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Reality check

Okay, so now we know what all the hype was about: the iPad.

First thoughts: I wasn't too far wrong. And this thing is going to slaughter the Kindle and most of the other ebook readers on the market, even without Apple coming up with a better business model for the publishers. With Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins on board, they've just about aced the main US trade publishers — remains to be seen how smaller outfits plug into the platform, but at this point Amazon have a struggle on their hands. As iBook reads ePub format files it may be possible to add free content to it. Maybe.

The addition of iWork makes this more than just a fancy iPod Touch; it's actually going to be a useful personal productivity tool. So I guess I was right to guess Apple were positioning it as a whole new platform alongside the Macintosh line. (Not bundling the iWork apps for free with the tablet seems a bit odd to me, however.)

They've got the battery life right: as I noted previously, we're seldom more than four hours from a power socket, so 12 hours of video playback is ample. The text input is sufficiently right — you probably wouldn't want to write an entire book on a multitouch screen, but for email and web and light document editing it's going to be infinitely nicer than poking one finger at a time (or two-handed thumb-typing) on the iPhone ... and for that novel there's the hardware keyboard. The ability to run all iPhone apps out of the box means that it's got a pre-canned ecosystem; you're not stuck with iWork or iBook, given that office suites like QuickOffice or Documents to Go, and ebook readers like Stanza or the Kindle app, will run unmodified.

At the very least, this is going to clean up in some specialist sectors — medical computing, for example, which has already taken to tablet PCs (they're easy to sanitize and you can poke at them without sitting down and typing). More likely, given the aggressive (for Apple) pricing, it's going to make inroads into the netbook market — and education; this thing is brilliant for students. (12 hour life, reads textbooks, takes notes, weighs exactly as much as a single 300-page hardback, i.e. 600 grams: it's half the weight of a typical netbook, or a Macbook Air.) And charging over a regular dock connector means you can top it up on the go using any USB power source and an adapter cable.

Summarizing: I think this is a convergent device. It's not going to live up to the expectations generated by the initial hype, because nothing could; but it's significant, and I can see a lot of uses for it in the weird niche between a real computer and a mobile phone that is currently occupied by sluggish, small, cut-down laptops running Windows XP. In particular, the App store ecosystem is really going to help. I reckon the total cost of ownership of an iPad is actually going to be lower than that of a netbook, once you consider the necessary extra software you need to make a netbook do anything useful (and recall that the App store price points are typically cheaper than Windows application price points).

(As you probably guessed, I am very relieved that I wrote in that escape clause in my new year's resolution last month!)

143 Comments

1:

NB: I'm fairly sure that the 1GHz Apple A4 cpu is some variant on the ARM architecture (otherwise, it wouldn't be running existing iPhone apps unmodified at full speed). There's probably a graphics accelerator in there, too.

I want to know if Mail has improved over the iPhone -- if you can haul in everything in your mailbox, for example, rather than just the 200 most recent messages.

2:

It damn well better support free content, as I have two business models invested in that. I still don't see the superiority of it over the Nook, which has a heck of a lot better battery life.

Neither is waterproof. So much for reading in the bathtub.

3:

Initial reaction: Overall looks pretty nice. Cons for me: no camera, so Skype / photobooth / etc are out and apps must come through the iPhone ecosystem, so no interpreted languages & developing requires a sign-up fee.

4:

Amazon have got to be worried over this. Except for outside viewing in sunlight, the iPad is just an all round more useful device for working and reading documents and books.

I also agree this could impact netbooks too, the low end device is pretty directly competitive with them too.

I think it was pretty smart to make 3G optional, and even cleverer to make 3G connections non-contract. It's going to make this device usable in a number of different contexts, while buying 3G connectivity for just a month while traveling on business or vacation makes a lot of sense and keeps the owner out of the clutches of the telcos.

I also wonder how this will impact the tethering of iPhones and the structuring of iPhone contracts with AT&T over the coming year.

It will be instructive to see the reviews over the next few months, but I can already see an iPad in my life this year.

5:

Charlie, it has two pane mail, at least. Also, given the micro-sim slot, are you thinking about getting the 3g + wifi or the vanilla model?

6:

One tiny detail you got wrong: They claim 10 hours of battery life, not 12.

Also, for those who don't have quicktime, I extracted the URL to the advertisement movie from apple.com: tr.im/LNHW

Cheers

7:

Personally I'm still hating the massive ATT bills all the i's come with. $360 a year minimum eh? Or alternatively I can choose to have it not work outside my house at all.

8:

My gut reaction was "Hey, it really is a stretched out iphone". But the chip they've got in there seems to be pretty decent. I'm not impressed by the price point ($130 extra dollars for 3g? Really?), but I'm a bit of a cheapskate so take that for what it's worth.

I think the more impressive thing is that they got AT&T to agree to $30 a month for unlimited data (assuming there aren't all of BS phantom fees). I'm all for apple using their leverage to force the telcos to move in a positive direction, even if very very slowly.

I wonder what the also-rans are going to look like...

9:

...Just to correct one item of misinfo from the previous post's comments --

It was said that you needed to pay Apple $100 to program the iPhone/iPT. It's not quite that bad, the IDE is free for a signup, but you do have to pay $100 to be able to load your work onto your device. (The IDE comes with a simulator, though afaik the accelerometer and some other features aren't represented.)

That said, I'd prefer the cost to be $50, and/or the ability to load my code onto my own device for free.

I think you're likely correct that one reason they keep the devices locked down is because their security model is crap -- everything runs as root.

10:

Ah, since I'll be moving in June and plan to finally get a landline connection the ipad will be ideal if non-contract. Instead of replacing my two year old eee-pc with a younger iteration I'll take the SIM-card out of the USB stick (flatrate at 15€/month) and put it onto an ipad, fulfilling both my mobile computing as well as my e-reading needs. Now does anyone know where I can find a ful feature list? Does it have a GPS and DVB-T receiver? IMO both are needed to complete the experience.

11:

Reading the articles about the ipad I'm astonished at the prices for mobile data connections in the US. 60 Dollars? Ridiculous. I'm paying 15€/month for a flat UMTS/HSDPA connection (national Germany-wide) and the standard price is 25€/month.

12:

I am massively unimpressed. Further lock-in for the Apple machine.

13:

I think that your comment about this being a Kindle-killer may be premature; version 1 of the iPad will certainly have gaps to be filled by subsequent refinements but then Kindle will, too. There may be a multitude of niches for various devices to fill. Given the price of the iPad, Kindle's price may well fall to something approaching a mass-market point, for example. A $99 Kindle or a $50 Kindle could find a large audience, if the makers can do that.

Personally, I think one of the first markets to feel iPad's presence will be the current form of netbooks. The "mini-laptop" form is, I think, justly obsolete and we'll probably not see many more of that design. With just a touch screen, not even a multi-touch screen, I think that netbooks from now on are going to be tablets in form. But the thought of seeing them running a form of Windows Mobile just makes me want to retch... :)

14:

Tech specs are here: http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

Everyone seems to be comparing this to the iPhone, but as it has no GSM it's more like a giant iPod Touch. Looks good though and given the low(ish) price point I can see it being a huge seller.

I'm not sure it's the game changer everyone is looking for though. Only time will tell on that one

15:

heliostatic: I'm British, remember, so an AT&T contract is useless to me. There aren't any EU carriers as yet, and may not be before Q3 at the earliest. Also, there's $SPOUSE to consider. I think it'd be best to get our his'n'hers iPads with wifi only. Then if we need 3G, we can share a MyFi hotspot between us. (We usually travel together, or one of us travels while the other stays home -- we're very rarely seldom away from home and apart at the same time.)

This isn't an iPhone. It's my iPod Touch HD -- a much bigger iPod Touch with better applications and text entry (and, optionally, a 3G data feed as well as wifi). I do a fair chunk of long-haul flying. The iPad looks like a one-stop "keep Charlie amused in flight" gadget -- movies, music, books, even a word processor, and it'll fit well in a seatback pouch in economy class.

I've currently got an iPhone 3G with 4 months to run on the contract lock-in. What I'll probably do is stick with it and not upgrade to a 3Gs; instead, I'll switch to a cheaper out-of-contract phone tariff on O2, and get an iPad for those activities that want more horsepower or eyeball real estate.

