If you read our live coverage of the event, you're probably already set on the specs and features. On stage, demo'd from afar by Steve Jobs, the iPad is basically a giant 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 iPhone. But when it's in your hand, the story changes significantly.
More than ever before, Apple has minimized every element of a device that's not the giant, beautiful screen. It's a difficult gadget to photograph, because essentially it's little more than an aluminum-backed screen floating inside an inch-thick bezel. Colors are amazing on the LED-backlit LCD, and the amount of real estate to work with on the 1024 x 768 screen is amazing. And there's really no "up" or "down"--the proximity sensor rapidly flips the entire display to accommodate however you're holding the tablet. A few times it seemed a little too eager to flip if I was half way between vertical or horizontal, but for the most part, its responsiveness is impressive.
User experience wise, it's the iPhone at its core. Which is not a bad thing--as Jobs said, 75 million iPod touch and iPhone owners will intuitively dive right into the iPad. You touch something, and it responds. But look closer, and it's the subtle tweaks like flipping a page in an e-book, complete with the reflection of the next page on the back--that make it probably the most fluid and thought-out implementation of a touchscreen we've yet seen.
Surprisingly, Apple themselves engineered the iPad's brain, a 1GHz chip they're calling the A4. And it's fast. The iPad's heavily graphic interface moves with buttery smoothness, even upscaling 3-D games.
Typing is done via a soft keyboard, or with the added accessory keyboard you can use on a desk with the iPad docked. The soft keyboard is good, but as many suspected, typing is not 100% natural. You can enter text in several different ways: in landscape or in portrait, holding the back with one hand and pecking with the other, trying to stretch two thumbs while holding with both hands, iPhone style, or resting it on your lap (the iPad's case, sold seperately, folds out into a nice stand). It's clear that the natural way to type is resting the iPad in your lap--one-handed pecking is pretty slow going, and unless you have largest of hands, typing with both thumbs while holding it in portrait mode is pretty awkward.
There will be an acclimation period, for sure, but don't expect to write long-winded messages or War and Peace with the iPad while you're standing up.
The iPad runs all of the App Store's apps out of the box either in a "letterboxed" presentation at the iPhone's resolution, or upscaled to full screen on the iPad. Playing with Facebook and a few games, the graphical quality of the upscaling is reduced, but they're usable. Interestingly, the iPhone's soft keyboard is what pops up for text entry, not the iPad's larger board.
But this will likely only be a temporary problem, as developers have 60 days to convert their existing applications to the iPad's native resolution using an SDK released today.
Talking to Apple's Phil Schiller, he said that if he had to name a favorite app, Maps would be it. On paper it doesn't do much more than the iPhone Maps app, but at this scale, you almost feel like you're working for the CIA as you touch your way through beautiful full-screen satellite info. Street View is also very impressive at this resolution. "Like science fiction," Schiller said as he pinched and zoomed in on the Eiffel Tower.
Business-wise, the biggest news today us arguably iBooks--an addition to the iTunes store carrying e-books from five major publishers, with more to be added. The buying experience looks nice and iTunes-like (books are in E-Pub format), and the reader app itself is beautiful. Books sit on a shelf waiting for you--a presentation we've seen in a few e-reader iPhone apps already--and when opened they're stunning on the big screen. Photos, video, anything the publishers want to include, it will be reproduced beautifully. Page turning with your finger is a joy--not a click-and-wait-two-seconds deal like on the Kindle.
But unlike the Kindle, you'll be reading while staring into an LED-lit LCD, not e-ink. This means it'll be much more tiring on the eyes.
Somewhat surprisingly, Apple has developed iPad-native versions of their word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software, which are available for $10 each through the App Store. Their all-touch interfaces are pretty impressive for light editing of text and presentation/layout work. Contextual menus pop up on anything you touch, allowing you to easily resize, move, or reposition photos, charts and text in layouts. Again, I wouldn't want to type anything more than a few paragraphs with the soft keyboard. There's always the hardware keyboard you can attach, though.
And while that may seem like a curious move, it's a smart one. Apple is preparing us for a day when all of our computing, save for lengthy text input, is done with a multitouch screen. With the iPad's iWork suite, they're starting from the ground up with word processors and spreadsheets--applications people have been using on computers since the very beginning.
