The Apple iPad – my pre review

Wednesday afternoon, I took the time to read through a Live Blog of the Apple “latest creation” event. Since they don’t live stream Steve Jobs et al. up on the stage, the best I could do was read about it as it was happening. This is what I have done for Apple events for the last several years.

Steve Jobs, as expected, announced Apple’s tablet PC, the iPad. And it is my opinion that this is a winning product for the folks at Apple. Following is my reasons for why the iPad will work. (As a side note to you, I have not read other reviews, or hands-on, or any other information about the iPad besides the Product announcement.)

First of all, what is the iPad? At the most basic level, the iPad is Apple’s iPod Touch on steroids. Tilt sensors, compass, GPS (maybe?), full multi-touch support, Wi-Fi, just about everything as the iPod Touch, if not really everything. But, it has a lot bigger screen at 10 inches, compared to the 3 to 4 inch screen of the iPod Touch or the iPhone. It has built-in support for iTunes, including the App store. I think it has a built in e-book reader (or is this an additional download?), which makes an Amazon Kindle (the premier e-book reader on the market now) look like a child’s toy.

The screen has a 178 degree readable view, which is very impressive for a device this size. The iPad has a 10 hour active-use battery, and it can sit on standby (not being used) for 30 days. A built in microphone, and a speaker or two, plus jacks for docking, ear phones, and maybe a few other plug/ports.

It is one of those “Wow” devices to me. Apple played it as a device that is the middle between their ipod Touch/iPhone line and their laptops. And they say it has to do some of both devices better, and it looks like that is exactly what they have created. Watching the event, I was very excited, but hesitant because of what comes next.

And that is the price. Anticipation from analysts and “those in the know” for the device put the cost at $1000, which is way too pricey for the market the iPad is going after (which basically is the netbook/cheap laptop market). So, what if they sold it with a 3G subsidy from AT&T, or Verizon (could an Apple product jump the exclusivity with AT&T?)? If Apple did this subsidy, maybe it could drop the price to $800, but then you have a monthly contract. Yuck to me! and I think a deal breaker to many. But no. Apple found a way to make a magnificent product at a great price. The device starts at $499, which is another “Wow” to me. For $499, you get a 16 gigabyte device that has everything except the 3G capability. the iPad is also available in 32 GB ($599), and 64 GB ($699). Each of these models can also come with a 3G option, just add $130 to the price. Version 1 of the iPad ranges from $499 to $829 across six product lines. I like those numbers.

But, here is what I like even better about the 3G option. And it comes down to the simple fact that their are options. Well, sort of. 3G is going to be offered through AT&T (you have seen the commercials, you know the fighting between AT&T and what people were hoping for, a Verizon 3G connection). But, there is no long term contract for the 3G. For $15 per month, you can get 250 MB downloaded. Jump up to $30 a month, and you can get unlimited bandwidth download. And it looks like you can start and stop your monthly payments whenever you want, perhaps even right from the device. So, you can usually be using Wi-fi (free), but when you are traveling, and don’t have access to Wi-fi, you can sign up for 3G for your trip, and cancel when you get done. This will probably be crippled by activation fees or something crazy, but it sounds good right now.

If there was one thing I would change about the device, it would be to add a camera. A front facing camera, that would be just like the iMacs and the MacBooks. I can’t think of any good reason why this was not put in.

So, am I getting one? No. The best reason I am not getting one is that I don’t have $500 in my budget. Secondly, I survived this long without this product line. I do want to put a “however” on this statement, though. And it is this. If I take a long trip to, well, let’s say Texas this year. And our portable DVD player decides it is not going to work anymore. Instead of buying another one for $100 to $200, maybe I just jump up to the multi-purpose $500 iPad. Maybe.

And one more thing… Apple did not announce a “One More Thing” like they have done in the past, but maybe this will be it. Wi-fi iPads will be available in 60 days. The 3G versions will be available in 90 days, or around April 27, which gets pretty close to when the new version of the iPhone will be released. Many believe that AT&T will lose it’s iPhone exclusivity in 2010, and that it will be around May when this happens. Maybe the 3G iPad won’t be available until near May because Apple can then release it on multiple carriers. Is that hoping for too much?

Categorized as Troy

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