Editorial: Apple’s iPad, From Unfair Criticisms to Valid Concerns | iLounge Article


Editorial: Apple’s iPad, From Unfair Criticisms to Valid Concerns

As is always the case when Apple announces a product well before it’s actually available to purchase, last week’s iPad event has already inspired thousands of opinion pieces, analysts’ predictions, and other miscellaneous articles—many more will follow as filler until iPads actually arrive in stores. At the risk of adding one more such item to the pile, we’d like to take a few minutes of your time to offer our personal, early take on the iPad, hopefully including a few insights that you might find useful coming from us, rather than those who rush to attack or defend any new product Apple releases. This editorial serves as a more opinionated companion to our extended, fact-based First Look at the iPad, and the video walkthrough we previously published.

Let’s Get This Out Of The Way First. Despite every attempt that has been made over the past week to trivialize the iPad, we want to be clear: we believe that the iPad will be an important and extremely successful product for Apple. Having attended Apple product launches for years, and actually spent time using the iPad, we are truly, deeply enthusiastic about this device—it is every bit the game-changing innovation that the iPhone was back in 2007, and potentially much, much bigger. Regardless of whether there’s going to be a sixth-generation iPad in 2016 that makes this one look as archaic as the first iPod from 2001, we fundamentally believe that the first iPad represents the future of computing, and that Apple got far more right than wrong with this product.

So why has public opinion been so mixed? It’s worth noting that virtually everyone who’s criticizing the device has never actually used one—the lack of hands-on experience is one of two big reasons some people rushed to attack the iPad, and since they didn’t have anything more than text, pictures and videos to rely upon, they focused their attention on easy targets: its name and specs. But these criticisms were somewhat misplaced. It’s one thing to call the iPad nothing more than a big iPod touch if you haven’t held one in your hands, but once you actually spend some time with it—see a word processor running, flip between multiple keyboards in a spreadsheet, read a book, and try playing games or videos—it’s instantly obvious that the experience is very substantially different from using an iPod touch, and offers a lot more potential.

Potential? What Do You Mean? Well, Apple only partially justified the iPad’s existence during a rollout event where people were expecting a bigger story, and there’s little doubt that the device’s full capabilities have yet to be exploited. There’s precedent for this. Over the past 10 years, Apple may have cultivated a reputation for releasing fully-formed products—ones that “just work” on day one—but problems with releases such as Apple TV and Snow Leopard have demonstrated that Apple has been willing to ship unfinished and somewhat buggy products rather than delaying them until they’re perfect. Software patches and sometimes even follow-up hardware releases have been necessary to make its initially promising offerings live up to users’ needs.

During the iPad testing, there were no obvious issues with the hardware, but there were lots of questions about the current state of its software—iPhone OS 3.2 and the applications it runs. Put aside the numerous bugs we spotted in the apps, including outright crashes, problems reformatting the screen content during orientation flips and keyboard transitions, and so on. (You can see them in the video walkthrough.) We’re sure that these sorts of things are going to be fixed, eventually. The real problem is that Apple, whether for marketing reasons (unlikely) or technical reasons (more likely), didn’t show off several things that the hardware can surely handle, and would have silenced the doubters:

* Multitasking. Being able to switch between three or four programs, and seeing Push-style Notifications (or a new overlay) to alert you of activities taking place in the background, such as instant messaging activity.

* Super Multi-Touch. A practical demonstration of simultaneous multi-finger interaction with the screen. Picture a real estate app where you actually use your fingers to open the door of a 3-D house, or using three-finger gestures to switch between multitasking apps. Gameloft’s new NOVA demonstration contained elements of these things, but they were only shown briefly, and the version of NOVA available for testing did not include the new features.

* Handwriting Recognition. An OS-level tool to convert writing and scribbling into text and shapes. This was a gimme for the company responsible for Newton, and a big missing piece for users.

* A New Wake Screen and Launcher. Apple re-used the iPhone and iPod touch Slide to Unlock screen with only the smallest changes, and then barely modified the application launcher—the latter after two years of users asking for app folders and other changes to improve the navigation experience. Had the device’s two most commonly seen interface elements been a little more novel, rather than just rescaling the iPhone UI, viewers would have been a lot happier; instead, the iPad made a “been there, done that” impression.

* Magazines. The iBooks application only goes half of the way towards establishing the iPad as a credible next-generation alternative to Kindle and other eBook readers, and Apple’s demonstration of a New York Times newspaper application rather than a PDF or app-based publishing framework for magazine and newspaper publishers suggests that it doesn’t have a complete solution in place for offering either color periodicals or their subscriptions through iTunes.

* Tethering. Offering an inexpensive iPhone-based 3G tethering feature for the Wi-Fi iPad would have thrilled millions of iPhone users, and quite possibly reduced the widespread dissatisfaction that AT&T’s customers have been feeling. It’s technically easy to accomplish on Apple’s side, and merely a matter of having the right network partner in place.

What About The iPad Name? There was a lot of fuss over the iPad name after the announcement, and we saw evidence of a gender divide, so we decided to run a reader poll to see who did and didn’t like the name, and whether it would affect purchasing decisions. With over 3,500 votes—far more than enough for a fair sample—exactly 50% of responding readers said they liked the iPad name, and 50% said that they didn’t. There was a gender divide, such that men split 52/48% between “like” and “don’t like,” and women split 34% (like) to 66% (dislike), but more importantly, 62% of respondents said that they’d consider buying the iPad, with more readers of both genders saying that they’d consider a purchase even if they didn’t like the name. In any case, the iPad name is nowhere near as wacky as Nintendo’s choice of “Wii,” and the controversy largely died down after two or three days. People, even Twitterers, will get used to it quickly.

