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iPad on Ulitzer - What a Letdown!

I can not believe that this was the subject of endless hype

iPad on Ulitzer

Finally released, and a bit of a letdown.

WOW.  What a letdown.  I can not believe that this was the subject of endless hype.  Here are the quick stats (if you haven’t found them somewhere else).

A4 1GHz Processor

16GB ($499), 32GB ($599), or 64GB ($699) Flash Memory

WI-FI enabled, 3G for $129.99

iPhone OS 4

20 Pin Apple Interface

1024×768 Capacitive Touchscreen

Alleged 10 hour battery (with WiFi or without? What about with 3G switched on?)

And that’s about it.  Sure it will play nice with all your iPhone apps, but not in full screen.  Sure it will play HD video, but not output via HDMI.  It’s not even widescreen.  This is supposed to be Apple’s pièce de résistance, yet is trumped by $200 Android/Ubuntu/WinCE tablets (See SmartQ V7 here).  Why is it trumped?  Similar battery life, capability to play well with others via USB-micro charging, standard USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI port.  The iPad will require numerous dongles to interact with other devices.

To me, this is one of the greatest failings of the iPad.  Today’s devices require interaction with other devices, and not always over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.  For high speed transfers (or even using an USB stick for additional space) you will require a dongle.  For people on the road frequently, having to carry dongles is a less than attractive premise.  The iPad will require users to carry cords and dongles that do not work with any other devices (save iPod Touch or iPhones).

However, Steve Jobs and Apple definitely succeeded in some areas.  The device looks pretty cool (pretty much a giant Apple iPod Touch).  It is extremely thin, and boasts pretty good battery life.  As I wrote earlier, the battery life does have some questions.  Apple’s laptops traditionally perform extremely well in this capacity, but the iPhone 3G and 3GS did not perform as well (due to the power-sucking nature of 3G modems).  Ease of integration with your current iTunes accounts will allow you to easily transition from your current device.  Per usual, Apple’s accessories are very cool, they have multiple dongles, as well a stand to give it a keyboard.  Of course these will cost a pretty penny, around $30 for the VGA dongle, and $70 for the keyboard stand (which is oddly in portrait mode).

The Keyboard accessory allows you to easily type.

But I think they missed more than they hit.  No camera, no USB or other input capabilities, no HDMI, and very limited memory.  For a device that is supposed to enable movie watching on the go, the aspect  ratio, and small memory capabilities make that hard.  Widescreen videos (almost the only thing you can watch any more!) will have the black bars on top and bottom.  In addition, due to the resolution (1024×768), HD video (720p) will be condensed, and SD video will be stretched.  Both will put additional strain on the A4 processor.  Lastly, the pricing is strange to me.  The top end costs $839, but still only provides 64 GB of storage, and the bottom end is $499.  I don’t understand the need for the pricing scale, especially offering 6 options.

My verdict? The iPad is cool, but it’s just not there.  Many Apple consumer products have had their first release be less than perfect.  Examples are the iPhone 2G, and the 1G iPod.  Both were released in very crippled forms that were adopted primarily by Mac “fanboys” and later incarnations turned out to be game changing devices.  The iPhone 2G didn’t have MMS or high speed wireless broadband connections, it lacked a camera as well.  Eventually, Apple figured a lot of things out (not yet flash, though Adobe has figured out flash for iPhone) – and the 3GS is truly a pretty incredible device.  Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever buy an iPad, but if you have a hankering, wait for the iPad 2G, potentially w/ WiMax/4G and a better display (and a few other capabilities).  I doubt Apple will change the shape enough to add HDMI + USB ports to the body, but I wouldn’t buy it without them.

Please leave your thoughts/views on the tablet release below.

Thanks!

Related posts:

  1. My Thoughts on the Apple Tablet
  2. NVIDIA’s Tegra – HD Video in your Hand
  3. What will your Laptop will look like in 2010

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.