The iPad has arrived

Unless you’ve been off world or under a rock, you know that today, Apple announced it’s new hand held computer, the iPad.  Apple iPad Poor name aside, the device itself actually looks pretty decent. It comes in six flavors:  16,32 or 64gb versions and each comes with WiFi (80211.n) plus, for $130 extra, you get 3G wireless from AT&T (I know, right?)  So, that means:  16gb with 3g or without; 32gb with 3g or without and 64gb with or without 3g.  (and people complained about the various SKU’s with Windows!)

I won’t spend time going through each detail that was discussed today, however I’ll hit a few of the ones I think are most interesting.  First, the operating system is iPhone OS 3.2.  While the device uses the Apple A4 processor, Apple’s first in-house silicon.  The processor runs at 1ghz and appears to be plenty powerful to run all of the iPhone apps at double resolution.  The iPad’s resolution is 1024 x 768, more than adequate for most applications but also double the iPhone’s resolution.  Apple’s answer is to ‘double-pixel’ the apps.  The games that were designed for iPhone look perfectly fine at this ‘double-pixel’ resolution.  It did not seem to skip a beat either.

The second interesting thing is the Safari browser.  One thing that Jobs said during his demo rings true: it is cool to have the internet in your lap.  This is the big reason I want a Kindle sized device-a tablet.  To be able to kick back anywhere and browse the ‘net or read a book without having a large laptop in front of me is very compelling. 

iBooks, the third thing I liked is very nice.  The user experience, on the surface, looks great.  The bookshelf metaphor seems to fit and the ‘secret compartment’ animation is cute.  iBooks looks like it has tons of potential.  It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on Kindle or other eReader devices.

Now, what I don’t like…it’s from Apple.  Buying into this device means buying into Apple’s ecosystem, a prospect I don’t particularly care for.  Apple has a notorious habit of nickel and diming one to death.  So, that’s one thing.  Secondly, the price.  While the device is much cheaper than I thought it would be, it is still about $100-$200 more than it should be. The base price is $499 for the 3g less, 16gb model.  Add $100 for each step up and then add $130 if you want 3g.  And, do forget, that 3g is not free to use either.  It will set you back $14.99 a month for 250mb and $29.99 a month for ‘unlimited’ data.  The data is from AT&T in the States (no partners over seas yet.) No contract is required, however.  So, cost of the device is still a bit high. These things need to no more than $300.  The Apple faithful will spend the money and eat these things up, I’m sure. Lastly, since it is running iPhone OS, that means you carry the baggage from that device: no multitasking, no Flash and hands tied as to the types of apps you can get.  You are limited to the iPhone App Store.  Limited, funny since it has 140 thousand apps, supposedly.  But, yes limited.  You can ONLY GET what Apple approves.

So, there you go.  The very poorly named Apple tablet: iPad (and, yes, the poor taste jokes have already started…sigh.)  This device, flaws and all, would be a welcome addition to my device collection were it not for the cost.  At $499, I can buy a Windows laptop or even a low end tablet PC that runs the operating system that I use and love. 

It will be interesting to see how this thing does and who decides that it is, in fact, the revolutionary device that Jobs proclaims it to be.  I’ll bet that many of the same people who poo-pooed PC Tablets will fawn all over this thing.  Those same people who wondered what in the world you’d use one of these for will come out and repeat what Jobs said and proclaim that their life is now complete and there’s nothing else that needs to be developed. (Well, there you go: Leo Laporte, one of those folks who didn’t know why in the world you’d want a tablet just said on his ‘Macbreak Weekly’ podcast that the device is a must buy. It will replace his Kindle on day one and the you use it in a natural way.  Huh.  He said on the last ‘This Week in Tech’ that he still didn’t know why any one would want one.)

I’m anxious to see one of these up close, after all, those Unicorn tears leave a nice sheen

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