Netbooks Versus iPads. Though Apple encouraged the comparison by specifically attacking netbooks as mediocre versions of old PCs, we consider the Netbook versus iPad “fight” to be essentially irrelevant, and focusing on tech specs to justify one position or the other is foolish. Anyone who has used a netbook knows that there are certain things that these computers can do really well with their small form factors, and other things that they almost universally stink at doing. The same is true with the iPad. Drawing a comparison between these products on anything other than price and the most basic features is a waste of time.

To be clear: the iPad in its current form is going to be a basic computer for users who favor simplicity and convenience over raw power. It is going to appeal a lot to kids and grandparents, but it’s also going to become a second or “around the house” computer for adults, and over time, it or something like it will be what retailers, delivery people, restaurant servers, and all sorts of other people literally rely upon for entering and displaying certain types of information. Netbooks and laptops will continue to have their own advantages, but they’re not going to be as intuitive and simple as the iPad.

Our Remaining Concerns. As enthusiastic as we are about the iPad’s impending release(s), there are a few things that continue to concern us. Here they are, in no particular order.

Software Bugs, Upgrade Fees and Timing. Our belief is that Apple will fix the bugs seen during the iPad demos, but it’s possible that it won’t—the iPhone OS was surprisingly problematic during and after its 1.x debut, and app-related instabilities continued early in version 2.x. How long will it take for the first major update, iPhone OS 4.0, to be released? And how much if anything is Apple going to sell OS upgrades for? The less expensive Apple TV includes free upgrades, and if history predicts the future, those upgrades will be necessary to stabilize and improve the iPad after initial release.

Flash. It’s one thing to compromise your web experience for a mobile phone, and another to do so on a screen as large as a computer’s. We’re not fans of Adobe’s Flash and would gladly see it disappear, but at a time when many sites still use Flash, Apple’s decision to shut it out of the iPad—even if Adobe offered to create a stable, lightweight version—is bad news. If Apple’s going to use its products to bludgeon the world into change, it needs to either offer tools to help Flash developers migrate to HTML5, or a compromise solution that doesn’t hurt prospective users as much during the transition.

Revisions B and C. It’s obvious that Apple will release sequels to the original iPad, and they’ll surely be better in at least three ways than today’s models—they’ll also most likely deliver better value (hopefully, universally integrated 3G) than the 2010 versions. The fact that there will be sequels isn’t necessarily a reason to pass on the first-generation versions. But on the other hand, no one knows quite yet what sorts of defects early iPads will have, or what Apple will charge for AppleCare warranty coverage. This is historically extremely important for first-generation Apple products.

Now that the dust has had some time to settle, we’re curious, readers: have your opinions changed at all since the initial iPad unveiling last week? Are you open to the possibility that the 2010 models could find a place in your home or office? Or are you holding off? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below! Numerous other questions on the iPad have been answered in our Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s iPad and 21 answers to iPad reader questions articles, as well as our latest Ask iLounge column.

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I too believe that, like the iPhone, the iPad is a revolutionary product that will need some modifications and input from real users to become a mainstream success.  I also agree completely with your statement on Apple’s decision to leave Flash out of the iPad.  As much as it may annoy them or cause their products to crash, many popular sites run on and rely on Flash.  Not supporting it (at least initially) will frustrate many users expecting seamless web surfing experience compared to their laptop or desktop.

Posted by S Biad on February 2, 2010 at 1:35 PM (CST)


Anyone who thinks the iPad is a mediocre devise that has no market, or limited market is short sighted, void of vision of the future ... any device that can replace 60 pounds of books on any school kids back, and can hold the Library of Congress in it, is the Future!

It isn’t an office toy

Posted by Randy on February 2, 2010 at 1:36 PM (CST)


As a professor of educational technology, I can’t wait to get these devices into the hands of my students (as well as my own!) - while the iPad won’t completely replace a full-fledged laptop, I can already see wonderful uses for technology integration.

Plus, I would love to see this tool (as well as the countless others that will inevitably follow) revolutionize the way we deal with instructional content (read: textbooks).  Instead of static content that is dated nearly instantly, what about a more dynamic model that takes advantage of rich media?

Posted by Damon on February 2, 2010 at 1:42 PM (CST)


If it had the ability to multitask (and maybe a fix for notifications) I would be 100% sold on the device. Without that though, it is getting a pass. Simple things like using Pandora or AIM while browsing the internet become an absolute chore without multitasking. Like the lack of flash, this feature is somewhat forgivable in a cell phone, but not on a larger device IMO.

I guess I am not as negative about it when it was first announced, but it is still a failure in my eyes without it.

Posted by Jon Cox on February 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM (CST)


What bugs me most is the lack of a webcam for video chat. I hesitate to commit to the 1st gen iPad when it looks like the camera should have been a given and will be included soon.

Posted by JS on February 2, 2010 at 1:52 PM (CST)


Excellent article.  Most of the commentaries online proclaiming success or failure of this product are simply premature.  It really could go either way.

I believe that showing the device with OS3.2 rather than 4.0 was an unfortunate reality that Apple couldn’t avoid, and that they have more impressive demos running on iPad with alpha or beta builds of OS4.0.  But they couldn’t show them because they don’t show unannounced products, *period*, and OS4.0 isn’t announced yet.  So they were “stuck” showing the world their new baby with a lame launcher and no multitasking, despite the fact that it’s coming (IMO) but they couldn’t say anything.  A uniquely “Apple” dilemma.

