The iPad: An Inside-the-Park Home Run

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

The iPad (as we now know it is called) is tantamount to Apple hitting an inside-the-park home run. Even with all of the rumors swirling about these past months, the device ultimately managed to live up to the hype — and even exceed it in a few places. I am certain Apple has a success on their hands. They will sell a ton of iPads (you heard it here first!). That’s what makes it a home run. But while Apple lit up the scoreboard with the iPad (which is what counts most), they didn’t manage the ultimate spectacle of hitting the ball beyond the upper decks. Here’s why:

Why it’s a home run

Sorting through all of the iPad’s features and specs, here are the ones that most sold me on the device:

• Price. This was the biggest surprise of the day. The cost of an iPad starts at $499. The Kindle DX sells for $489. For only $10 more, you can get an iPad — which does…about a zillion more things than the Kindle. Even given that the Kindle’s E-Ink technology may be superior for reading and battery life, it’s time for Amazon to rethink their Kindle strategy. The iPad is going to be serious competition. Deadly serious.

I also believe it was smart for Apple to make 3G an option (it cost $130 extra). Many people survive quite nicely with a MacBook that has no 3G option. They can do so just as well with the iPad. And for those willing to pay for the privilege of 3G (including its additional monthly fee), they can. Choice is good.

• iWork and the Keyboard. In a previous column, I expressed my hope that the iPad might replace my MacBook. In order to do so, it would need to have at least two capabilities not presently available in the iPhone. First, it needed to be able to run applications such as the iWork suite, so I could use it to write articles or create Keynote presentations. Second, it needed an external keyboard, so I could type more efficiently that I can with a virtual keyboard. Apple delivered on both counts (exactly along the lines I described in my article). Kudos. [Update: To be fair, I believed that the iPad would not have the muscle to be a true Keynote document creator; I was happily wrong.]

I still have concerns about editing (I don’t want to have to “shake to Undo”). But I assume this will be worked out.

• External connections. I was glad to see that Apple is offering a Camera Connection Kit. With this, you can load photos from a camera directly to the iPad, yet another key feature makes it possible to replace a MacBook with an iPad. Again, I predicted that this feature was coming — at it did.

Similarly, although details are still a bit vague, Apple promises that the iPad will work with “external projectors” — meaning I can use it to deliver presentations at conferences and meetings. 

• iBooks. The new iBooks app and the iBookstore turn the iPad into a full-fledged eBook reader. Combined with updated newspaper and magazine apps, redesigned to take advantage of the special features of the iPad interface (such as embedded video and jumping to story continuations), it offers almost everything I had hoped to see.

I was a bit surprised that magazines and newspapers were not included in the iBookstore, where they might charge for a subscription. Many had predicted something like this — and that it would mark the beginning of a rejuvenation for print publications. But it was not to be. 

• Everything else. As for the rest, the iPad showed off the typical Apple polish. It looks sleek, runs fast, and works even better than the iPhone as a game machine, iPod, Web browser and email client. My overall positive impression could dim a bit after I finally get an iPad in my hands and discover limitations not apparent from the demos; but I doubt it.

Why it didn’t make it out of the ballpark

Despite all of this, there are a few missing pieces that prevent me from having unqualified enthusiasm for the iPad. In some cases, the pieces may yet be found (as there are details yet to be revealed). But the outlook is not encouraging. 

One general comment: Steve Jobs described the iPad as a new product category, in between the iPhone and the MacBook. True enough. But it is also true that, if you already own a MacBook and an iPhone, there is not a compelling reason to get an iPad — unless you intend it to replace one of these other two devices. That is, I don’t see going on a trip with all three in my backpack. For me, as I’ve already indicated, I view the iPad as a potential replacement for a MacBook that serves as a secondary computer. And here is where it runs into trouble. 

• File transfer limitations. It appears that the major (and in some cases the only) way to directly transfer data to and from an iPad will be — just as with an iPhone — via syncing to your Mac or PC. Sure, you can use email to send an attachment (if you have an Internet connection), but if you simply want to get a Pages document from your iPad to a friend’s iPad (or vice versa), there should be a simple direct way to do so. With two MacBooks, you can do the transfer over Wi-Fi, using file sharing to mount one computer as an external drive on the other Mac. Or you ca use a USB flash drive as an intermediary. Neither of these options appear to be available for the iPad.

Or what about if I am traveling with an iPad and iPhone and I want to transfer an assortment of documents from one device to the other? How do I do this — without any MacBook for syncing? I’m not sure this is even possible. Perhaps Apple expects people to use MobileMe as a cloud-based solution. We’ll see.

[Note: I have begun to look over what’s new in iPhone OS 3.2 SDK. It offers some positive signs. In particular, applications will be able to “share” documents they create using a new file-sharing support feature. All documents to be shared are placed in a Shared Directory, which will mount on the desktop when the device is connected to a computer. This works independently of iTunes syncing. While this doesn’t address all the file transfer and viewing issues, it’s a start.]