16:

@11:
but bandwidth capped to GPRS after 5GB, isn't it?

@iPad:
What kills this for me - apart from the "i" - is that it doesn't do multitasking.
No music while reading?
They got to be kidding...

17:

I'm going to bet no on the DVB-T receiver. While they must have the horsepower to do the MPEG decoding (they've mentioned video playback, and it would be silly not to include it), they would need to add a DVB-T decoder--this is an RF device which takes up around 30cc of space and has to be shielded. Not only that, Apple is a US company. DVB isn't used over here. So, there would have to be US and European iPads.

So, one, it's a lot of space. Two, it's a lot of extra software. Three, it requires different hardware for different regions of the world. Four, it has a data connection capable of working with multiple IPTV solutions. In other words, it makes no sense whatsoever. iTunes exists, as does Flash for ARM. If you want TV, Apple is going to direct you to your WiFi or 3G hardware and iTunes. This works worldwide and only requires one version of the iPad.

(For the record, I used to work at a company that makes ATSC and DVB-T set-top boxes.)

18:

Not too convinced about iWork for the iPad myself - I reckon I would find it awkward to type on, so a full-on word processor, spreadsheet and presentation package seems a bit much.

That said, MS have had a mobile version of Office with similar functionality for several years, and from what I've seen iWork for the iPad seems to be a similar cut-down equivalent to the desktop version. And the price looks pretty reasonable.

But there's one thing that would surely make sense to have included as part of iWork for the iPad - some kind of graphics package. The iPad looks like it'd be a great medium for use by artists for creating and editing images, although it's hard to conceive of how to edit something precisely enough when using a touch interface, rather than a stylus.

Still, that means there's a gap in the market for someone to fulfill. I could easily imagine a Photoshop Lite for the iPad being popular.

19:

iDontLike @16: contrary to rumour, OS X for iPhone/iTouch (and presumably tablet) does do background processing -- but only for some of Apple's own apps. Mail can download in the background, iPod can play music in the background. (But Pandora can't play music in the background, because Apple own the platform and are a jealous creator it doesn't have Apple's special sauce.) So yes, I expect you can play music while you read in iBook.

Matthew @18: you missed the external dockable keyboard, I take it? And the demos of third party graphics packages during the launch event?

20:

Gordon, you might want to check the spec sheet again --- GSM *is* available, for $130 extra (and 30 days extra wait before they first ship). Exact specs, pasted off the page:

* UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
* GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
* Data only
* Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

I'm reading the "data only" as "the hardware could talk to a Bluetooth headset for phone calls just fine, but our wonderful partners don't want you to do that". And bandwidth caps are probably a function of the data plan --- AT&T has a special in (it ships with SIMs for the plans Jobs was talking about, with activation on the gizmo itself), but the hardware is unlocked; if you can find another vendor that'll sell you a "micro-SIM", whatever *that* is, it's supposed to work...

21:

@14:
gsm is so yesterday. just use voip for (phone)calls.
better get a bt-headset, as that thing doesnt have a mic and would look kinda funny on the side of ya head. (but hey, could work as a nice privacy "filter".)
when the mobile networks get spanked enough, they will all switch to data only, anyway.


I can't get used to read books or longer texts on an lcd, even an ips panel. ePaper has the static advantage, but i still prefer some carbon on dead tree^R^R^R^Rhemp.

If the price will not be at an exchangerate of 1$:1€, i would have considered it for bed and loo, but without multitasking that thing is dead for me.

22:

Cheaper and less powerful than I expected, but that is no bad thing - it is, after all V1 - the camera/iChat, etc, will come later.

The key thing that distinguishes this from all Windows tablets is the huge library of software designed for touch usage. That's a killer. An Android device was more chance of catching up there than something based around Windows XP or Windows 7. (From the brief things I can see about the iWork apps, you can see how they have been designed around the form - no menu at top of screen, etc).

The always unlocked & pre-pay 3G model strikes me as a good thing - it could be a solution for the European traveller & the appalling lack of data roaming, if we can easily get hold of microsims as we travel (in the same way people often get a local PAYG sim) - and especially as you don't care about changing your number.

23:

@19 Charlie:

Thanks for correcting me.
Guess i'll have to wait for the hardware to be freed then.

24:

My, how quickly we take novelty for granted.

Just a few years ago, this whole scenario was still science fiction, and now we complain because service for 24/7, instant, anywhere access to the world's information, marketplaces, and social interaction with millions of other humans around the world which fits in our pocket costs marginally more than a traditional telephone land line has cost for the past few decades. :)

25:

Just looked on Gizmodo and saw Brushes - oops, skipped over that before! But that's certainly more of a natural fit with the iPad than the iPhone or iPod Touch.

I did see the keyboard, yes, but personally the dockable keyboard isn't really something I'd want to lug around as well as the iPad. If you have to carry both, at least for me a netbook makes more sense if I'm going to be typing for any great period of time.

26:

But are people really going to want to carry this *and* an iPhone?

That'd be a bit redundant.

27:

@25:

Also, there is no need to hack the OS for bluetooth keyboards anymore.
One can just pair whatever bt-kb one likes.

28:

Even the Apple fanboys at my office aren't buying one. Compared to a netbook:
- no flash
- no multi-tasking
- no keyboard
- more expensive
- less storage

Compared to a kindle:
- no e-ink
- no unlimited world wide internet connectivity
- more expensive

29:

Joe @26: nope. The iPhone is a phone. This is a bigger iPod Touch with software on steroids. It's a new niche. At 650 grams it's midway between the iPhone and a Macbook Air in weight -- most netbooks are around the 1100 gram mark.

The dock/keyboard ... I see this as something you throw in your carry-on bag along with the charger, and only pull out in your hotel room, if you've got some heavy typing to do. The iPad itself is something you carry in a book-style cover and use for email/web and short bursts of writing.

Incidentally: e-ink has only two advantages over an LCD for reading: battery life, and sunlight. With a 12 hour life on the iPad -- greater than the life of the e-ink based Irex Illiad reader -- the former advantage is gone. As for the latter, I seldom read books in sunlight. At everything else (colour, speed, visibility in indoor lighting conditions) LCD panels slaughter e-ink. I speak as an e-ink device owner -- this is going to be eminently readable.

30:

iDontLike@27: Where do you see that? All I see is a specific keyboard, from Apple, supported through the 30 pin connector dock, and nothing else.

(Really, I'd be thrilled to have any BT keyboard work. But I have seen no indication of this.)

31:

So when we eventually get iPad down here in NZ, with associated iBook Store (and a limited selection of books due to the whole rights mess), will I be able to buy books to put on my iPhone without buying the iPad? (I have a new 4GB RAM/500GB HD windows laptop and no desktop, buying the iPad isn't going to happen for 2 years minimum.)

Hopefully the iBook Store shakes up the market enough to let me buy ebooks that I want.

I'm assuming that the ePub files that you buy for your iPad will NOT be able to be exported (without hacking)? As I can legally format-shift for fair-use purposes, I don't care if I buy DRM'd books, as long as I can hack them.

32:

I think a lot of people are reading the specs -- or the rumours -- and seeing what they expect to see; either confirming their belief that St Steve of Apple has delivered the new Tablets of the Law, or confirming their belief that the Great Satan of Cupertino has barfed up a lemon.

I'm typing this on a Macbook Air; a machine that was simultaneously panned for its hideously defective hardware (only one USB socket! No user-changable battery!) and emulated (Dell Adamo, anyone? The cult of the thin'n'light notebook?). Just try to remember that no one product fits all use cases; your poison might be your neighbour's cure-all.

33:

Heh, I got the name and the features right before the release!

From the previous post: I suspect Apple is going to announce that not only does the ... Ipad? ... have the obvious touchscreen Ilife equivalent, but purchase grants you streaming access to some major media libraries.

In further predictions, the weather will continue cold in the northern hemisphere, hottish in the southern, and there will be conflict in the Middle East. And divers creaturs will swarm from the Sea and cover London with a greate Pool of Custarde and Jam.

34:

Definitely looks interesting. Though I have to say that the keyboard dock looks dreadful. Too close and can't change the angle. I prefer typing with the keyboard in my lap, whether my laptop that I'm using now (a 9 year old iBook my brother gave me a couple years ago -works fine for what I need) or regular keyboard, that's what I'm used to. A wireless keyboard, as someone suggested, would be preferable. Anyhow, I'm not likely to get one any time soon.

