Apple released its newest gadget at its “Big Announcement” convention Jan. 27, revealing the iPad: a “slate” tablet computer meant to compete with the Amazon Kindle and other e-reader devices.
Apple is marketing the product as an in-between technology. It is not a traditional computer, and it is not an iPod. However, many of the features of the iPad are not unfamiliar to iPod Touch or iPhone users.
The iPad has a similar layout to the iPhone, using icons in rows and a dock to organize programs. The Safari web browser is almost exactly the same as well. Users will still be able to use the pinch-to-zoom and double tap to zoom in or out on photos, documents, Web sites and maps. The iPad also uses the same virtual keyboard as the iPhone and iPod Touch, but people interested in having a real keyboard can buy an additional docking station that puts the iPad in an upright position in a dock that includes a keyboard.
The 9.5-inch glass touch screen allows for vivid display on the device and weighs in at just over one and a half pounds, making the iPad very portable.
The battery life of 10 hours supersedes those of most laptops, but still falls short of the Amazon Kindle’s seven-day battery span.
The product has received many negative reviews thus far, based only on Apple’s keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs. The exclusion of a webcam, multitasking, USB ports and incompatibility with Flash programming has caused tech enthusiasts to severely criticize the iPad.
UMHB hardware engineer and iPhone user Angela Baker was unimpressed with the iPad, calling it a “giant iPod Touch.”
“When you compare prices, you can get a lot more out of a laptop at the same price as opposed to what the iPad is providing,” she said. “It doesn’t really lend itself to a student’s needs, but it is a cute, trendy looking gadget.”
Baker also added that some features could be added in future versions or other brands’ models to market to a wider audience and make the device more functional.
She said, “I think it needs more peripheral ports like USB ports without the docking system. It needs more memory, more battery life and, unfortunately, the list goes on.”
Junior visual communications major Colin Valerio is interested in the device but plans to wait until improvements are made.
He said, “It’s just not worth it right now, plain and simple.”
Senior Joseph Cantu has also decided not to invest, calling it an “oversized iPod Touch.”
He said, “As the owner of both an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, the iPad will not be a future purchase of mine. Most of the functionality … is (already) contained within my existing iPhone, only on a larger scale.”
Cantu also added that the device has a very specific group it caters to, saying “the iPad seems to be targeted to a small marketing niche of avid eBook readers, frequent travelers and mobile video viewers. For me, (it is) electronic overkill.”
Apple is releasing two different models of the iPad: one with WiFi and the other with WiFi and 3G capability. The model with both will cost $130 more, and service will be provided on a month-to-month payment basis by AT&T.
The first model will be available in March, with the second version in April.
Pricing ranges from $499 to $829.