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Gadget Patrol: iPad, a month on

Bruce Sterling, SF novelist, journalist, and design guru, observed a while ago that the interesting thing about the iPhone was that it subsumes other devices. It's not just a mobile phone — it's an iPod, a web browser, a movie player, a satnav, a games console in roughly the same class as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP (indeed, iOS games outsell PSP games), an ebook reader, a compass, a floor wax and a desert topping. With iPhone 4 it looks as if Apple are getting serious about some "traditional" mobile phone applications (for 1990s values of "traditional") such as compact camera photography ... and also some downright science fictional ones: it's a videophone contender, and even an HD video editing platform. There have been mutterings about near field payment technologies under development. Doubtless when it acquires a pico-projector (any year now) it'll also be a flashlight and a laser gun.

But what about last month's shiny, the iPad?

I'm still using it. Although the question of what I'm not using is much more interesting.

There are annoyances from my point of view, of course. A lot of them centre around third party software. None of the third-party office/word processing suites fully support external keyboards with cursor movement keys yet; Apple's own offerings do, but lack essential functionality. (Pages for iPad has no word count, for example, and the only ways of managing a workflow with other machines involve: emailing document attachments back and forth, syncing with iTunes — which is limited to a single machine, or using the utterly inadequate iWork.com portal.) Nevertheless, it provides a really excellent basic editing environment for Word .doc files. If they'd add DropBox support (or if DropBox would add support for receiving file uploads via email) I'd be more than happy to put up with it.

Use of 3G for data instead of wifi is adequate, but drains the battery a lot faster. And so on.

On the other hand.

My Sony Reader is gathering dust. Literally. I haven't switched it on since getting the iPad. This thing is a killer ebook reader. It's usable in daylight, too, although the reflective screen means you're constantly hunting for a reflection-free angle.

Movies ... I don't watch TV or film much. But what I've looked at is fine. It's not a full-on HD device (it won't do anything over 720p) but for playing ripped DVDs it's great.

The internet media consumption role, be it via RSS or web browser, is great. (Unlike some, I have no problem with the lack of Flash support. In fact, I routinely install FlashBlock on any machine I use before I start browsing — the prevalence of flash in advertising makes it a positive nuisance, from my point of view.)

Email ... I find the on-screen keyboard adequate for brief replies, but irritatingly slow because touch-based cut and paste is, at best, a kluge. But if I've got anything serious to say, a brisk session in the keyboard dock suffices: there's full keyboard-based cut and paste support and suddenly a very desktop-like experience. And Gmail's iPad user interface is impressive, to say the least.

I'm not using my iPhone for email any more, except when I don't have the iPad on my person.

Two weeks ago, I spent four days (three nights) away from home. I left the laptop behind and carried the iPad. In that time, I did not miss the laptop. And the frustration level from replacing the Macbook Air with an iPad was lower than the corresponding frustration level from trying to use a netbook running Ubuntu or Windows 7 instead. Unless I'm planning on doing Serious Work, the iPad is acceptable. More to the point, it's just plain nicer to use than a netbook. I have two netbooks; an older HP mini, and a Vaio P (a year old, acquired when they were being remaindered at half price). Like the Sony Reader, they're gathering dust. In theory the netbooks' specs are way higher than the iPad. But in terms of actual usability, the iPad delivers an experience that's so much nicer that they're basically roadkill, lacking the full-sized screen and keyboard of a real laptop and unable to compete on portability and battery life.

In a nutshell: the iPhone swallowed the iPod, the satnav, the phone, and the pocket camera. The iPad swallows the PMP, the ebook reader, and the netbook.

Next month I'm going away for ten days. My wife's planning on taking her laptop: I'm going to see if I can manage with the iPad. I'm not crazy, mind you. Her lappie has a lot of free space; I planted a backup copy of my laptop account on it, so that if the iPad gets terminally confused I can reset it to factory spec and restore my data from backup. Later, I'm going to see if I can reduce my iPad lifebelt to a pocket hard disk, or a USB memory stick. (Find spare computer; insert stick/drive: plug in iPad: restore.)

As for the big picture: this thing is roughly where the Macintosh was in late 1984. Which is to say, a lot of people don't get it, and think it's a toy — and in truth, there's a lot of stuff it doesn't do properly yet. But it's an astonishingly promising toy. And what it promises is an entirely new way of getting stuff done. I think it's going to be Macintosh 2.0. And today, even if you're reading this in Internet Explorer on a desktop PC, your PC is a Macintosh clone: because the mouse-and-window based Macintosh user interface won.

102 Comments

1:

Do you think this is the end for the use of e-ink technology in eBook readers?

Joern

2:

It's not the end of e-ink as a technology ... But in ebook readers? I'd say so. E-ink should in theory deliver better battery life, but e-ink readers have to be carefully designed to deliver it; many don't. For example, the Irex Illiad could only deliver an 11 hour battery life, and my BOTE calculations suggest the Sony Readers are only good for 25-50 hours -- better than the iPad, but they're vastly more limited devices.

E-ink will survive in other niches -- it has a bright future in outdoor advertising displays, for example. But as a consumer product, not so much.

3:

eInk has always been either too expensive or too slow to be used properly. If it had a price point to render it almost disposable and no more than 0.25mm thick, I could see them used in booklets that you could use just like a conventional book, but with a limited number of pages. That way even several seconds of switching time would be no problem.

They would also be a lot more usable if they were 4 times as fast, durable and cost no more than a quarter of the current price.

EInk or some derivative may one day have a future as a tattoo ink (which btw would be just about the only way I could imagine getting one). But for actual use (like rapidly switching through pages) - LCDs are a lot more usable and above all cheaper. Reflective displays aren't magic and offer decent enough contrast, the OLPC proved that much.

Why did eInk have a chance in the first place?

Price discrimination. EInk could be touted as a superior (high contrast), more expensive product with a rather large profit margin on top of the insanely high price of the display. After all, the Kindle and follow-up products were the first ebook readers in Europe and America. At the same time, Ebook reading software was commonplace in all sorts of Chinese LCD bearing gadgets - not so in Europe or America, which is a consequence of the low information density of our script, compared with Chinese.

Now that gadgets short of laptops combine unsmallish LCDs compatible with western script and long battery life, this is going to be changing and eInk is likely to pushed to the margins until the price comes way down.

4:

I'm the same as Charlie. Since I got my iPad my Kindle hasn't been touched.

One nice little eink niche is in external harddrives. I have two Western Digital drives that use eink display to label the drive and show how much free space is available.

5:

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6:

BTW, the iPad isn't a HD device at all. The 4x3 screen means it can not show the full 720p picture. 720p is 1280x720. The iPad is 1024x768. The biggest 16x9 image that can show is 1024x576. Not 720p. Anamorphic DVDs should play nicely. And, considering the viewing environment, is probably sufficiently adequate. But it's not HD; that's just Apple marketing.