35:

Well, I can only hope the iPad is successful and the guys in Shenzhen will come up with something similar enough to be useful.

The SmartQ V7 looks good already. (7 inch, no multitouch, 600 MHz ARM and Tegra graphics chip, HDMI out, also 6-12 hours battery life, about $200)

It's the old Ford T story. You'll sell a lot more if you offer a product with basic functionality for a much lower price, because more people will be able to afford it.

36:

@30:
"the device will also work with standard Bluetooth keyboards like Apple's own wireless QWERTY slabs"
http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/27/ipad-has-optional-keyboard-dock/

37:

I have an old folding bluetooth keyboard, smaller than a paperback but very useable, that I had for one of my previous smartphones. Found it the other day and tried it with my iMac. Worked just fine.

Hoping it will work with the iPad, but I'm waiting.

What I want in addition is a rotating camera (or two static ones) so we can video chat with it and we can do some of the really cool augmented reality stuff being implemented on the 3gs. (Favorite example is the one that lets you point your iPhone around london and see where all the tube stops are overlain on the camera's feed.)

Moderately broke right now so I won't be an early adopter but this is the device I've been waiting for.

38:

Steven: the bluetooth stack in OS X for iPhone/iPod Touch is broken insofar as they didn't bother implementing the HID required for use with keyboards/mice. On the other hand, OS X 3.2 for ARM is a new point release and may include hitherto-unprecedented goodies. (But on the gripping hand, why would Apple reduce their market for keyboard docks by supporting other folks' peripherals?)

39:

Update: Steven, looks like you may be in luck on the keyboard front. (Me too. I have a Stowaway bluetooth keyboard that I think will go fine with an iPad.)

40:

Hmm, it doesn't seem to have a webcam for those who use skype.

It isn't flexible like acetate or paper but then that is expecting too much from the year 2010.

I would have to say that I wish these devices had a capability to switch from a gloss finish to a semi-gloss finish, which is a bit friendlier to my eye sight.

And finally, it would be nice if the touch screen could have a light dash of texture. My main gripe with my current Toshiba laptop is that the keys are glossy, a bit too slick, too much like typing on ice.

That said, I think I could be persuaded to purchase one of these. They might be incredibly useful for my lecture notes while I am teaching history. Instead of carrying a three ring binder with me for reference, I could whip up what I wanted on the screen, read it and keep right on going.

Now if only my classroom had a way for me to interface the iPad with a Smartboard sized equivalent.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
On the Outer Marches

41:

No Flash is understandable given Apples views on the subject, no GPS is presumably remediable via Bluetooth, but the lack of a camera is just... weird. It rules out a whole bunch of things and hands netbooks a lock-out spec. Why would they do this? Can't be power consumption, it would just turn off when not in use. The carriers didn't want it? So they can sell everyone a second one when they add one?

Another oddity is the screen : IPS LCDs are very nice, but normally use more power, not less. How the heck did they get a ten hour battery life?

42:

And yet I'm guessing that a year from now we'll be reading about the one hundred zillionth iPad sold.

This device has it's limitations and, hardware wise, is hardly revolutionary...

... but Apple are going to sell a boatload of these.

43:

@28: Your buds at the office might not be "fanboys" then. And if they were, they'd have told you that even the iPad's little brothers multitask.

44:

No camera because of cost, or because the software isn't ready yet.

This is pretty much the product I've been hoping they'd announce. My previous computer purchase was a 15" MBP, because I needed a portable, but I needed something I could get serious work done on. However, the serious work I do at my desk, and a 15" laptop is too clunky to take to class except at need. It's the worst of both worlds.

My next setup will probably be an iPad and an iMac. The iMac because it's faster, better-screened, and better ergonomically than a laptop. And the iPad for taking to class, keeping notes, and reading textbooks at the library and coffee shop.

I'm just hoping for an iPad version of Mathematica soon.

Prediction: Macintoshes will be a fairly specialty product in five to ten years. They will release a Real Computer with a heavily extended iPad OS. To put it another way, Mac OS XI will be what we see here, but with multitasking and so on. But still with no user-facing filesystem.

We may get the bad future of mandatory code signing everywhere.

But at least computers will be twice as easy to use.

45:

Not a Kindle killer. I like having days on my Kindle battery, not hours. Since I spent three days stuck in a foreign (UK) airport last month, the concept is not far-fetched.
Once the DRM problem is "cracked", Kindle is great. I have a MacBook and an EeePC for my other needs. If Apple iterates a little further, including being a DRM free platform and doesn't disable the Kindle app, I might be interested in a few years.

46:

Apple doesn't bundle iWork with the Macs either, and having some apps people need to go to the store to buy that are (1) good, (2) iPad-specifc, and (3) priced over $1.99 is probably deliberate.

What I find more surprising is no camera. No iChat AV. I would have thought that was an ideal application for the device.

47:

I still remember when Microsoft et al tried proposing the "trusted computing" platform, and the following outcry... it seems that Apple it's slowly going to do the same thing.

48:

Interesting tidbits on the Apple Specs page: down near the bottom they show the 'iPad Camera Connection Kit', consisting of Dock adapters for USB and SD card. There's your external USB and Flash memory, although Apple probably don't allow their USB stack to recognize non-camera devices, nor make the SD filesystem available for general use...

49:

It will be interesting to see if others come up with knockoffs running Andriod. Or if Google can come up with something better.

50:

tp1024:

I have a SmartQ7 and it is very impressive. Drooling w/ regard to the V7 due to the improved video playback and Multiple OS support.

As it stands the Q7 is very impressive with a few tweaks. Long battery life, full linux support, very good e-book reader, comic book reader, browser, and video playback. Very long battery life. Completely open. Comes w/ python installed.

I also have an Onda VX797HD 7" tablet. Also incredibly impressive in terms of battery life, playback, and display.

Keep in mind that these are 2nd gen units in production. I predict 10" tablets shipping in weeks. I'd love a SmartQ 10".

The advantage Apple has is the air of infallibility. Any failings will be rationalized away by fanbois as features and the fixes hailed as glorious advances come v2 or v3.

All in all, I'll stick to the SmartQ but welcome the validation of the form factor provided by the iPad.


51:

@41: "no GPS"

the 3g version has (a)gps.

52:

@40 "It isn't flexible like acetate or paper but then that is expecting too much from the year 2010."

I suspect such "flexible" screens have a fatal flaw in that they can easily acquire permanently damaging creases, like one of those clear plastic report covers. Sure, bend it along a gentle arc and it'll be fine. Have it get scrunched in the bottom of your backpack, and it might not come out so well.

53:

@28
e-ink is a hindrance not a plus, nothing like turning a page and having your cognitive flow interrupted by the screen wiping black and white, and e-ink is horribly ungodly slow.
>- no unlimited world wide internet connectivity
About the lack of removable storage, no big deal, use dropbox/google/amazon or learn how to configure your own home network.

54:

You know, I was really looking forward to this. I have two Apple computers, and a Sony Reader to read ebooks on, and it's the latter function that really had me excited in terms of the new IPad. I'd heard rumours - just rumours, admittedly - that it would have some kind of OLED screen where you could perhaps switch the backlighting off while you were reading.

I appreciate what you've said in the past about how we all read off computer screens anyway, Charlie, and for a lot of people that's going to be just fine. But I think what's going to put some people off is that they're still stuck away from sunlight if they want to be able to use the thing.

I'm sure it'll kill the netbook market stone dead despite what strike many as bizarre limitations (no camera, no multitasking), but when it comes to spending my cash I'm going to stick with e-ink so I can read without feeling like I'm shining a torch into my eyes. I've tried reading off backlit handheld devices in the past, and it's no fun. I'll reserve final judgement on the IPad until I get a chance to play with one, but right now, based on what I've seen, and despite the admitted wow-factor, I'm kind of disappointed. Mind you, I wouldn't complain if it forced the average price point for the e-ink readers down - and although I'm no expert, I have a feeling they're still going to be around for a good while yet.

55:

"e-ink is a hindrance not a plus, nothing like turning a page and having your cognitive flow interrupted by the screen wiping black and white"

This just strikes me as bizarre. It's no worse than the silly animated paper-flipping on the iPad.