The success or failure (and I suspect that even “failure” will make them plenty of money) of the iPad will ultimately be defined by 2 things:
a) The new Apps that are written for it
b) How well people can figure out what role this will have vs. their other computing devices.  They will only buy in large numbers if they have some idea of this.

Both will be interesting to see how they pan out. The aspect of the first that I’m most curious about is tied to the second as well: co-existence of full OS apps and equivalent iPad apps.  Do I have to buy a separate version for OSX and iPad (true for iWork, it seems).  What if some apps are available for one but not the other?  Will I have to decide which device to sit down with depending on which apps I have on which?  That’ll be confusing. Fortunately, I expect early adopters (of which there will be plenty) to blog endlessly about their experiences, which will over time bring this all into focus.

I don’t think Apple could have done this before now.  Only with the massive user and developer base of the iPhone/iPod Touch do they have the critical mass to try to get this off the ground.  They may still not succeed, but they have a fighting chance.  It will be very interesting to watch.

Posted by Neilw on February 2, 2010 at 2:00 PM (CST)


I fully agree this will be bigger than the iPhone, and perhaps even bigger than the iPod. I have never hear my parents (who are in their 70’s) say about a computer: “now there’s something I really want”.

This thing is not for us geeks. It’s for the billions of ‘normal’ people out there.

This is the first computer, where we ‘IT guys’ are the illiterates. We should shut up and leave the commenting to the addressed demographic.

Posted by Exrabies on February 2, 2010 at 2:02 PM (CST)


Like many, I was relatively unimpressed at first. The more I thought about it, though, and the more I examined how I used my iPhone, the more I warmed to the idea.
I spend all most all of my time on the computer at home, and my iPhone works as a peripheral. It runs the iTunes remote most of the time while giving me Facebook updates through push notification. The bigger screen of an iPad would work even better for this.
Also, I had hoped that there would be some sort of support for graphic novels and art books on the iPad, but many apps all ready have those covered. I can use Panelfly or Comics at the 2x resolution.
Still not sure if I’ll get an iPad, but the idea becomes more appealing the more I learn. If I find that I can use the non-DRM’d ePub books that I all ready have, that just might push me over the edge.

Posted by Miranda Kali on February 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM (CST)


I’m almost certainly going to get one. The one thing that remains to be seen is how it handles eBooks. Once we see a more in depth description of iBooks and how it works, I will know if this is the product for me. I know this is a lot more than an eReader, but a good eReader is the next gadget on my “to buy” list. If the iPad can’t handle that, I’ll have to think twice about it.  And I agree about magazines being an area of potential that we haven’t seen yet. Originally I was sold on Kindle’s e-Ink, but after reading several books on my iPod Touch, I became convinced that you could have a decent LCD reader that would have the advantage of also displaying magazines, comics, and image-heavy books. If the iPad does a good job with eBooks, I can wait and hope for a magazine/comic solution, but if it doesn’t handle plain, text-heavy books as well as the Kindle, I’ll have to wait and see.

Posted by Rob E. on February 2, 2010 at 2:35 PM (CST)


My opinion has changed since the reveal. I initially wrote it off as an iPod Touch on steroids, especially since it’s lacking handwriting recognition (as far as we know). However, the more I read about the iPad, the more I realize that most of the iPad’s initial shortcomings will be solved by third-party apps or software updates. The hardware is there, its capabilities just need to be exploited. There are still some hardware additions I’d like to see (camera, SD card, etc) but like the iPhone, I don’t see any significant hardware updates coming soon.

I believe I will pick one up as soon as third-party apps fill in the gaps for my uses.

Posted by Tom Jenson on February 2, 2010 at 2:55 PM (CST)


The “been there done that crowd” of which I am a part all own iPhones.  I think the chap who said this is for the rest of us - the non geeks is right.  I know my child would love to use one of these given what she does with my iPhone and how she could use the new iWork apps.  I have no doubt it will be successful and that Apple will add all the bells and whistles to attract the geeks as well, maybe sooner than we think.

Lack of Flash amazes me too on a device this size.  Let’s hope they can make come up with a solution soon.  It bothers me that my iPhone can’t handle Flash even in a limited way.

Posted by PK Steffen on February 2, 2010 at 3:14 PM (CST)


There is actually no argument in the article why the iPad is NOT just a bigger iPod Touch. Of course every app will look and feel better on a bigger screen. But besides this there is not one innovative thing about it.

Yes, I am sure at some point in the future all computers will be like tablets (see Star Trek TNG). And maybe the iPad will be seen as a kind of starting point. BUT we are far away from this point. As long as you still need a “real computer” to connect/use the iPad, this is NOT the first one of a new generation of computers. Currently we are still in the “notebooks replace desktop computer” phase. It will need at least 10-15 years to go to the “tablets replace notebooks/all computers” phase.

Posted by gewappnet on February 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM (CST)


I am sold on the iPad as something that I will use in my home, my classroom (as a teacher and grad student), and on the road. It will replace my Kindle and laptop, serving as my #1 device of choice for most of my computing needs.

The 4.0 OS will solve the multitasking problem, but I think Flash is a red line that old Steve-O will not cross. Say what you will, but Apple - ULTIMATELY - is doing the entire world a favor by eliminating flash on what will be the two most used computing devices in the world - the iPhone and iPad.

We will be ordering one 64GB wifi for me and one 16GB one for my wife and daughter to share. I can’t wait!