• File viewing limitations. There appears to be no direct way to see the full contents of the iPad’s hard drive. Again, the same is true for the iPhone. If I want to view a list of all of my Pages documents, I expect I will be able to do so from within the Pages app. But what if I more generally want to see all my documents? Or what if I want to create a folder that contains a custom set of my documents, such as a collection of files of different types, all related to an article I am working on. There seems no way to do this with the iPad (although the Shared folder may be a partial solution). Indeed, there still seems no folder hierarchy of any kind supported in the iPad’s Home screens.

Speaking of file viewing, I’m still waiting to see the extent to which the iPad will work with projection systems. Will it just add Keynote presentations to the small list of what is permitted with the current iPhone OS? Or will it truly allow mirroring of the iPad’s display, as you can do with any Mac? I suspect, unfortunately, the former is the case.

Bluetooth limitations. Despite my joy at seeing a Dock-connected keyboard for the iPad, I’d like to see more keyboard options — such as a Bluetooth wireless keyboard, maybe even one that can be folded so as to make it more portable. The iPad does support Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, so this seems possible. But will Apple truly allow third-parties to play ball here? I’m not sure. [Update: As pointed out in reader comments below, Apple’s Web site states that the iPad will work with the Apple Wireless Keyboard. Whether or not this implies support for third-party keyboards remains uncertain, at least to me.]

• Printing? Will you be able to directly connect your iPad to a printer? As I detailed in this article, your options for doing this from an iPhone are very limited. I see no sign that the iPad will be different. But the demand for printing from an iPad will be greater than with the iPhone. For example, given that the iPad can run Pages, the time will surely come when you will want to print out documents you’ve created — without needing to sync to your Mac to do so. 

• Multitasking? What if I am working in Pages and what to add some Web URLs? Will I need to quit Pages, launch Safari, copy a URL, quit Safari, relaunch Pages, and paste the URL? And do this again for each additional URL I want? It sure looks like it. For the iPad to truly be an effective iWork environment, the iPad needs to allow multiple apps to be open at the same time. This may still be coming in iPhone OS 4.0 (not yet announced and possibly included when the iPad finally ships). But as of now, there is no mention of this feature.

• No camera. This first generation iPad has no camera (which means no videoconferencing). This doesn’t concern me too much, as I am certain it will be added to a future version. But it’s worth noting that it’s missing for now.

• The big picture. Almost all of the above limitations are really different aspects of the same thing: the closed nature of the iPhone OS. When I think about replacing my MacBook with an iPad, this fact leaves me more than a bit nervous. Do I really want to give up my MacBook for a device that allows me to add applications only via Apple’s App Store? Do I really want a MacBook alternative that offers no way to directly access, copy and move my documents? Ultimately, do I really want a replacement device that Apple appears to have more control over than I do?

Maybe. It is a pretty impressive device after all. And that’s why I plan to buy one. But I still hope Apple will begin to open up the iPad and iPhone OS in the months ahead. That’s when I will truly be able to yell “it’s outta here.”

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Comments

geoduck

Fairly accurate assessment. I see the lack of a camera as the big thing. The iPad just screams Skype Me, Video ConferenceMe, Video Chat Me, but without a camera this is a non starter. At this point the only Apple device you can do those things with is a MacBook or iMac. This is IMO a big strike and a huge oversight on Apple’s part. I posted elsewhere the three groups that would have bought them in droves…if it had a camera:

Seniors that want to Skype with their kids on something not too complex to use
Business types that want to make video conference and Sales calls.
Young adults that want to video chat with their friends.

These are huge markets. I know I would have bought two of them; one for my elderly mother and another for my aunt just so they could call me any time. But not without a camera. Right now I’m going to be keeping my credit card right where it is.

webjprgm

Like you said, the closed nature is the key point (though I had handwriting recognition for note taking on my wish list).

Example: I am a computer science student.  I use my MacBook to write programs all the time (while in class or between classes).  Apple has historically rejected any app from the AppStore that includes translating code into something that runs, like scripting inside an app/game/etc., which could allow one app to run apps purchased outside of the AppStore. So, Apple’s closed world would probably prevent using something like Eclipse + bundled Java compiler and JVM on the iPad, even though it would be a good, workable solution.

On the plus side, I can set a background on my home screen that makes this look like the tablets in the StarTrek TV series.  That’s just cool.

Vote with your wallets! This may determine the future of computing!

Donny

“I’d like to see more keyboard options ? such as a Bluetooth wireless keyboard”

It clearly says in the online documenation that this possible.

Lancashire-Witch

Ted - I think the wireless Apple keyboard is an option. If I’ve interpreted the Apple small print correctly.

That being the case I can’t see why a Bluetooth camera isn’t also a possibility. Maybe not ultra convenient, but better than nothing if it will connect. If my Bluetooth headset doesn’t connect I’ll be disappointed.

CudaBoy

Pretty spot-on Ted!!
The camera really SHOULD be on this puppy, we have incredible video cam on the nano and not the Pad??? Makes zero sense.
That screen is perfect for video conferencing or even quick-n-dirty video editing!