56:

I don't see this as a Kindle killer given the 1.5 pound weight. That might not sound like much, but I remember using 1 pound devices a few years ago and they were just too darn heavy. The Kindle weighs in at 10 oz and I assume the Sony eReader is about the same.

I can't imagine people rushing to get the iPad at that price and weight simply as an ebook reader.

57:

Two months is going to be long wait.

I had a kindle, I did not like the reading experience at all. Hopefully this one will be better.

My wife reads books on her iPhone, which I find incomprehensible. She also shops for hours. I think she will totally eat the iPad up.

Chris

58:

"Not bundling the iWork apps for free with the tablet seems a bit odd to me, however."

They can always bundle them with the tablet in promotions aimed at demographics that might use the applications (cough cough, gateway drugs^H^H^H^H^Hsoftware for students ala cheap student software packages).

59:

I think you might be downplaying the battery life constraints. 10hrs is massively inadequate; I have it away from home all day (commuting, at work, commuting) and then I'd want it by my bed at night so I can read before going to sleep. It just won't get charged on a daily basis.

This is where an ebook reader differs from a cellphone or an mp3 player (both go on charge when I get home and left overnight; I don't care if someone calls me while I'm asleep and I have better music playing options at home), but an ebook reader doesn't get that opportunity (I'm not putting a charger on my bedstand!). Typically my Cybook3 gets charged on a Saturday when I'm out shopping... maybe once every 3 or 4 Saturdays, when I remember!

For a mobile computing device, 10 hours is more than adequate; for an ebook reader... no.

60:

Color me unimpressed. I was expecting something with a game-changing killer feature on the scale of the iPod or iPhone, but all we get is, basically, an iPod Touch with a bigger screen.

(I've already seen people calling it the MaxiPad.)

It probably is a Kindle killer; as Steve Jobs pointed out when the Kindle came out, single purpose devices are inferior to multipurpose devices that do the same job and more. Purpose-built e-book readers are going to be a short-lived fad, and the iPad is one of the things that will kill them, but they were never a massively popular product in any case. The iPad -- both the device itself and the category it represents -- isn't going to take off until someone comes up with a killer app that no other category of hardware can do as well, and so far, I don't see it. Books aren't it, web surfing isn't it, and movies aren't it. You can do all of those things at least as well, and usually better, on a laptop and/or phone.

I don't take the "it looks more like a real book" argument seriously; that's just the usual "cripple the new technology by making it work just like the old" luddite nonsense. I've read any number of novels perfectly comfortably on my iPhone (most recently our host's Scratch Monkey, come to think of it), in fact I'm more comfortable reading that way than a paper book these days. (For one thing, I don't have to care about lighting.) Granted the iPad would be an improvement (at least if I can turn off the silly book-like features like page animations), but only marginally so, certainly not enough to be worth buying one.

61:

The iPad -- both the device itself and the category it represents -- isn't going to take off until someone comes up with a killer app that no other category of hardware can do as well, and so far, I don't see it. Books aren't it, web surfing isn't it, and movies aren't it. You can do all of those things at least as well, and usually better, on a laptop and/or phone.

Here's a killer app for you: Large Print. A screen that's as big as a hardcover page, coupled with software that will let the reader enlarge the text, is perfect for the aging Boomer demographic!

Once I hit middle age I found that reading fine print, even with my new reading glasses, was painful. Trying to do it with bifocals was asking for a migraine. I like my iPod Touch, but I won't be reading any books on it, and even movies are too small to see clearly.

62:

There are iPhone games that allow you to listen to your own music during play. But you won't be able to surf the web or look at your spreadsheet data while writing a document.

63:

Re: Medical

No chance, at least not without a serious change at Apple about security. Getting iPhone aps to meet HIPPA compliance is a nightmare nit to mention there's no USB for the common peripherals they use.

I'm not convinced there's a need and would need to see it. I can see papers being nicer on this versus my Kindle, but the Kindle form factor just works for me, especially for plane travel.

64:

I'm rather disappointed by the DRM. Sure, I can take the hundreds of dollars of EPUB files I've bought and read them there, but anything I buy on that device (at least if I go through Apple's store) is probably going nowhere.

The issue is, of course, that my Sony Reader is smaller and has much longer battery life, so I might just sometimes want to take it out with me and leave the ipad at home.

Speaking of battery life, by the way, 12 hours (maybe) wouldn't survive a typical trip for me. From Tokyo to NYC, the flight alone is 14 hours, and then there's at least another 4-5 hours of trains and waiting around on the ends of that. My Sony Reader lasts not only through all of this, but usually through the rest of the week I'm away and the trip home as well.

And it may not be waterpoof, but books aren't, either. I read in the tub with my Sony Reader all the time.

Thanks for the video link, Thorben. But what's up with using The Cure's In Between Days? "Go on, go on, just walk away..."

65:

At this point in my life, unless somehow we have a better cashflow, this is a pretty extravagance.

I had an iBook that someone who broke randomly into my house June 26, 2009 and stole, and then a friend loaned me a titanium IBook (??? name nay not be right) that went tits-up just before Christmas).


I am going to start a new job next Monday (feb. 1) that may or may not be permanent (right now it's a three-five month assignment, npt enough to get health insurance). But because we had a paid-off credit card for a retail establishment I got a new MacBook.

I do not think I could type a lot on anything smaller than my MacBook. And at home at my desk, I have an extended keyboard on the lower-level typing return.

66:

You don't have a electrical plug near your bed, sweh?

67:

Given I don't really see the point of the iPod Touch, I'm not sure what the point of the iPod Touch HD is going to be. Its certainly not games (apple's attempt to justify the iPod Touch).

Even at $499 its not cheap enough to kickstart the mass eReader market (that's at less than $150), and the lack of, well everything, means there is correspondingly less chance of someone else coming up with some game changing app.

Its big and not really that clever.

Newton MkII minus.

Only for the fanboys I think.

I do however think that the apple ARM chip is going to show up in the next iPhone as they attempt to fend off the charge of the Android phones.

68:

I was hoping for a Pixel Qi screen (nice write up online in current Popular Mechanics), that would give a great full sunlight experience and better battery life and play movies and games.

Waiting for one running Andriod/Chrome. Real multitasking is too useful, and a gps is handy even if you don't have data.

I find the 3rd party bacground apps on Andriod to be critical, check out Locale (change settings or trigger events based on time, location, battery status, etc).

69:

Charlie, regarding the 3g, I'm clear on the fact that, being in Scotland, you don't have the...privilege...of taking advantage of AT&T's contractless coverage for the iPad. Still, given the March time frame, the user serviceable sim, and the existence of iPhones in your market, I imagine a similar deal might exist by shipping time.

All that said, your larger point that the iPad is a iTouch++, is well taken.

To me, the 3g wireless is a critical feature given the form factor. I spend too much time in places with no free wifi to rely on that as my only connection.

70:

@65 : I currently own a T91MT, which, I think, it's the nearest device actually selling (multitouch, battery life ...). I can see what kind of usage an iPad offer, and like comment 59 say, it need more battery life.

Even in bed (especially in bed), you don't want to have a silly cable hampering your movement.

I think asus, with the T91MT and the T101MT will be the first victim (same ecosystem, different capabilities). Even if it's offer the same or better functionnalities (multitouch, 3G, DVB-T ...), the design is fundamentally flawed (no multitouch application).

Time to search google for the iPad OS :)

71:

"Incidentally: e-ink has only two advantages over an LCD for reading: battery life, and sunlight. With a 12 hour life on the iPad -- greater than the life of the e-ink based Irex Illiad reader -- the former advantage is gone. As for the latter, I seldom read books in sunlight. At everything else (colour, speed, visibility in indoor lighting conditions) LCD panels slaughter e-ink. I speak as an e-ink device owner -- this is going to be eminently readable."

I don't agree, and I'm not alone in this. Reading anything of an LCD screen for any period of time gives me a slight headache, makes me tired, and I find it hard to concentrate. I read faster, and longer, from e-ink screens and I remember more of what I read. You might be right that this does kill of e-ink, but if it does then I will abandon e-books for paper again.

72:

My "going on holiday" laptop is an Asus EEE (2Gb +200Gb). Uses:

1. remote admin of hosted servers over SSH
2. fix up critical bugs running Eclipse and svn client
3. light email / browser usage
4. basic photo/video management on extended holidays when camera SD cards are filled up
5. music management for kids iPods

If the iPad handled (1), with PK authentication, then I'd be willing to give the book-reading thing a whirl (never done so).