7:

The iPad probably will be my next computer but I'm waiting a few generations. Surprisingly, the iPad isn't quite there yet for creating Digital Art. And then there's Job's anti-porn stance. Er...I'm pro Free Speech!?
Waiting on pins & needles for SFBC to send me "Fuller"!

8:
But it's not HD; that's just Apple marketing
As opposed to Sony et al marketing? :) HD is just a buzzword for "not as high resolution as your desktop monitor was a decade ago", so I find it hard to get worked up about the pixel count...
Charlie:
touch-based cut and paste is, at best, a kluge
Oh? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. I ask from my POV as a developer working on serious Content Creation(tm) apps for the iPad (not for writing though, I'm afraid) and spending a fair number of mental cycles on how the user interfaces are best designed for touch.

As to my own iPad experience: I would say that my laptop has barely been touched since the iPad arrived, but that isn't strictly true. However that's only because my main development desktop machine failed, and I spent a lot of time with my laptop hooked up to an external hard drive containing a "live" backup so I could keep working until the main one was repaired.

But for general surfing, reading long-form articles, reading books (either to "sit down and read" or to have a reference book open while I work at the computer), checking mail away from my desk, playing games, and watching video, it's taken over.

9:

Hey Charlie

I agree... My iPad has all but replaced my MacBook pro 15" for most of all my casual work n play stuff--- there are still IT manager thingies I can't or won't do with the iPad, but as for most of my email and web surfing it's a much more comfortable tool. Which is weird because I've been a die- hard laptop road warrior for over a decade. iPad is young but it's hard to recall it's in it's first iteration as it's quickly become a very necessary part of my work toolset.

But all that aside what interests me is your pointing out Sterling's subsuming postulation. iPod--> iPod touch--> iPhone --> iPad (minus the phone bit but wait a few years) ... Now I wondering this is an Apple plan (and I've watched them for long enough to think that question could be answered both ways) and if so what's the next step. I'm reminded of some recent comments from Jobs about the end of the PC era, and some other hints suggesting a merging of the iOS and the Mac OS X in the next iMac. This interests me-- after all, apple has some experience transitioning OSes and running one platform / set of frameworks inside / alongside another OS .

I imagine an iMac, the current form factor screen is frankly huge, tilted down to the work angle of an architect's table or a draftsman's... If you want a physical keyboard thats fine but you mainly interact via a massive multitouch screen, a hybrid OS hosting a melange of Mac and iPad apps. I know they've got some work to do -- I'm with you on Pages et al --but I think I can actually see this beastie in my minds eye.

10:

Are you actually able to type coherently on it without the external keyboard? I tried the on-screen version and wasn't wildly impressed, especially by the shift key operation, and don't like the idea of carrying around a separate dock, keyboard, etc.

My other problem is it's a bit too big for my needs - I'd really love something that sort of spec but built around say a 7" screen. A compact keyboard (say a membrane type built into a cover that clips over the screen or on the back when you aren't using it) would be nice too, of course.

11:

Charlie said: "(or if DropBox would add support for receiving file uploads via email)"

And in true Lazyweb style, ask and you shall receieve - http://www.gethabilis.com/ "the email-to-Dropbox gateway".

12:

That's "kludge", not "kluge", you peasant. I think Kluge was the guy who just parried a Rooney run up the left side.

13:

I love how if anyone else puts a browser in a phone (or whatever), it's just that a phone with a browser in it.
However if Apple does it it's a "phone and an internet communications device all wrapped into one" followed by a bunch of ooh's and aah's. Same for anything they put in it. Nobody describes a computer that way.
*sigh*

14:

Am forwarding your review to spousalUnit(male). He is overdue for laptop replacement and is already partial to this device. It was Instant Lurv(TM) when we fondled them at the Apple Store while in to get kitted out with iPhones.

Me, I want to wait until Apple releases a model with larger surface area as one of it's main purposes in my life is going to be drawing tablet and rendering device. OTOH, may just have to get one for the app development class. The touch interface is intuitive and just feels right as soon as you pick it up. To me that signals a well-designed device, designed to enable you to just _do_.

15:

I also find Flash in ads terminally annoying. I don't block Flash, I just block the ads themselves.

16:

Bob, I had a couple of Palm Treos back in the day. And earlier PalmOS devices. And Epoc/32 before they renamed it Symbian, and UIQ 3/S60 devices after. And I even tried Windows Mobile.

Believe me, none of those devices had a web browser that could hold a candle to the iPhone. In fact, calling them "web browsers" was pretty much a travesty.

Things are getting a little better these days, but Apple forced everyone else to up their game.

17:

As for email-to-Dropbox gateway Habilis, recommended above, right now trying to set it up yields an "invalid token" response.

18:

I've got Habilis working.

I've also been doing something similar with GMail; they've mucked around with the UI, but if I mail a .doc file to my gmail account from Pages I can subsequently view the attachment in Mail and hand it back over to Pages.

This is nothing like as convenient as Documents-to-Go's or QuickOffice's full, seamless DropBox integration (which lets you browse your dropbox account and edit files in it from within the office suite) but it's a useful interim step until Docs2Go or QuickOffice get full external keyboard support.

19:

Another way to get a document created in (for instance) Pages on the iPad into your DropBox account and thus onto your "real" computer is to go through the 99-cent program GoodReader, because GoodReader can copy from your Gmail account and can copy from and paste to your DropBox account.

Set up GoodReader so that both your Gmail account and your DropBox account are among the servers listed in its "Connect to Servers" sidebar. From within Pages, email the file to your Gmail account--you're offered the choice of sending it as a Word document, as a PDF, or in Pages' native format. Then in GoodReader, connect to your Gmail account and download the attachment from the email you just sent yourself. Open GoodReader's "manage files" sidebar, select your file, choose "Cut (Move)", choose your DropBox account from the "Connect to Servers" sidebar, navigate to whatever DropBox subfolder you want to put your file into, and choose Paste.

A bit roundabout, but once you have GoodReader properly set up, moving a file like this takes less time than (for instance) launching Word on a low-end Mac. Until Apple bows to the inevitable and provides a reasonable shared filespace for the iPad, I intend to continue recommending GoodReader as the very first third-party app any iPad purchaser should install.

20:

The Dropbox home page says that they have an iPad app that allows you to upload and to access your Dropbox files. Is that not the case? It was one of the things I planned to use when I get an iPad.

21:

Mike, DropBox's app does work on the iPad. What's at fault here is Apple's Pages, which can accept files from DropBox but not return them to the source.

22:

The e-ink product I'm waiting for is large format, high resolution, full color wall displays for art and photos. There is so much great art to put on walls, but never enough wall space. Static display and slide show capability is all I need.

23:

As opposed to Sony et al marketing? :) HD is just a buzzword for "not as high resolution as your desktop monitor was a decade ago", so I find it hard to get worked up about the pixel count...