This Pad can’t be all things to all people. Remember when the iPod came out? The idea of an Apple MP3 player didn’t seem like such a big deal what with all the other players that already existed but then Apple took the MP3 player to another level entirely- a new paradigm of the iTunes store and the App store; those additions made the Pod a game changer big time.
This iPad could be an even bigger seachange. Once the print media realizes that it’s just too damn expensive to kill trees anymore, and realize how cool the interactive magazines could be (see the Sports Illustrated demo), I could see the entire publishing world pivot and join the ‘new’ world. The e-reader aspect ALONE is enough to make this device a world-changer once the content providers smell the wi-fi so to speak.

Urby

@webjprgm I’m also a cs student and have the same dilemma. Unfortunately, because of the new cpu architecture (i assume…) I doubt we’ll be seeing eclipse on it for this reason alone anytime soon. Even jailbroken.
When I look at my list of apps on my MacBook, I would miss a few things in replacing it with an iPad: the Adobe apps, programming software, and until it’s jailbroken, additional video codecs/torrent software. But most importantly, iLife. iPhoto is somewhat taken care of, but iMovie, garageband, iWeb are apps I will certainly miss. It’s that freedom that you get on a computer that I think this thing lacks, but I’m optimistic that 3rd parties and eventually apple will step in to take care of the problem. I hope iWork for iPad supports some kind of math equation entry… I think there’s a lot of work to be done on the whole to allow the platform to stay closed but *not as closed* as the iPhone. I would love to take notes in class on this thing, but I don’t see myself bringing a bluetooth keyboard to class (lol…), and when traveling I think an Airport Utility for iPhone (or a frikken web interface for the airports…) is sorely lacking. I’m afraid that Apple may be treating the iPad a little too much like the iPhone, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.

Tiger

Yes, Bluetooth keyboard connectivity is enabled: (copied from Apple’s website)

Accessories
There are lots of great accessories that have been specifically designed for iPad. The Keyboard Dock, for instance, is a dock with a full-size keyboard. There?s also a standalone Dock. And because iPad has built-in Bluetooth 2.1, it?ll work with an Apple Wireless Keyboard, too. There?s also a Camera Connection Kit that lets you import photos from a camera or SD card. There?s even an iPad Case that not only protects it, it also allows you to use iPad in various positions, to make it easy to type, look at photos, or watch movies. And through a range of accessories, iPad can output to TVs, projectors and displays.

clunker

From the article:

“I was glad to see that Apple is offering a Camera Connection Kit. With this, you can load photos from a camera directly to the iPad”

... the same way certain automakers tried to call an analog line-in jack their “MP3 player compatibility”.

No built-in camera is a glaring omission.  While I appreciate the connection kit, it’s not the real thing.

CudaBoy

Man, a lot of people are griping “it won’t run this, it won’t run that”...that’s why they have these things called laptops, kids.
What would you need or even want to run from Adobe on any pad??? You going to whip those bezier curves into shape on a 9.8” touch screen? This Pad is NOT a computer. You don’t wish your pliers could hammer nails do you??
This thing will change the world (potentially) of media and publishing delivery systems and it will do other cool things (the Apps made explicitly for this platform) but running compromised big-boy apps like Dreamweaver or InDesign is just not cool, buy a laptop or desktop. It’s more a New Media Device, not a Kindle, not a computer per se. Man, I can’t wait to see how this plays out in 3 years.

rabber

For my purposes, if I can move documents from Mac to iPad to iPhone through the cloud (iDisk?) then I think I will be happy. I need local storage on the iPad for a few documents I am immediately working on in case of no internet connection, bu the cloud is OK for me to keep the majority.

The lack of camera is too bad, but I think it was omitted in order to meet the price target. The camera would allow videoconferencing which makes sense for this device.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this product. I see it as a way to move from iPhone and MacBookPro to iPhone, iPad and iMac. The iPad will take care of my day to day portability needs as I travel around to meet with customers. Since with my current job I am back home almost every night, I do not need the power of the MacBookPro on the road.

The keyboard will be a big help. I tend to feel that the docked keyboard would be easier for me since it automatically supports the iPad, whereas with a BT keyboard I am not sure how I would view it while typing.

Tiger

The networks, both Wi-Fi and 3G are not ready for live video conference on mass scale, hence the lack of camera. Face it, five years from now maybe, but none of the networks in the US are ready for this. Much less people doing video chats from their car. We think we have problems now with cell phone users causing accidents?

This thing should come with a major warning: DO NOT USE IN A MOVING VEHICLE IF YOU ARE SEATED IN THE FRONT SEAT. Even a shotgunner holding one would be a huge distraction for a driver.

geoduck

DO NOT USE IN A MOVING VEHICLE IF YOU ARE SEATED IN THE FRONT SEAT.

Agreed!

Lancashire-Witch

CudaBoy makes a strong point.

If you really want a touch-screen laptop - sorry there isn’t one from Apple today.

Maybe the MacBook Air will come down in price now.  I guess Ted will be happy at the thought of a more reasonable price/performance ratio.

Perhaps many of the gripers were hoping for a touch-screen “Air” with a bluetooth keyboard option

The problem now is the huge price difference. 3x at the entry point. It sure makes the Air look expensive.

