Thoughts on the iPad

by Volker Weber

ipad.jpg

Shiny. Precious. Want one. Now that we are over that, some thoughts.

1. Screen resolution is old skool

Less than one megapixel. 1024 by 768 or 4:3. Good for photos from consumer cameras. OK for books (2:3). Not so good for movies. HDTV is 16:9 (or 1280 by 720 for HD, and 1920 by 1080 for full HD). The Nokia N900 video cam follows the same pattern: 848 by 480. Nexus One and N900 screen resolution is close: 800 by 480. Too many numbers? Look at this:

ipadscreenrescomp.png

2. It's the iPod touch XXL

Follows the same "You have to get everything through the iTunes store". Much bigger screen of course, so you can do more things. Not as easy to lug around. It probably lives mostly at home.

3. It's not the iPhone XXL

In case you want to take it out of your home, get the unlocked 3G, which is how it is supposed to be anyway. You also gain GPS which lives on the 3G chipset. Just had an offer from O2 in the mail. Surf the internet on your phone, and on your notebook for 25€/month. Perfect for your phone and your iPad.

Why is it not the iPhone? No phone calls, no iChat calls, no Skype (at the moment) data only. No camera. This thing could have used an iSight.

4. DRM hell

Books, videos, apps, it's all going to be DRM hell.

5. Up to 10 hours

That is Apple hours. How much is that in real hours? Probably five to six.

6. Not very expensive

Less than a Powerbook, not much more than an iPhone. But be careful. Apple is selling you a lamp. You will have to get the oil from Apple just as well.

7. There is an app for that

You have 60 days to get your app lined up. Minus 14 for the approval process. People will buy this thing like crazy. And if they are your customer, they want your software on it.

Did I mention? Shiny. Precious. Want one.

Comments

Agreed! Completely!

Martin Hiegl, 2010-01-27 23:18

Definitely don't want one.
Why? I don't see the point. As you may know, I am not an Apple fanboy. I see no need for an oversized iPod Touch.
Don't get me wrong, I could use a Slate PC (atm I have a Convertible at work), but I don't see why I should have to buy DRM hell along with a device that has a weak screen size and will cost more than the competition and than it's worth.
I actually bothered once with trying out iTunes. And I decided that I don't want my whole media library to be bound to that steaming pile of DRM hell. No Sir. :)

Daniel Haferkorn, 2010-01-27 23:22

Since you last tried iTunes, lots of things have happened. For instance: no DRM hell for music.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-27 23:24

Not even 720p on a 10 inch screen? Pathetic.

What's missing from your chart is dots per inch. In comparison to a Droid or Nexus One looking at the iPad will feel like I forgot to put my glasses on.

Still no background activities and notifications? Wow.

Ok, I will still order one as a web pad, but I will only take the smallest model. That'll teach them ;-)

I really hope that we'll get a great tablet for Android soon. I would love to run my favorite app(s) on a tablet.

Btw. magical ... WTF?

Mariano Kamp, 2010-01-27 23:40

"And if they are your customer, they want your software on it."

- Or they want their iPad in our bags ;)

Sebastian Grötsch, 2010-01-27 23:48

Pass. If the hardware were actually revolutionary, well maybe.... but this is just another way for Apple to control the conduit between content and consumer. I should let Jobs take that over why?

Arthur Fontaine, 2010-01-28 00:07

I wanted to love it... but most likely won't. It may be a Kindle-Killer, but it's clearly not a replacement for a Netbook or a small Laptop, bummer.

A surprisingly clear-cut verdict from Gizmodo: 8 Things That Suck About the iPad

Ulli Mueller, 2010-01-28 00:19

Nobody knows for sure at this point whether the iBooks in epub format will have DRM or not. Apple have not said.

How this plays out in the book market, very much depends on this point.

Andy Mell, 2010-01-28 00:19

I am excited at the iPad. I've been thinking about an ebook reader...

Current ebook readers are only single purposed and are not much cheaper than the ipad.

2 worries on the iPad:
-Will I be able to read pdf's? (i have thousands of them)
-Will the screen be too bright when reading books? Current ebook readers mimick the texture of paper and arent hard on the eyes... If the iPad is just a glorified monitor in your hands....then it will be an issue for reading books (i hate reading on screen, i print shit out)

patrick picard, 2010-01-28 00:30

Shiny. Precious. Want one.

Heck, want two.

Rob McDonagh, 2010-01-28 00:37

The screen resolution surely makes sense if you position this thing as an eBook reader. Hopefully there will be ways of getting ePub files to it..if not to the native app then Stanza should fill some of the void.