Pixel count relative to computer monitors isn't the problem (although it's only been a 7 months since I had a monitor greater than 1280x1024). It's how media is presented. Your typical HD media (TV, BluRay, etc) comes in 720p, 1080i, 1080p formats. This is what the public considers "HD". The iPad can not handle any of them with native resolution.

24:

I'm not a Jobsware fan, but this sounds distinctly promising should I start travelling enough again to justify buying a netbook-sized device at that price point.

But I'm still wedded to e-Ink as my ebook reading interface of choice. Yes, the page refresh thing is annoying, but not *nearly* as annoying as the effect that a backlit LCD screen has on me when I have a migraine which is otherwise suppressed by pharmaceuticals.

25:

Charlie, could you address the lack of multi-tasking? Do you not miss it with the iPad? Is it something you would want in a later version of the OS, or is it superfluous for your needs?

26:

Alex: weirdly, no. Because it's rather snappy at switching apps, and also there's a psychological factor -- "out of sight, out of mind". Because apps run full screen, you don't have a constant reminder that there's other stuff there.

Actually, when I'm actively writing, not having any other apps open is a positive thing.

(Anyway, iOS 4 for the iPad is due in a double-handful of weeks and includes faster task switching and limited multi-tasking.)

27:

I've got "iOS 4" on my 3Gs, and so far, I haven't actually noticed multitasking. The "most recently used app" thing is getting addictive, however.

This may change as more apps get updated to use the new APIs.

28:

These things are only relevant to people with enormous wads of cash or credit card debt to blow on them. I used to be a tech-head, and now I look back on that time with wonder. All the money I wasted...

I have an HP laptop I got for the price of an iPhone running Ubuntu. That is without the insane monthly cost of the thing. I use a Tracfone that runs me maybe ten bucks a month, and you know what? It's a phone and it can even browse the web or send text if I'm so inclined. All the rest of that? All those "reasons" for the iPhone or iPad? Like tossing cash into a fire as near as I can tell.

I do have a very nice Canon SLR digital, but I use that for business and it's paid itself back.

29:

And your point is ...?

(Methinks you are feeling a little bit defensive about something. Why not take a little time out, if this discussion is annoying you?)

30:

Pedantic response, from FOLDOC:

"The spelling "kluge" (as opposed to "kludge") was used in connection with computers as far back as the mid-1950s and, at that time, was used exclusively of *hardware* kluges." Etc.

31:

er charlie the mac is a hack of the xerox star programme and i was using cheap windowing systems when the PC thought 80 colloum's was an interesting innovation. And you were too.

You know the AMIGA and the Atari ST! If memory serves there was a mod for the Atari ST to make it look like and act like a MAC. The apple only got it music production base when the ST went to the wall, quickly followed by movie makers using video toaster switching from the Amiga.

Apple doesn't innovate, it copies and does better.

Or in the case of the ST and Amiga and for that matter Archimedes ignores others innovations and has a not invented here attitude some times

The Ipod is an easier to use MP3 player. the Iphone is an easier to use smart phone. Yes it had a big screen but others were doing that. Other people were doing apps for s60 etc. But it made it all easier to use and it built on the iplod.

the ipad is a tablet, we all could have had tablets for ages just not done well. the ipad isn't innovative the crunch pad which is very similar to the ipad in may ways had been talked about on techcrunch for months. Ipad produced it!

As far what it integrates - er i would like to be able to read my ebooks outside in direct sunlight, I like that sort of thing. I would like to use it as a portable map, especially with the GPS functions. Does the ipad do this or does it go black in sunlight?

Does the iphone 4 give me a 8 mega pixels with a 12X optical superzoom?

if it doesn't it doesn't replace my camera! A camera that comes with gps and wifi and allows me to upload to the net any time I'm in a wifi hotspot automatically.

Does the iphone come with a free turn by turn navigation system that sticks to the screen of car and that will work when not attached to the net?

My next phone will, I could buy it now but I'm waiting to see what nokia will offer with meego

Does the iphone do continuous mp3's that don't put quiet sections in when I am listening to delicate sound of thunder. i would be really interested as my rio karma is getting on a bit.

i accept charlie it does all the things you say it does for you, but it doesn't yet for me!

33:

I have a question. How big a deal is the e-ink page turn delay for you guys? I have a Sony e-reader, and It's never a problem for me. I suppose if I was speed reading it would slow me down, but I would only do that for a textbook or report or something along those lines, all of which I only get in paper forms.

If the fraction of a second it takes to turn the page is an issue, how do you fare when it comes to reading hardcopy books? I find that the much smaller glare makes reading on the e-reader much better than an LCD screen. I like to read casually, so it's nice to be able to set it down on a table or lay it on my legs. I find that with LCD screens, it has to point directly towards me, and there had better not be a light source behind and above your.

34:

I found the page delay irritating -- just long enough to make me think nothing's happened and stab the forward button again, then bounce on the back button, and so on.

Not as irritating as the damp-newsprint appearance, though. I'm okay with reading on LCD screens, having been reading on them for about two decades. Wet newsprint, dark-grey on pale-grey, not so much.

35:

The delay didn't bother me, once I got used to it -- I can press the next-page button when I'm at the bottom of the page, and the delay is only a bit longer than flipping a page.

The iPad display is bright enough that I can read in my car (while parked, of course!), as long as the sunlight isn't directly on it; it's got a good enough viewing angle that I don't need to have it pointed straight at me, but can pick an angle that is less reflective.

This doesn't mean it's for everyone, but a lot of the expected complaints about it turn out to not matter, or not matter as much as feared.

(I, too, haven't used my Sony Reader since I got the iPad, other than to compare the two in various lighting situations.)

36:

I'm totally with Mr Stross on e-ink vs LCDs, having been a big reader of ebooks since 2004; I recently bought my first e-ink ebook reader and soured on it within a week. The main turn-off was the refresh speed, and the battery life was also something of a disappointment after all the word-of-mouth I'd heard. At the moment I'm using a five year old Nokia 770 tablet for ebook reading and it suits me very well, though I'm sorely tempted by the iPad's screen size and its battery life. And, of course, the UI.

37:

I haven't seen much about iPad that Charlie hasn't said, but I have seen several reports on iPhone 4 -- there's a place on the edge where, if you put your hand there, the antenna stops working. Hmmm, a lot of people seem to have been fooled by a false Jobs tweet that the iPhone 4 is being recalled....

38:

I have been relatively successful in using our wifi-only iPad as a communal device that lives in the family room. When the kids visit they can check gmail and facebook and play games. I use it like an evening paper when I'm dining alone. My wife shops online sitting on the couch while the TV is on. My wife really wants one of her own but I'm hoping to wait a generation or two for that.

I also think that this is a killer device for comics / graphic novels. I had figured on getting the Marvel online subscription at some point in the future. Unlimited comics for $5/month seemed great. Apparently they are selling lots of them for the iPad at $1.99 each. I think I'd rather stick with the cloud for this.

