So here it is: the ‘iPad’

A week ago I commented on the technology event that, even without any actual details to hand, was already leaving people breathless with excitement: the expected announcement of an Apple ‘tablet’ device, i.e. a handheld computer with touch-screen capability. Back then the smart money was on it being called the ‘iTablet’ or ‘iSlate’. As I commented at the time, the rumours had to be correct in a general sense, because Apple had allowed the hype to build up to such an extent that they were otherwise in danger of creating such an anti-climax that the whole company could be affected.

And sure enough, on Wednesday (January 27) the new absolutely-must-have tablet was unveiled by Steve Jobs himself: the ‘iPad’. And I have to say that despite the fact that all I’ve seen so far is the company’s own publicity, including this rather neat video, I am absolutely dazzled myself. In many ways it appears to be a larger-than-life iPhone, with the same concept and the same touch-and-feel. Like the iPhone, it will have both WiFi and 3G connectivity, and indeed it will apparently be able to operate all those applications you’ve downloaded on the iPhone. It will of course do music, it will do emails and the internet, it will do games, it will do wordprocessing and spreadsheets, it has a calendar, it stores and displays your photoalbums – you may never have to leave that armchair ever again. But then, as we also anticipated, it will store and display e-books, and to facilitate this Apple is opening its own online bookshop, the iBookstore. This will probably be one of the headline grabbing features, as Apple is thereby taking on the Amazon Kindle directly – and ass against the Kindle, it has colour and a backlit display, so you can read it in the dark.

So how will this go down? Pretty well, I think. The computer magazines are giving it the thumbs-up. And look at the impact on the blogosphere. I’ve just checked: some five hours since the iPad was announced, if I publish this post right now, this second, it will be blog post number 1,062,816 on the iPad across the world. Think of it, the noise from the launch event has hardly subsided and already over a million people have blogged on it. I can only marvel at how late I am.

Apple is good at publicity and marketing, and it is predicting that this device will change our lives. Exaggeration? Maybe, but then again, the iPod and the iPhone changed music and mobile telephony, so maybe they are right here also. But in any case, Apple have been so extraordinarily good as suggesting to us all that they are the designers and operators of the modern world we live in, that some prophecies they now make are wholly self-fulfilling. At any rate, I’ll be able to judge that from the inside as it were. As soon as the iPad ships, one will be shipping to me. Not least because it is remarkably reasonably priced.

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9 Comments on “So here it is: the ‘iPad’”

  1. Wendymr Says:

    Amazing how some of us have managed to get by in life without ever owning an Apple product 😉

    (Or, in fact, without ever wanting to).

  2. iainmacl Says:

    hmm…as a platform agnostic user of many devices I’m amazed at how apple-fans are falling over themselves praising this ‘device’. It seems to have been rushed out with the minimum of changes from the iPod. There are no new features. The screen resolution is shockingly poor for a device of its size, the OS doesn’t allow multi-tasking, there’s no possibility of using it as a communications platform, no Flash (so much for web-surfing), the backlit screen is terrible for eye-strain if attempting to read an ‘iBook’, no USB or other connectors. It’s a shame because so many of these features were buzzing around in the rumour mills before hand and now what is revealed is an awkward sized, iPod, rather than an actual tablet computer. As for ‘reasonably priced’ , for what it is , no. For something that has far fewer features and far less power than the netbooks Steve Jobs slagged off?

    Still their marketing and sub-culture is so strong that the slightest questioning gets one labeled as a heretic and cast into damnation…so guess that’s where I’m headed, well until the 3rd generation version that might catch up with the features demonstrated in most of the non-apple tablets at CES.

    • Actually, Iain, you’re wrong on some of those things. There are dozens of new features over the iPhone (which I presume you meant?), not least the iBookstore, but also office software etc etc. I haven’t seen the device so cannot say about the screen, except that the reviewers would disagree with you. There is USB connectivity. And so on.

      • Donal_C Says:

        It’s possible that Iain was meaning the iPod Touch. The iPod Touch and this apparent innovation are rather similar – except that this is larger. iBookstore may be an addition – but remember that there are competing standards, and even open standards, on the e-reader market, and that other devices offer more comfortable reading (e.g. with E Ink). The Office applications do make this new device uncannily similar to the netbooks Iain mentioned.

  3. Iain Says:

    Thanks Donal…yes I mean the iPod touch, of which I am a great has helped me post comments to this blog, send tweets, etc, and listen to music/podcasts, so where I’m coming from is that this just looks like a physically bigger version. I based my understanding of the device on the descriptions coming in live during the launch event and on the technical specifications document which was released by apple at the same time.

    Yes, as someone who’s eyesight is strained at the best of times on my little iPod, an e-ink based display is better albeit it slow and monochrome thus far and iBooks is not a new concept, just an addition to the iTunes approach to content sales.

    Lack of multi-tasking is a shame, esp since rival smartphones manage it fine. It could then facilitate interesting educational uses as a presentation tool wirelessly connected to projectors with slides being appended by a pen, etc, as per the bulkier, PC tablets, etc.

    Like I say…version 3 might be nice…

  4. Stephen Says:

    The iPad is like living with your parents – there’s a lot you can’t do, but there are undeniable advantages.

  5. Dave Pond Says:

    At NC State, we put the iPad in the hands of five student bloggers to see what they really think. The results were surprising… it seems universally loathed as a educational resource so far.

    Check it out:

    Dave Pond
    Web Writer / Editor / Producer

  6. It will be interesting to see the UK’s reaction to the iPad when it finally arrives here. A colleague of mine was over from the States last week and was recounting how many people were boycotting the device purely because of the name. We Brits were all quite surprised at this, and generaly felt that it may not suffer such stigma over here.

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