CudaBoy

The networks, both Wi-Fi and 3G are not ready for live video conference on mass scale, hence the lack of camera. Face it, five years from now maybe,

Huh? With 4G rolling out you may be surprised how soon Apple slaps a cam in the Pad.
Besides, as the Pad is a media device, live chat is only one of many reasons I want a camera not the least of which is- I want a CAMERA, both still and video. By the comments on this page alone I can predict a.) Apple will sell a gazillion of these pads and b.) Apple will sell even MORE when a camera is built in (or an ext. micro snake cam is hatched lol) in the next iPad version.

Lancashire-Witch

whereas with a BT keyboard I am not sure how I would view it while typing.

I think the idea is that you use the accessory case as a stand when using a BT keyboard.

jpashin

The camera looks at face value like a glaring omission, but as I sit here in front of my Macbook Pro, I can’t help but think of a fundamental usability problem.

The iSight on the laptop is perfectly positioned and fairly still in my lap - even as I type.

It would be pretty hard to keep the iPad still in my hand, let alone position the pad so a camera would point consistently at my face. I would not be surprised if there are some camera-bearing prototypes in Apple’s labs, and there may be some interesting stories about how they function when actually deployed.

Airic04

Hey I was just watching the Keynote and Steve Jobs said “...so thats a little bit of an over view of the iPod hardware…”  I think he ment iPad.  I can’t blame him thought, you try to make it a “surprise” but we all know what it was, so the keynote/presentation wasn’t as exciting as they usually are.

CudaBoy

Hey I was just watching the Keynote and Steve Jobs said ?...so thats a little bit of an over view of the iPod hardware??


I “pahd” is Boston for iPad.  d:)

Airic04

yeh, well, there wasn’t a lot of distinction b/t the words,...if he even said it

rjackb

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.

Viswakarama

Printing can easily be done using HP’s HP Print application over WiFi!!! Most probably the printer manufacturers will come with apps for their printers with WiFi connections.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I guess not having Flash and stumbling on not having it TWICE in the keynote doesn’t count a grounding out to short? You can’t play FarmVille on the iPad. That’s a dealbreaker for most people.

CudaBoy

You can?t play FarmVille on the iPad. That?s a dealbreaker for most people.

yer joking, right?

Dave

I think this is a revolutionary product, but make no mistake, it will not replace your macbook. This product is an entertainment product, not a tool for those who create. It has very very specific goal which benefits apple, and that is consumption. This is a device for consumers to consume media more than anything else. And apple wants to sell that to you from iTunes store.

That is all you need to know to understand where this fits in between the iPhone and the Macbook, and what separates it from both.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s only the most popular social game ever. Works great on any Windows netbook that know-it-all Steve so smugly dismisses. You guys all laugh at Bosco’s criticisms of Apple’s closed iPhone platform, and now you’ve got a concrete example in 9.7 glorious inches of why Apple’s control freak attitude is just plain stupid. I can see the Verizon commercial now… “iDon’t play FarmVille (or any of the other millions of Flash games). Droid does.”

If this tablet ran Mac OS X with the ability to use it like a Mac, I would be all over it with praise. All over it. The only thing good about iPad is that it will legitimize the form factor and spur other vendors to release Windows and Android tablets that can do things like run Flash.

CudaBoy

Exactly. This is a media device that could change the world.
It is not a computer. The iPod/iPhone aren’t computers.
For “creators”, laptops aren’t even serious machines - ain’t no mac studio I worked in used laptops, we use real macs - g5 dual quad core towers. laptops…

Ted Landau

Printing can easily be done using HP?s HP Print application over WiFi!!!

As I recall, it only prints photos. It is not a complete print solution. What is needed is a Print option that can be added to any app.

Ted Landau

I think this is a revolutionary product, but make no mistake, it will not replace your macbook. This product is an entertainment product, not a tool for those who create.

You are correct. The problem is that most people will not be buying both an iPad and a MacBook, using each for its optimized functions (not to mention also buying an iPhone).

People will be forced to choose. Choosing an iPad will be an easier call if it can adequately do most common MacBook “creation” tasks. Including iWork on the iPad is a move in that direction. But it’s just a small start. I believe, in 3 years, a third generation iPad WILL be able to replace a MacBook for the majority of MacBook users. [Depending on your view of the iPhone OS, this could be seen as a good thing or a scary prospect.]

Lancashire-Witch

You guys all laugh at Bosco?s criticisms of Apple?s closed iPhone platform,

I don’t laugh at any of your posts, Bosco.  There’s not a hint of humor in any of them. Seriously.

Ted Landau

For ?creators?, laptops aren?t even serious machines - ain?t no mac studio I worked in used laptops, we use real macs - g5 dual quad core towers. laptops?

Yes. If you use your MacBook as a desktop computer equivalent, there is no way I see a iPad replacing your MacBook anytime in the near future. But for those, like me, who use it as a secondary Mac, primarily when away from home/office, it could soon fill the bill.

iJack

I think that 60-90 days is a long time, and we are likely to see some, if not all of these questions answered.

