Technophiles 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).