iPad: Initial Thoughts

One of the first features that struck me as surprising was the screen form factor. 4:3. As in, 4:3, like no other screen Apple makes. First, it feels strange to steer away from the expected widescreen aspect ratio the iPhone has, not least because most iPhone apps will run natively on this device.

On the other hand, will it be mostly used in portrait or landscape? I use my iPhone in landscape mode to play some games and watch videos, which I do only occasionally. I use portrait mode for most other things, like, browsing the web, email and Twitter. If most you need is portrait mode, then 4:3 format is wider and thus more useful.

The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels. This is the same as the 12 inch PowerBooks used to have. When you look at a number like that, first impression might be that it’s way too small. Remember how awkward it used to be to work on a small screen if you had used a larger one? But then it occurred to me, iPhones screen doesn’t feel small although it’s only 320 by 480 pixels.

Why doesn’t it feel small? Because the interface and content you’ll use on it is designed to fit a specific screen size and resolution. Look at what you use with an iPhone; apps that are designed only for the iPhone or now the iPad, and websites which scale to the screen size beautifully – in most cases – and often enough there’s a custom made design for an iPhone. Screen can any size, what matters is how you use that space.

The Price

I think Kevin Rose nailed it by comparing it to the Kindle DX, which at $489 is only $10 cheaper than the 16GB model of the iPad. This was the biggest surprise to me.

Kindle DX 9.7” – $489.00

1024×768 color display upgrade – $1.00
Internet browsing upgrade – $1.00
iPod w/16GB upgrade – $1.00
Run iPhone apps upgrade – $1.00
1Gz A4 processor upgrade – $1.00
H.264 720P HD video upgrade – $1.00
Bluetooth upgrade – $1.00
10hr battery upgrade – $1.00
Multi-touch display upgrade – $1.00
Digital compass/accelerometer – $1.00

Your cost: iPad $499.00

As I tweeted earlier, if I were an Amazon VP or engineer working on the Kindle, I probably wouldn’t show up at work as Jeff Bezos is gonna fire the whole department. It’s incredible that Apple is going to be able to sell this at $500. I don’t think many expected that as the starting price point.

(Must be pointed out that, yes, the Kindle has a far superior battery life over the iPad. Do I care? No.)

And the best bit?

I travel a fair bit, mostly to Finland and Scotland to see our families but usually a bunch of other trips too, so I’m away from home probably around 50 days of the year. So far I can go without my laptop for about two days (yes, you can call me sad) but I don’t think I’ve ever been to Scotland for a long weekend without it.

What I consider as the watershed point is that can I load photos and videos from my cameras on to a larger device while I’m away to look at them and send them to other people. With the iPhone I can’t, with the iPad I can. That, to me, that changes everything.

Presumably, as the iPad will have versions iWork applications (Pages, Keynote and Numbers), there is going to be a place to hold other types of media as well. So far, you’ve been able to do this with third-party apps and with the awkward method of emailing files to yourself. Also, as the screen size and computing power of the machine will make this easier, I believe you’ll finally be able to edit Google Docs better than on the iPhone.

It’ll be very interesting to see whether or not you’ll be able to easily move files using Mobile Me as a gateway to your computer. Also, can I put a USB memory stick in the accessory port to copy files with?

How this might help me do a better job

Some might describe me as an ADD computer user. I never have less than 5 apps running or less than 10 Safari tabs open at any given point in time. I could be working on something and then I hear a bleep and suddenly I’m doing something completely different. This can be a good thing but often it’s hard to concentrate on one thing at a time. Cmd + tab and cmd + shift + ‘square brackets’ are my most used keyboard shortcuts.

The iPad wont have multitasking in the way that you could very quickly, without thinking, change to another task or app. This, I think, will be a great productivity improvement to me. The platform will force me to concentrate.

It’s not a reason to put ‘single-tasking’ on a device but it’s a great side benefit. I’ll probably go as far as to not have notifications turned on. We’ll see.

Final thoughts

Apple didn’t talk about how an independent publisher could publish content on to the device. There is that new iBookstore to go along the App Store and iTunes Store but no word on how can I get my content on there. So, I guess I was wrong about the changes in the – so far un-announced – iLife X. That’s a shame but again, I think third-party app developers will come and fix this. There already is a very cheap way of getting your social media and blog content into an iPhone app. At iSites you give details of what you want on it, pay $25 and publish. In few days or a week you’ll have you own, self-branded, iPhone app in the App Store. (By the way, there will be one for myself and for Suklaa, my company, very soon.) I believe there’s going to be similar schemes for publishing books as well.

Will I get one? Yes. Right away? Probably not. It depends on few things. I got the iPhone the day it came out but with this, I’m probably willing to holdback for at least few months and wait for them to iron out the kinks.

But then again, I can imagine it already being a revolutionary device that will change how and where I work and interact with people.

Resistance is futile.

Further reading:

Images courtesy of Apple Inc.

[Footnote not worth having in the main article]
A lot of people are angry at Apple for not having Adobe Flash run on the device. Did they really expect it to? iPhone is never going to support Flash. Period. Neither is the iPad. Period. If you have a problem with it, first read John Gruber’s article Apple, Adobe, and Flash and then either get over it or buy a Windows netbook. Flash is dead in the water.

2 thoughts on “iPad: Initial Thoughts

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