Like a few previous posters, I also have a gut feeling that this is a revolutionary, rather that an evolutionary product.  When I watched the video on the Apple site, I was blown away by several things, and maybe most of all by how iWork - and especially Keynote - work on the iPad.

With all those developers out there and the SDK available for them all, I think we are about to see something very special in the coming year.

The iPad - in spite of it’s suckey name - will turn out to be a Barry Bonds homer.

CudaBoy

Wait til you see what the iPad happens to be, rather than wish upon it all sorts of ‘creation’ aspects. Out of the box it is a game changer if for nothing else than it blows the Kindle paradigm out of the water because it is a superior book reader with great content out of the box and ultimately better dough for the pubs, and then add the obvious future of pulp to pixels - print is croaking big time, I see a time when you curl up on the couch and poke the .5” plank and read the Times,Sports Illustrated,Playboy,TV Guide etc and laugh about the days we used to have to get up and unfold dead trees to see ink on a page. Sure it felt good, and ink smelled good but come on…

WetcoastBob

I think an iSight camera in this thing would be a pain in the a**.  You would have to hold it at just the right angle the whole time you were video conferencing.  When the camera does come it will use face recognition to aim the camera at your face.  Give Apple a little time to develop this.

The real potential of this device is to give the print media a way out of their present conundrum.  A sort of iPeriodical Store.  I hope a form of this happens, because we do need some professional media.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I believe, in 3 years, a third generation iPad WILL be able to replace a MacBook for the majority of MacBook users. [Depending on your view of the iPhone OS, this could be seen as a good thing or a scary prospect.]

Ted, this leads to exactly why Jobs is wrong as sin about netbooks. If you buy a Windows netbook today, it will scale up to your Windows laptop or desktop. Or you can scale your work down to the netbook. As crappy as Windows may or may not be in some of our minds, it scales. With iPhone, iPad, and Mac, we might be on a 3 year course to just make it so you can take your data with you and work on the convenient form factor for your environment. With the iPad, it’s as if Apple wants you to decide which you want, not scale up or down gracefully.

My grandmother called me tonight and reminded me of another problem. A Windows friend sent her an attachment on an email that my grandmother (who has my hand-me-down G3 Cube) couldn’t open. So what about .ppt and.xls files? Will there be free readers installed so the old men sitting on couches can see the things that 90% of their friends are sending around? Or does Steve Jobs think those things aren’t worthy of seeing, as he shamelessly seems to think about Flash, judging from the missing Flash icon popping up twice during his keynote?

The more I think about the iPad system, the more I hope it fails. But it will probably be wildly successful, and I’ll have to listen to people spout off about how it just works for everything they do while they’re unable to view things that we all take for granted. It’s fine for the iPhone when you’re at the mall and can’t open a PowerPoint. Not fine for your primary email device no matter who you are.

CudaBoy

But for those, like me, who use it as a secondary Mac, primarily when away from home/office, it could soon fill the bill.

Absolutely. There are a few tweaks in software that would have to be made and at the same time the SDK wizards will be whipping stuff up probably for the next gen Apple chip - a Apple chip? I’m still getting used to that one…
But I’m really trying to dissuade people from that direct EITHER/OR laptop/iPad NOW because I could see how the line could be blurred with advent of ‘PadApps’ that cover most bases and at least save in a universal-PDF/RAW/XXX/ format.
I just wish I was in charge of any huge publishing conglomerate that doesn’t know what’s going on because there is STUPID potential in this new device and there are a lot of old lifers that don’t want to give up the ghost. I see royalties in them thar hills!!!!!!!

CudaBoy

My grandmother called me tonight and reminded me of another problem. A
Windows friend sent her an attachment on an email that my grandmother (who
has my hand-me-down G3 Cube) couldn’t open. So what about .ppt and.xls
files? Will there be free readers installed so the old men sitting on
couches can see the things that 90% of their friends are sending around?

Ain’t the Mac’s fault!!
Why doesn’t Windows stuff conform to oh, say PDF???? Any Mac doc saved to pdf can be viewed by anybody for free, ONLY Windows and PC will not play nice with the obvious ubiquitous pdf standard the whole world understands.

. If you buy a Windows netbook today, it will scale up to your Windows laptop or desktop. Or you can scale your work down to the netbook. As crappy as Windows may or may not be in some of our minds, it scales.

Who cares???You don’t get it. Steve ain’t got no dog in your fight. Sorry. I’ll talk to you in 1 year

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

CudaBoy, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The whole world forwards ppt an xls files, and the Apple fanatic answer is, “well it would be better if Windows people just forwarded PDFs”. Dude, your wishful thinking doesn’t solve the problem. The problem will still be there, but worse, because Steve doesn’t think it needs to be solved either.

Tens of millions of people play FarmVille. Zynga is not going to adjust their gaming platform to add in iPhone/iPad when Flash makes it so possible for them to rapidly prototype, market test, and deploy features without approval from Apple censors. And that is exactly the hang-up with Flash. It opens the floodgates to “unapproved” software and we Mac users all know the dangers of that!

