Apple iPad. A word is not a bird, especially when it is a brand. A brand is more than just a device, it is an idea, a tenet with a claim to a key role in the world of consumer electronics. Before The "x" moment. The iPad was called various things: the Apple Tablet, the Slate, the Canvas, and many, many others. Although the history of the tangle of rumors shrouding the tablet exceeds 10 years, some of them did come to fruition. After the big announcement on Jan. 27, Apple began gearing up for one of the most high-profile moves in history – the establishment (or destruction) of an entire class of consumer technology. The iPad is a device that takes its place between the monumental iPhone and the successful MacBook, a usurper of the netbook throne, and a forerunner of an entirely new kind of personal electronics device… assuming Apple keeps its promises. And promises are wicked big. The company has talked about "magic" and "revolution, " describing what you can’t see behind "just a big iPod." But what if there really is something? Is there still hope that all the promises of the evolution of the "man-machine" idea are not a marketing ploy? Are we really facing the future of the personal computer?
All the answers are below. Just watch the traffic, %username% – they are illustrated. And there are a lot of letters.
Warning – the top of the evil one!
Design and form factor
The first thing that catches your eye is the fact that there is nothing catchy about it. Even in terms of design, there is almost nothing to catch your eye. The front side of the device is a 9.7-inch diode-backlit IPS screen with a resolution of 1024×768, surrounded by a black frame. Which many though it seems too thick, but in fact is an important element of this very design – it is necessary for something to hold the device without causing the touch screen "adverse reactions". And of course a round button under the display – a hallmark of Apple. The back panel is a solid aluminum plate. Like most of the company’s products, the tablet is pleasing to the eye. It’s not so crazy good that you’d want to pee on it, but it’s not bad. And although the appearance of the device is very restrained, it still lets you feel the power of technology, falling into your hands. The device is slightly weighty – as much as 680 grams, which, however, does not prevent it from comfortably hold it in any position. For all its computing power, the case barely exceeds a centimeter in thickness, which also makes an impression. The brushed metal back of the case pleasantly transfers heat (although you can’t use it with bare hands in freezing temperatures), the design concentrates attention on the most important part – the screen.
There are a few other noteworthy elements: the volume rocker and screen orientation lock on the top right side, the "on/off/sleep" button on the top left, across from the 3.5mm jack with microphone, and the famous 30-pin jack and thin recess of the built-in speaker on the bottom. Nothing outstanding or unexpected – if you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ll feel right at home. That’s what the manufacturer was going for.
Although the device’s ergonomics are a concern to some, their promo’s "sitting on the couch" pose is quite comfortable. But there are also cases where using the gadget is uncomfortable. For example, trying to type on the virtual keyboard with one hand while holding the iPad with the other. The tablet is weighty, and while it is comfortable to use in most cases, the heaviness becomes very noticeable after holding it in the weight for a long time.
In a promotional video, Apple showed a happy young man lying on a couch with his leg up and a smile on his face, leafing through Internet pages and typing emails. Cozy indeed, but when you have a lot of work with the text, the couch is often not at hand, and then you have to sit at the table and type on the iPad, putting it on a flat surface (unless of course there is a special dock). The trick is that typing in this position is very comfortable. Of course, it takes some getting used to, but there is nothing annoying or tedious about it. I would even say that it is much more comfortable than typing with one hand. Although here, as well as in the situation with the iPhone, there are a number of factors that can scare away people with an "active" lifestyle.
As you may know, the iPad carries a powerful specially designed chip called A4, consisting of a single Cortex A8 core paired with a PowerVR SGX GPU. The amount of RAM was not disclosed, although there is suspicion of 512 megabytes of it – will become clear when iFixit or someone else puts the device under the knife. Also on board are 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, a digital compass, accelerometer, microphone and light sensor. The 3G version, which will be released later this month, will add UMTS / HSDPA and AGPS controllers. There are 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte versions on sale, we used the last one to write our review.