So form factor 10/10, connectivity 6/10, openness 0/10 : overall utility 2/10.

73:

"...this thing is going to slaughter the Kindle and most of the other ebook readers on the market..."

This makes me scratch my head in disbelief. The regular Kindle is a very good paperback replacement. The iPad is a very poor paperback replacement. Different markets entirely.

I could see the iPad taking off with people who need a larger format (PDFs and such), especially colored documents. It may indeed hurt the Kindle DX. Similar market.

74:

Charlie: Apparently iBooks is US-only, does that change things?

75:

This device is most notably created for consuming and buying. Sure it will find alternative ( more productive ) usage scenarios. But the fact it's not going to be packaged with iWorks right from the beginning is a clear indicator what the iPad is really meant for.

I wish creative commnunities like VJs and DJs will change this as fast as possible. For them it's the perfect interactive and haptic interface possible.

76:

"Just a few years ago, this whole scenario was still science fiction"

Well, except that the device is identical in every significant respect to Acorn Computers' mid-nineties "Newspad" prototypes (see here for a photo and basic info). Sure, it's updated - better screen*, wifi/3g connection instead of then-current mobile technology, 1GHz processor instead of 40MHz. But the fact that a device made fifteen years later has incremental speed improvements doesn't exactly make it groundbreaking. (Yes, I'm an unashamed Acorn fanboy; they did amazing things, and one of their major problems was that they were often ten years too early.)

*though 1024x768 isn't that much of an upgrade from the Newspad's 800x600

77:

Not as bad as I'd feared, especially the price (though we'll still have the USD1 = GBP1 + markup to face, and the Mac Mini US - GB markup does not fill me with optimism there).

I can see this in great use around a house with wireless fitted: news/weather displays, various forms of comms, iTunes control if you have an Airport Express. Given my Firefox has AdBlock and FlashBlock installed I can probably live without Flash as well.

Downsides: the 3G premium is large, to put it mildly - and Ghu save us, another form factor for a SIM card which will limit carrier choice for a while. No 3G, no GPS... Oh, and having to pay extra for dongles for a standard USB port and an SD card slot is just extracting the urine.

Overall, though: definitely shiny, and I'm looking forward to trying one out eventially.

78:

@66 The last thing I want is to use an ebook reader in bed while it's attached to some type of charging cable. In bed I read lying down (not sitting up) and frequently change position; that cable would totally destroy the experience for me.

79:

I suspect Apple will sell tons of these things, but being a Kindle killer seems off the mark. My first thought while watching the introduction was that the world has truly passed me by. Most of the wow features in the iPad apply to someone else - I failed utterly to connect with the thrill of watching movies continuously while flying from San Francisco to Tokyo. Apple is now a mobile computing company (thus sayeth Steve). I have used Apple computers for 30 years and still do not have the urge to carry one around with me.

For the reading-a-book-while-lying-down crowd, the extra weight, extra cost and extra glitz is a a bit of a downer. Plus, it sounds like he is helping make eBooks more expensive. :-(

80:

@50:

I don't think that a 10 inch form factor is any good. It's twice as big as 7 inch (area wise) and twice as bulky. Which is the reason why there is no camera on the iPad. The whole contraption is too bulky/awkward to use as a camera.

How big were those tablets in Star Trek TNG?

http://www.lcarsmania.com/sttools/padd-palm.jpg

This is more like it ... and more like 7 inch. Actually more like 5 inch for the main screen. The control panel there has an odd appeal to me. It cleanly separates information and operation, without foregoing the option to interact directly with the information. And, there is enough room to grip the whole thing firmly. In fact you could put a hole in the lower part to improve upon that even further.

14 or 15 inch would be a whole different device for different applications. Big enough to put it flat on a table and get some real work/gaming done and also big enough to put a full-size keyboard in front of it - without running into trouble with a (comparably) tiny screen being too far away.

It can also be used reasonably while standing at a table, which is not an option for regular computers, which depend too much on keeping a fixed posture when working.

So, that's my verdict: The iPad is too big to not be bulky, but also too small to work with.

... and that's just the form factor. Not a word about the missing SD-card reader or jealously guarded operating system.

81:

@Tom Fuerstner (75):

Holy crap, yes. The idea of Traktor on an iPad makes me dribble.

82:

Just a small correction to the comments about SmartQ tablets/MIDs .. V7's are actually 600MHz devices, but the Q7 are 800MHz devices as corrected by latest firmware. Old Q7 firmware down-clocked the Samsung chip.

83:

Bob @79: I expect the other shoe to drop in a few months, in the shape of an iPad Mini -- with a 6" or 7" screen, exactly midway between the iPod Touch and the iPad.

As for Kindle-killing, this thing is a Kindle; it'll run the Kindle-on-iPhone app, straight off the App store. The Kindle hardware doesn't, in my view, stand a chance -- except in limited niche market.

For those who still think a 12 hour battery life isn't sufficient, this machine will charge over a USB cable and has a 25 watt-hour battery. For about fifty quid I can get one of those external laptop top-up batteries with USB power-out and between 80 and 120 watt-hours. That's, what, up to 60-70 hours continuous run-time for an iPad? -- More computer face-time than I spend in a week, if I expect to be travelling away from a mains socket for a significant length of time. I see few circumstances in my travel routine where I'd need that, though.

(Sweh: just buy a second charger already, and leave it at work. When you're at your desk, plug the iPad in your charger. When you turn the lights off at home, plug it into your bedroom charger. What's the problem?)

84:

Another curmudgeonly thought occurs: If a person (Steve, e.g.) spends 10 hours watching movies on his iPad while on an airplane, does the person in the next seat find this entertaining as well or is it just rude?

85:

If 'Steve's' attitude is similar to the way his company acts then I'd imagine that he has a set of 100 watt speakers attched so that everyone on the plane can hear.

After all if Steve likes it then everyone else MUST LIKE IT TOO!

Bit dissapointed that iBooks is US only - but not surprising really. Time will tell but for some reason, despite having an iPhone, the iPad is leaving me lukewarm at best.

86:
The Kindle hardware doesn't, in my view, stand a chance -- except in limited niche market.

Isn't it already in a niche market and succeeding? It, and its competitors, do basically one thing: they make it easy to read ordinary books. They don't show movies or play games or do very well with illustrations, etc. They just let you read. Now, I don't have any illusions about how many people read these days, but there are enough such people to have created a nice market so far. It's not clear to me how many of those folks would really prefer a heavier, more expensive way to do the same thing. Apple may well come out with something lighter (and cheaper?), but the same may be true of Amazon or any of the other companies in the field. It will be fun to watch.

87:

"the aggressive (for Apple) pricing"
It's $500 for the cheapest version, which means that by the time it comes to this side of the atlantic it'll be £500, and that ain't cheap (ain't affordable to me either).

88:

It may kill the Kindle, maybe. But I detect a strong undercurrent of meh, which mirrors my reaction on seeing the announcement - others above have said it better, but I for one won't be buying this . . . and I will stick with the Sony ereader, thanks.

89:

Doesn't matter that Apple-blessed apps can run in the background -- until any appstore app can run in the background, the iPad (and iTouch and iPhone) just won't meet their potential. It's not so obvious on the iPhone most of the time because you're not working as normal on it (it's a glorified phone so noone _really_ expected multitasking out of the gate); but on this, especially if you're working on it everyday, it's going to be a pain in the neck.

Plus, I wonder if John Dvorak was right this time about the display, being backlit, hurting the eyes more than the kindle if you read for a long time.

90:

And am I the only one who looked at the hype and then saw the product and thought "C-5" or "segway" (depending on the age of the thinker)?

91:

Out of the reality distortion field...


While looking at how I might use an iPad vs my iPhone I quickly realized that below the glitz, there is the annoying issue of the OS only allowing single applications (although you can run audio while using other apps).

This is fine on small screen devices, although the Palm Pre gives lie to the need for this. But when you have lots of screen real estate, how usable is this to do anything else? Even Safari doesn't have tabs to allow loading & viewing different web pages easily. I know from experience that the cut, copy and paste is very flaky, so I'm a little unsure how useful even the docked keyboard will be for word processing.

