Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The latest Apple techo-porn -- the iPad

Okay -- Apple has finally announced what the fan-boys have all been waiting for: their new tablet. gdgt.com live blogged the event and my comments are based largely on theirs, so I could turn out to be completely full of crap. However, that's never stopped me before.

They call it the iPad.

Cute. It looks a lot like an oversized iPod touch or iPhone. Apple claims up to 10 hours of battery live. We'll see about that. My iPhone does well to make it through the day with a full charge unless I do nothing but use it as a phone, and what's the point of that?

It's got a 9.7 inch display, is 1/2 an inch thick and weighs a pound and a half. Since it strongly resembles an oversized iPod/Phone, my first question would be: will we see the same sad cracked touch screens that about every 4th iPod/Phone seems to be cursed with?  Maybe it's time Apple rethought the notion of Real Glass (which Really Breaks) and go with an alternative.

Other specs: comes with WiFi/Bluetooth, and either 16, 32 or 64 GB of flash storage. Virtual keyboard, like the iPod/Phone, and runs iPod/Phone apps out of the box, ether actual or pixel-doubled size. So right off the bat there will be 150K + apps. Of course it's an eBook reader, and uses the ePub format, which is an open standard. Read books (it has a fancy bookshelf metaphor) or magazines/newspapers.

iWork, one of Apple's productivity suites, is available (cost seems modest -- I could be misunderstanding).

It will sync with iTunes, so you can enjoy your music.

3G data plans are available with a tiered pricing structure -- $14.99 a month for 250 MB data transfers, which seems miserably tiny --  and $29.99 for unlimited data. This is from AT&T, which seems pretty astonishing, seeing how they bitch about iPhone bandwidth hogs (like me). And free WiFi at AT&T hot spots.

Pricing seems typically Apple but not outrageous, all things considered. $499 for the 16 GB, up to $699 for the 64 GB -- oh and tack another $130 if you want 3G capacity.

Don't like the touchscreen? There's a keyboard dock, which is actually a really good idea.

So... that the latest piece of Apple techno-porn. Interesting but I'm not sure where it will fit in the market.

Myself? I'd rather have a slightly bigger iPhone (say an inch bigger in each dimension) with more memory and a lot more battery life. The iPod/Phone's appeal is that it fits in my pocket, can take calls, and function as a mighty mini-computer. The iPad seems bloated for a portable device, potentially fragile, and just a tad pricey, despite all its cool.

But I've been known to be wrong in the past. More thoughts on this later...

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