The praised A4 platform was excellent, stable and quickly digesting everything we fed it: in everything from Internet browser page rendering to the most "voracious" toys (including up-skills for iPhone games), there were neither slowdowns, nor horizontal "travels", nor hangs. The photo gallery especially impressed, for all its beauty and cleverness, things like quick scrolling through a bunch of high resolution pictures, or zooming with fingers, worked without a hitch – quickly and beautifully. The applications themselves opened quite quickly, though not instantly. Of course, many people (including Engadget) were ranting about the lack of multitasking, so it was no surprise to us to see such a fast and productive platform not holding more than one app at a time. Not only that, we were convinced of this by watching an early version at the January 27 event. But in the end we got the impression that the A4 chip has more to show, and the tests of the applications we downloaded show the potential of the platform – it will support the growth of not only graphical, but also functional complexity of programs.
That said, the 25 watt lithium-ion polymer battery (non-replaceable, of course) held up very decently, perhaps even surprisingly long. More in the relevant chapter.
As mentioned above, the screen is the most important thing in the device. The 9.7-inch IPS display will not disappoint. Colors are bright and saturated, while black also looks deep and realistic. Brightness can be turned up to extremely high values, but even at normal and low ratios the display behaves cool. A special gift for fans of reading – you can adjust the brightness without leaving iBooks. Thanks to the IPS-matrix, the viewing angles of the screen are extremely good, although for us personally it is not so important – in most cases it is undesirable to expose our work. The sensor, as noted, is capacitive – with multitouch support, very responsive and accurate. If you have ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, you know firsthand the quality of the sensors built into Apple devices. It’s probably the most accurate and sensitive screen we’ve ever used – no exaggeration.
There was a lot of debate around how comfortable it would be to read on such a display relative to the Kindle or some other E-Ink reader. To put it bluntly, reading on the iPad didn’t tire my eyes. There is always the possibility to adjust the brightness – it takes five minutes, after which the screen itself simply stop noticing – it reads like a simple paper book. We will not guess what it is like to read on it for a long time – it has been repeatedly proved that the quality of reading depends less on the screen technology, when the electronic ink comes into the discussion.
In general, apart from the above, we can’t talk about any technical details of the iPad. There are not many of them – the same "home" button, the volume rocker, and the screen orientation lock. The built-in speaker impresses with the clarity of sound, the sound is balanced and good, but to be honest, it does not replace a good sound system. 30-pin port – a standard Apple chip, but still the lack of USB or SD-card connector makes itself felt. They are distributed in the form of accessories, but it still does not make the situation. If Apple really wants to do business in the netbook market (which it is) then they’ll have to come up with something more convincing than just a couple of attachments to the proprietary connector. So far it looks like an attempt to suck money out of customers’ wallets and miss out on a whole class of third-party peripherals.
Another detail that you won’t find in the tablet is the webcam. Its lack has already been a cause for outrage since the device was announced. There is something criminal in this – to deprive users of the opportunity to participate in video conferences like iChat or fully use Skype, given that the rest of the device looks almost like the embodiment of the most daring fantasies. It is clear, of course, that everyone can not please, but to miss such an important thing at least strange.
Another thing worth mentioning is the 3.5mm jack located on the top end of the device. We don’t know about you, but the thought of a wire stretching across the entire screen or back panel is a bit jarring to us. And you know what? In practice, it’s really inconvenient. Why don’t Apple designers position the connector more logical way – on the bottom, for example, or even on the side – is a real mystery.
Operating system/user interface
It is already common knowledge that the new UI is almost identical to the one used in the iPhone or iPod Touch. And it is clear why: the gadget is controlled by the same OS. And the basic navigation looks exactly the same as on the iPhone. The desktop is still divided into pages filled with tiles of icons, the dock with the favorite icons (of which there are 6 now) is in its place, and the status bar at the top of the screen reports the time and other information familiarly. In our opinion, Apple missed a great opportunity to use the increased screen space for widgets and mini-programs. Taking into account that there is no useful information except Wi-Fi status and time from the top bar, the discharged grid of icons over the whole screen looks not just like a waste of display space – it just looks silly. The company’s designers explain this by saying that it is not good to disperse the user’s attention to many objects at once. But in our opinion, they’re not just wrong, it sounds like a disregard for the development experience of their desktop OS. Although, there are still new elements showing Apple’s attempts to somehow expand the look of their brainchild.
