The Apple iPad: You had me at iBook, But Lost Me at “No Flash”

steve-jobs-holding-ipad-from-gdgt-oTechnophiles everywhere geeked out today as Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, unveiled a product that had garnered so much pre-release buzz it seemed oversaturated before they even sent out the Yerba Buena invites. That’s right, today Apple finally released its Tablet, which has been rumored to “save journalism” for months now. I was glued to my laptop (RIP?) this afternoon, eagerly refreshing both the Engadget and Gizmodo live blogs while they unveiled some of the concepts, photos and software we’ve all been anticipating. Apple chose to name the device the “iPad,” and shortly thereafter Twitter did what it does best: it boiled down popular news to a widely overused joke hashtag (#iTampon was the #1 Trending Topic for quite some time). Buzz for the iPad’s release was so momentous that it would’ve been impossible for the tech corporation to unveil anything short of a gold tablet powered by God himself without there being some disappointed reactions. It’s true that the iPad is much like a gigantic iPhone– it runs on iPhone OS, but has some major tweeks that bring it up to tablet speed. After the jump, some of the features it boasts, and a few important ones it lacks.

Pro: Size

One of the key components to building a successful tablet is coming up with a sustainable hardware that is also easily portable: this is one of the important features that really sets it apart from devices like the Netbook. I don’t know how they did it, but Apple managed to create a Tablet that weighs only 1.5 pounds and is only 0.5 inches thick with a 9.7-inch touch screen, making it not that much bulkier than an iPhone. And considering all of its capabilities, those numbers are damn impressive.

Con: No Flash

Seriously? Seriously. Sorry, Adobe, but the iPad is not yet compatible with Flash, which makes optimum browsing pretty difficult. It was kind of embarrassing when Jobs was demoing it and a “missing plugin” box popped up. If this thing is going to be one of my main sources for internet browsing, it needs to come with Flash. Let’s hope the 2nd gen. will make some strides towards that goal.

Pro: Price

A lot of tech blogs had been speculating on the price, and put it in the $700-900 range. Well, that was a high estimate, because the lowest end model of the iPad will cost just $499, not that much more expensive than an iPhone. You can expect that price to drop after initial sales, too. By making it relatively affordable in terms of geek gadgets, Apple is definitely looking to dominate the market the way it does with iPod. It’s also good news for college students hoping to get their hands on one. My suggestion: ask for it as a combined graduation present from a bunch of your family members.

Con: 3G Service Still Exclusive to AT&T

Look, there’s no way to say this nicely: AT&T has the shittiest coverage out of almost all of the mobile networks. Apple basically gave a gigantic middle finger to other wireless providers by continuing with its AT&T contract. Luckily, the iPad comes unlocked and will be SIM capable, so as long as your choice provider sells SIM cards that work, you can get 3G on another network (VERIZON, PLEASE). Your other option is to just get it with wifi capability, and purchase a MiFi card.

Pro: Keyboard Capable

One thing that sets the iPad apart from its iPhone little brother is its ability to connect to keyboards. Apple is already promoting an iPad dock with keyboard, along with a pretty cool case that make it seem book-like. My biggest problem with the iPhone was always its tiny, impossible to use keyboard, and the iPad solves this by providing a large on-screen touch keyboard, as well as being capatible with the dock.

Con: No camera

One of the things I really loved about the Courier was its camera capability, which (supposedly) allows you to snap pictures and save or integrate them into documents in a scrapbook-like fashion. None of that with the iPad, which unfortunately doesn’t come with a camera.

Pro: iBook

Apple announced its own eBook store called (of course) “iBook,” which lets your iPad function as an e-reader. The company has partnered with a handful of big publishing houses, and this might truly be the end of e-ink as we know it. Good riddance, though. The Kindle was so underwhelming. The color display and fluidity with which you can change pages make the iPad one of the best eReaders on the market. We’ll have to see how pricey the iBooks are, though, and whether or not it will be compatible with other eBook formats. Jobs is undoubtedly looking to corner the market on eBooks in the same way he currently dominates mp3 consumption.

Overall it’s a pretty cool device for a seriously cool price. Next gen iPads need to work on remedying some of the cons before I drop $500 on it, though. And what will the tech world gossip about now? I’m starting to feel kind of wistful and nostalgic about the wildly speculative pre-Tablet era posts on Gizmodo. Tech Christmas is over, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Jeremiah Malina for pointing this out from Tech Crunch:

The blog post, unambiguously titled “Building iPad Applications with Flash”, is mostly just to remind people of the company’s Packager for iPhone product, which will enable developers to make Flash apps function on the iPhone / iPod Touch through a work-around whereby Flash apps can be easily converted into iPhone apps using Creative Suite 5 (CS5).

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14 Comments

  • Jeremiah Malina
    January 27, 2010
  • Jessica Roy
    January 27, 2010

    @Jeremiah That IS interesting news. Awesome news, really. Thanks, I will add an addendum.

  • Matt Nolin
    January 27, 2010

    The flash thing is really Adobe’s fault, it simply sucks the battery and computer power out of any machine it runs on. They need to make it more efficient (that’s what the battle is about anyway)

  • Luis Paez-Pumar
    January 27, 2010

    @Matt I’m no tech geek, but wouldn’t it be easy to just give the users the option of turning on and off Flash? Maybe have it under Power Saver so if you’re going to be out for a while and nee battery life, you can turn it off, but if you’re near an outlet, you can have it on?

    Or is the sapping of CPU power the real easy, not the battery?

  • Luis Paez-Pumar
    January 27, 2010

    ERR, issue*, not easy. Brain fart.

  • Jessica Roy
    January 27, 2010

    This post by Frucci on Gizmodo is pretty apt. No multitasking really sucks.

  • Andy Heriaud
    January 27, 2010

    The no flash thing is annoying, but I can’t stand that they’re positioning this as an eBook reader (iBook,whatever) when it has and LED screen? The reason readers like the Kindle are preferable is they don’t cause eye strain. The can’t imagine having to read an entire book on that screen.

  • jacob hentoff
    January 27, 2010

    um, you have to hold it….just saying.

  • Andy Heriaud
    January 27, 2010

    Jacob says so little while saying so little.

  • Paul Sailer
    January 28, 2010

    Since they’re providing the iPad unlocked, I can only assume T-Mobile will be announcing off-contract data plans like AT&T’s sometime soon. There’s no way they’d miss out on all that potential revenue.

    @Luis: Turning on & off Adobe Flash functionality would be a great idea, but that’s what people have also been proposing for multitasking on the iPhone & iPod touch, and Apple hasn’t listened one bit.

    At least there’s a YouTube app built in, and if you turn on HTML5 support (on YouTube’s “TestTube” page), you could probably watch videos from the main site. Too bad there’s still no Hulu or Netflix app though.

  • Andy Heriaud
    January 28, 2010

    Apple likes to undercut it’s competitors as much as possible. So a netflix app would be too good to be true. But that uses Microsoft Silverlight, which is much faster than flash could ever be.

  • Paul Sailer
    January 28, 2010

    True, but they’ve allowed Pandora, Last.fm, Rhapsody, and Spotify apps for the iPhone – all competitors to the iTunes Store. There could be legal trouble if they block a Netflix app from the App Store without a technical reason (you know for being anti-competitive and all that).

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NYULocal, Jessica Roy and Jake Moore, Meb Byrne. Meb Byrne said: RT @NYULocal: .@jessicakroy geeks out about the iPad: http://bit.ly/97BGQS [...]

  • [...] What do you think? Does the iPad’s textbook potential make it a more attractive product, despite some flaws? [...]

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