Posted by Roderic Rinehart on February 2, 2010 at 3:56 PM (CST)


“There is actually no argument in the article why the iPad is NOT just a bigger iPod Touch.”

I think it is and it isn’t. This is an evolutionary step.  We (geeks) all wanted a full tablet computing experience but what Apple has done here is open up the iPhone OS experience to a wider audience and made it more beautiful and even more functional.

You hit the nail on the head when you say that it’ll take 10-15 years to bridge the gap between tablets and laptops.  There is so much UI and software that needs to be rethought. For now this covers many of the bases that an average user needs, and as usual, Apple will keep adding to it in bits and bobs until we all want one.

Posted by PK Steffen on February 2, 2010 at 4:41 PM (CST)


I have no use for a tablet device regardless of who is branding it, acceptance of a tablet is the first hurdle.  Categorizing a Netbook as an inferior tool was inflammatory on the part of Job’s and 35 million users would disagree.  How many I-Pad will be sold, what the users experience will be as how they will be used, remains to be seen.  I know people who bought smart cars and they still believe they made the right choice.

Posted by Geek on February 2, 2010 at 4:45 PM (CST)


#12: A car is nothing more than a bigger motorcycle. A motorcycle is nothing more than a faster horse. Right?

Obviously not. Focusing on the size rather than the functionality it enables is a mistake. The iPad is, in fact, a physically larger iPod touch. But to ignore the considerably expanded collection of applications it enables, the benefits of multi-finger touchscreen use, and the experiences that a larger screen can provide is just ignorant. Apple doesn’t need to add a projector or a solar panel to the iPad in order for the device to be impressive or innovative; it just needs the right software and accessories.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 2, 2010 at 5:11 PM (CST)


I was pretty impressed with the ebook features, battery life and initially, the price.

It’s a great concept but if I’m going to carry something that big it needs to have full laptop functionality.

It would make a great tool to have around the house when you need to hop online quickly to check email and such, without having to squint through the proverbial peephole of a smartphone screen.

Unfortunately, it’s a little too limited for the selling price.

Posted by Paul on February 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM (CST)


LOL at all of this. He said in the article that most of the criticism comes from people who haven’t actually held one. Then in the comments there is criticism from a bunch of people who STILL haven’t held one!

Can’t wait til they notify us when it goes on sale so I can order one.

Posted by Dick Bacon on February 2, 2010 at 6:59 PM (CST)


I love ilounge and have great respect for its editors, but I am deeply underwhelmed by this editorial.  The main point of the editorial seems to be “we believe that the iPad will be an important and extremely successful product for Apple” and “we are truly, deeply enthusiastic about this device—it is every bit the game-changing innovation that the iPhone was back in 2007.” 

But the editors never explain why the iPad will be such a game-changer.  Instead, they say the iPad will be a second “around the house” computer that will appeal a lot to kids and grandparents.  They say that, someday in the future, the iPad or a device very much like it will become used more commonly in business.  They say the experience of holding one and using one is more than just using an extra-large iPod touch.  Saying “you gotta see this thing!” doesn’t convince me that it’ll be a game changer. 

Most of this article is devoted to explaining what concerns the iLounge editors have about the iPad, what issues need to be fixed in future versions of it, and why it’s a waste of time to compare the iPad to a netbook. 

I hope the editors will revise this editorial to better explain why they think the iPad is such a remarkable device.

Posted by Ron on February 2, 2010 at 7:24 PM (CST)


I think the iPad is going to be another big hit for Apple, but while the size permits amazing things, it also limits portability.

The iPad is simply too big for a pocket or purse so it’s going to get left home more often than it otherwise would. Apple hopes you’ll buy both an iPhone and an iPad, but pigs will fly before I do that.

Maybe next year the touch will get a 6” or 7” wide screen big brother. It wouldn’t need the thumb sized bezel because it would fit in most hands. It would be a perfect device for consuming iTunes video on the go and far superior to the existing touch and iPhone for web content. The current game of pinching and scrolling is insane and most mobile websites have only a tiny subset of the content of their full size versions.

Posted by Bregalad on February 2, 2010 at 7:57 PM (CST)


Calling it ‘just a larger iPod Touch’ may be technically correct. Also, a MacBook Pro is just a smaller Mac Pro with physically attached keyboard and screen. The FORM FACTOR changes the usage significantly, even if the underlying tech is not that different.

But the really huge factor in this is that the larger screen really opens up a lot of possibilities on the SOFTWARE side. I’ve only heard raves from existing iPhone developers, who naturally grasped this from the get-go.

We’re basically looking at the future of personal computing. For some it will be in the near future, for others it may not be for a few years. Actually, we saw the future of personal computing in 2007 with the introdution of the iPhone.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM (CST)


#19: It seems like you missed the point. As we said at the beginning of the editorial: “We’d like to take a few minutes of your time to offer our personal, early take on the iPad…”

The editorial was not here to convince you of anything, or to evangelize the iPad. Rather, the editorial was designed (1) to share our thoughts, positive and negative, about the device, (2) to suggest that the criticisms of its name and specs were trivial, (3) to point out areas that should have been and should still be addressed, and (4) to let doubters know that they should wait until they’ve actually used an iPad to form any definitive opinions on it.