Ted Landau

Just had another thought. In the keynote today, Steve noted that the iPad could sync with your Mac, just like an iPhone does. Not a surprise. But it does imply that Apple does not see the iPad as a stand-alone device, the way a MacBook or iMac can be. Rather, it is something you get in addition to your main Mac.

Of course, from a marketing point of view, that would be just great for Apple—if all Mac owners also bought an iPad. Still, it seems reasonable at this point not to position the iPad as a device for someone without any other computer (Mac nor PC).

CudaBoy

CudaBoy, that?s exactly what I?m talking about. The whole world forwards ppt an xls files, and the Apple fanatic answer is, ?well it would be better if Windows people just forwarded PDFs?. Dude, your wishful thinking doesn?t solve the problem.

Oh man, we could dance but the fact is pdf is a standard..not a mac standard but ‘universal’..  a standard. Friggin’ Gate’s doesn’t want to recognize .jpegs or .aiff or .mov or .mpeg on and on… there is NO reason for an .xls file format nor .ppt or any of that PC junk.That’s your problem. I would agree with you 100% if your PC stuff would play nice with the rest of the world but it can’t. Funny how Mac docs can always be saved to PC but the reverse just can’t be done by those geniuses in Redmond.

Lancashire-Witch

Steve noted that the iPad could sync with your Mac, just like an iPhone does.

Bryan Chaffin coined the phrase “iPod Super Touch” a while back; he doesn’t look to be too far off the mark.

And I’m not sure “could sync” conveys the right impression.

James

How do we forget so quickly? It’s a rev A, guys. The first version is always going to be a tad feature-incomplete, buggy even. But consider that the specs on it positively dust the a**es of the first all in-ones from less than a decade ago, which we all managed to do ‘real’ work on. Sometimes I think we’re just getting cynical. wink

What excites me is the potential it has as a more mature product/ecosystem, as well as a pretty exciting glimpse of where we’re heading, just as the Mac and the iPhone were. I’ve already considered grafting my iPhone onto my arm, but the small screen has prohibited doing any really heavy duty work on it. This solves that issue and then some.

I really do think Flash is on the verge of decline; HTML 5 is just so much better.

At the very least, no one is going to be dropping $$$ on a Kindle come April if the Kindle iPhone App is already running natively on the iPad.

Dean Lewis

Keynote opens Powerpoint presentations. Numbers opens Excel files. Get Grandma a copy of iWork. However, the only .ppt and .xls files I’ve ever gotten from family are spammy chain emails and likely a virus anyway and I don’t want to waste my time with them. Grandma should count herself lucky. smile

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Gee, thanks Captain Obvious. Grandma already has iWork and the PowerPoint viewer app. This is not about Grandma’s G4 Cube. It’s about what would happen if Grandma got an iPad. Grandma would continually be upset that she can’t open the attachments her friends send her. Unlike most grandchildren in their 30s, I’m not an a-hole to my grandmother and I don’t tell her that she should be happy not to get viruses in chain email. Those emails keep her busy and happy and connected and young, and I’m thankful for that.

The point is that, even in a version 2 or 3 system, if Apple insists on inventing its own little world to control, a lot of things people already do to communicate with each other will go by the wayside. Apple fanbots will cheer that Steve is sticking it to Adobe and Microsoft. Meanwhile, people like me who want to share technology with others in their lives can’t recommend “solutions” that just cause problems for end-users.

You know, the thing I thought most interesting about today is that the Engadget editors, generally thought to be in the tank for all things Apple, pretty much panned the whole concept of the iPad. Collectively, they are passionate about gadgets and really know what connects and what doesn’t. They don’t get the iPad at all. Not a good sign for Apple.

John Dingler

Coupl’a insights:

The iPad is for home use, for couch potatoes. Proof is that Steve Jobs sat on the couch for some of the demonstration and simply surfed and did stuff. Perfect for doing email while watching Jerry Springer.

It’s not meant to compete with a netbook feature-for-feature, hence it’s focus on only a few key features but those features work perfectly, seamlessly, smoothly, and quickly. This seemed to be the goal for this iteration. Mission accomplished. Next iteration, likely more stuff based on the iPod’s history since this seems to behave like the iPod/iPhone’s big brother.

JonGl

My grandmother called me tonight and reminded me of another problem. A Windows friend sent her an attachment on an email that my grandmother (who has my hand-me-down G3 Cube) couldn?t open. So what about .ppt and.xls files?

well at this moment, I have a 9 megabyte pps file open in mail on my iPhone. It opened just fine, which is better than I can say for Leopard because Quicklook on Leopard refuses to show it because of the .pps extension instead of .ppt.

Now, lest anybody take the above as an endorsement of this new product. It’s not. My doubts about it stem from the tablet dorm factor. I can’t help but wonder how this can have popular appeal. But time will tell.

-Jon

Dave

I think this is a revolutionary product, but make no mistake, it will not replace your macbook. This product is an entertainment product, not a tool for those who create. It has very very specific goal which benefits apple, and that is consumption. This is a device with one purpose in mind,  for consumers to consume media more than anything else. And apple wants to sell that to you from iTunes store.

That is all you need to know to understand where this fits in between the iPhone and the Macbook, and what separates it from both.