I really wish my kids would get to work on some grandchildren because I really set this up as a child's companion. The complete oz books, the wind in the willows, beatrix potter and much more, all free in iBooks, plus 6-7 kids movies, and games I think kids would like.

39:

The point of view that Apple doesn't innovate - it just copies and makes better - is quite popular amongst the nerd elite who are aware of the progenitor products that Apple draws inspiration from, but ultimately seems to be a misunderstanding of what 'innovate' means.

True, Apple rarely innovates by inventing completely new technologies, instead it takes ideas that have either not yet been marketed as a serious product (Xerox Parc's OS concept) or proven to be near-total market failures among ordinary consumers (tablets, mp3 players, smart phones) and reworks them into usable desirable products.

It's easy to say that Apple's success stems from slick marketing or dumbing down products so idiot consumers can understand them, but if this were true why don't we see other companies churning out similar products with similar success, and why is it that everyone tries (unsuccessfully) to copy everything Apple does?

Apple's brand of innovation may not fit your definition but to deny that they are innovating is demonstrably false to the point of self-delusion.

Apple innovates by taking ideas that don't work and adding the secret sauce that means they do. This is incredibly valuable. Think of all the technologies we thought we'd see become commonplace by the start of the 21st century - flying cars, wearable computers, video phones, TV, phone and radio replaced by the Internet - this hasn't happened, not because the technology doesn't exist but because nobody's made it usable, accessible and desirable enough for anyone to want it. Apple (or Apple's approach to product design) may well  make all these things a reality - after all look what iTunes has done to music distribution or iPad is doing to ebooks as we speak.

40:

Charlie: Any chance of your thoughts on the new iPhone?

41:

My Sony PRS-600 is just fine, though you'd have to be dead inside not to admit that the ebook reader for the iPad looks gorgeous. iPads have begun to show up on my commuter train and, frankly, I see way more Sony Readers, which are lighter and smaller.

My first Apple product since my first computer (Commie64)will be an iPhone 4, which approaches in 2010 where my Nokia N95 was in 2007 in terms of hardware specs and ability to multi-task. Apple's user interface is game changing and can't be resisted.

42:

Um, yeah. Apple this, Apple that, iNnovation thins, iThat. But seriously guys - iTunes? The only way that thing is being installed on any of my machines is over my cold dead etc. With all the miracle work done to UIs on iPods and iPads one would think they'd get around to doing... well, *something* to that clunker of a monstrosity.

I know that the "just works" concept is a big turn-on for a lot of people, but I seriously have an issue with the fact that it's not "just works" but "just works the way Steve wants it to", which leaves it dead in the water for me since my brain does not compute the same way Steve's does. But hey, if you like the walls, by all means enjoy them.

43:

Accessing the same data seamlessly on any device is something of a killer app and whoever conquers the "iPad faffing about with files" factor may surpass Apple.
I feel a lot of the "why won't you let me do this" when I'm playing with my iPad, mostly as Stross mentions when it comes to around getting stuff off and on to the thing. I've wondered if this is where Microsoft with its livesync mesh or Google with its cloudy stuff might get the drop on Apple if they come up with a solution with this type of device. Right now with Microsoft I have a free sync tool that allows me to update the same document on my phone, any of my laptops or on a web page - but I can't do that yet on my iPad. If everything could open and save from dropbox I'd be right where I need to be.

44:

I'll talk about the iPhone 4 when I've got one. Which won't be until this time next month at the earliest. (Am not ordering a gizmo with a three week lead time to shipping one week before I go abroad for two weeks ...)

45:

@28:

These things are only relevant to people with enormous wads of cash or credit card debt to blow on them. I used to be a tech-head, and now I look back on that time with wonder. All the money I wasted...

That seems like something relevant . . . until you replace it with anything else: I can't believe all of the money I wasted on smoking and smoking accessories. I blew something like $80 on an ostrich-skin cigarette case, $120 on a decent lighter, and of course, literally thousands of dollars on imports like Russian Black Sobranes. Decent cigarettes, but not really any better than domestic products like Marlboro Reds.

The point is, discretionary income is just that - discretionary. And at least if you're a techie you've still got something tangible at the end of the day that might be worth some money on down the line.

I have an HP laptop I got for the price of an iPhone running Ubuntu. That is without the insane monthly cost of the thing. I use a Tracfone that runs me maybe ten bucks a month, and you know what? It's a phone and it can even browse the web or send text if I'm so inclined. All the rest of that? All those "reasons" for the iPhone or iPad? Like tossing cash into a fire as near as I can tell.

As to that, I stopped feeling the impulse to buy top-of-the-line stuff sometime in 2005 or 2006. At that point my computers did all they needed to do for home use. Subsequent increases in capability are just gravy, especially interlarded with price decreases.

Again, this is just me (though I suspect there are a lot of people out there who have hit the same plateau); there are doubtless others who need something bigger, faster, cheaper, and with a better form factor.

I do have a very nice Canon SLR digital, but I use that for business and it's paid itself back.

Well sure, and for doing serious computing I have to use the machines at work. But I think the point here is what is suitable for home use.

46:

@37:

I haven't seen much about iPad that Charlie hasn't said, but I have seen several reports on iPhone 4 -- there's a place on the edge where, if you put your hand there, the antenna stops working. Hmmm, a lot of people seem to have been fooled by a false Jobs tweet that the iPhone 4 is being recalled....

I heard this one on NPR just last Friday. Apparently Jobs has released a statement that says something like "If the antenna stops working when you touch it there . . . don't touch it there."

47:

Nick nails it in #39.

Also, when valuing computer equipment, people frequently undervalue their own time.

If they happen to enjoy fiddling with the tech for its own sake, then they may class that time as entertainment instead of a productivity-sink, which actually improves the value for them. On the other hand, for the majority of people, time spent (for example) locating and installing updated drivers, is just so many hours of their life they will never reclaim, and that has a cost to it that should not be dismissed.

Grin in #43: Dropbox is my preferred solution and "everything" should at least be able to open files from it, simply because their own free app allows you to open documents in other applications. Saving back out to Dropbox is the sticky issue. All I can say is that I've been putting native support for it into my own apps. Their API is quite clean.

48:

Charlie,

Sadly, don't hold your breath waiting for full keyboard support from 3rd party apps. Apple does not male access to those keys available under a public interface (and will not approve apps that use the private interfaces). The frameworks Apple provides supports them invisibly (eg, a text input object), but developers wanting to do something more sophisticated are out of luck (see feedback section on the iSSH store page). Apple does not want keyboards to add functionality that can not be accessed without the physical keyboard.

This is particularly frustrating with terminal apps like iSSH, where one would really like to use emacs control sequences, command line editing and tab completion, and so on.

49:

Regarding reducing your "lifebelt" to a pocket hard drive or USB stick, we're incredibly close to this.