See both iBooks and iWork in action here:
Photos sync from your computer (there is no built-in camera), and their presentation is an iPhone/iPhoto hybrid. Albums can be touched, dragged, and popped open really smoothly. And another gadget category Apple probably just snuffed out: digital photo frames. When docked, the iPad can cycle through photos at full screen. Bye bye, digital photo frames: no one is sad to see you go.
In Your Hand
It's not too heavy, not too light, as per usual with an Apple device it feels right. It's just small enough to not be awkward, but it's toeing the line at times when you try to type while holding it in your hands, as detailed above.
As far as use-cases, Apple's demo video showed most users curled up with their iPad at home, which seems to me the most natural place for it. Since it's all screen, I wouldn't want to throw it in my bag without some sort of protective case, and I also can't imagine whipping my iPad out on the subway--it's a bit large for that. But I thought the same thing about the iPhone initially--everyone's looking at my screen!--but now I do it all the time, so time will tell.
great, another overpriced apple innovation, chock full of DRM,can't wait for it to be cracked (another chroot jail anyone?) if only apple wasn't so fail, i'd probably buy one.
this would be an amazing and useful piece of equipment if they ruggedized it and made it scratch resistant, shock and water proof.
They're unlocked already. And if you compare prices, it's actually less expensive and does more than all but the cheapest netbooks.
Sure, there's problems with it, like no camera, and typing might be a little awkward. If you're going to pick a reason to criticize it, make sure you pick a legitimate reason.
Finally a company has perfected the internet. Microsoft just could not step up. Thanks apple.
It's not practical.. Thats all I gotta say. The biggest problem with it is that it uses the iPhone OS. Whats the point in that? Why spend $700 for a giant iPhone when you can just spend half the cash for a normal one.. I could buy a sweet PC for $700 with an optical drive, WAY more than 64 GB of space, usb, AND wifi! And if it really kills me that ... See MoreI don't have internet on it everywhere, I will just go buy a small USB Verizon 3G card. I mean, this iPad would be freakin' sweet if it ran Mac OS on it, could you imagine taking Final Cut with you everywhere? At least wait for the 2nd generation to come out with something that is a little more practical. I have a feeling it will die like the Macbook Air, do you guys remember those?
Decent review. Just one glaring mistake.
It is only 1/2 inch thick - not "an inch-thick bezel"!
looks pretty useless.
I want one!
3DTOPO - the bezel is the black border around the screen, not the thickness of the iPad!
It seems like a nice device to have sitting at home on your couch, but beyond that I'll take a netbook that has an actual keyboard and closes to protect the screen.
Having to look at the screen while you type everything would get old... which is essentially the editor's comment.
I think the 2nd generation of this device will make it a much more worthwhile investment, but it is still an excellent first attempt.
@3DTOPO - The "1/2 inch thick" refers to z-axis thickness - what we typically think of when we say "thick." The bezel, on the other hand, is the plastic part around the screen. Personally, I think all that plastic is a bit ugly, but I imagine it makes holding it without smudging the screen a bit easier.
As for functionality, I could see this being used primarily for media consumption - watching Hulu while curled up on the couch, reading an eBook, reading online magazines, etc. You definitely wouldn't want to do much data input, but if you just want to relax and browse the net, it could be nice.
I find it interesting that the author of this article makes the common error that LED backlit screens produce more eyestrain than e-ink, especially given the "Screen Queen" article in the most recent issue of Popular Science. An excerpt, from page 83: "[I]t's as much a myth that LCDs cause eyestrain because their backlights shine into your eyes like a flashlight as it is that reflective screens like E Ink's are easier on the eyes just because they reflect light. 'Light is light,' says VCD Sciences display consultant Lou Silverstein, a fellow of the Society for Information Display. 'Your eyeball can't tell whether it's reflected or transmitted.'" With all due respect, perhaps PopSci's authors should read their own magazine...