Dean Lewis

This product is an entertainment product, not a tool for those who create.

Considering the number of iPhone/Touch apps that allow people to do music/recording, painting/sketching, and much more, I have to disagree with this. Also, Phil Schiller showed iWork apps editing, if not creating, documents and presentations as well.

I also disagree that it’s just for home use. I prefer this larger screen to the smaller iPhone screen. I would carry this with me in a heartbeat. I’m interested in trying out the on screen keyboard as well as the artist and music apps (in 2x mode as well as those that will be reprogrammed for the larger form factor—virtual Tenori-On, here I come.

Are there enough customers like me who prefer larger screens to do their daily notes, sketches, mail checking, etc. and then sync with a desktop at home to make the iPad successful? I hope so. Netbooks are cramped, fugly, and the desktop OS metaphor just doesn’t work well on them; I prefer something like this for mobile stuff and my desktop for my main computing.

Tiger

Dean Lewis:
It’s nice to see people who think outside the box. So many are hung up on what it will or won’t do like what they do now and refuse to see what it may do for them in the future.

And if the lack of Farmville is a major sticking point for some, I say please grow up, stop wasting your brainpower on mind numbing drivel, and do something productive, like reading a book, drawing a piece of art, or anything other than acting like a sheep. The best thing I ever did on Facebook, which I use for communications since it’s my business, is block all the silly applications that are gigantic wastes of time. I weep for society if that’s the best that people can do with their lives. I think you’d get more out of watching reruns of the A-Team.

FlipFriddle

Ugh. Isn’t it obvious that this is not meant to be a replacement for a laptop? Steve even showed it in between an iPhone and MacBook. I’m not sure we all know what this is yet.
BTW, netbooks are merely the attempt to make laptops even cheaper the only way possible left to the manufacturers: smaller pieces and less capability. Nothing new was created!
Someones article here on MacObserver in the last few days opined that this will not be a device for those in the tech community, and the comments from the tech community bear this out. Myself as a content CREATOR, I see this as a wonderful mobile device, that will do what I want when I’m mobile. A laptop is over kill for reading email, web, and looking at pictures, but is underpowered for book design, and serious illustration and compositing work. Fits me just right. i can’t wait for Corel to make a version of Painter for the iPad so I can have a digital sketchbook (with a stylus of course, which already exist). I see the iPad being a huge hit in hospitals schools.
Also, everyone is talking about it not having multitasking; did Steve ever actually SAY that or is it that he didn’t mention that it could, so everyone assumes it can’t?

Jason Hopkins

Weird, I think Apple must’ve read my mind!

Having shunned my netbook and notebook for the convenience of an iphone and ipod for most casual net items (safari, weather pro, email, and maps) I think I must be the target market for an iPad (the obvious name I guess as it’s an extension of the Ipxx range).

As an IT pro I didn’t think this sort of item would be for me but an instant on connected device that can do other fun stuff, and a small amount of productivity possibly, it fits the bill. Even my wife is excited and she’s a techno-phobe (except nowadays you can’t prize an iphone from her hands!).  May never need to experience the pain of using a netbook again!

geoduck

As others have mentioned this is a first-gen device. I didn’t get an iPod until the second gen. I didn’t get an iMac until the lamp. I’ll probably get one of these in a year or two once the bugs are worked out and they add a few things, like a camera.

aardman

To people complaining that the iPad can’t replace their Macbook:  Do you seriously believe that Apple will sell you a Macbook replacement that starts out at $499?

zewazir

Gee, thanks Captain Obvious. Grandma already has iWork and the PowerPoint viewer app. This is not about Grandma?s G4 Cube. It?s about what would happen if Grandma got an iPad.

Ummm, I seem to remember something about iWork being available on the iPad….  iWork opens .doc, .xls, .ppt, and the xml versions of all three. Grandma would do just fine on an iPad receiving your “world wide, everyone sends” (not really but that’s your claim) file attachments.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

And if the lack of Farmville is a major sticking point for some, I say please grow up, stop wasting your brainpower on mind numbing drivel, and do something productive, like reading a book, drawing a piece of art, or anything other than acting like a sheep.

Talk about a sheep! If you don’t get why FarmVille, Mafia Wars, etc. are actually productive social activities, I feel bad for you. It might surprise you, but having a venue where a few people can cooperate for a few minutes a day can build, rekindle, and maintain friendships, family ties, and even business relationships.

But the thing I love about the iPad is that it brings out the best in the die hard Apple fanbots. If you like a Flash application that iPad won’t run, you are just wasting brainpower on mind-numbing drivel. Here’s a hint if you want Apple to succeed. Listen to the complaints people share and give that feedback to Apple. I actually am aware of and understand all the politics and technical issues Apple has with Flash. But they have to think out of the box and solve the problem of making Flash content available on iPad if they are in any way serious about it being a web browsing platform. iPhone is acceptable because people use that browser in a pinch. If Flash isn’t on there, it’s just Apple arrogance, which is not a good sign albeit a much more prevalent one.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Grandma would do just fine on an iPad receiving your ?world wide, everyone sends? (not really but that?s your claim) file attachments

Because Pages and Keynotes always open .doc and .ppt files correctly and display full fidelity. That’s why I have the PowerPoint player on her computer right now grin. As cool as Keynote is, it doesn’t solve the .ppt attachment problem well enough for Grandma.