I've been using a virtual machine (vmware) to run my personal desktop environment for the last 2 years, with the host OS on my desktop/laptop being a generic anonymous desktop. This way I can open up my personal desktop on any computer on the network, or simply drag it to a USB stick when I go out. That way I'm literally carrying my desktop environment on my keyring, and can pull up my desktop anywhere I can get access to a reasonably modern x86 based computer. I've even got a bootable linux system on the usb drive in case I run into a computer with a restrictive (or no) operating system.

The only problem I personally have with it, is USB flash drives aren't yet built with controllers that match the performance of full SSDs. The raw transfer speed is not bad, but they don't come close to IO/s needed to run a desktop OS live. Once we get a new generation of flash drives with better controllers and USB 3.0, I imagine I'd be able to just leave my machine on the flash drive all the time.

50:

I wanted to second Canis@47 about people's time.

In my case there are hard limits: thanks to an auto-immune disorder, my body doesn't recycle several neurotransmitters as fast as it should, and when my stock of serotonin or GABA or any of the others gets critically low, that's it until the limited stock of enzymes can do their job. So hours I spend fiddling with drivers or config files or anything like that are hours I cannot spend writing, or socializing, or anything else, when my daily crunches hit.

Now, my situation is extreme, but the principle isn't. Lots of people could be more technically literate than they are, but only at the expense of things they'd rather do. Apple's success builds on focusing on computers as things people use to do other things, rather than things people are interested in for their own sake.

Take my 79-year-old Mom. She wishes not to have to know a lot of technicalities. What she wants to know that whatever hour of the day or night she's up, she can wake up her machine and browse Making Light and her other favorite blogs, or shop, or do the other things she likes to do, with a display she can read comfortably and no fuss. Macs do that for her, and she's a happy Mac user. Won't surprise me if she becomes a happy iPad user in the next year or two, too.

It's hard for a lot of people with specialized knowledge - including me - to come to terms with how widely people don't want to care about our thing, and how okay this is in a complex society with lots of things to know about and do stuff with.

51:

@29: I've got to agree with Glen. Right now, in my life, this is a fascinating conversation from an anthropological point of view.

A lot of this is that Apple hasn't really support the programs I need as an field biologist. These tend to be things involving field data collection, accurate GPS processing, and all that boring crap. Toughbooks too. Apple is for the cool people in the cities, and if you're not one (which I'm not), this is a neat way of seeing what the urban half is doing.

Not that I'm passionate of most of what I do use, but since the Cybertracker folks made the decision to go to droid rather than the iPhone, that's where I'm headed.

52:

so is this ipad causing you eye strain as well - hence the eye-rolling:)

Ok your point is well made and you will be right just not now

53:

From Friday's Times (The Times not that Murdock rag out of London):

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27bilton.html?scp=1&sq=flexible%20computer%20screen&st=cse

In no more than 10 and possibly less than 5 years, ebook vs. iPad vs. laptop/netbook will be irrelevant. (Although I have to admit if I could get a Nook or Kindle for $25-$50, I'd have to think about it.)

Jobs still does it better than anyone. But I really hate the walled garden he's creating.

I have an iPhone3G but just bought an HP convertible, a full power laptop with a 10" screen and a very nice touchscreen "pad" mode. (And, yes, I used a credit card.) It may not have all the apps but, I can comfortably read on it and comfortably type on it. My town, Portland, OR, has virtually ubiquitous free WiFi. So that obviates the need for 3G.

I still haven't made up my mind about iPhone4 vs. a new Android. See Jobs statement above....

54:

Hello. First time visitor to your blog. I followed the link at the end of Iron Sunrise after reading it on my new iPad, which I love by the way. My only complaint so far is that so many books that I am interested in reading are not available on iBooks. I'm hoping that changes quickly.

55:
On the other hand, for the majority of people, time spent (for example) locating and installing updated drivers, is just so many hours of their life they will never reclaim, and that has a cost to it that should not be dismissed.
This. This sums it all up perfectly. I'm a techie going back many, many years; I cut my teeth on a friend's C64, progressed through the Apple II and Acorn Archimedes, and reached the peak of my desire to fiddle during my university years, when I played around with Unix boxes running various versions of Ultrix, Tru64 (or OSF/1 as it was called back then), Linux, Irix, SunOS, and other such.

Sometime between the end of my university years (I graduated in 1998) and the present, I was spending a hell of a lot of time, at my office, trying to get my Linux install to play ball; I was tweaking my X config like crazy, eventually giving up on the on-board graphics chip and buying a Matrox G400 (if I remember rightly.) It still didn't work the way I wanted it to. I'd bought an Apple iBook around that time, and found myself using OS X more and more; when OS X 10.1 came out, I upgraded to it, and realised a few months later that I wasn't fighting the system configuration to get things done.

Can I wrangle my desktop system to get it going? Sure. But frankly, it bores and frustrates me, because there are other things I like to do with my time, not the least of which is the work I actually get paid to do (systems administration, ironically.) So I pay the extra money for Apple's secret sauce, and find my ride a lot smoother as a consequence.

I'm not blind to Apple's faults. They're an arrogant company that has a tendency to believe that they are right and the customer is wrong. Often, this belief is accurate, but there are times when it isn't.

I look at the iPad and, yes, I see the future of computing: something your average individual can pick up, play with, use, and actually get stuff done with, without having to battle the damn device. We're going to see the desktop computer increasingly marginalised, and this is the point where it begins, in my opinion. It'll get better as time goes on, and as other manufacturers start to get in on the act. Remember: perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Apple groks this, and that's why they're doing so well.

56:

I'm becoming a big fan of DocsToGo Premium on the iPad. It's not as attractive as Pages, but it has Dropbox integration and it gets the job done.

57:

"I am utterly convinced by the iPad as reader. Not convinced by it as an applications platform, though…"--Me, May 27th.

Croak!

58:
Also, when valuing computer equipment, people frequently undervalue their own time.
Truth.

I was recently (as, this weekend) involved into one of those perennial discussions about the "Mac Tax", i.e. the idea that you can have the same machine as a mac for half the price. I pointed out - as usual - that getting the same components quality, and service in a classic PC assembler would probably total about 10% less than an iMac, so the mac tax was paid for the integration and look (the common reaction when seeing my desk for the first time "where's the computer" wave hand "there" "no, I mean, where IS it?").

Of course, I can get the same computing power at half the price - if I handpick all the cheapest components, assemble everything myself, pray that Ubuntu has the right drivers for the motherboard, and prepare myself to pay if any of those fail after 30 days.

Curiously, as we age, we become less willing to waste time on those things that no longer fascinate us.

59:

I can see myself using an iPad-style tablet while on the move, however I don't like the iOS myself so I won't be getting a iPad. I've played around with one and can really see the potential.

