iPad – first impressions


The iPad is finally here. Specs are pretty good.

Press event still going on, but here are my impressions as the event unfolds:

It’s a tablet, runs iPhone OS, not Mac OS.
Battery life purports to be 10 hr, watching videos, with 1 month standby.

It even looks like a giant iPhone, with a 10 inch screen.

Screen shots look gorgeous, and apps seem to be improved, and functionality added to take advantage of the larger screen.

Has an Apple processor in it – not Intel or PowerPC or ARM.

Games might be interesting on this – kind of a Wii in your lap, given the accelerometer.

New York Times has developed an iPad app – it looks just like reading the paper on paper – few extraneous controls, no ads? , etc.

Best of show so far? Brushes. Painting app, seems very detailed and nuanced.

It’s looking pretty slick – I’d love one of these. It’s not quite a full-blown computer, but I think this could easily be a light-weight carry-around machine. It’s 1.5 pounds, and I think, uses the same iPhone/iPod Touch connector, so I already have the capability to charge it in-car, from a wall outlet, or even from a computer. Update: There is a 10W USB power adapter available. I believe the AC adapter for the iphone is 5W, and car adapters are also 5W. I could be wrong.

I wonder if it has the capability to load pictures directly from a camera or SD card? That would be the tip-over point, I think. That would make it a fantastic piece of kit for photographers. Update: There is indeed a camera adapter kit available. Connects via USB to the camera, or you can stick the SD card from the camera in the adapter. It appears to be two separate adapters – one for a USB cable, and one for an SD card.

Books – the iPad is an e-reader, but looks much snazzier than the Kindle. Full-screen, looks like a real page. Boos available from the iTunes store, 12.99 – 14.99. I’m not thrilled with that pricing – it’s half of a hardcover, but 3-7 more than a paperback. I’d really like to see more of a cut in price, given that paper and physical distribution costs are nil.

iBooks use a standard format – ePub, which means, I think, we can acquire books from sources other than the iTunes store.

iWork – word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, now available on the iPad. Looks pretty slick. Onscreen keyboard layouts are specialized for data entry – a numeric field gets numbers , calcs and function buttons, for instance. iWork pricing – $10 each for Pages (word processing / layout), Keynote (presentations) , Numbers (spreadsheet).

Syncing – the iPad syncs with iTunes via a USB cable, just like the iPhone and iPod.

Connectivity
All iPads have WiFi. Some models will have 3G. Data plans are : $15 for up to 250MB of data per month, $30/month for unlimited data. Personally, I think iPhone owners should get a break, and have their plans go back down to $20/month or at least allow tethering (using the iPhone as an internet connection for a laptop).

Wow! 3G models are unlocked! no carrier lock-in, at least not in the hardware.

Pricing structure:
“So $499 for 16GB of iPad. That’s our base model. 32GB is $599, 64GB is $799. 3G models cost an extra $130. $629, 729, and 829 with 3G.”

16 GB 32 GB 64GB
WiFI 499 599 69
WiFI + 3G 629 729 829

WiFi models available in 60 days, WiFi+3G in 90 days.

Looks like some great accessories are available. Dock, case, keyboard/dock. The keyboard and dock are minimalist – not much bulk. I can’t quite tell from the pics, but the case may well be a padfoliio sort of thing – always on, just open it up to use the iPad.

With the keyboard/dock, this could be a great little internet terminal.
Pros:

  • Small and light.
  • Log battery life
  • Fast.
  • Unlocked .
  • Data plan is reasonable, NO CONTRACT and NO early termination fees. $15 or $30.AT&T is the carrier.
  • Has decent functionality.
  • Keyboard and case look like they’ll be nicely functional.

Cons?

  • Small screen.
  • No phone. Might be nice to combine with a bluetooth headset and voice control – make calls from the tablet still in its carry case.
  • Limited to apps avaiable from the iTunes store.
  • No tethering.
  • No multitasking (though for the way most of us use computers, this may not be such a bad thing)

Things I still want to know:

  • How are docs saved and accessed from other computers? iTunes sync, email, etc? Hopefully that is not functionality that would require, say, a MobileMe account.
  • Bright sunlight – I have yet to find a device that I can comfortably use in sunlight.
  • Does Mail have a spam/junk filter? This is the one reason I don’t like email on the iPhone – there is no junk filter.

I just took a look at the design of the accessories – the keyboard looks to be functionally identical to the current small aluminum Mac keyboard, but with a dock instead of USB ports.

The case is great – it is indeed a portfolio style case. Pics are here. I’m betting, though, that there aren’t pockets for papers inside the cover. Too bad.

Curiously, this appears to be entirely keyboard/gesture driven. I remember all the hype when Apple introduced Ink, its handwriting-recognition technology for the Mac. It would be fantastic with the iPad and a stylus, but there was no mention of it whatsoever. That’s disappointing – I would love to use Notes on this thing in a full-page format – scribble and doodle and take notes. That would be grand.