BTW, netbooks are merely the attempt to make laptops even cheaper the only way possible left to the manufacturers: smaller pieces and less capability. Nothing new was created!

So you’re calling the millions of people who bought these idiots. They all thank you as they get through 6-8 hours of classes, meetings, or general road warrior travels without having to find a power cord. They all thank you as the apps and documents they use on their main machines just work on their netbooks. They all thank you when the netbooks breaks or gets scratched or dropped because they’re out $300-$400 rather than $1100 to replace it. They all thank you as 3 kids can have netbooks rather than 1 kid having a “more capable” laptop for the same price. Price matters, and lowering price is more often than not the most compelling of innovations. Econ 101, buddy.

beehunter

Grandma would continually be upset that she can?t open the attachments her friends send her.

Check the iPad tech specs:
Mail attachment support
Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

But who is sending her Powerpoint presentations as e-mail?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

But who is sending her Powerpoint presentations as e-mail?

Forget it. I’m punting. If you aren’t aware that non-geeks like to send each other PowerPoint versions of the Star Spangled Banner with pictures of burning Twin Towers, soldiers in Iraq, cats and dogs dressed up like John Benet Ramsey, signs that are too funny to be real, Congresspeople involved in sex scandals, etc.—then you’re just not really in touch with what ordinary people do with email. Mac users who rely on Keynote/Numbers to keep in the loop on these emails find enough of them that fail in translation that the free Microsoft viewers are imperative.

It’s a lot like FarmVille. If you don’t get why being able to play FarmVille and other Flash games is important or why being able to view .ppt and .xls files as reliably as all your Windows using friends is important, you’re way too much of an Apple geek to look at this objectively. You’re never gonna be invited over to Steve’s house to hang out on his couch and use iPads together with him. You’re gonna have to interact with the rest of the world the way the rest of the world wants to interact.

iJack

But who is sending her Powerpoint presentations as e-mail?

Oh dear.  Very common.  From work related stuff, to annotated family vacation slide shows, etc.

Lancashire-Witch

Bosco - I think the problem is that PP slide show (.PPS) files don’t play as a slide show - and certainly not with any embedded sound. Sure you can open them on an iPhone or or a mac with OpenOffice etc - but they don’t play as a slide show - (if anyone knows something I’m missing please say so). I notice in beehunter’s list that .pps is not there.


My Ah-hah!  It’s a new ipod!

The rumor mill got me. I was expecting a new computer; something better than a netbook; something more “open”. Something that might replace my laptop; a MacBook Air killer.. etc etc.

But No. It syncs like an ipod touch, it looks like a (large) ipod touch, it runs apps like an ipod touch. But just like every new ipod since 2001 it has some cool new features - like iWork apps and e-books. (I hope I don’t get eye-strain staring at a bright LED lit LCD for hours)

If you’re disappointed don’t blame Apple for not producing something they didn’t tell you to expect.  Go back over the last few months and look at all the rumors- the clues are there in some of them.

So if Grandma has a 2nd gen hand-me-down ipod this iPad could be a smart new replacement; but she shouldn’t ditch her old G4. - what would she sync her iPad with?

jason-h

Now I’m not an Apple fanboy (I own 6 PC’s v 1 Mac and an iPhone)so looking at it objectively the upshot of all this discussion is that it’s horses for courses. If it works for you then fine get one one, otherwise buy something running Windows, Linux or Android. Simple!

I don’t want a Macbook (got netbook and a windows notebook already) so this device is a breakthrough for me. Instant on, quick simple access to key stuff, just like an iPhone, but on a decent size screen - and I really like IPS LCD panels so perfect! Dump the netbook. Simple!

joseph

this is a very good assessment of the ipad. i think one thing worth mentioning is the use of free servers to transfer documents and information. dropbox is one example. which allows you to put 2 gigs in the server at a time for free. with other options for more. this does require internet, however there is already an iphone/ipod touch app for this so it makes it easier.

danmanteufel

I would love to be in the iAccessory business right now. A third party case with integrated video camera along with the matching app could make a lot of money with the iPad. The big difference with missing features in the original iPod and iPhone was the lack of third party app and hardware support. That should be available for the 1st gen iPad.

Jim Ellison

Whoa people! This is a version 1 product. If they tried to put everything everybody wants on it, it would never ship!

Peter Scargill

The networks, both Wi-Fi and 3G are not ready for live video conference on mass scale, hence the lack of camera. Face it, five years from now maybe, but none of the networks in the US are ready for this. Much less people doing video chats from their car. We think we have problems now with cell phone users causing accidents?

Interesting, I’d have thought the networks in the US were ahead of the UK. Certainly I use SKYPE as a replacement for a normal phone and video conference over wifi almost daily and most of the time without any difficulty whatsoever. The SKYPE experience on the phone (sadly video-less) is great and I’d expect the iPAD to be similar.

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