Review: Apple iPad
April 5, 2010
In January 2010 Apple announced the iPad, an iPhone OS-based product in a considerably larger form factor than the iPhone and iPod Touch. The WiFi-only iPad began shipping in early April, with the 3G/WWAN version expected to ship in late April.
The iPad is almost all screen, surrounded by a fairly wide bezel. That screen is a fully capacitive multitouch 9.7-inch XGA (1024x768) in-plane switching (IPS) LCD at 132 dpi. Though the aspect ratio is 4:3, the screen is technically HD since it has more than 720 pixels of vertical resolution.
Navigation and user interface is achieved by multi-touch gesturing (finger swipes, pinch-out zoom, etc.), extensive pop-up/drop-down menu options, and a virtual keyboard which fills almost the entire lower half of the screen.
The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds without 3G/WWAN connectivity and 1.6 pounds with 3G/WWAN connectivity included. It is approximately half an inch thick with other dimensions being 9.6 and 7.5 inches.
Like the original iPad, the iPad 2 has a dock connector, 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack, built-in speakers, microphone, and a SIM card tray in the 3G/WWAN models. The SIM card tray is for micro-SIMs, which aren't the traditional size and aren't backwards-compatible with normal SIMs.
Standard connectivity for all iPads includes 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
A range of Apple-branded hardware accessories are available for the iPad, including a keyboard dock, a normal dock, a case, a camera connection kit which includes a USB connector and a Secure Digital card reader, and a USB power adapter. However, many of these accessories are not immediately available.
The iPad 2 ships with iPhone OS 4.3 and almost all current iPhone applications also will run on the iPad. Over the next few months, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) expects many of these applications to become iPad-savvy, with more effective use of the vastly greater number of pixels (over 5x) in the iPad.
Initial applications designed explicitly for the iPad include versions of Apple's iWork suite (Pages word processor, Keynote presentation software, and Numbers spreadsheet); each costs $10. The Mail application also has been significantly enhanced and now somewhat resembles the web-based version of Mail available to MobileMe users.
Use at the University
The iPad is compatible with University-centric services such as AirPennNet, Exchange, and Zimbra. AirPennNet connectivity is accomplished via the same instructions used for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Functionality with Exchange is via ActiveSync and thus is limited compared to full Exchange functionality. As one would expect, actual usability for Exchange users falls between the iPhone Mail, Calendar, and Address Book applications and their equivalents in Mac OS 10.6.x.
As has been heavily discussed in the media, the iPad does not support Adobe's Flash, which is in significant use at the University.
Several considerations when ordering an iPad:
The University's Computer Connection currently stocks the WiFi iPad configurations and will have 3G/WWAN iPad configurations for order as soon as possible.
ISC views the iPad as an extremely interesting device, with potential uses in many areas. Out of the box, it has many plusses - battery life is an easy 8 to 10 hours and responsiveness is excellent. The interface is also very familiar to may users.
Of interest to some at the University is the potential for use as a course materials delivery mechanism through the ePub standard and/or Apple's forthcoming iBook Store content delivery system. Notably, Apple has been lining up various publishers to make their content available and optimized for iPad.
The presence of enhanced software such as iWork indicates Apple's intent for the iPad to move more into the content creation space versus the content viewing space occupied by the iPhone and iPod Touch.
It's important to remember that Apple is not completely alone in this space, though they certainly have the most mind share. In particular, Hewlett-Packard's Slate and Dell's Streak (both due in mid-2010) are interesting approaches. What the iPad does seem to mark is the death knell of the stylus-based Tablet PC as a mass-market device.
ISC does not see the iPad as primary computing device. Rather, like a netbook, ISC believes that the iPad is a complementary device device to a more capable desktop or notebook and the physical syncing required to make an iPad fully functional indicates that Apple views it in the same way.
iPad graphic courtesy of Apple
--Jordan McClead, Michael McLaughlin, John Mulhern III, and Vern Yoneyama, ISC Technology Support Services (April 5, 2010)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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