@Patrick - the screens DPI should make reading books on it nicer than a regular screen.

I can't wait to replace my iPod Touch with this ultimate living room device.

Colin Williams, 2010-01-28 00:44

His and hers Rob? I'm sick of fighting my wife for the iPod Touch so "me too!"

Colin Williams, 2010-01-28 00:46

Don't want one. No camera for video calls, still no multitasking (maybe with OS 4.0?), awkward to hold in a bed - laptop and smartphone cover all my use cases.

[btw: "The Nokia N900 follows the same pattern: 848 by 480. The Nexus One is close: 800 by 480." I think they have both the same resolution, the N900 records just the videos in 848 by 480.]

Frank Kargelman, 2010-01-28 00:50

Thanks, Frank. I was really confused about that and just checked the specs. Edited both the chart and the text.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 00:57

Plugged in it would make a nice digital picture frame. (if it had a stand)

How about a really fancy TV remote?

Remote control for house lighting?

If V2 has a webcam and Skype it could become a video phone.

Alan Lepofsky, 2010-01-28 04:43

Want one - as eBook reader. SWMBO would be happy to get space on the bookshelf. However missing camera and Skype (or other forms of video chat) make it a show stopper.
But good thing: it sets the mark for tablets to be beaten.

Stephan H. Wissel, 2010-01-28 07:00

as someone who has bought the drm hook, line, and sinker from amazon - I think the kindle is in trouble. but i also think reading books on the ipad is gonna suck. eink makes a huge difference.

yes, apple has the power to be the only person to complete head to head with amazon on the distro model. but wait, I sync my books on the kindle, they are cheaper, and I never pay a dime for the connectivity.

i think the ipad is an amazing device to watch content when traveling. but I don't think it will replace my kindle - which gives me 2 weeks of battery life with the wifi turned off.

john head, 2010-01-28 07:14

Spot on, John.

Wouldn't it be great if you could read your books anywhere? Kindle app for the iPod/iPad just leaves a bad taste.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 07:17

I think of getting an iPad - as a device to use in presentations at a customer. For the shiny effect. And nothing else. For everything else it lacks resolution and a camera, for a reader it lacks eInk, so it's not the device i want.

Dirk Steins, 2010-01-28 08:01

i will get two.

i think this will have a very good WAF - at least my wife's first question after watching apples video on the iPad was who would get the iPad on weekends if we would get only one...

and yes, i would appreciate a cam, multitasking, skype, less drm - but in the end i want to rest on the couch or the airplane and consume my media, communicate and surf the web without having to fiddle around with any tec that i have to deal with all week long. so it's almost perfect for me.

the real deal for me is the package: good formfactor, enough power, all the media i can think off, the web, almost every app i can think of, all with out cables at my fingertip. it's all in one for the livingroom, travel and probably my mum because it's so easy to use.
(and i do not know of any other package thats anyway near the completeness of this pack right now.)

Lukas Praml, 2010-01-28 08:06

This thing can no way be a e-book reader.

Active displays with backlight will tire your eyes too fast, especially with a display in that size. This is the reason why all real e-book readers will never have those kind of displays.

The Gizmodo article linked by Uli above is exactly reflecting my first thoughts on the iPAD.

In addition : No Flash - because Apple wants to sell the apps from the Appstore instead of the user being able to run all those free games and applications from the internets.....fail.

Oliver Barner, 2010-01-28 08:30

They say its magic! It is, there are some real bad parts on it, like there is no multitasking. But the people will buy it anyway. :-)
Perhaps the thesis with the Stockholm Syndrom is not so wrong.

Did anyone hear/see from MicroSIM before? Hope they manage to get mobile carriers in Germany to give you one when you buy the iPad.
I think in the first step you will not use all the cheap data plans, because there will be T-Mobile with a special iPad plan being the only one selling the MicroSIM.

But we will see.

Patrick Bohr, 2010-01-28 09:05

Want one, too. Interestingly, my wife still wants a MacBook Pro.

Sven Richert, 2010-01-28 09:05

The whinging about lack of multi-tasking always intrigues me: the iPhone doesn’t do that either, and people whinged. Yet it seems to sell quite well :-)

Now, why is that? Whilst we techies might get our knickers in a twist about capabilities, resolutions, multi-tasking, true OSes and the like, the target group for things like the iPad and iPhone—consumers—simply buy them because they do things that they really like.

I am not convinced with this iteration of the device. But you’d be crazy to bet against it in the marketplace.

Ben Poole, 2010-01-28 09:24

Remember how the first iPod looked like ? This is a first version, and I think it will evolve into something really great.