I believe I'll be more likely to get an Android based tablet when a decent one is available - the biggest advantage of Android is that I can *change* the keyboard. Currently on my Nexus One, I use a keyboard called Swype - where you draw a line through the letters to form words - this is very fast and much easier than tapping on keys.

So if I can't stand the keyboard on a tablet display, then the theory being, I can change it to something better for myself. Likewise with the display. Kudos to Apple though for rethinking how netbooks should work.

Hmm...Or perhaps MeeGo - I think MeeGo would be excellent as a tablet OS or even Ubuntu. Competition's wonderful for that at least.

60:

> Also, when valuing computer equipment, people frequently undervalue their own time.

And when making such statements, people frequently overvalue the monetary value of time for people who just *can't* earn money during the time spent fiddling around with their computers anyway.

Time isn't money. Sometimes you may be able to exchange the one for the other - but usually the exchange rate quickly becomes so lousy, that even tearing your hairs out in face of the utter stupidity of some soft/hardware decisions *is* preferable to trying to earn more money.

61:

Can Android use external (bluetooth or USB) keyboards yet? My understanding was that it can't, without an awful lot of messing around. (For messing-around values of "install your own Bluetooth HID and mess with the OS internals".)

62:

At some point, in the future, this hardware and our heads are going to merge. It's possible that this wont happen, but seems likely from the way our tech is heading.

So it comes down to, who will you want running and understanding the software you run in your head? Will you want Apple's (and what MS would like) walled-garden software environment, or do you want to understand this stuff well enough to build your own OS to your liking (as you've done instinctively all these years with your personality and schooling)? That kind of thinking has me learning programming now, because when this happens it's gonna happen fast, and you don't want to be left in the dust.

We have bionic eyes, bionic ears, hell even the bionic cat now (new hind legs surgically attached) - and our computers are like external bionic brains already, we may argue about which interface or style we like best, but we can all agree we'll freak the eff out when they aren't working.

Being able to restore with a second computer and a USB stick is alright, but being able to just restore with a USB stick? Priceless.

63:

"Use of 3G for data instead of wifi is adequate, but drains the battery a lot faster. "

This is why I've decided on a combination of the WiFi iPad and a PAYG 'MiFi' portable router, which you can pick up for ~£60 and can share for multiple devices. It's an extra thing to lug and charge but that doesn't phase me as much as having lower battery life on a 'main' device.

64:

Nicholas, the high battery drain goes away if you switch off cellular data and stick to wifi. And I'm willing to accept higher battery drain in return for data where there's no wifi.

(Even with the higher battery drain, the iPad's life is somewhat longer than the 3-4 hours claimed for MyFi devices. Although I'm sure you can plug a MyFi into a power brick just as easily as you can an iPad ...)

65:

Heteromeles@51: wow, thanks for that Cybertracker heads-up! I'm following this discussion for much the same reasons as you do and I may find myself back in the field early next year :)

Starting to save up for an Android phone.

66:

The "most recently used app" thing is getting addictive, however.


What are you refering to? I also have 3gs with iOS4 but I am not aware of any "most recently used app" feature...?

67:

And cue the pirate-themed double entendres. I'll kick it off..."Yarrrgh, she could shiver me timber."

68:

Ranteq@66 - when you double-click the Home button to switch apps, the most recent app you've previously accessed is automagically positioned as the leftmost app in the backgrounded app list.

69:

In terms of use as a drawing tablet- it doesn't support pressure sensing. That seems to be a big deal vs the Wacom tablets. Not sure how much that will affect you.

I love my ipad, but still have to use my laptop for some things.


The biggest things I want are the 4.0 update, and some way to run IM on it in the background. That's the 2 largest issues for me, so far.

iBooks just added support for (URL access to) PDF's, which means PDF's can be read in mail, and from dropbox & mail.

I will note that the kindle & Nook just dropped in price again, and i'm vaguelly tempted, if only to try them out in the sun. I'm not sure how the ipad will work in a pool environment or the beach. I'd really love the hypothetical $50 kindle paperback, so I could take it to the beach. I'm more willing to risk $50 vs $500+.

70:

While we wait for the built-in pico projector, I attached my iPad to an external Optoma pocket projector. It works quite well, but only for "video" apps: Keynote, Videos, YouTube, and Netflix (there may be others, but that's what I have). The trick is finding the proper adapter; I'm using a connector made by Dexim.

71:

I'm surprised you're using this over your Sony ereader. For my money, I find my Kindle vastly superior for longer reading sessions. The screen is comfortable, works well indoors and out, doesn't reflect, and is lighter in the hand.

That said, I love the iPad for reading comics or magazine-like content (the 1st ed. of Hacker Monthly was great!). In a situation where I was forced to choose between my Kindle and the iPad, I think the iPad would win hands-down simply because it can do so much more.

72:

boolean: e-ink reminds me of cheap newsprint that's got wet. Dark-grey on pale-grey. I actually find e-ink harder to read -- more tiring -- than a modern backlit LCD.

73:

Charlie,

I'm annoyed by the lack of function of the arrow keys in all the third-party apps as well when using my bluetooth keyboard. It's quite annoying to have to reach out and touch the screen to move the cursor especially when including that functionality seems like such a minor thing to add.

Regarding various integration with saving docs, etc., I've been using Docs2Go, which I thought you're an advocate of. I've got it opening and saving directly to my Google Docs account. My understanding is that it integrates the same with Dropbox. I haven't tried since I've been using Google as my repository for all my docs, spreadsheets, etc., for quite a while but may give it a try.

74:

So how long until Apple introduces Halting State (and many other novels) style wearable displays, and what will they call it, the iEye?

75:

As soon as the Kindle app for iPhone was available, my hardware Kindle lay gathering dust due to the infinitely better reading experience on the iPhone.

Now that the Kindle app is available on the iPad, I alternate between them. They're both so much better than the hardware Kindle, there's simply no comparison - and I state this after having purchased ~450 Kindle books over the last 3 years, and having read ~375 or so of them, all but 50-60 on either the iPhone or iPad.

Both the iPhone and the iPad are much, much better reading devices than the hardware Kindle; and as I'm dreadfully nearsighted with a slight astigmatism (both corrected to better-than-normal vision via contacts, due to some odd quirk of optics), I can state this definitively.

76:

Saracen, DocsToGo does indeed integrate with DropBox in the way you describe, that's how I use it.

And Swype is terrific. I don't know if it's faster than the iPhone, but it's far more accurate, which makes it less frustrating and makes it *seem* faster.

77:

Alas, I consider any word processor/text editor that doesn't support keyboard-based cursor movement to be unfit for purpose, unless it's vi or emacs (or a relative).

This goes for all iPad word processors using the built-in keyboard. I have fat fingers and the multitouch cursor movement/cut-n-paste is incredibly sluggish.