That said, I’m glad to answer your question, anyway: why is it going to be a game changer? In short, because in the same way as the iPhone transformed cell phones into miniature personal computers, the iPad distills a personal computer into a smaller, simpler, and more convenient form factor that anyone from a child to a grandparent can intuitively understand how to use: just point at the thing on screen you want to access. Moreover, from the hardware to the software that runs on it, it’s affordable, and there’s a version with affordable 3G Internet access, as well, so a person with no wireless network can pay far less than broadband rates for monthly access. The combination of simplicity and affordability is going to make it a big hit with mainstream users; there will also be a huge number of existing Mac and PC users who buy them as supplementary devices for portable video, web, or app use, and find them to be much better at certain tasks than their iPhones or computers. I could go on, but that’s the short of it.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 2, 2010 at 8:46 PM (CST)


Why is there no stylus for the ipad?
There’s no reason for having pen/stylus capabilites for the iphone since it’s so small but…
The ipad seems to be made for students who want to WRITE NOTES and jot down DIAGRAMS or MATH FORUMULAS in an ipad. IMAGINE the ipad being able to replace paper notebooks! WHY WAS THIS FEATURE OMITTED? Hopefully the sensors on the ipad touch screen is much more dense and ressponsive than the iphone so that a THIN TIP STYLUS can be used.

Also…how about people who would love to use the ipad as a canvas for painting etc?

HONESTLY using a “stylus” is much more accurate and controlled than drawing/writing with your darn finger..what a shame.

Posted by gord on February 2, 2010 at 9:35 PM (CST)


#20. Why would they gonto all the trouble of making a ten inch ipad and telling us how great the big screen is, then turn around and make a smaller version next year?

This reminds me of the foolish iPhone nano rumors.

Posted by Dick Bacon on February 2, 2010 at 10:46 PM (CST)


Beyond the appeal of the easy to use interface, there will soon be a lot of great software for it at low prices just like the iPhone. Gameloft just posted revenue of 25 million for iPhone games last year with 10 million coming in the last quarter alone.  Scrollmotion has signed deals to convert educational materials.  There is huge incentive to fuel development of some great titles for the iPad which will only add to it’s functionality and appeal.

Posted by Paul Steffen on February 2, 2010 at 10:48 PM (CST)


Why iPad will be a revolutionize product? Because my 5 years old son can use it as well as my 67 years old mother. No need to worry about the spec and huge learning curve. This iPad will change the way we think and use personal computer forever.

BTW, great article!

Posted by Andrew Ro on February 3, 2010 at 1:51 AM (CST)


Good article.

Initially I had doubts about the iPad, but the more I read and thought about it, the more exciting it’s getting. Until I actually get a chance to hold and use the thing, there’s little else to say about it.

I think more than the hardware, it’s the software that will be revolutionary. I can envision the iPad as a UI test device for big changes to Mac OS X in the future, too.

The fact that iWork is being adapted for the iPad is phenomenal. OmniGroup has said they plan to adapt the majority of their applications for the iPad. OmniFocus will be fantastic on the iPad.  While it’s quite good on my iPod touch, having much more screen real estate will make a big difference in how I’ll use it.

Normally, I avoid version 1 devices, but I’ll probably line up at my neighborhood Apple Store on day one!

Posted by jeffharris on February 3, 2010 at 2:24 AM (CST)


I’ll speak for those that are disappointed by the iPad: We are not saying that Apple’s attempt at tablet devices is a failure and they should give up. Nobody doubts Apple’s ability to make good products.

The message is that these first iPad models are underwhelming, disappointing, and wrapped in the most obnoxious marketing nonsense since Steve Jobs told the world that he replaced all his home stereo equipment with Apple Hi-Fis. Apple’s tablet aspirations are not doomed, but this version of a “tablet computer” is not what we want. Let’s try again in 6-12 months when more of the “potential” is realized.

Posted by AJ on February 3, 2010 at 8:50 AM (CST)


For me, the critical pieces will be iWork, a few key apps that access research materials I use, and battery life, to justify the “in-between” use.  I do think that the “hands-on” experience is widely underestimated by many nay-sayers.  There were so many times during the presentation, and even by online demo users, that this thing “just feels right.”  It really is going to be the strongest selling point, I think.

Posted by Michael Lumpkin on February 3, 2010 at 9:02 AM (CST)


I have been waiting for this product with bated breath since the first rumors started flying about several years ago. I turned down my husband’s offer of a Kindle last year to wait for what Apple had to offer. It seems perfectly suited to me. I don’t have a laptop and don’t like using them - they seem cramped. I have a glorious 25” iMac in my study that lets me do all the big screen computing I want on a very comfortable keyboard and enables constant access to the 500Gb drive that houses my enormous media collection. I love my iPhone, but surfing the web on it is a chore of zooming in and out, as is reading the various pdfs I have which I like to be able to carry with me and access when necessary. The iPad seems perfectly suited to me as an adjunct to my desktop, not a replacement. I can easily load it up with the things I want to take with me on vacations or for breaks at work or travel time on the bus. My purse is big enough to hold it - I carry large bags with room enough for a notebook and/or hardback, so the iPad won’t be a chore in that regard. I don’t “thumb-type” like the majority of folks - I have always held the phone in one hand and skimmed the keys with index finger of my free hand, so I can easily imagine doing the same on the iPad. I have no idea if I will be a typical user or not, but I am thrilled by the prospect of owning one.

Posted by Debbie on February 3, 2010 at 11:26 AM (CST)


My first response to the release information of the iPad was that Apple just didn’t get the subnotebook concept. Their previous attempts (only in Asia) never saw the light of day in a full product line release. That coupled with the previous comments that an iPhone/iPod Touch was basically a netbook. I actually texted my wife that Steve still had his head up his butt on the concept. But, alas, my response was based on reviewing the technical specs alone.