Nils Halvorsen, 2010-01-28 09:25

I don't think that this is a perfect ebook reader. What bother me most reading long texts/ pdfs at a screen, is that my eye feels after hours like looking in a desk lamp. So I think the the display from kindle is more friendly to my eyes. But I will give the thing his chance when it's available, but until then there is no hype/anticipation for the device from my side.

Torben Volkmann, 2010-01-28 09:26

One thing about the screen size ratio - 16:9 is perfect for video. But this device is not mainly about video. I think it is a lot more multipurpose than people are giving it credit for. And I think it should be used at least half the time in portrait mode. And 9:16 is *too thin* for regular use that way.

Also, my wife, who didn't want an iPhone, wants us to have one. In fact, *she* wants one, and thinks it would probably be OK if we got two.

Kevan Emmott, 2010-01-28 09:54

9:16 is perfectly usable in portrait mode, as I can see on Droid, Nexus One and N900. And yes, Ute also wants one.

For reading books however, the Kindle is still king. Not 10 hours, more than 10 days of reading without a charge. Beautiful in bright sunlight as well as indoors. So it's not either/or, it's probably both.

I commend Apple for going with ePub. That is a major advantage.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 10:00

I wonder how long it will take for someone to jailbreak the thing. The most useful thing about my Iphone is backgrounding tasks. Thanks to the dev team for opening up a previously closed platform.

Bryan McDade, 2010-01-28 10:37

Cool thing: The keynote is just over and even here in a weblog all people doing exactly that thing that apple wants: THEY doing there marketing.
If even 2% of the guys who read this lines here will buy that ipad thingy even one or two years later ... mission accomplished! Good job.

Henrik Heigl, 2010-01-28 11:32

I hope you bought some Apple stock when it was cheap.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 11:42

Meh, not feeling it, to be honest.

I can see a market for newspaper subscription services though - I wonder if Apple is already sinking it's claws into some of the major newspaper publishers who should embrace the opportunity to save their dying business.
But we all now what will happen - greed will dictate 1:1 online editions of daily newspapers including ads (no flash though, haha) for at least twice the price of the printed edition.

On the other hand... no multitasking means not being able to listen to music AND browse/read an e-book/e-paper at the same time? That can't be right...

Marc Beckersjuergen, 2010-01-28 12:42

On the other hand... no multitasking means not being able to listen to music AND browse/read an e-book/e-paper at the same time? That can't be right...No it can’t be. I don’t imagine that the iPad is less capable than the iPhone / iPod touch and so for that reason you will be able to do both those things. It’s a fallacy that the iPhone doesn’t permit multi-tasking: it does.

The restrictions lie in what apps can run in the background. For example, on the iPhone, the phone, email and iPod functions all work in the background (as do a few other processes).

Ben Poole, 2010-01-28 13:21


For reading books, paper is king. Unless you always read more than one book at a time.

For newspapers, the built-in videos make them look like the newspapers from Harry Potter. Very nice. And hopefully more relaxed than reading online-newspapers.

Christian Just, 2010-01-28 13:40

In regards to eBooks, I will probably stay with old fashioned paper at least for the next 5 years: no extra device, no battery, no DRM, no "airplane-mode" necessary, no sunlight hassle, ...
All the rest does not really impress me so far, it is all about user experience again. And in regards to being ahead of the rest of the market, I expect Google to be quite quick this time (maybe 6 months after the ipad?), having Android ready and ChromeOS almost ready for deployment.

Axel Koerv, 2010-01-28 14:07

Have you ever touched a Kindle? It's pretty convincing to carry a device, that is much lighter than any book, looks like paper, and hardly ever needs a charge. People who read a lot will need at least half a dozen books when going on vacation.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 15:07

I do read a lot when travelling and on vacation: in both scenarios paper wins for me - reading during takeoff & landing, reading on the sandy beach, ... . And my back carrying 2 or 3 books is still fine after 40+ years. Maybe these electronic books convince me some day when they are more mature and ruggedized. See, recently I also bought a Sonos set ...

Axel Koerv, 2010-01-28 15:44

People who read a lot will need at least half a dozen books when going on vacation.People travelling without children who read a lot will need at least half a dozen books when going on vacation!


I think for someone with a capable smart phone and a light/powerful laptop, the iPad doesn't make a great idea - at least at version1.

However, looking around the average airport (or even around the corridors of Lotusphere) you still see a lot of folks with dumb-phones, heavy 3year-old laptops or hulking business men crouched over NetBooks (just because they're light and cheap). For all these categories, they will look at other alternatives in the next year or so, and the iPad could well solve a lot of their needs (and look shiny).