78:

A Why-We-Are-Not-Using-Xerox-Stars-Story:

Thirty or so years ago I worked in an AI lab where the powers-that-were were enthusiasts and generally would agree to buy the hottest new hardware. And so, at some point we got the latest Xerox AI gear. It was awful. It was broken most of the time. It never worked properly.

But, the story: we called Xerox to repair a part that was clearly borked, and they sent a 'Xerox repair man', i.e., a guy who fixed copying machines. The paradigmatic moment occurred when when this gentleman entered our lab, picked up the mouse attached to the Xerox box, and said "What's this?"

79:

When they have the iPad able to duplicate the Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet, iPad use will explode. When people can draw with a proper Wacom stylus everyone will be using iPad to draw, from 8 to 80.

Wacom Cintiq
http://www.wacom.com/cintiq/

80:

I bet that machine was a Dorado, the standard workstation at Xerox PARC. They weren't production-grade computers at all; they were hand-built (wire-wrapped on perf board) and had a Mean-Time-Between-Failures that at times seemed negative.

The reason that Xerox sent a copier repairman is one of the sillier political decisions of the 1980's: PARC was a research division, and couldn't be allowed to build a product because they had no production infrastructure or management. So the workstation product line was given to the copier division and there was almost no communication between the divisions except at the VP level, which is clearly not going to allow technical information to get through.

Incidentally, Tektronix took the Dorado and turned it into a real product, called Magnolia, but didn't have a clue how to market or sell it. I worked at Tek Computer Research Labs in the late 80's and early 90's; my office was about 30 feet from the Graveyard of the Magnolias.

81:

I just touched/used an iPad for the first time today. My Boss's wife got him one, and he wanted me to set it up to get his email. Of course, since I'm the youngest person in the office, apparently I'm the defacto IT person who magically knows how all things computery work! Anyway, I found it shockingly simple to use from the word GO.

I have no idea if I configured it right to leave his messages on the server though. *grimace*

82:

Maps. Thats the problem with eInk. Maps. I'm a big history reader, and history is often punctuated by battles. Understanding battles takes maps. My kindle is grand for novels, but I've moved back to traditional books for history. Perhaps my future iPad will fix this.

83:

Agreed. The iPad is basically a Cintique you can carry around with a small computer and file system attached. Now here's a point no one has mentioned yet on this thread. The iPhone 4 has a display with half the dot pitch of the previous phones (or anything else in the smartphone market I'm aware of). Forgetting all the hype and anti-hype that's been spewed out about that, it is really getting close to the limit of the human eye at a reasonable working distance. I'm really glad now that I couldn't afford to get an iPad this year, because that new display almost surely means that in 12 to 18 months we'll see an iPad with the same dot pitch. By my calculation that means the iPad will have a resolution of at least 2048 by 1536, though I wouldn't be surprised if they changed the aspect ratio to 16:9. Now that would allow true HD, clear up to 1080p, and would have a higher resolution than the Cintique 21 inch product.

You can get styli for the iPad (they were originally designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch), so the only part of the Cintique functionality that's missing is pressure-sensing (and tilt and velocity, but I think most people could get by without them if they had pressure), and adding pressure can be done with the right sensor technology (and even easier if you don't need pressure from multi-touch).

84:

I'm looking forward to the next generation of the iPad. By then they should have a lot of kinks worked out and performance boosted nicely. Apples seems to have a big jump between their 1st and 2nd generation products. I think adding a forward facing camera so it can use FaceTime is a big potential feature to be added besides just the usual performance upgrades.

At that point I'd probably get one, especially if the price comes down around $400. At that point you're in the price range of a netbook + an ebook reader.

I'll also be real interested to see what competitors bring out in the next year or two, running Android or Chrome. So far nothing really competes, the Archos 7 probably stakes out the low end of the market but there's a lot of space between that and the iPad.

Then at some point Microsoft should rush out a competing product too late, which is amusing because they've been pushing this sort of thing for years. Windows 7 is not a very good platform for this market.

85:

Heh.

I don't know exactly how much effort it is to get Bluetooth HID working on Android, but it's certainly doable now, for certainly deep levels of user skill, as noted. I expect by the time the tablets have been out for a few months, it'll be quite user-simple, if not an already installed service.

For me, my natural dislike of walled gardens is already a strike against the device, but follow that up with SJ's decision to specifically proscribe developers' choice of languages, as well as his bracingly anti-competitive stance on ad services(*), has relegated i-devices to the non-starter category for me.

I'm also a subscriber to the Stross dictum: if you don't have root, you don't own it; as well as the riskier Dykes addendum: stock firmware is for suckers. So it's Android for me, at least until Mee-Go gets cleared by the Laundry's IT services.

*: While I appreciate Steve's candor in barring competing ad services from iOS, I can't help but remain worried by his initial fig leaf of justification, the collection of user data by ad services.

86:
Will you want Apple's (and what MS would like) walled-garden software environment, or do you want to understand this stuff well enough to build your own OS to your liking (as you've done instinctively all these years with your personality and schooling)?

Eh. Never happen. A lot of the OSS people who tout the 'educate-them-all!' viewpoint have no real sense of history. The issue was old when In The Beginning Was The Command Line was written. I first ran into it 30 years ago, when I was just into my teens and youthfully idealistic.

The first wave of pre-built microcomputers was passing (PET/TRS-80/Apple II), the first wave of true home computers was building (C64/Atari 8-bit/CoCo/TI-99), and the tech-savvy were sure that the future was in everyone learning to program. Every 'traditional' computing magazine had articles on programming aimed at the total novice, entire new magazines were being started for the same audience. While there would be some canned software, in the end everyone would be running software that they custom-tailored to fit their own needs.

Except, of course, that it never happened. While a few true programmers found their calling from the first home computer boom, for most people it was at best a game machine, at worst a novelty toy, and in most cases ended up in the closet after a year or two.

What really drove the adoption of computing in the home, for the general public, was the development of computers that could be used without understanding how the guts worked. Proponents of more complex computing systems argue that we don't need to make things so simple for beginning users because everyone has had years of exposure to computers by now. While the second part may be true on a literal, superficial level, I think it's not any kind of serious understanding of how computers work; it's on the level of learning how to drive a car, without being able to be a mechanic. I would characterize it more as computers are being used among the general public because they are now tailored to the skill level of computer novices - not the other way around. And the more tailored they are to novices, the more successful they are.

Apple's been betting on this train for a while now, and the success of the iPhone and now the iPad is a strong suggestion that they're right.

87:

The new iPhone's screen resolution is not a breakthrough technology -- I have a PDA from 2005 which has a 640x480 screen with a similar pixel density. Apple's previous phones used cheap 320x480 screens to cut their manufacturing costs while other manufacturers were already releasing higher-def 800x480 phones. Apple have just upped their game and the Reality Distortion Field plus a bit of Jobbsian labelling (retina display!) has people mistakenly believing that the new iPhone's display has properties unique to the mobile market.