In addition to all those interface elements we know and love from the iPhone, the company has introduced a handful of new ones. Before we talk about general impressions, we want to familiarize you with them :
- Pop-ups : Pop-ups that appear on top of the rest of the content. Used to familiarize the user with additional options when viewing content in applications such as Albums, iPod, iBookStore, or iTunes. They contain their own navigation elements whose functions depend on the content you’re working with.
- Split-screen (split-screen): It is. It is used to separate content according to a certain principle and present it in different segments of the same screen. For example, in an email client, a small column of emails on the left allows you to search or manage your mailbox, while the open email is displayed on the right side of the screen. You can see the same thing in Keynote.
- Pressed-Holds : It’s also found in the iPhone somewhere, but in iPad this function is in all its glory. It’s a long press that lets you interact with content in a deeper, more functional way. We love this gingerbread in other gadgets (hello, Android), it’s great to see it here too. We hope that the reception will be duly developed in other mobile devices from Apple.
- Context menus : The "press-and-hold" technique adds some contextual interactivity, but there are many other similar menus called by buttons on the screen.
- Drop down lists : Unlike the iPhone, the list items here are not just links to another screen. They have a more complete and complex hierarchy, often multi-level. And there are many of them.
- Tabs (as in CoverFlow): Remember how Safari handles multiple open pages? It’s similar to the way iPad lists of options or files are viewed. In Safari, as in many other programs, content is divided on a grid filled with small page previews (like WebOS cards)
- Practically a full-size keyboard : In portrait mode, the keyboard is comfortable for typing with one hand. In horizontal orientation, the keyboard is large enough and comfortable for two hands. We were pleasantly surprised by how fast and easy it is to type texts on it.
So what does all this give us in terms of the big picture? If you still have doubts, let’s face it – you won’t find any windows, files and folders there. iPad can not be called a computer in the sense to which we are accustomed. All these innovations only deepen and extend the functionality of the interface, taken from the iPhone. It is something completely different, something in between. You can work on it, play, work with media, but the whole running part of the operating system remains almost intangible. In office applications like Numbers or Keynote, for example, you won’t see the usual "file" and "edit" menus and so on. – It’s all replaced by things like CoverFlow. Do you have 200 saved documents? You’ll have to scroll through them all to get to the last one. Can’t say it looks like a beginner’s computer, but close to it.
There’s no doubt about the genius of Apple’s approach – they’ve created a computer that works so simply and obviously that anyone can pick it up and start using it without any training. In addition, there are already many third-party developers writing programs as simple and innovative as Marvel, TweetDeck, or ScetchBook Pro. But this concept also has flaws – and big ones, not just in the user interface.
To start with, let’s remember again the lack of multitasking everywhere except the default apps like Safari, iPod, and Mail. In all other cases, everything works on a "in/out" basis, which means that using IM-like applications won’t be as handy as you’d like it to be. Maybe iPhone users are used to this kind of thing, but talking on ICQ and checking email at the same time (as all laptop users are used to) is not going to happen. The same applies to Twitter – to keep track of updates you have to keep the program open all the time. Even getting updates or downloading new applications is subject to this policy – you can only download one thing at a time, no more. This can be forgiven for a smartphone that you don’t expect laptop-like agility, but here – you have to admit – the situation is different. Admittedly, there are not many cases where multitasking is vital. Not only that, but most users won’t pay attention to it as a problem at all, because basic programs can still run in the background. But the rest of us will feel somewhat constrained. The iPad does many things better than a netbook, but multitasking is clearly not one of them.