I understand why no camera, so it makes sense that the iPad will interface with regular cameras. What may disappoint is the resolution. Importing images reduces their resolution to very low levels. No doubt the iPad will allow higher resolutions, but this is likely to be well below that of most digital cameras on the market. It remains to be seen how this limitation will impact image handling on the device.

Why does Apple not mention the OS on the features or tech specs pages? You would not know what OS it was running except by inference from the sign up for the SDK.

Finally, it sounds trivial, but I was surprised at how many women I spoke to who were indeed turned off by the name. While I would have preferred "iSlate" (but sounds too much like "I is late"), I would have thought that iPad worked well with iPod and the Star Trek PADD. However the association with MaxiPad was too strong and a definite turn off.

92:

Well, Segways are downright ugly :-) Me, I won't buy this thing for a number of reasons -- the main one being the fact I must surrender a lot of freedoms to code on this thing. (for instance, not resorting to app store to install a program, or not giving a tithe to apple if I develop one)

Yet, I can clearly see it as a worthy tool in the hands of salespersons, architects and all categories of people whose careers imply showing something to get financed.

It will be quite a tool in the medical field: I can clearly see doctors logging to the hospital's intranet and downloading patient's latest data (status, x-ray photos, echographic movies and the like). Resolution is OK for most of these purposes and I think hospitals (at least, well-financed ones) could and will take advantage of it.

93:
Segways are downright ugly

Well, yes, but my point was more the way that both the C5 and the segway were worked on by engineers and marketers and others for many many months before release; and about 20 to 30 seconds after the official release, they all had that "Oh god, what was I thinking?" moment. Granted, well hidden with the segway who found a niche, but the C5 is the canonical example of the hype around a new product from a successful developer with several major successes under his belt, not quite being sufficient to counter the reality of that new product when it hit the real world...

94:

NOTE: Dimensions:

The Amazon Kindle (first generation) is: 203 × 135 × 20.3 mm, 290 grams.

The Kindle 2 is: 9.3mm thick, apparently sam weight.

The Kindle DX is: 264 × 183 × 9.7 mm, 540 grams.

The iPad is: 243 x 190 x 12.7 mm, 680 grams.

So: it's about an inch taller, two inches wider, and a third thinner than the original Kindle (and a tenth of an inch thicker than Kindle 2). Denser and heavier.

It's about an inch shorter and a quarter inch wider than the DX, and about 20% heavier.

People have been assuming that because of the big screen, this thing's the size of the Kindle DX. But it's actually somewhere between the regular Kindle and the DX in area, slightly thicker, and considerably denser (hence the weight).

What the numbers tell me is that the regular Kindle's huge screen bezel makes it a lot less compact than a comparison based on screen area would suggest.

Pulling out a ruler and a handy hardcover of "Singularity Sky" I note that SS is: 234 x 165 x 29 mm and weighs 650 grams.

So the iPad is about 1cm taller and 2cm narrower than a hardback novel, less than half the thickness, and the same weight.

95:

Apple has a good history of regularly improving the features of their devices, while at the same time gradually bringing the device down.

In 18 months we'll probably see Gen 2 of the iPad, with a bunch of features that are missing from Gen 1, and it will probably start at around $450 (barring any large exchange rate sifts that bump component prices up.)

Multitasking would be an important feature. Maybe a webcam facing the user and one facing out (or a rotating one) so you can use it both as a camera and as a video conferencing device. An extra couple hours of battery life.

Also, keep in mind that right now most of the apps are just imported iPhone apps. Give developers a year and we'll probably see good iTab specific apps.

I'm just waiting for the first knock off though, using Android as the OS.

96:

What really kills the deal for me are three things:

- the cell phone data plan costs (which would be additional to a cell phone ...)

- the lack of (de-facto-)standard interfaces (especially the world of USB, but also interfaces in software, i.e. Flash etc.)

- and finally the way this seems to be a stepping stone to closed devices - non-generative, no way for non-apple-approved apps, all the blessings of DRM control (cf. http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ipad )

And I really don't see this as a students "computer" - note-taking in seminars (hand-held ;-)) will be as difficult as writing seminar texts without additional hardware. For the same price, a full-fledged notebook is available (not from Apple, but anyways).

97:

The iPad will sell well, despite the reservations of those who consider themselves to be tech-savvy because, frankly, that's not the target market. Those who want to get under the hood of the device and muck around with the OS gubbins underneath are in a tiny minority. Factor in that many apps on iPhone open in the same configuration/state as they are closed, and the multi-application question is less relevant for most users, too.

Anyway, the biggest thing here - especially from a writer's POV, and I cannot believe that it is getting lost in a debate about technology - is not the hardware but rather the iBook store. That's probably the real game-changer, depending on the kind of deals Apple has managed to make with the Big 5. In one fell swoop, Amazon's stranglehold is gone - and for those who claim that Apple's stranglehold is worse, what about the complete absence of DRM on iTunes purchases? If their share gets big enough, can we not reasonably expect the same from iBooks too? And at the risk of pointing out the obvious, the ebook market for this device is as much for newspaper, magazines, textbooks and technical manuals (in fact, anything with colour pictures in it)as for Charlie's next novel.

Re it being US-only, I recall that iTunes was US-only initially too. Negotiating rights in multiple markets takes time, I expect to see a UK/European version by the end of the year.

98:

As for Kindle-killing, this thing is a Kindle; it'll run the Kindle-on-iPhone app, straight off the App store. The Kindle hardware doesn't, in my view, stand a chance -- except in limited niche market.

I was talking about this with a friend who has to annotate a lot of engineering documents, expecting him to like it as he hates carrying lots of paperwork with him. His comment was that he can't spent more than an hour reading intensively from a computer screen without developing a headache. Its useless to him.

You may think that e-ink is purely about battery life, but lots of us don't. Backlit screens are useless to me for prolonged reading.

And the bit about the battery is hilarious. You could do all those things, but it starts to become a little bit inconvenient when ereaders just work the way you want them to...

99:

I assume that it will also run Barnes & Noble's free eBook app? You can get free Google ebooks from their store, though the OCR's not too hot. I have the Mac and Windows version, runs fine on my old iBook, uses the .pdb format, so I guess I'll have to use it to read "Scratch Monkey".

--Just went back at their site, and seems the current version won't run on my iBook, and uses .epub format.

101:

Since I'm the resident Mac Heathen, please allow me to stomp down from Mount Doom and trample under hobnailed boots the idea that iPads will be adopted in medical environments and vertical markets with similar needs.

If it's reliant upon Apps Store and has an always-on 3G, not gonna happen. (At least in North America.) Charts and other medical records are considered extremely confidential, and require specialty software to maintain and encrypt. There's zero chance that this software would be released to an Apps Store environment or on a platform that "phones home" as much as iPhones (et ali) do... even if the developers were willing, legislators and privacy advocates would howl in outrage.

The iPad looks to be an excellent (albeit largeish) PMP and e-book reader with some PDA/productivity utility, but unless the developer environment gets opened up to proprietary software and to the ability to "wall in" its network environment it's not going to be used in hospital administration.

-- Steve

102:

Anton P. Nym: you obviously haven't read the specs properly; there are going to be 3G + wifi and wifi-only versions. Nor do you need the App store to get apps onto the iPod or iPad -- if you get a developer ID. Presumably if there's a specialist medical or engineering or legal market Apple will set up an alternative channel for getting data onto them.

Note that among the items demoed back when OS 3 came out were blood pressure monitors and a discussion of the usefulness of the iPod Touch for medical diagnostics.

Note also that we see fscking Windows CE devices in hospitals. Now that's terrifying! (Co-operative multitasking and no memory protection: what can possibly go wrong?)

103:

How does the Ipad compare to the Archos 9? Other than the OS...

104:

I wonder if this will push back the release date...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/technology/companies/29name.html?hp

105:

I can put my iPhone into a ziploc baggie and take it around water, and it still works when I poke it. (I was actually surprised that it wasn't more annoying to have it bagged.) I would be strongly suspicious that you could put an iPad into a bigger ziploc plastic baggie (freezer bag?) and get similar performance. I wouldn't want to take it into the shower, but if a towel were handy and I was sure that the bag was closed, it'd probably work for reading in the tub.

You could probably do the same with a Kindle, I'd think?

106:

This is a big time game changer.

