.  After that Adobe, and all the other 3rd party developers are sure to follow.

This is the doomsday scenario for Microsoft because if Apple’s mobile devices can do large-screen computing, then who will buy pure large-screen computers (laptops and desktops) anymore?  Microsoft’s continued fecklessness in mobile computing could very well lead to the death (or severe diminution) of Windows.

iJack

Apple is offering a camera connection kit.  Did anyone bother going to Apple’s web site and discovering this device?

The video is worth a watch too.

http://www.apple.com/ipad/

WetcoastBob

John:  How are you going to manage that forward facing iSight camera?  If your video conference lasts more than a minute you will invariably shift the device and your mug will no longer be in view.

I think Apple will have to invent a camera that has automatic tracking capabilities, perhaps using face recognition, to keep you in front of the camera as you fidget and shift with your iPad on your lap.

I would rather have Aperture than iWork (which I use regularly) on the iPad so that I can use it on a multi day photo assignment.  (You photograph during the day and start some editing at night.)

Overall it looks like a great start and it will just get better.  They are already a light-year ahead of anyone else and I think we are seeing the future.

Robbo

some things missing for me, another connector for landscape docking, ability to add more than four apps to the dock and ability to have email notifications or whatever to the locked screen. Maybe the last two will appear in OS4…

jecrawford

John

I was hoping to recommend the iPad to a couple of 80-year old friends of mine who have no PC at all, and I see that a PC/Mac is a prerequisite (see the Tech Specs page at Apple.com).

Do you think this could change?

John Crawford

Lee Dronick

I was hoping to recommend the iPad to a couple of 80-year old friends of mine who have no PC at all, and I see that a PC/Mac is a prerequisite (see the Tech Specs page at Apple.com).

Yes, I was thinking of getting one for my mother who currently has to borrow a PC to “get on the Yahoo” and check her email. I would be better off getting her a MacBook.

ibuck

To those whining about capabilities iPad lacks, did you consider:
1. This is what the current matrix of technology and practicality allows? Battery-life, storage capacity, bandwidth limitations (& willing partners), weight, processing power, heat dissipation, component pricing, content availability, etc, as well as the price point that customers would pony up?
2. Apple is exploring a new market niche to see how well iPad flies. Would it be good business to spend huge sums of money to put all the desired technology in a device, only to find lukewarm response—which could be the case if only power users purchased them instead of a wide breadth of the market?
3. Apple doesn’t wish to cannibalize sales of their laptops or desktops, or at least limit them?
4. That perhaps your own expectations were a bit too high / unrealistic given a broader view?

cb50dc

Git ‘em, iBuck. Concisely stated.

I suspect the iPad will follow a trajectory similar to the $599 iPhone and whatever-the-price original iPod. A big ol’ chunk of people will line up outside the Apple Stores hours ahead of opening (a few will sleep on the sidewalk for a day or two before), ready to lay their credit cards on the counter.

Even at $499-$829, lots of people will still say, “THAT price for something that only does WHAT?” And then in the next few months, once people begin seeing them on the train, the airport, restaurants, and lobbies, more and more people will start saying, “Hmmm… it IS awfully nice…”

The next batch produced will have a few new features and tweaks, the apps available will become a growing flood, and (of course) the price will stay the same while some aspects of storage, memory, speed, and/or screen performance will make the newer ones ahhh, that much more interesting. Over the next year or two, watch for entry-level price drops to $399, maybe even $249 ? and that low end will have techs better than this debut product’s. (Maybe even a $449 for Christmas 2010…)

Two years from now? Commonly found, though maybe not as ubiquitous as iPhone/iPod. Twice or thrice the storage, more connectivity (though with perhaps new forms of ports as yet unforeseen), and who knows what else.

And, of course ? watch for Dell, HP, Acer, and everyone else in the me-too crowd to throw together something that looks sort of like the iPad (but not as elegant) and performs reasonably well (but not as fluidly) and has some nice features (but not as well integrated).

Sooooo the circle of tech begins again… grin

wilf53

You expressed my thoughts, cbsofia.

I was thinking of another thing when it comes to multitasking. As it is, I have been using the iPhone to write rather long documents which is a relief for me, if I wake up in the middle of the night and thoughts are racing around in my brain. But then I need a quote or to look up something and I shut down Evernote and open up Safari or Mail or any other application. I look for whatever I need, copy it and go back to writing after I have pasted in what I needed.
The thought which struck me is this; is this procedure that much different from what one would do on a computer with several programmes running at the same time and does it take that much longer to accomplish? A little, yes, but significantly longer? I don’t need to save anything. When I return to whatever app I had open, it is all there as when I left it. The other app opens fast, almost as fast as it is to jump between several open windows on a desktop or a laptop. What then if the iPad is even faster? You cannot see the different windows side by side, that is true, but it isn’t like you have to remember to save your work, then shut down and wait for the app to shut down and then wait for the next app to open. It happens rather instantly, doesn’t it?

Maybe this is what they have had in mind, too? Just a thought.

Another thought is that iPhone OS 4.0 probably will be released soon. One might wonder what that will bring to the iPad.

Finally, what about the ability to connect cameras? Is that only for file transfers or could it be used to connect a webcam for instance? Is it just a question of drivers? Any one knows?

cb50dc

what about the ability to connect cameras? Is that only for file transfers or could it be used to connect a webcam for instance?

iJack, above, pointed out the camera connector (see http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/). Note that before you pay for this connector ($19.95, I’m betting), you’ll ALSO have to buy the keyboard dock ($xx.xx?) Keep that credit line ready, friends.

I’ve read and heard several others point out the issue of whether existing infrastructure will be ready for this much more bandwidth consumption.

Apple’s done a fine job in putting the hardware out there. But if you sell a million high-quality cars with only two-lane highways available, no one’s going to enjoy the commute.

Dang, the future’s heading this way pretty fast.

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