Thursday, January 28, 2010


In case you missed it, a highly anticipated Geek moment occurred a few days ago when Apple unveiled its super-secret tablet called the iPad. The iPad is designed to occupy a niche between those of us who want something ultra portable for surfing, emailing and photos but bigger than the iPhone. In fact, it looks just like an iPhone but is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper. I’m both impressed and underwhelmed with it.

Most pundits expected a price of $700 to $1000. So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that the iPad would start at just $499 for the lowest priced model and $699 for the most expensive one. $499 was the same price many people paid for the original iPhone. In fact, if it weren’t for the iPhone, this thing would be making a much bigger splash. But, alas, it looks and operates much like an oversized iPhone which has already “changed everything” about how we use our phones. I expected a revolutionary product. What we got was evolutionary.

The online bookseller Amazon has had a very popular product called the Kindle. This electronic reader (“e-reader”) is priced at $489 for a black-and-white, low resolution but is still a pretty cool gadget. With a beautiful, higg rez, touch sensitive, color display, the Pad just blew that e-reader out of the water. I already expected e-readers to gradually supplant newspapers and books in the coming years and this product advances that progress by a couple of light years. If Apple can get the price down, they may do for digital books what it did for digital music. Those of you who received e-readers for Christmas probably just threw this article across the room. Remember, I’m just the messenger!

If you want to spend more, you can: $599 for a 32GB iPad or $699 for a 64GB model. $130 more dollars will get you the option of wireless 3G for surfing the internet via AT&T. That feature gets a big yawn from those of us in the Shoals area since AT&T does not offer 3G. However, there are unconfirmed reports that the iPad has the ability to swap out SIM cards from other carriers like Verizon so you can have full time access to the ‘net no matter where you are.
Some disappointments include; a non-user-replaceable battery so you’ll have to send the thing to Apple for a battery replacement 3 to 4 years from now. Many of us have music libraries that far exceed the iPad’s capacity. It doesn’t support Adobe Flash which makes much of the web inaccessible. That means no Netflix streaming video and big holes in websites that use Flash video technology. It doesn’t have any ports for external devices such as a CD ROM or flash drive so you can’t install an application, watch a DVD or transfer pictures from your phone. It doesn’t have a built-in web cam/camera. It has no protective lid like a laptop so you’ll have to invest in the optional protective case. So, in all, it is a great upgrade for those who want something bigger than an iPhone or were holding out for a color e-reader. But business people will likely be unimpressed.

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