It is true after all – Apple (the largest mobile devices company in the world at a value of over $50 billion, which is more than Nokia in terms of revenue) has finally announced the second coming of gadgetopia in the form of the iPad. As expected, Steve Jobs took to the stage to bring us news that has the entire gadget world riveted with the $499 (upwards) iPad occupying the middle ground between smartphones and laptops. It is touted to be superior to any netbook and laptop for that matter, being able to be used in any direction that you want it with new drop downs in the e-mail interface as well as a large onscreen QWERTY to get those emails sent out in a flurry. Without any tactile feedback, we wonder how the public will get used to this compared to typing on a regular QWERTY keyboard. As for the interface itself, it is more or less a much larger version of the iPhone, photo flicking and all (as expected). As for the iTunes store, it has been pre-loaded into the iPad itself. More details in the extended post.
So far at the iPad’s unveiling, scrolling seemed to be smooth and fast, and unlocking it requires a similar sliding movement as that of the iPhone. The browser is Mobile Safari, but there doesn’t seem to be Flash support built-in. No idea on the resolution that the iPad holds, but it seems to be the iPod touch Phat in essence.
Initial impressions on web browsing as well as email capability have proved to be interesting, but it isn’t groundbreaking in any way as we already get the same on the iPod touch and iPhone albeit on a much smaller scale, relatively speaking.
Going through the photo slideshow is a somewhat familiar experience if you have played around with iPhoto before. By saying so, we mean you can browse through the entire photo album quickly to see if there is a particlar image you’re looking for, while there is also the possibility of searching “by face”.
With built-in iTunes as mentioned earlier, music browsing is a whole lot easier thanks to the large display, as you will be able to view more information at a glance while benefiting from a better layout compared to the iPhone.
Maps performance at the demonstration seemed to be unnaturally fast – either they are running on Wi-Fi N connectivity or via a local cache. We won’t know until we get a hands-on for ourselves, but things are looking good at this point in time.
Steve Jobs also does his bit for the iPad’s multimedia capability by demonstrating movie and YouTube playback, choosing Star Trek as the demo of choice. So far playback proved to be smooth alongside fast navigation of sequences.
Software-wise, you will be pleased to know that current games can be downloaded unmodified from the App Store. In simple parlance, that means the iPad is 100% backwards compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch. The big test would be this – will gamers on the computer be able to get used to a multi-touch interface after gaming with a keyboard and mouse combo after all this years?
Just like the iPhone, you can synchronize your data and files over USB, which means it is safe to lose your iPad without losing your data – just get a new iPad (while taking a big hit to your wallet) and backup from your computer. Just to clear the air, not all iPads will come with a 3G connection – that depends on the carrier, at $15 (250MB) or $30 (unlimited) monthly to boot. Best of all is, there is no contract to tie yourself down to, and you can make free use of AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots as well. International deals will appear this June, and all iPad 3G models will come unlocked while using new GSM micro SIMs.
The Wi-Fi only versions will retail for $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, while the Wi-Fi + 3G models will come in 16GB ($629), 32GB ($729) and 64GB ($829) flavors as well. So much for $999 – expect worldwide availability for all Wi-Fi models to arrive in 60 days.
On to the specifications! As expected, Apple has their own processor inside with the 1GHz Apple A4 processor – we wonder how this will hold up against the Snapdragon, but here are the rest of the nitty gritty.
- 1GHz Apple A4 processor
- 16GB to 64GB internal flash memory
- 9.7″ IPS display
- Full capacitative multitouch capability
- 10 hour battery life (1 month standby)
- Built-in accelerometer and compass
- Speaker, microphone and 30-pin connector
- 0.5″ thin
- 1.5 lbs.
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- Wi-Fi 802.11n connectivity