Like any faithful Apple follower, I have been watching the ‘qualified’ rumors over the last year and had a good idea what was coming. I was hoping for a device that ran desktop OS X, not iPod OS X, opening up a tablet Book to replace the MacBook that has virtually been axed to make all portable computers MacBook Pros.

An iPhone/iPod Touch is not a netbook, and regardless of Steve’s panning of netbooks they are a viable device that the public has adapted to. Unlike the last panned point on his list, my Dell Mini 10v runs the latest version of Snow Leopard and any Mac software that doesn’t require a Core2Duo processor or screen real estate of 1024x768 or greater. My Apple branded, Intel Mini only meets one of those requirements.

I watched the keynote presentation and wasn’t convinced. Because for all of the standard iPod functionality it was just bigger. I type 135 words a minute and ten key around 20k keystrokes per hour, so the virtual keyboard for typing does not appeal to me. Cranking out documents on my iPod Touch with Documents to Go is quite a chore. While the keys will be bigger on the iPad, will it be more responsive and quicker in its response to keystrokes than the iPhone/iPod Touch?

But, and there was a big BUT moment, when they got to the part where they demonstrated iWorks, my interest completely changed. This made the device more than just an oversized, glorified iPod, it actually is a midway computing device.

I am still not excited about the limited functionality or it being locked into the AppStore and I will probably not give up my MacBook Mini (my hacked Dell Mini) even after I rush out to be one of the first to grab up an iPad, but I just can’t help but fall in love with a device that allows me to create and edit documents, do desktop publishing and create Keynote presentation on a touch screen platform.

Posted by John Donahue on February 3, 2010 at 12:24 PM (CST)


One big question that has yet to be raised or answered is the FileMaker Pro question. Will it be tailored to the iPad? Bento is fine for the iPhone or IPod, but it offers no ability for relational functions. The iPad has the potential to be a serious data collection tool and the ability to at least have a runtime version for it that would allow you to at least create and edit the database structure and form on a desktop computer and collect and edit the data on the portable device would be a boon to getting the iPad into the workplace. Fifteen years ago Disney equipped thousands of employees with Newton Message Pads to collect data from the patrons of their various entertainment venues, imagine the Star Trekesque appearance of data miners using a customized data pad to collect information from the public one on one.

Posted by John Donahue on February 3, 2010 at 12:35 PM (CST)


The one thing most posters, including Jeremy, seem too ready to brush over in their zeal to praise its “simple computer for everybody!” function is that it’s simply not a stand alone device. At best, this is a computer-lite for the 5 y.o. (even though mine is getting quite proficient on a keyboard/mouse equipped Windows machine, she must be a genius or something ;)) or 67 y.o. (although, again, my 69 y.o. mother seems to do just fine with her multiple PCs and she’s nowhere close to technically literate) when they have a computer literate person managing a full personal computer hosting these devices for them.

It’s not nearly so simplified or tech tard friendly as some of its proponents are claiming.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on February 3, 2010 at 4:45 PM (CST)


Many things in the vatican of Apple remain unsaid, some are that there will be a ichat camera, and some others say that here will be widgets, the most reasonable one is the widgets, as Neilw said, ‘‘I believe that showing the device with OS3.2 rather than 4.0 was an unfortunate reality that Apple couldn’t avoid, and that they have more impressive demos running on iPad with alpha or beta builds of OS4.0.  But they couldn’t show them because they don’t show unannounced products, *period*, and OS4.0 isn’t announced yet.  So they were “stuck” showing the world their new baby with a lame launcher and no multitasking, despite the fact that it’s coming (IMO) but they couldn’t say anything.  A uniquely “Apple” dilemma.’’                                  and as Mr. Stancioff said as well, ‘‘Can you imagine a full-screen Weather app (in it’s current incarnation) running on the iPad? Or a full-screen clock or calculator? Weird, right? Of course, Apple wouldn’t do that. They would have to improve on those apps to make them do more to better take advantage of the large screen. But doing so would actually stray from the purpose of these utility apps by adding complexity where simplicity is desired. In short, most utility apps don’t have any need to be any larger than they are on the iPhone.

I think there are two arguments that can be made as to why some version of these apps weren’t included.

Apple has considered the app store to be “good enough” for alternatives to these apps, and is fine with dismissing the concept of utility applications and replacing them with more complex versions suited for the larger screen.
Apple has something else up it’s sleeve for dealing with these types of applications on iPad, but it isn’t ready to show us yet.
I think that the second is far more plausible.’’ I believe there is much more hidden in 4.0. and apple had no choice rather than stick with 3.2 for a few more months to unveil what they are really up to, we’ll have to see what apple has for us during this iPad pre-lauch period.

Posted by JoeMarioZ on February 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM (CST)


someone mentioned about a weather app on a full-screen iPad…

I think it would be really cool to have a variety of widgets like weather, traffic, news, all running at the same time on the iPad.  I would use that every morning before I left for work.  But I wouldn’t spend over $200.

Can someone who works on code let me know the difference between Widgets and Apps?

Posted by b real on February 3, 2010 at 5:38 PM (CST)


#34: While I’m certainly open to the idea of iPhone OS with widgets, a very plausible alternative explanation for some of those missing apps (Weather and Stocks in particular) would be that Apple expects you to get that info from your favorite website, the way you would on your laptop.

Posted by celtic_elk on February 3, 2010 at 10:58 PM (CST)


There’s a huge missing feature that no one is addressing and I really hope to catch the attention of iLounge authors.