Stuart McIntyre, 2010-01-28 15:51

Marc, the iPhone does multitasking, the iPad does multitasking.
You can listen to music while reading on both devices.

The caveat is: only Apple can write apps that run in the background. The Behaviour of all other applications is that they quit when the user switches to another app. The SDK supports writing the application state to disk, so you can type an email, switch to another app and later continue typing your mail where you left.

The idea is to save memory and processor resources and preventing 10 apps in the background to bog down the email app you are typing in and sucking the battery empty within an hour.

The alternative is to be constantly aware what is running, and managing the open apps. This is OK for you, and for everybody else complaining about lack of multitasking, but Apple thinks it is not OK for the majority of their users.

Timo Stamm, 2010-01-28 16:02

I personally think, this will be a great device for my Dad. No offense for all of you about the 50's ;-)

Mathias Ziolo, 2010-01-28 16:46

Ehrm, somehow I got this wrong. It should be: "No offense for all of you above 60 ;-)"

Shame on me, my joke is gone :-/

Mathias Ziolo, 2010-01-28 16:48

Ahemm ;-)

Volker Weber, 2010-01-28 16:51

Well, I did read the article on SPIEGEL Online today but actually my first reaction yesterday was: "Fantastic, that would be a great device for my Dad."

I wouldn't be satisfied by the simplificity of this device but I guess, persons like my Dad, who know computers from their work as "bad devices running ERP and all this bad stuff" will adore the iPad.

Mathias Ziolo, 2010-01-28 16:58

I thought something similar "That would be a great device for my mum".
Since my dad is 72, still working as a journalist with Photoshop, digital camera and Word/Openoffice :-)

But then I thought "How can you use an iPad as primary device?"
I mean, do they have a setup process that does not require iTunes on a second computer? Do they have an online backup/sync function that can be used in case the device is lost/damaged? Maybe Mobile.me does this. Haven't really used it.

Karsten Lehmann, 2010-01-28 18:10

@Volker, Can you clarify something about the battery life? His Steveness said he can watch video for 10 hours (so obviously, the reality is closer to 6-7), but didn't they also say there was a low-power mode that kicked in when reading eBooks? Is there a theoretical battery life number published for reading? Or did I imagine the low-power mode? I was tracking a lot of rumors, huge fanboy that I am, so I may have confused rumor with reality.

Speaking as a fanboy who is well aware of the Reality Distortion Field, I still think Steve's contention that this device will be *better* than the iPhone or laptop at a lot of things (and Netbooks considered worse at everything) is very interesting. That vision may not be achieved in the first one, but with that as the target, I'm not prepared to bet against the iPad's future. Of course *I* want to get one, I'm a fanatic, but I expect to be just one among many.

Rob McDonagh, 2010-01-28 18:26

I'd like to see a comparison between this and the Archos 5 Internet Tablet which runs Android. The Archos unit:-
800x480
Android 1.5 (cupcake)
Music playback time: up to 22 hours, Video playback time: up to 7 hours
GPS built in
USB connectivity
No mac client

But I don't know anyone who owns one.

Jonathan Lewis, 2010-01-28 19:07

"Less than a Powerbook"

Volker, you're so 2005 ;-)

Eric Garneau, 2010-01-28 19:51

Killer:

1. Reader, especially for seniors
2. ECM integration device, due to the screen size
3. Games
4. Medical records
5. Portable high end sales integration device (think Mercedes dealer...click here, sir, here's your keys)

Just some ideas. I like #2 myself :)

Rob Novak, 2010-01-29 00:54

I want one, too, but I am probably going to lack the funds. It seems like my budget will be thightening in the near future and I can't justify buying an iPad at the listed prices when I already have an iPhone, a Powerbook, and a Mac mini. I'll probably have to be patient and wait until there's a 2nd or 3rd gen and prices drop further.

Philipp Sury, 2010-01-29 14:12

That's a perfectly good reason not to buy anything. Actually, it is very, very hard to get money from me. If you do that, suddently money is not in short supply, and you can afford things you could not before. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2010-01-29 14:16

@Rob

I don't think any of your 5 points are killers (i.e. their presence on the iPad will kill competitors).

1. There are plenty of e-book readers. Many available now and offering better features than the iPad.
2. 4. & 5. There is nothing to stop other manufacturers producing tablets based on Windows or Linux. Since you're talking about specialist devices, I see no reason why a generic device like the iPad would offer any advantage. Possibly it will be cheaper because of economies of scale.
3. I'm no games player, but I imagine those who play handheld games would prefer to have actual buttons on their toy.

If this device succeeds it will be because if offers synchronization with the iPod/iPhone. Or a familiar user-experience. Or because Comrade Steve's RDF extends beyond the Moscone convention center to cover the entire US.