I bet Apple sales will be 100% of production capacity.
If they can make 30 million units in 2010 they will sell them all. I can see ultimate market penetration of up to 1 in 20 Americans having one.

1) Portable HD TV - Check
2) Color eBook Reader - Check
3) Special Widget App Store - Check
4) Talk and Toss Wireless Phone Card Setup - Check
5) Micropay for Transactions using iTune Cards - Check
6) Fanless so it can be used on your lap - Check
7) Bluetooth for accessories (Headsets, Game Controllers, etc) - Check
8) Has horsepower equal to a 2001 Desktop PC or PS2- Check
9) Quick Bootup - Check
10) No 8 GB Bloatware Windows Install - Check
11) Great Gift Idea for Graduations, B-days, etc - Check
12) Will play a killer sales demo behind a locked display case - Check
13) With Docking Keyboard has elegance of a Mac Classic. - Check
14) Great resale value - Check

Just like the music industry, Apple is moving to take their "vig" of 3rd party software, TV Cable, and the publishing industry. This is funny because all Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft can do play "Toolbar Wars".

TheWesman

107:

Cybook Gen3
118 x 188 x 8.5 mm
174 g

I thought the Kindle 1 was too heavy and bulky as an ebook reader. The Kindle 2 comes into the tolerable range and has the wide DRM ebook availability and instant free (no $30 wireless plan required) download to make it worthwhile. That said, I still prefer the Cybook's size and weight, along with the better contrast (Amazon went with lower contrast to increase page turn speed) whenever I can get a book DRM-free. Looks like I'll be flashing the Cybook to ePub format in the near future to take advantage of Barnes & Noble's e-store, maybe iBooks, and others.

The iPad is 2-3+ times the price and over twice the weight of the Kindle 2. Amazon and the other e-ink device makers aren't going to be standing still (Kindle Apps, color e-ink, bigger screen in the same form factor?). And it'll "slaughter" it and the other lightweight readers? I'm bookmarking this post for future reference. I'm willing to eat crow and admit if I'm wrong. You have a bit more to lose as a SF futurist type of person who's supposed to be savvy about such things.

108:

Ted R: if you want a pocket iPad, get an iPod Touch. There, that's in your weight range!

109:

Charlie: hah! There is also too small. Gimme the size, weight, and usefulness of a paperback for my reading, please. ;)

110:

@83 Charlie:

Those external batteries are hard to get onto the plane in our fear governed times.
Happend to me only on 1 in 3 flights i had it with me, ymmv.

Charging stuff at work is frowned upon at many places, it's considered stealing.
Not everyone has that much choice where to work, but those external batteries aren't confiscated at the office doors, afaik, yet. :)


Got any info if Ace or Orbit are planing to jump onto the iBooks bandwagon?

111:

iDontLike: I have no information at this time, but as Ace is a subsidiary of Penguin Group (who have announced participation) and Orbit is a subsidiary of Hachette, I'm certain they'll be putting books out through the iBook store in America.

The UK/rest of world rights situation is a little bit more complicated and will take time to sort out. I probably ought to blog about this next week (when I'm not travelling).

112:

Ted R: I'm willing to predict that if the iPad isn't a flop, Apple will release a mid-sized model (7" screen) to fill in the obvious gap in the range.

They seem to like doing things in threes. (Macbook Pro 13", 15", 17"; iMac 20", 24", 27" ...)

113:

@111 Charlie: A 7" screen iPad would definitely make me reconsider, though there's still the matter of e-ink readability. That seems to me to be about perfect for re-flowing text reading. I'm hoping that the next regular Kindle's improvements include a larger screen like that, in the same overall device size and weight (lighter would be nice too!).

I'm not against an ebook reader doing more neat things, like the iPad. I'm against it doing what I want it to do -- let me read books - in an inferior way to what I already have. The iPad is a different ebook reader, not a better one for the kind of reading I (and I daresay most readers) do. e.g. novels.

114:

I'm not sure I see the appeal of a 7" screen over 9". It'd still be too big to pocket. Yet a 9" tablet takes no space in a bag.

115:

David McCabe: depends on the pocket. An iPhone fits in your trouser pocket or shirt-front pocket. A 7" device ... that's a suit/blazer/jacket pocket, but not a shirt pocket. The 10" device -- not so pocketable.

My thoughts, 28 hours on: the iPad is AOL in hardware. It's not aimed at power users, it's aimed at ordinary folks who are confused by double-clicking vs. single-clicking, wonder why they have so many cousins dying in Lagos and naming them in their wills, and think "the internet has broken" if their browser window closes by accident. If you were expecting a Macbook Pro tablet, you'll hate it. If you want something that Just Works, and that you can figure out how to operate in five minutes, and that doesn't require you to even know what a computer is ... you're the target market.

116:

Is there any good literature out there on form factor preferences? I'd love to have a pad whose screen measures 8.5"x11", just because so many textbooks seem to fall within this size range(there's also the fact that my eyesight isn't what it used to be.) So something like 8.5"x11"x1/4" would be really nice - think of the plastic logic ereader.

Of course, I also really like a traditional phone handset as opposed to these little phone boxes. Lots of luck getting anything like the utility of an iPhone packaged in that size and shape.

117:

I have a jacket with giant pockets in the front, and it would just barely fit a 7" tablet. An ordinary suit pocket wouldn't fit it. Plus, who wants 500g hanging from one side of their jacket?

You'd have to start carrying concealed just to counterbalance it. More proof this is an America-centric device ;)

118:

Made a while ago apparently...

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/27/peter-serafinowicz-o.html

iPad: overpriced, oversexed and over here (soon).

119:
My thoughts, 28 hours on: the iPad is AOL in hardware. It's not aimed at power users, it's aimed at ordinary folks who are confused by double-clicking vs. single-clicking...

I think this misses the mark somewhat.

The Tablet (let's just not call it an iPad) moves us along the same vector as the CLI to GUI transition. We geeks couldn't get anything done without a command-line, but almost all of us agree that, even for geeks, a GUI is the preferred modality for everyday work. (I say this as one who used to read his mail in Emacs.) You need a CLI, but for most tasks, GUIs are better for everybody.

By getting rid of a user-facing filesystem, user-facing process management, and input focus, the Tablet drastically simplifies computing. Everyone will benefit from this, even those who have a shell window open at all times.

I've never heard of anybody having trouble using their iPhone. This is because the iPhone UI uses almost no abstraction. Everything it can do is mapped concretely onto the screen. Nothing is hidden, and nothing is abstract. The Tablet will gradually bring this level of simplicity to real computers, while becoming more flexible as they figure out how to get multitasking, windowing, etc., without breaking the simplicity and reliability.

For my part, I'm pleased that I'll be able to buy an iMac plus a Tablet for less than my 15" MBP cost me four years ago. Instead of trying to cram a powerful workspace into something portable, I'll have something really portable, plus something really powerful and large-screened at home. The Tablet seems adequate for my portable use cases.

I just hope we don't get the bad future of mandatory code signing.

120:

Please add a style rule for blockquotes. Something like:

border-left: 4px solid #ddd;
margin-left: 1em;
padding-left: 1em;

and adjust to taste.

121:

I'm not sure I'd enjoy this; I prefer reading on a Palm that has a fairly good (though somewhat small) screen, has quite a few other apps on it, and fits handily into my pocket when visiting the ladies' room, waiting for the movie in a theater, or stuck in a construction zone while driving. It also comes with a teeny weeny keyboard, but since I have teeny weeny fingers, I'm fine with that. For $500, I can buy a laptop better than the one I'm currently typing on (curse you Toshiba and your horrible video chip that wants to turn everything pink!).

Ahem. I don't have wireless with it, but I could if I wanted to, since it will do Bluetooth if I pass the wallet biopsy. However, I can find lots of books that fit on it quite nicely (runs mobi as well as eReader, has Office for Palm, which means I can pull up my address book spreadsheet, and a nice little mortgage calculator which came in very handy in accounting class). I've read _The Count of Monte Cristo_ on it, and some longer works (yes, they exist; some works on fanfiction.net are close to a million words).

I think I'll wait till the dedicated readers come down in price a bit.

122:

The design looks interesting. The name, well, as NPR pointed out, Steve probably didn't check with any female marketing types about that name. Mad TV seems to have got to it first, in 2007. I liked your name better.