I’m disappointed with a lack of video output (e.g. mini-DVI or anything). I can understand DRM-issues and all that jazz…

But what’s the point of making a Keynote application if you can’t connect to a projector via an adapter (e.g. whatever-connection-they-decide-to-use to VGA)?

Posted by Iggy on February 4, 2010 at 1:15 AM (CST)


#33: Note that the iPad with 3G can be, as noted by Steve Jobs, activated without even connecting to a computer. Broad hint there.

#37: You can connect to a projector with an adapter. Here’s the iPad VGA Adapter.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 4, 2010 at 7:40 AM (CST)


Thanks for the repackaged, condensed info!

The two biggest things holding me back from buying this are simple ones:

1. The iPad DOES NOT have USB ports, which would hint at future ability to sync my iPhone or iPods, upload documents from my drive, and use USB devices.

and 2. The iPad DOES NOT run a real computing operating system, which makes number 1 completely useless anyway.

If they want to turn the iPad into something that will get MORE money and an actual piece of the Tablet/Netbook market, they better offer a more OSX-like operating system, USB ports/card readers, and the ability to sync iPhones/iPods. THEN, and only then, will I actually fork over my money for this “second computer.” And until then, I’ll use my laptop as my computer (even out and about), and my iPhone as my second computer!

Posted by Curtis Raymond Shideler on February 4, 2010 at 7:53 AM (CST)


come on.  Flash and handwriting recognition?  Um….hello ‘90’s?

Posted by domarch on February 4, 2010 at 8:00 AM (CST)


#40: Yeah, it’s _totally_ ‘90’s. No one uses Flash anymore, right? And it’s not like Macs ship with Apple’s Inkwell/Ink - they _really_ benefit from that more than a tablet would. Let’s just forget about those iPhones/iPod touches shipping with Chinese character recognition built in. Since these features (and many others) are so ‘90’s, Apple should just pull them straight out of its products…

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 4, 2010 at 9:37 AM (CST)


Thanks for your thoughts on this, Jeremy.  I was actually a little surprised to see you describe the iPad as a “game changing innovation” since you seemed somewhat lukewarm about it in your First Look piece last week.

I’m sure I’ll buy one as soon as they hit the market as it looks like a blast to me.  I would have loved to see an iChat camera included but otherwise it’s got all the features I need. 

I can live without Flash—heck, I’m not even sure which websites still have it and I do a lot of websurfing.  I probably would never use the iPad as a notetaker so I’m happy not to pay for a function I don’t need. 

I agree that AppleCare’s a must.  I assume the cost will run somewhere between the coverage between my iPhone and MacBook Pro, which seems fair.

As far as the name, I’m sure whatever fuss there is will die down soon if it hasn’t already.  Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I fail to see the problem.  My life’s full of “pads,” none of which have anything to do with feminine hygiene products, e.g., legal pads, mattress pads, chair pads, just to name a few.  None of those ever caused any juvenile snickering.

You may not like the description, but the iPad really does strike me as a large screen iPod Touch on steroids.  But while I welcome the larger screen, it’s the “steroids” potential that has me the most excited.

Posted by Downing on February 4, 2010 at 3:15 PM (CST)


One of the questions I have concerns pricing - which, obviously, we aren’t quite sure about yet.  I have an iPhone right now - I have apps (NY Times, USA Today, other news sources, etc).  My question pertains to the potential of ‘no more free media’ for us.  I am not going to pay 20 bucks every six weeks to read the NY Times, another 20 bucks for the LA Times, and another 20 for USA Today, then another 15 bucks for a book, etc…my concern is not with the device at all, or the price of the physical device but this potential of having a $200-$300 bill just for media content.  If this is how print media is looking to gain revenue, I’m sticking to what I’ve got.  There is no way I am paying that kind of money per month - AFTER paying for the device (which really should be free if we are going to be charged up the wazoo for previously free content)...yes I see this as a great way to read magazines, books and newspapers but not if I am going to have to pay a fortune every month to access them.

Posted by Jon on February 4, 2010 at 4:31 PM (CST)


I truly believe in iPad due to my personal experience working on iPhone. While I agree that certain things were quite disappointing (lack of camera for communication a-la Star Trek, and everabsent Flash) and while I doubt it will replace a laptop for me (how will I play EVE and Counter-Strike???), I most certainly stop carrying my laptop around. Consider the following:
I am a student, I hate textbooks (and specifically super-cover textbooks), I need something to take notes with, create powerpoint presentations, and access to internet. Right now all this is done on 13” XPS laptop, and it does it just fine, except the damn thing is heavy. iPad is perfect to replace my laptop in school.
Multitasking is a big thing that people are upset about. For whatever reason I am not. If the boot time for apps is going to be the same as iPhone I am totally cool without multitasking simply because humans do one thing at a time anyways, and switching apps takes seconds. Now, what is more important is the integration. You know how u can call from google maps app? Proper integration beats any multitasking speed and convenience wise. Imagine: u making notes in iBooks which could be then transfered to iWorks and edited. Saves battery and time.

Posted by kingsi7e on February 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM (CST)


First let me say that I believe the iPad is a game changer. 

I was modestly surprised by the price (I thought it would cost more) and I was majorly surprised by the data plan.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think you’d be able to pry a data only plan from AT&T that is contract free.

It will be interesting to me to see what effect it has on sales of other Apple products and even non-apple products, ie netbooks.  Is it is big iPod touch and canabalize sales there, or is it laptop replacement and take away sales there?  Or will people just buy it as another device?