I have 3 Apple Newtons, so I'm not opposed to tablets per se, nor opposed to Apple products. But the world has moved on.

I'm waiting to hear the reports of couch potatoes whose vestigial arms are now too weak to hold up something heavier than a TV remote (at least with the iPhone they can move it from arm to arm when they get tired). Then we'll start hearing of them inadvertently breaking their iPads by sitting on them.

At least those early devices like the Newton were rugged :-)

Bernard Devlin, 2010-01-29 14:58

If this device succeeds it will be because if offers synchronization with the iPod/iPhone. Or a familiar user-experience. Or because Comrade Steve's RDF extends beyond the Moscone convention center to cover the entire US.

Someone take the crack pipe away from Mr. Devlin.

I keep hearing this crap about how other manufacturers (either Windoze or Linux based) will trump the iPad. But the fact is, they haven’t up until now, nor will they in the near future. Maybe someday. But if nothing else, perhaps the iPad will give the whole tablet / pad / slate / call-it-what-you-will arena a much-deserved boot up the arse (in the same way that the iPhone did for the smartphone market).

And that can only be a good thing.

Ben Poole, 2010-01-29 15:21

Ben, I do sympathise. I hope your self-esteem issues are sorted out when you buy your next shiny toy with an Apple logo. It's funny that old fogies like you think that having a product with an Apple logo on will unquestionably make it good, and automatically make you hip. It doesn't and it doesn't.

I gave reasons why I didn't think any of Rob's 5 killer points made this generic device superior to specialized devices. All you can do is recite the catechism of the church of the poisoned mind.

My Windows mobile phone pre-dates the first iPhone and has an OS that many consider outdated and moribund. It runs multiple apps simultaneously (not only those written by Microsoft). I can do application development directly on the phone itself (no need for an AppStore, no need for a SDK, no need to ask for Apple's permission). It did internet sharing out of the box (which works with Windows, OS X and Linux - no need for jailbreaking). It has a real keyboard and a software keyboard. It came with GPS built-in. It hasn't been rebooted in years. And it cost a fraction of what the iPhone costs.

I can find all those positive things to say about it, even though I don't think that Microsoft produces high quality software.

It is truly Orwellian that you think this iCrap is progress. I doubt you've even seen a Newton (the MessagePad 100 was released around the same time as Windows NT 3.1). It offered features in a handheld that Microsoft has failed to deliver on the desktop for the past 10 years. Fortunately some of us have our expectations driven by what we know is possible, not driven by what some advertising agency tells us is ground-breaking.

Anyway, you have my sympathies for your short-comings.

Bernard Devlin, 2010-01-30 01:19

> I hope your self-esteem issues are sorted out when you buy your
> next shiny toy with an Apple logo. It's funny that old fogies like you
> think that having a product with an Apple logo on will unquestionably make
> it good, and automatically make you hip. It doesn't and it doesn't.


Man, you're crushing me. Ok, then I will start smoking again?

Mariano Kamp, 2010-01-30 09:10

Good to see you back on the internet Bernard: care in the community is a good thing!

So I’m an “old fogey” but you don’t think I remember the Newton? Hmm. Keep smoking me old china :-)

Ben Poole, 2010-01-30 10:29

Bernard, I see your three Newtons and raise you two.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-30 10:33

am reading my books on teh toilet or when travelling. On the toilet, the iPad don´t belong, travelling, I have to lug the 17" MacBookPro around. So no iPad here.

Armin Roth, 2010-01-30 13:00

Wow... ok, first of all I don't want one.

But Ben's right, this will sell fine (probably not iPhone-levels of success but they'll make money off it). And it will make the rest of the industry go "Hey! We can build these too!"

@Bernard - "My Windows mobile phone pre-dates the first iPhone and has an OS that many consider outdated and moribund"

And your Windows mobile phone has almost no marketshare. Your point? Something actually being *bought* by consumers does give it some validity as a useful device, even if something else is more useful.

Erik Brooks, 2010-01-30 15:12

I think we will get one.

Basically I just _want_ it. I'm thinking about stuff to build for it, but there was no enlightment yet. In the meantime it will be great great to consume any media on the couch and as a car-entertainment system for the kids ;)

Hagen Langbartels, 2010-01-30 22:14

I've been looking for a portable tablet to carry around the house, for things like watching TV or surfing the web in the kitchen. There aren't any that impress me, from the Archos 9 to the iPad. The closest for me is the Always Innovating Touch Pad. Once they get their production sorted out I'll probably get one.

Charles Robinson, 2010-02-01 16:10

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