Update: My first impressions review of the iPad.
Apple finally laid all rumors to rest and announced their long-pending tablet computer, iPad. Although, I am not terribly excited with the name (jokes pertaining to a certain feminine hygiene product have been trending on Twitter), the product in itself is pretty slick [image source]. I watched Job’s announcement on Engadget’s live-blog as he and other Apple executives along with third-party app developers demonstrated iPad’s abilities. Just like everyone thought, it is an exploded version of the iPhone with touch-screen capability and support for applications from the App Store. Almost all native Mac apps like Calendar, Contacts, Email, iPhoto, Music (and iTunes), iMovie (including HD), and even iWork are featured prominently for the new device making it not just a fun tablet but also something that you can use to write documents and work on your spreadsheets. The interface looks like a mashup of the Mac OS X and the iPhone OS. The iPad is equipped with an on-screen touch keyboard that iPhones will find familiar. The demo video shows that with practice, you can type with both hands instead of one-finger typing like on the iPhone and looked extremely responsive with little lag time.
[image source] One of the newest features on the iPad was the iBooks application that not only makes reading books online easier but also hooks up the iTunes with book sales that you can instantly buy and read on the device. So far, five publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Peguin, and Simon & Schuster – have jumped aboard and are offering books and textbooks. The prices are not yet clear but this move has definitely put Amazon’s dedicated e-reader in a bind and threatens to wipe it out by offering more features and a better interface.
The screen is a glossy 9.7inch 1024×768 IPS LCD display with full multi-touch capability that now we have come to expect from Apple and other smartphones. It comes WiFi and bluetooth enabled, has speakers, microphone, and what Apple claims a 10 hour battery (with video playing) capable of a full month of standby time. Sadly, no webcam. All this is contained in a case half an inch thick and weighs around 1.5 pounds (heavy for extended reading?). the iPad syncs via USB with your other Apple devices so I assume you can migrate your music and movies in iTunes libraries and images in iPhoto. Other hardware options include a keyboard dock that you buy separately if you think typing on the screen is not your cuppa tea. Or you could hook up your wireless keyboard via bluetooth. The camera connection kit also sold separately will enable you to hook your camera directly to the iPad.
Now the best part that instantly converted naysayers on Twitter to “I want one” was its price point. Before the tablet was launched, everyone rumored that it will be around $1000 dollars without contract for 3G connectivity. Given Apple’s tendency to price its products higher than the competition lent credence to these rumors. But Jobs surprised everyone by announcing that the iPad will start at $499 and will come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB with higher prices for more memory. apart from WiFi capability, the iPad will be equipped with a carrier-unlocked 3G modem and AT&T will be the first official provider of data service with a $14.99 250 MB and a $29.99 unlimited monthly plan…with no contract (and no dropped calls). The full range of options is as follows:
These features and prices almost instantly make the iPad viable to many consumers (Apple stock price jumped 4% only after the price was announced) and also poses a serious threat to Amazon’s Kindle. Sadly, multi-tasking doesn’t seem to be enabled in this release so you can’t really work while listening to Pandora.
So would I buy one? Personally, we have been waiting out on buying an e-reader and my wife’s 4-year-old Lenovo laptop is nearing its end. Although for someone with a Macbook or even a new netbook, the iPad may seem overkill but for us, it is perfect and I know we would be buying it as soon as it comes out. Or we may wait for couple of weeks more for the fanboy lines to peter out. The earliest you can get it is in 60 days and if you want a 3G-enabled one, then 90 days. The role of the iPad in our household will serve as the second computer and as an e-reader; at least that was our expectations even before the iPad was released today. I’m sure we will know more about usability and features as the first products are bought and reviewed.
The full official video is below: