The Apple iPad – What is it For?

There has been much excitement in the market place and much hype about Apple’s new offering to the world, the Apple iPad. Initially supply problems in the US were affected by unprecedented demand in the UK for this new piece of kit from Apple. Just as a large number of people were excited about the iPhone, others are now excited about the Apple iPad, but are they excited just because of the media hype or is it really a great piece of technology that we should all rush out and buy?

Looking on the web at various blogs and forums there is much of a mixed reaction to the iPad. In development, prior to its release, it was originally named the Apple Tablet and the name change to iPad could have been a ploy to make the consumers think of it as something different, not just another tablet computer.

Therefore, does it compare to the tablets offered by Dell or Fujitsu? In many cases, some say not: it does not have the range of functionality though it is priced lower. Is it a replacement to the notebook? Afraid not, it does not have the range of functionality, though again it is priced lower. Is it a new type of e- reader? Well, it can provide the function, but it is not a top of the range e-reader though the marketing hype may make it look like a competitor to the Kindle. So what is it for?

It certainly offers the familiar Apple functions, such as access to the iStore and its list of Apple apps, the wireless internet access so that we can use the web applications and all the sites that we normally get to using our laptops or mobiles. We can listen to music on the iPad and we can play games too. In fact, it sounds a bit like the iPhone does it not? Without the phone!

Anyone can use the iPad: there are no windows, no files, just apps to use one at a time. “What no multitasking?” I hear you cry? No, not yet, will it come in the future? Maybe. There is no camera, but hey it’s not a giant mobile phone, it’s an iPad; it is not a notebook, it’s an iPad. Will they add a camera? Maybe – probably.

If we take a quick look at the technical side, it has a 1024 x 768, 9.7 inch diagonal screen. The iPhone screen, incidentally, is 480×320 and 3.5″ diagonally. It has a choice of 16gb, 32gb or 64gb flash drives installed. Its processor is a 1 GHZ Apple A4 processor with integrated 3D graphics, power management and audio, storage and I/O interfaces. Due to the fact that all of these functions are on a single chip it makes the Lithium-polymer battery a good contender in the best battery life competition.

Wi-Fi-only Apple iPads can run with a 10-hour battery life which will be perfect for those long plane journeys and much longer than a mobile computer. A shorter life if you are playing games, however.

The technology looks OK, the battery life is very good, it’s new and it’s from Apple: that may be enough to sway you into buying one. The price is seen by some as excessively high but you can make your own mind up about that as thousands of iPad owners already have. If you do not have an iPhone the Apple iPad will be a treat for you, but you will still need a cell phone if you have one.

If you have an iPhone and have seen all of the apps and experienced the touch screen technology and played music and games you might struggle to find the right use for the iPad. However, I feel this is just the beginning. It can only get better, new releases will come and functionality will improve, though I doubt if the Apple iPad will get any cheaper.

One thing is sure: until it does not have to boot up like any other computer, tablet or not, it will never have use as a phone unless it is independent of the iPad itself. That one factor will reduce its attraction to iPhone users that already have many of the apps they need – the Apple iPad then becomes no more than a computer and e-reader without excelling at either.

Peter Nisbet

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