Sorry, Dman's comment wasn't up when I wrote mine...not to jump all over you, 3DTOPO.
no Usb/min usb port, no camera, just a bigger version of the itouch for old folks
As speech recognition gets better the need for a keyboard for long text missives will disappear. The lack of a camera for iChat or Skyping is puzzling, as is the lack of flash (which most web video in encoded in and a lot of websites use for their navigation interface.
Legit reason: It doesn't work with Flash, you can't have a complete web experience without being able to access Flash.
As good as Apple is, I think they may have missed a trick in not including a camera. Using it to teleconference on the fly would make it more 'Bond-esque' than it already is. But I am sure it will come pretty soon in iPad II !!!
Even if it has no USB, does it have Firewire?
The speech recognition can be done with 'an app'. Some of the softwares out here are pretty good.
Having an e-paper mode would be and additional feature that I would like to see. Especially if it was much easier to read and much lower power.
Overall, I am sure that keeping out the 'creeping featurism' was what spurned these options. And as a developer, I understand the effort it takes to keep on track and keep from adding 'one more thing'. ... iPad will be a hit, and so will iPad II when it hits.
Now when will Apple figure out how to put the features in a 'heads up display' :) ... well I think it will be another 'win' for Apple! A 'media emersion experience'.
its basically only good for surfing the web and watching videos, but it can barely surf the web because it DOESNT HAVE FLASH! SOOO many websites run with flash and using the ipod touch, it annoys the crap out of me. Its also the exact same os with a new store on it.
It's not a laptop computer as we've come to expect.
It will be the choice of many older people who aren't tech savvy or just find the iTouch/iPhone too small. For many, this is all the computer they really need.
Will it have to grow up a little for the average reader here? Probably. Will it do so and not become another Apple Newton, let alone the Apple Air? Time will tell...
It only runs one app at a time, like an iPod Touch. Wow, that's impressive. It hooks to ATT but you can't use a bluetooth headset to make a phone call. Soooo you need an iPhone AND an iPad, with double the monthly fee. Nice Apple.
They could have put a video camera in it, facing the user. Then it would have been a teleconferencing device, maybe not on 3G but at least on Wi-Fi. Then all the Apple twerps could show off at Starbucks by talking to each other, even though they are 3 tables away.
They could have put a real browser on it, and made it the ultimate Internet device. But no.
It could have had a real GPS, not the cell tower triangulation thing that requires an AT&T subscription, oh and there's the montly fee for the app.
What does it have that a tablet PC doesn't have? And no one uses those.
Apple has made some great products, but I can't call this one of them after expecting a "tablet". No flash, No USB, debilitatingly small hard drive, lacking a real OS...even using a jump drive through a USB adapter isn't possible due to the limitations on that type of interface. It would seem each of those elements could, and should be rectified. If Apple can find a solution to these issues than they would actually have a great computer, worth double what they are asking, and not simply a massive iphone.
I'm invested in Apple, so I hope the second gen iPad doesn't let us down!
ok, nobody can say that it is not amazing, because it is, but as i've read from all of your comments, no USB, no MAC OS, no CD drive, and others. the thing about flash is frustrating, and they're are selling this first Wi-fi ipad, and then the 3G ipad, which will include monthly fees with at&t, just imagine the big bill you will have with at&t!!! It's just a bigger iphone, lets wait til the 2nd gen, i hope it gets better
While it seems to me to be a GIANT IPod touch with more horsepower, the complaints won't affect the sales of this device. It may cut into the touch's market. (I'm sure that really worries Apple) I'll wager that some of the 3rd party companies will make a camera that plugs into the dock connector in the bottom. The addition of an accessory to something the size of the IPad is not that intrusive. The dock connector has a USB interface as well as other I/O and power connections. I'm sure other companies will reap more business off of the IPad accessories, to fill an individual's needs, as they have with the IPod and IPhone. I'm sure once the licensing issues are handled, apple will include a flash player in it's hand-held devices. I'm certain that their hardware is capable of running it.
12 years ago, Apple almost went bankrupt trying to please everyone. Jobs is only interested in HIS ideas of aesthetics and ease of use. The devices will sell and the accessory market will flourish. No matter what anyone thinks, its the $ that is the true vote. CarlM
I think the mistake most people are making is to assume this is a laptop. It ain't! It's an iTouch on steroids and as the user of both an iTouch and MacBook I can see big sales for it. It touches all the bases for the sort of stuff regular folk do, email, WWWing, music, videos, ebooks. There's a calendar, maps and iWork, plus all those apps from the iPhone that will be updated to the iPad by the time it's on the streets. Show me any other brand new device that has hit the deck a'runnin' as fast as the iPad...
