Jan 272010
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

Yes, this week Apple did something amazing. They had an event on a Wednesday, meaning we can write about it when it’s only a day old.

That’s not quite as amazing as what Apple unveiled: the much-anticipated tablet.

Now we’re not saying it’s not duly shiny and Apple-y in general, for it is very much so, but there are a few limitations that may prevent even us gadget lovers from taking the plunge and ordering it when it’s made available in two months.

At first glance, the device looks like a big iPhone with a 9.7 inch screen. It is based on the iPhone operating system rather than Snow Leopard, which is found on Apple’s computers.

We were hoping for it to act like Snow Leopard, with a user interface that included a traditional desktop and icons for things other than apps, but alas, the home screen is a big collection of App Store apps.

Much of the ridicule you will be hearing about this device will be that there is no point in owning an iPad and an iPhone. We disagree on this point.

Both of us are iPhone owners, but are considering testing the iPad as a replacement for our netbooks (a small, portable laptop that has been hugely successful as a note-taking and Web-surfing device).

In this capacity, it has some very polarizing pros and cons. Our netbooks and this tablet are very portable, allowing us to take electronic class notes in style and surf the Interwebz.

A big disadvantage, however, is like the iPhone it can’t play Flash video, which means no videos online from anywhere but YouTube –– no Hulu, no Megavideo.

It also loses the capability of having a fully functioning operating system like the netbook. For instance there’s no interface for plugging in external hard drives, flash drives or disc drives to watch external movies. Also, there are no games apart from the wide variety in the App Store.

However, the touch screen, HD picture and other features we’ll mention below make up a lot of good reasons to give up on our netbooks.

As most notebooks come with a 3G data connectivity option, Apple had to offer it in the iPad.
It comes in two versions: One that’s WiFi capable only and another that receives 3G signals, or Internet almost everywhere.

For 3G it’s going to cost you $130 more than the base model plus an extra $30 a month for unlimited data or $15 for 250MB. We use about four times that in a month on our iPhones.

The good news is that there is no contract involved (month-to-month unlike the iPhone’s two-year commitment) and the device is unlocked, suggesting it might be able to be used with T-Mobile 3G.

Our advice is if you have a smart phone, DO NOT bother with the 3G. You already have the Internet wherever you go, so why pay for it twice?

Features include:

Being able to run most of the 140,000 existing iPhone/iPod Touch apps. Apple expects many developers to expand their apps to take advantage of the nice big screen.

The device is bluetooth enabled, has docking and case options allowing it to stand, has rewritten version of iWork (Apple’s version of MS Office) and has GPS functionality.

Apple also announced the new iBookstore with the hope of taking a slice of that yummy Kindle pie for itself. Books should sell for about the same price as the Kindle, and Apple has already partnered with five major publishing companies.

The books appear to look great on the screen, and it almost feels like you’re reading a book when you swipe your finger across to turn the page.

However, it should be noted that the advantage of the Kindle is its E-Ink screen, which lessens eye fatigue caused by backlit displays.

The kicker for us college students is it can be used as an e-book reader, if cheap textbooks are made available on it.
We’ve yet to sneak a peek at the titles in the bookstore.

We don’t have enough inches of parchment in this column to talk about everything the iPad can and can’t do, so look at it at Apple.com to get the marketing pitch and full feature list. There’s even Steve Jobs’ full presentation if you’d like to be entranced by the magic.

Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer are very busy deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Let us know if you think we should at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:50 pm

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