Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Apple iPad

So, I've taken my time, but I've finally decided to write about the iPad.  As you probably know from previous posts I was pretty excited about the release of the Apple iPad (Year of the Tablet & E-Reader). One of the reason's I've waited so long to post is that I wasn't sure what I thought about what Apple is releasing.  On some level I'm very please and think the iPad has great potential, but I'm also a little disappointed (here are the technical specs).  Let's look at the good and the bad:

The Good

Large screen - the iPad features a large 9.7" screen.  This increase in real estates makes it a huge plus over the iPod Touch & iPhone.  As you know I use these devices currently with my students, and some have trouble accessing them due the the size of the buttons, just too small.

Accessibility Options - the iPad will have the same accessibility options that the iPhone has which includes screen magnification, audio preview of items, white on black display, mono audio & closed captioned content.

The Price - $499 for a basic model with Wi-Fi, that's a great price point and not out of range for lots of people.  Most analysts expected it to be much higher ($999 or more).

The Access - for a small amount you can be constantly connected, $29 a month for unlimited 3G access. There's even a cheaper plan for 3G access.  The iPhone has created a culture of people who expect constant connectivity and the iPad is just going to fuel that need!  This may be the push to get better wireless standards adopted quicker - 4G or LTE.

The Apps - All of the 150,000 iPhone apps will work on the iPad (including Proloquo2go!).  They will work in a small form or you can stretch them to take the entire screen, but from what I've heard they do not look very good like that.  Also if you have already purchased the app, it will work on your iPad without having to purchase again.

The Bookstore - it's being called iBook and so far all the publishers are inline to provide content.  This is the area the iPad is going to excel.  This is going to be a device consume content on - books, TV shows, and movies.  I think Blio was specifically designed for this device in mind, but that's just my speculation!

The Speed - not having actually touched one I cannot fully attest to this - but I hear it's fast!  As fast as you PC or laptop, but that's not surprising because everything gets faster.  From the reports it makes the experience of using it very pleasant.

The Bad

No webcam - not sure on why they left this out, seemed like a very basic feature...

$130 for 3G - really it costs $130 to outfit a device with a small radio to pick up 3G signals?  Seems a little far fetched to me...

No Flash - the iPhone & iPod Touch have not suffered without Flash, but it is a very integral part of the web.  Until HTML5 becomes the standard this will be a problem for the iPad.

No video output - while not a critical feature, this would make it a great device to store some content and watch on a TV or projector.

My Thoughts
So, what conclusions have I come to?  First, I don't think I can make a real decision until I hold and use an iPad.  Second, it has potential, as a content consuming device (book reader, movie watcher, music, etc...).  Also as a communication device, with external speakers and Proloquo2go it would make a very interesting platform.  Third, I think the size makes a huge difference, the reason the iPod can be hard to use for many students is the size, this fixes that.  Fourth, we'll just have to wait and see.  There is no way to know if this device will take off or not, but I think I'll be waiting for the 2nd generation before I get one.


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