123:

Pockets, smockets. I fully expect there to be a billion-dollar market in iPad self-attaching external pockets by this time next year.

124:

#100: You are right, but I also happen to have spotted private intranet in hospitals used to record patient data. I also happen to have worked as a tech consultant for some days into an hospital, tuning databases that hosted patient data that could be accessed via a web browser in a private, protected intranet environment

If this thing is wi-fi enabled, and has a browser and, on the other side, there is a web-based 'net infrastructure, I still mantain that this thing as a lot of potential in hospitals.

Again, this thing, as it stands is little or no use for me. Moreover, paying the Apple tithe for installing your app is *so wrong* in my book, worse than Microsoft-IE monopoly.

For non technical people, however, is like a sci-fi gadget made true.

125:

@Charlie, 114

If you were expecting a Macbook Pro tablet, you'll hate it.

@David McCabe, 118
I'll be able to buy an iMac plus a Tablet for less than my 15" MBP

That's exactly what I spent the last 36 hours explaining to various local geeks. All their complaints can be easily boil down to "I wanted my desk workstation in a tablet".

The rest can be summed up as "it lacks GPS, iSight cam, eInk outdoor display, and can't run on a pair of AAA batteries".

The iPad is not a drop-in replacement for an existing niche. It's a device that aims to grab a merge parts of existing niches and fill a minor void inbetween them. What it's not is an all-encompassing device.

And it's probably a marketing failure for 50% of the population, though. Do they have wimmin in the marketing dpt at Apple?

126:

If they had just resurrected the "Newton" name, geeks everywhere would love it. :)

127:

in regards to ebooks and kindle, Amazon's statement is interesting

"When we have both editions, we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books."

128:

"When we have both editions, we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books."

But they still won't release actual numbers for Kindle sales or Kindle book sales, right? So, are they counting free downloads as sales here (ie, you can buy Frankenstein or 'buy' digital Frankenstein for nothing)? And how many books have both editions?

If the numbers are as impressive as they imply, why don't they stop implying and just give us the numbers?

129:

Mr. Archer, I'm glad somebody else gets it.

On the 7" vs. 9" question: Will a 9" tablet fit in a typical purse?

130:

iPAD main chip overview. Yes, it's a custom chip combining an ARM core and ARM MALI GPU. BTW, does anyone have a short English-language overview of the MALI? It looks interesting.

I think another application--if Autodesk can overcome its Apple allergy--might be construction-site use. Builders and architects like things they can touch. I wonder what its dust resistance is like?

131:

I can carry a ten-inch netbook in a purse that's only a little larger than average, and seven-inch one (which is basically the same size as the nine-inch models that came along a few months later) even more easily, so I would think a nine-inch tablet shouldn't be a problem.

132:

It doesn't support Flash--I am no fan of Flash, but it's ubiquitous on websites.
It doesn't multitask.
I said "WHAT?!" to both of them in a email forum which has someone who got shafted when Mr Jobs returned to Apple and terminated the MacOS licensing program--the fellow had been working for a company which had signed on to make MacOS mchine with PowerPC chips. The company bit the dust and so did the former employees' employment.

Anyway, the fellow in response to my "WHAT?!"s first responded in effect that Apple does everything propriety and closed and for maximizing Apple revenue through propriety, and Apple does not and won't support Flash--it doesn't lock people into Apple proprietary. He was even less generous regarding the single tasking, I had commented that was a return to the single-tasking Mac, he said it was worse, because the user had to jump through additional hoops to out of an application, then back to somewhere else, and then into the other application.

My bottom line response was, "You mean it's a iPoop?"

I've been using a Samsung UMPC for several years as a portable device, reading books on it in the dentist's office and taking notes and writing on it, looking at pictures from my digicams, using an external keyboard on one of the two USB ports when doing more than brief note jotting with the stylus and handwriting recognition, accessing the Internet while having my car serviced from the WiFi hotspot at the car servicing place, etc. Yeah, it's underpowered and slow, but it works and it multitasks and support Flash and has a pair of USB ports, a color display, touchscreen, etc. I can connect up an external GPS receiver to it via the USB port. I can move files between it and another computer via thumb drive, external hard drive, Ethernet, etc.

And it doesn't involve Steve Jobs, whom I consider the single most deleterious influence ever on personal computing and computing interface usability....

133:

Addendum--I can also plug a webcam into it (it has built-in audio recording, however, multitasking that with several word processing windows writing into oen one them with other stuff open incuding the calendar, and whatever else I had open at the time--I'm a ferocious multiple apps and windows open at the same time user--Word can get REALLY unhappy when the memory runs out...--can cause significant drop outs in the audio recording), or an HDTV receiver which costs less than $100, or a DVD drive, etc.

134:

A different sort of reality check here, regarding DRM and on-line publishing.
Charlie, do you have any comments on this spat between Google and several authors and publishers?

135:

Greg: I'm aeay from home with a tiny Vaio P as a portable -- expect a lengthy essay explaining the incoming ebook wars in economic terms next week (if I get time). Suffice to say, we are living in Interesting Times, and most of the bystander-commentators are grotesquely misrepresenting the situation because they don't understand (a) the internet and (b) the traditional publishing supply chain, much less (c) the various warring internet/new media supply chains.

136:

Re your ebook wars piece you might find this article in last week's New Republic interesting:

http://www.tnr.com/article/the-love-culture

Timothy B Lee also has a couple of good posts on why the IPad represents two steps forward and three steps back:

http://timothyblee.com/?p=2169
http://timothyblee.com/?p=2191

137:

"When we have both editions, we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books."

But Amazon are the only people who sell Kindle books, whereas they're something like 10-15% (last figures I saw, in the Bookseller) of the physical book market. Which then makes 6 Kindle books for every 70-100 physical books sold.

Of course, if they're comparing the Kindle books with a specific edition of a physical book that is available in multiple editions (say, the hardback of a fiction book that's out in both hardback and paperback), then the figures get even worse. Let's imagine that "The Atrocity Archives" is available as a Kindle book, and they're comparing with the hardback sales. I don't know what the ratio actually is, but I'd be surprised if a book originally published six years ago is selling more than about one hardback per ten paperbacks. Which would mean that six Kindle copies per ten hardbacks sold by Amazon makes six Kindle books per ~750-1100 total physical books sold, or about 1% of the market. Funnily enough, I seem to remember our host mentioning a figure around that level a little while ago....

138:

"this thing is going to slaughter the Kindle"

In terms of selling more units? Sure.

In terms of customers who use it for regular (daily) reading of long-form books, heavy readers? No way. Backlit and 1.5 pounds? No way.

139:

I dont understand how a iPad can be cheaper when all the available software is chargeable apps, and it's on a expensive mobile contract. A netbook is cheaper to start with and has a huge range of free software.

I like to have the freedom to choose what I do with my computers, Apple puts a straightjacket on them.

The iPad also looks delicate and very scratchable, the clamshell design of a laptop is more rugged. I can chuck my netbook in a rucksack, the iPad is going to require a sheath, and a bag.

140:

Rick: you haven't read the iPad pricing, have you?

There will be wifi-only ones with no mobile operator contract, and wifi-and-3G ones with a mobile contract.

The wifi-only ones are significantly cheaper.

Netbook: different type of machine, different utility function.

The rest of your post is the usual flappy-jawed quackspeak.

141:

I think it's neat that because of the Reality Distortion Field(tm) apparently now anything with an LCD screen is suddenly an eBook reader. Who knew? Eh, mostly tongue in cheek but it is a bit silly. LCD screens are not ideal devices on which to read. Frankly eInk isn't perfect yet either but it's a far cry better.

142:

Charlie;

It was yourself that compared the two machines to start with. Their both mobile computing devices with a ~10" screen. Their 'utility function' overlap is so close that they're interchangeable.

What I read on pricing was $499 for basic and $899 for contract-free 3g, although my research was by no means thorough.

The rest of my post was as valid as your joygasmic OP.

143:

Rick: the higher price you cite is misleading; it's the price for the most expensive model, with 3G (unlocked) and a 64Gb SSD -- something you won't find in many $499 netbooks. It's also an overestimate -- it's $70 cheaper.

As to the rest ...

It's all about the usability, baby. This isn't a computer as we know it; it's an appliance, and a very interesting one because it suggests a paradigm shift in the offing.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 27, 2010 6:02 PM.

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