I do have some observations, though.  As a a device to consume information, it will work out of the gate.  So it’s a big iphone/touch.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “Gee I wish this iPhone had a bigger screen, it would so much more useful”.  So it’s not just for young and old, but for me too!  However, it’s also targeted to be used for content creation, a la iWork.  For serious data input, while a keyboard is obviously available, there is no mention of a mouse.  It is a paradigm shift for me to think how I will use a keyboard, and then reach up select cells in numbers, or select text in Pages.  Not sure about that.

I’m also curious to see how books, newspapers and magazines are implemented.  As a reader I’m sure it will be fine. But I’m hoping for much more. What about highlighting and annotating text in textbooks?  As for newspapers, I’m sad to see that I’ll have to pay for newspapers, but the free news I fear is coming to an end.  Newsgathering and reporting is not cheap.  There are a lot of newspapers in trouble and free news is coming to an end one way or the other.  However, it will be interesting to me to see how the content is packaged and sold.  Bundling of news sources would be one idea.  Free archive editions is another.  I think we will be surprised to see how this all plays out.

One thing is certain, while the ipod Touch and iPhone had to start out with relatively few applications and a new software OS to learn how to use, this device already has tens of thousands of applications that will work on it out of the gate in some fashion, and millions of users that already know exactly how to operate it.  That’s a big head start.

Posted by John Slavin on February 4, 2010 at 11:11 PM (CST)


This, and many other editorials on iPad, fail at the most basic level to understand the key difference between iPhone/Touch and iPad. In the case of the iPhone, Apple presented a compelling device that was, effectively, a bit more money for a lot more function that EVERYONE’s existing phone (and mp3 player). Similarly, the Touch offered far greater functionality than an mp3 player, or even an older iPod. Modest price premium for significantly enhanced capability. That LOOKS like what the iPad’s “pitch” is positioned to be. However, the iPad has a MUCH tougher path to acceptance because 1) it cannot DO some things that much cheaper alternatives already do and 2) it is not an obvious UPGRADE to any existing device (well, maybe to a Kindle, though Kindle users generally don’t see it that way). Oh, and slightly MORE expensive solutions can do MUCH more than the iPad. So, Apple finds itself in a position of trying to INVENT a category..the “Tweener-puter”...that REQUIRES (at this point, anyway) that you keep ALL of your existing devices…You REPLACE NOTHING. you get COOL and easy functionality and the need to CARRY something new. I DO see great applications for the iPad, but this will NEVER be a success at these price points. Think Newton, Apple TV, and the G…. it’s not like Apple doesn’t flame out now and then

Posted by Eric on February 5, 2010 at 9:33 AM (CST)


The success behind the iPhone was never about WHAT it did, but rather HOW it did it. Although even the first-generation iPhone was a step up for the average “dumb-phone” user, it lacked what most smartphone users would have considered even the most basic features (MMS, copy and paste, voice dialing, etc).

The difference is that the iPhone appealed to a target market that had never considered smartphones because they were previously too complicated or cumbersome.  The iPhone was the first device that was a logical smartphone choice for somebody who had otherwise been toting a basic cell phone like a RAZR.

The parallel is there: Other smartphones (Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile) were considerably cheaper than the first-generation iPhone, and had a LOT more features. However, they didn’t perform ANY of those tasks with the ease-of-use or intuitiveness that the iPhone did. While devices like the Nokia E90 focuses on doing everything, they did none of it well.  The iPhone performed a few critical tasks with an exceptional UI, and provided the features that the majority of average users actually needed.

Similarly, the iPad can succeed with the same strategy—it is to netbooks and laptops what the iPhone was to other smartphones—an easy-to-use device that will appeal to those who consider a laptop/netbook to be either “too cumbersome” or simply more than they need. 

As with the iPhone, the iPad won’t do everything, but rather will do a few tasks amazingly well, and likewise Apple is expecting that those tasks will be what the majority of average consumers are looking for.

That said, one issue that will make its adoption a bit more of a challenge by comparison is that laptops/netbooks are familiar territory for most computer users—they’re a scaled-down version of the same thing they’re already using.  The iPhone succeeded partly because traditional smartphones were complicated devices that were completely foreign to the majority of cell phone users.  On the other hand, people are going to have a certain “comfort zone” with laptops and netbooks that simply wasn’t there with the iPhone’s competition.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on February 5, 2010 at 12:27 PM (CST)


John Donahue, have you tried HanDBase?  It’s a powerful, easy to use database app with relational capabilities.  It was created for the Palms and moved smoothly over to the iPhones and iPod Touches.

Jesse, good insight on the transition between devices.  OTOH, many who don’t know the i-devices and the magic of multi-touch will be wowed by the iPad!  It is highly futuristic and could attract users even more because they are unfamiliar with the interface we all take for granted!

Posted by astroman33 on February 5, 2010 at 5:47 PM (CST)


i wonder..due to the fact of the gigantic touchscreen on the ipad.  is it capable of being sensitive enough for it to have a fingerprint reader built into the touchscreen?  as u said about the new unlock page…wouldn’t it be a major change for apple to use fingerprint access instead?

Posted by zane liu on February 6, 2010 at 12:48 PM (CST)


I’m surprised your review and the comments here have not mentioned the lack of a built-in stand that would make it easier to watch video—or to set it at a viewing angle without holding it. Who wants to buy and carry around a dock or stand for the thing?

Posted by RichardLA on February 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM (CST)

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