Apple Unveils the iPad; Was Anyone Excited?

After several months of speculation and hype, Apple has unveiled its latest creation: The iPad.

iPad from MAD TV

Oh sorry, that was the "iPad" being referred on a MAD TV sketch almost three years ago.  (Never knew comedy shows can be so clairvoyant.)

Apple iPad

This is the iPad, a portable device that CEO Steve Jobs claim as "the most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device," adding that the tablet computer would "bridge the gap between laptops and smart phones, giving people a unique experience other device cannot provide."

So what is so exciting about a tablet that looks like a giant iPod Touch?  For one, it has a large 9.7-inch high-definition, LED-backlit capacity touchscreen display, a custom 1GHz Apple A4 chipset, and a 10-hour battery life.  Think of it as a device that lets you do what you normally do on an iPhone, apps and all, only bigger.

But unlike the iPhone, the iPad lets you read electronic print media, which pits the device against Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers.  The Apple iBook store offers books from five well-known publishers like Penguin, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster.  The iPad also offers access to iTunes’ vast catalog of music, movies, and TV show episodes.  It also has iWork productivity applications like Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, each selling for US$9.99.

However, tech bloggers across the Internet universe have not so nice words about Apple’s "revolutionary device."  For one, as an e-book reader, the iPad’s physical specs do not out do those of Kindle.  The iPad is thicker, heavier, and has a way weaker battery life compared to Amazon’s best seller.  Ten hours of power on an iPad is an insult to Kindle’s one week of battery power.  IPad users would even have to pay for 3G access (no thanks to its ties with AT&T), while they get it for free on Kindle.  Reading on an iPad for long hours is probably not recommended as well because of its LED-backlit screen.  It may be cool to read digital books with colors on an iPad, though, but novel readers would probably stick to their Kindles because its e-ink displays do not strain the eyes.

As a replacement for a netbook, the iPad is unimpressive as well.  It has little connectivity options.  It only has a 30-pin dock connector, BlueTooth, WiFi, and optional 3G.  Sorry, no USB, no HDMI.  Unlike the more recent netbooks, the iPad does not have an integrated camera, but you need a separate camera attachment (which you also have to pay).  The device also lacks multitasking, so you cannot listen to music while creating a Page file; as well as support for Flash, so no Hulu for you. 

But since this is an Apple product, we are pretty sure some people out there will pick this up once it drops 60 days from now.  The iPad starts at US$499 for a 16GB, 3G-less edition; 32GB for $599, and $699 for a 64GB model.  Add $130 for 3G, excluding contract-free data plans ranging from $14.99 for 250MB to $29.99 on unlimited.

Image source:  Apple

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