Friday, January 29, 2010

The Apple iPad And Why We Won't Buy One

Earlier this week Apple announced their much anticipated touchscreen device dubbed the Apple iPad. This sub $500 9.7" tablet device is incarnation of what Apple see's as being the laptop of the future, but we see it as nothing more than an over hyped, over priced large screen iPod.

During Wednesday's press event Steve Jobs took the stage to introduce the world to what Apple is calling a revolutionary magical device, the new iPad. (See the video).  As mentioned the iPad has a 9.7-inch touch screen (diagonal dimensions of course). Overall size is 9.6"x7.5" and a half-inch thick. The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds and comes in three storage capacities 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash memory storage.

"The bar's pretty high. In order to really create a new category of devices. Those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. They're going to have to be far better at doing some really important things. Better than the laptop, better than the smartphone." -- Steve Jobs.

For connectivity the iPad comes with two choices a regular Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled device and a more expensive 3G enable version. Battery life is an astounding 10 hours and it can reportedly sit for a month on standby without needing a charge.

The basic iPad models will cost $499, $599 and $699, depending on the storage size, adding in 3G compatibility will boost the cost another $130.

Jobs also announced what he called a "breakthrough deal" with AT&T to provide 3G connectivity for the iPad using two pre-paid plans: a $14.99 plan that allows up to 250MB of data monthly, and a $29.99 unlimited data plan. iPad users do not have to sign a contract with AT&T, Jobs added, and can cancel at any time without penalty.

To be totally honest I see no reason to spend the $130 premium for 3G service through AT&T not with all the free Wi-Fi floating around these days. I do like the idea of a no contract $30 unlimited plan which really isn't bad, but again free Wi-Fi is everywhere so I doubt you'll see many people jumping on that ship.

Why you won't see me buying an iPad.

No I'm not an Apple hater, I just don't see this particular device as being cost effective for my needs. Sure its sleek and sexy but for my everyday needs I don't see that a 10" device will cut it.

For starters at a $500 price point I can buy a full featured laptop with a larger screen and a full keyboard. While my laptop wouldn't be as portable it would be much more capable making it a better overall buy. If portability where an issue I can buy a very capable scalable netbook that would be much better at handling my day to day needs, heck for $500 I could by two! If I still want all the features of the iPad and not the price I could even go with an iPhone or iPod, either of which would offer better portability, lower price and roughly the same features.

New iPod specials at MacMall
The second major reason I don't see me buying an iPad is simple, its overly tied to Apple. Apple and their proprietary BS are just a little much for me. I imagine this thing is going to be a sealed device, which means little to no tinkering. Add to that an inability to add/upgrade anything and that takes much of the "geek" right out of it.

Lastly HP, ACER, MSI and a few other companies have all said they will be released tablet like devices running either Windows 7, Linux or Android. Any of the three offer a little more openness where the OS is concerned. While none of these devices are available yet and we have little or no info to base a comparison on I for one would at least like to see what they offer up before I took a ride on the Apple fan train.

All that said the iPad is just one of many new touch screen tablets we are going to see and I'm sure if its a hit Apple will offer up a few more varieties. Off course cost will always be a factor with Apple as they generally add the "Apple tax" to everything they ship out.

Five ways Apple Could Have Made The iPad Better

  1. Enabled multitasking - Apple you really dropped the ball on this one! I get the reasoning behind the lack of multitasking on smaller devices but this thing is large enough and has enough power behind it to have it enabled.
  2. Larger Screen - Personally I think the iPad is stuck out in the middle of nowhere here. Its too large to fit in a pocket like your iPod or iPhone and still not quite large enough to fill the bill for most of my everyday needs. A slightly larger surface area would allow more room for a better keyboard experience and added room for more multi-tasking.
  3. Expandable memory and USB Slots - No SD or USB slots? Really are you kidding me here? Even my old cell phone has a Micro-SD slot for graphics, audio video ect. Apple calls this thing a "revolutionary magical device" that is "the best way to experience the web, email and photos" yet I have to buy an iPad Camera Connection Kit to utilize the features. Imagine how much more we could do with either one of these available!
  4. Flash support - Some people will say we don't need any stinking flash support but I'm not some people. I use a lot of sites that are flash equipped and I need to get my flash fix.
  5. Give us a full or open OS environment - Make the iPad support open software development, while still supporting the large number of App Store applications. What happens if you want to run Firefox or Chrome on your iPad? You can't. I don't use Safari and haven't for awhile and I don't want to change that. I also don't want to be tied to the DRM ridden App store or iTunes. Let me be free from some of the tight reins Apple has. Sure we'll probably see a jailbreak but that's not the point. 
Conclusion - The sum of it all

I should sum up by saying this, as a geek I really would love to get my hands on the iPad if for nothing more than just to see what it can do. Having not had the chance to test it out I can't say that I will never own one just that I'm not too likely to shell out my hard earned cash to get one.

In all honesty any tablet like device would really have to blow me away in order for me part ways with my money.

Update: Here is a great read from Engadget pointing out some of the highlights and flaws of the new iPad. Note they spotted many of the issues I'd have with the device, mainly the fact that its too large for two handed multitouch use. Weighing in at 1.5lbs and the overall sizes means one hand to hold and one to navigate. Yet they also note that the onscreen keyboard is lacking and is too small to make typing comfortable.


  1. Anonymous7:47 PM

    Prior to the ipad everyone wanted to know when apple would release an ebook reader. Enter the ipad. It costs the same as the Kindle DX and has many more features. If one can read it comfortably for hours and have access to the Kindle store, I imagine most Kindle users would happily swap their clunky and app-starved Kindle for a new ipad. Those who want a larger screen and functionality can buy a tablet notebook.

  2. Well it would actually cost more than a DX, assuming that is you add on and use the 3G support. Sure it would offer way more features, no argument there. The thing is this is not being billed as an ebook, sure it would make a better ebook than the DX, and yeah it would be nicer than some of the sub $300 models out there but its hardly the "revolutionary magical device" they are touting it as.


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