As for making larger high-def screens it's not a simple matter to scale up -- a screen is a complex pattern of tracks and drive electronics and higher pixel densities mean more heat dissipation in smaller areas as well as requiring higher drive frequencies, all of which get in the way of making a screen function. A 7" screen with 1280x720 HD capability is probably within reach near-term, a 10" display running 1920x1080 (full HD) is going to be a lot harder to roll out.

The highest-definition production laptop screen I know of is from IBM and it runs 2048x1536 (QXGA) on a 15" diagonal. Note that it's been available since 2000 but I don't know what the quality is like in terms of brightness, contrast, colour gamut etc.

88:

Charlie, you've expressed interest in a browser with ad-block. I've been playing around with iCab lately, an alternative iPad browser. I got it because it supports tabs, and a couple of other tricks to allow it to open multiple Web pages more gracefully than the native Mobile Safari. But it also has built-in ad-blocking software.

Review:

http://theappleblog.com/2010/05/20/supercharge-your-ipad-browsing-with-icab/

89:

Got iCab. Also got Atomic Browser, which I use in preference. Alas, all they've got is URL blocking. To do ad-blocking properly these days you also need Javascript munging.

90:

"And when making such statements, people frequently overvalue the monetary value of time for people who just *can't* earn money during the time spent fiddling around with their computers anyway."

Do you mean me? If so, then no, not at all; I understand. I spent many, many years (15-20 years?) scrabbling around with weird hand-me-down hardware and frankenputers, and I remember what it was like. I have no quibble with (and make no judgement on) people who make that tradeoff.

Regarding Cintiq, pressure-sensitivity, etc: I used to love my Wacom tablet. Pressure sensitivity is nice -- if, in my experience, a bit prone to the calibration getting out of whack, but perhaps that was just the software I was using.

I don't think we'll see native support for it on iPad, I believe it's incompatible with the capacitive multitouch sensing. On the other hand, you could achieve it now, with the aid of a friendly hardware manufacturer, using a modified stylus (same multitouch-friendly tip as the existing styli, but slightly spring-loaded, and use bluetooth to transmit the pressure data back. Apps would need to be specifically written to support it, of course). Clunky, but probably worth it to a niche market of artists.

Allll that said, it seems a skilled artist can do pretty well just with their fingers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OLP4nbAVA4

It turns out, fast gestural access to variable-level zoom makes stylus size mostly irrelevant, since you can always make the pixels bigger...

91:

A quick aside on the iPad's HD-ness: the iPad is HD in three senses.

First, on that 1024x768 screen, a 720p video will look better on playback than a 420p video will. Try both. For a 16:9 movie, it's not going to look as good as true 720p most of the time, but it *is* going to look better than 480p.

Second, some 720p videos aren't in 16:9 aspect ratio. If you've got a 720p video in 4:3 aspect ratio, all the pixels will render fine. Remember, some movies used to be filmed in close to a 4:3 aspect ratio. Watch something like a 720p render of "The Philadelphia Story" or "Arsenic and Old Lace" on an iPad and you won't be missing anything.

Third, if you hook up the VGA adapter and connect it to a sufficiently powerful external display, it really *will* drive it at full 720p. I've run the tests, and I can point you at source code that probes available resolutions and stuff, and it really can show all the pixels that way. And it looks goooood.

92:

On the subject of adding a stylus with pressure and tilt sensing to the iPad: if I were going to do this, I'd be tempted to make a stylus that had a gyroscope, and a pressure sensor in its tip, and add bluetooth to it, and code it up using the iOS "accessory" APIs. The simple as-a-stylus stuff would work in any app, and the pressure sensitive and angle-sensing features would work in apps that built in explicit support for them, which seems fine. And getting the same stylus to work with *any* capacitive multitouch slate (Android, webOS, WP7, Ubuntu, whatever) would just be a matter of software.

(But I'm not a hardware guy, I'm a software guy. Maybe there's some perfectly good reason this is infeasible.)

93:

Allll that said, it seems a skilled artist can do pretty well just with their fingers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OLP4nbAVA4

My God! Thank you for that.

94:

I have both Atomic and iCab, and I prefer iCab. It's more sleek. Also, I find Atomic to be extremely crashy.

95:

Not Trolling

Charlie and others mention using Ad block - as a web publisher can I point out that’s my living you're stealing. Charlie I buy your books rather than reading at the library because I want you to get paid for your efforts, please have the respect to me and my other colleagues in web publishing who make our living by selling adverts to simply not read our stuff if you don’t want to see the ads that pay for it all.

Thanks


96:

R. Lloyd, as a web publisher myself -- you may not have noticed it, but this blog requires its own server and gets around 10K unique visitors a day -- can I invite you to get a different business model?

Because advertising is attention theft, pure and simple -- usually larded with a good dose of behavioural psychology to induce false cravings in its victims. Evil is the only word to describe it, and we'd all be better off if the whole industry was criminalized tomorrow. Happier too: we could have the War on Advertising Executives in place of the War on Drugs!

(Final aside: I never buy products on the basis of advertisements. And I never click on web ads. But web ads steal the bandwidth that I'm paying for. Personally, I'd prefer to see a compulsory rights scheme like the BBC license system used to pay for internet content. Alas, the advertising industry lobby in the US would try to strangle any such proposal in the crib because it would utterly destroy their grip on content.)

Yours with No Love for the parasites ...

97:

UPDATE

This post is being spammed senseless right now by comment spammers, and the automatic spam filter isn't catching 100% of the crap.

So I'm going to switch comments off for a while.

98:

... And we're back. (Hopefully the fuckmonkeys have lost interest ...)

99:

Hopefully so.

Was it just this thread, or the whole blog?

100:

My blog normally gets 5-10 spams total in 24 hours. Since yesterday there've been over 100 spams, of which about 80 were aimed at this entry. Hence the shutdown -- a couple got through for a couple of hours, which is intolerable. (I am committed to a 100% advertising-free zone on this blog. Except for my own books, that is.)

101:

I am not a Web publisher but I am a Web journalist, and make a large amount of my income indirectly from revenue generated by Web ads. Also, another part of my income comes from Internet marketing, and for those purposes I buy Internet ads.

I think of ad blockers as the free market -- or evolution -- in action. If the ads get too annoying, people block them. If they're not annoying, people don't bother to block them.

I use the Instapaper Text bookmarklet to read some sites like CNET and PC Mag where the ads are just too, too annoying and cluttered. On other sites, I don't bother.

But that's not why I checked in this morning. I checked in for a bit of SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION. I wrote this feature article for Computerworld:

8 highly useful apps for reading and writing on the iPad
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9178441/8_highly_useful_apps_for_reading_and_writing_on_the_iPad

The article concludes with a spot of gratuitous flattery of our blog host.

102:

Update: Too much spam (80 of 'em in the past 24 hours). This topic is now closed, alas.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 27, 2010 10:50 AM.

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