I’ve been building up to this moment for some time now. Today Apple announced iPad, it’s first tablet computer since Newton. I could go on and on about this new device, but thankfully Apple prepared a press release which does all of that for me. Read the press release and then you can read my initial hands-off thoughts below.
Apple Launches iPad
Magical & Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price
SAN FRANCISCO—January 27, 2010—Apple® today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more. iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch™ display lets users physically interact with applications and content. iPad is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds— thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. iPad includes 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the over 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.
“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”
iPad features 12 next-generation Multi-Touch applications. Every app works in both portrait and landscape, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction. The precise Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web on iPad an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer. Reading and sending email is fun and easy on iPad’s large screen and almost full-size “soft” keyboard. Import photos from a Mac®, PC or digital camera, see them organized as albums, and enjoy and share them using iPad’s elegant slideshows. Watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or flip through pages of an e-book you downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to your music collection.
iPad runs almost all of the over 140,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®. The iTunes® Store gives you access to the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 11 million songs, over 50,000 TV episodes and over 8,000 films including over 2,000 in stunning high definition video. Apple also announced the new iBooks app for iPad, which includes Apple’s new iBookstore, the best way to browse, buy and read books on a mobile device. The iBookstore will feature books from major and independent publishers.
Apple also introduced a new version of iWork® for iPad, the first desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. With Pages®, Keynote® and Numbers® you can create beautifully formatted documents, stunning presentations with animations and transitions, and spreadsheets with charts, functions and formulas. The three apps will be available separately through the App Store for $9.99 each.
iPad syncs with iTunes just like the iPhone and iPod touch, using the standard Apple 30-pin to USB cable, so you can sync all of your contacts, photos, music, movies, TV shows, applications and more from your Mac or PC. All the apps and content you download on iPad from the App Store, iTunes Store and iBookstore will be automatically synced to your iTunes library the next time you connect with your computer.
iPad’s brilliant 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display features IPS technology to deliver crisp, clear images and consistent color with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle. The highly precise, capacitive Multi-Touch display is amazingly accurate and responsive whether scrolling web pages or playing games. The intelligent soft keyboard pioneered on iPhone takes advantage of iPad’s larger display to offer an almost full-size soft keyboard. iPad also connects to the new iPad Keyboard Dock with a full-size traditional keyboard.
iPad is powered by A4, Apple’s next-generation system-on-a-chip. Designed by Apple, the new A4 chip provides exceptional processor and graphics performance along with long battery life of up to 10 hours.* Apple’s advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology deliver up to 1,000 charge cycles without a significant decrease in battery capacity over a typical five year lifespan.**
iPad comes in two versions—one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G. iPad includes the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi, and the 3G versions support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps on HSDPA networks. Apple and AT&T announced breakthrough 3G pre-paid data plans for iPad with easy, on-device activation and management.
Continuing Apple’s dedication to designing and creating environmentally responsible products, each iPad enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy-efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iPad contains no brominated flame retardants and is completely PVC-free.
Apple today released a new Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPad, so developers can create amazing new applications designed to take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. The SDK includes a simulator that lets developers test and debug their iPad apps on a Mac, and also lets developers create Universal Applications that run on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Pricing & Availability
iPad will be available in late March worldwide for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the US and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.
*Apple tested wireless battery life by browsing web pages and receiving email over an AirPort® network, never letting the system go to sleep during the test, and keeping the display at half brightness. This is a typical scenario of use on the go, resulting in a battery performance number that is very relevant to mobile users.
**A properly maintained iPad battery is designed to retain 80 percent or more of its original capacity during a lifespan of up to 1,000 recharge cycles. Battery life and charge cycles vary by use and settings.
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.
So here’s what I think of the iPad…pretty cool. I’ll admit I’m not gaga over the new device if only because a few key elements are missing.
1) Where is the multitasking?
2) Where is the camera for video conferencing?
3) Where’s the Flash support?
4) Where’s the notification support for App updates?
These key elements really make a big difference to me. I know some people expected a phone to be built into the device, but for me, that doesn’t make a difference given I own an iPhone. I really expected the OS to be stronger though. The iPad clearly makes use of a custom version of the iPhone OS, meaning only one application can run at a time. That in itself is quite disconcerting. The other features like a camera for video conferencing seemed so obvious to me. Think about having a device like this in a business setting. Now it’s going to be extremely limited. Thankfully Apple thought about me with iWork support. Pages for $10 is fine by me. I’ll clearly use something like that during my staff meetings, but again, I really thought more business features would have been included. I want this instead of a netbook, but for the price there are a lot of netbooks out there that have a “full” OS on them.
Perhaps the biggest question mark is with Apple’s continued stance against Flash support on their portable version of Safari. I just don’t understand that. This is a portable device true, but come on. I expect more given what all the $300 netbooks on the market offer. The same with the App notification support. What gives with that?
Ok so with that out of the way, I must admit that this is one sexy looking device. On top of that, weighing in at only 1.5 pounds makes it far better than all of the other netbooks I have been looking at. While I mentioned the price, which is highly variable, I’d be satisfied with the $499 16GB WiFi model. I don’t need a cellular connection at work, that’s what the iPhone does for me. I simply wanted this to jot down notes at meetings and perhaps to watch a TV show on my way back home from the office. It clearly has more gaming capabilities than ever before, even though we really haven’t seen them just yet. The other thing that interests me is the ebook store. I know, I know, the iBook Store, but whatever. That could be interesting if it’s competitive against Amazon’s Kindle. Already I adore the interface better than anything I’ve seen from the other guys ebook offerings. These things look like real books!
So overall iPad is kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand I really like the weight, ebooks, and core features offered, but on the other I was expecting more given I was under the assumption this was going to replace netbooks. As it stands now, it feels far more like a giant iPhone than a slimmed down MacBook. We’ll see how much money I have at the time of the iPad’s launch to determine whether or not I take the plunge. As I said though, it’s this ultra sexy device or a mundane netbook. What would you choose?