The vast majority of purchasers don't want or need Final Cut, they probably don't even need a DVD drive. I normally run with Flash toggled off and can assure you, it's not a huge problem, in fact the absence of all those bloody irritating ads is a blessing.
I certainly would still need access to a regular computer for picking up movies and music, not everyone on the planet want's to buy their entertainment via iTMS. All the complaints that it doesn't have USB or Firewire are a bit vacuous, what would you need them for? The iTouch's dock socket carries the data just fine although it would save a few intermediate steps if Apple would activate the iTouch's bluetooth so I could dump images and notes back and forth with my cellphone. I imagine iPad will be similarly limited.
The RAM capacity is also a problem for some. My 32GB iTouch currently holds 47 apps, 2420 songs (including 8 talking books and 158 episodes of The Goon Show), 456 photos and 19 movies (3 full-length, 3 TV episodes) leaving 12.9GB available. They can all be swapped in/out by just tweaking iTunes before syncing. It really isn't a problem.
I WANT ONE!!! Although I comfort myself that by the time I raise the spare dosh, they'll probably be onto the MkII or MkIII models.
No flash? No Java? No chance!
wowlfie did you just try to pass of the droids idont's commercial as your own???? Everything you said was stolen then you drank to yourself????
I want to buy this thing so much but without flash and to a lesser extent Java it is useless to me. Am I supposed to go get a real computer whenever I need to access my bank account? Plus once again they crippled themselves with AT&T. what is wrong with apple they make a great product then cripple it out of the box.
Apple = Computer Nazi's ... No flash for you!!!!
THIS WAS A GOOD INVENTION TO BEGIN WITH,UNTIL YOU STOLE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CONCEPTE AND PUT A PRICE ON IT.THUS MAKING THIS IPAD JUNK.WE WILL NOT GIVE UP OR LIMIT OUR FREEDOM SO EASILY. OUR FREEDOM WE HOLD DEAR.PLEASE GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND GET IT RIGHT.A WIFI TRICKLE CHARGE,SOLAR CELL AND PHONE WOULD BE NICE.ABOVE ALL MAKE IT FREE AND OPEN TO ALL OS SYSTEMS. GO USA!!!
Landshark, you are an idiot. Finish high school and leave the thinking to smarter people.
I have an iMac, Mac Mini attached to my TV and a MacBook - what am I typing on now? My iPhone. The fact is, I don't want to be sat at a desk or balancing my laptop on my knee, I want to be perched on my sofa, watching TV and browsing the web. Hopefully, I won't have to read the comments of people who don't understand what "pervasive" technology is on my iPad. :-)
...and it has to be said - Microsoft should have realised that making a specialised User Interface for touch-screen computing was essential to the success of a "Tablet" form factor, instead of just slapping the same old operating system on those machines. Well done Apple.
@Smart1N - agreed. I noticed that at CES, tablet manufactures did not show any of them with a working OS made for the tablet and the ones who tried just has little aids that amounted to overlays that interfered more than helped. I think they were waiting to see how apple solved a lot of the touch interface problems.
In regards to flash - I am an old flash developer. It is a buggy, processor and memory intensive, incessantly changing, monopolistic platform that was a bandaid to do all the things that html did not -not to mention very expensive to maintain for the site owners. Its time is over. HTML5 finally has its bases covered for what 90% of what flash elements do.
The flash player for the mac is a joke. What adobe sets as a release candidate should be considered beta at best.
Even google, arguably one the most advanced web application developers, is steering away from flash to embrace HTML 5. Officially announcing all their apps will be transitioned over to HTML 5 over the this year. (also dropping support for IE6 as a result.. HUZZAH!)
NOTE TO YOUNG WEB DEVELOPERS: Learn HTML 5, skip flash.
I don't know when I would use it. At home and in the office I got PCs. When travelling I got a full sized laptop. So?