Another difficulty associated with the lack of multitasking is the problem of notifications. As you know, Apple has provided a set of software tools that allow applications to notify the user about any changes, bypassing the background launch. The AIM client, for example, constantly notifies the user about new messages and lets the user quickly launch the program to reply. This is cool, of course, but it is as inconvenient as it is on the iPhone. Imagine if while you are working with a single application, a pop-up constantly pops up, "freezing" it and requiring you to press "OK" and you’ll understand the trick. Of course, it’s silly to demand more from a phone. But for crying out loud, it’s one thing to have a phone and another to have a revolutionary mobile computer. This is terribly annoying. You can of course leave the notifications with just a sound with a little icon, but Android along with WebOS have no such problems at all – why not just do it like that?
Link to video on Engadget:
In conclusion about the interface and the OS, let’s say that Apple has built a powerful, functional, yet stunningly simple and obvious platform for its new brainchild. Just as importantly, third-party programs also follow this principle. Most consumers can easily perform everyday tasks on the iPad, while the work itself will deliver a much more positive experience than the work on a conventional PC. Of course, it won’t replace a laptop – the OS can’t do everything a laptop can. Although what it does do is already more than enough.
We won’t go into the maze and write in detail about the bundled programs, but we think a few are still worth mentioning. These are exactly the new elements that make the iPad what it is.
Apple promised, in Jobs’ words, "the best Internet surfing experience you’ll ever have." Is this true? We can say with certainty : the internet on the tablet looks and works delightfully. It’s fast, smooth, and equally cool in both portrait and panoramic modes. Scrolling is great, the responsiveness of the screen is top-notch – the familiar finger gestures work without a hitch. And the improved and augmented navigation brings a lot to the table. So really, it’s one of the best concepts we’ve seen. But not the best.
Why? The answer is both simple and extremely complex. Basically, there’s a web standard called Flash, developed by Adobe and used to easily insert complex media components into web pages. By media components include everything from streaming video and audio, to online toys and entire sites built on this technology. The percentage of prevalence of Flash on the world wide web is somewhere around 98 – which means that virtually every site contains elements made with it. That said, the iPad browser doesn’t support Flash, and probably never will. Apple is not only turning its back on the common web standard, but is promoting a newer one in its place – HTML5. Previously, the company has succeeded in such ventures, but whether it will succeed this time – a big question. There is too much of this flash on the web.
For the end user, this means that sites like Hulu, HBO, NBC, Lala (which Apple recently bought out, what an irony), Engadget, Gizmodo will not be fully displayed. And some will not be displayed at all. We, people familiar with technology, would immediately imagine an icon indicating unknown content or a request to install a plugin. But for the majority of users, all this will flow out into an unfavorable, frustrating experience. It’s like something is broken… Maybe that’s okay for Apple, but not for us, and probably not for everyone else. We were also surprised at how little attention other reviewers pay to this problem. It’s no small problem. Don’t get me wrong – we’re not professing our love for Flash or marrying it, we’re happy to see another, less resource-intensive standard. But HTML5 isn’t, at least not yet. Many users will miss this technology, even if Apple is against it, even if Safari is great without it. And it really is great.
To say that Apple is sharpening its grudge against the Kindle would be an exaggeration. The iBooks app is probably the most beautiful and thoughtful realization of the advantages of the tablet screen. We could write a thousand words about how good the program is, how pleasant it is to use, how many options it has, to satisfy the most stingy critics. The appearance of iBooks is simple: in portrait mode there is a library button on top (pressed with a beautiful "mystery room" effect), a chapter selection button, brightness control, view setting and search field. Inside the book, a long press brings up a menu with items: copy/paste, dictionary, bookmark and search. Pages are flipped with an attractive realistic effect – useless, but great to look and feel. This is the first reader that creates such a clear and proper sense of a real book in your hands.
Calendar and contacts
These programs are not stunning, but they are good too. Both are the same book-like splitscreen. The calendar is arranged for the best overview of the month/week/etc, works a lot like iCal for macOSX.
This, for us folks at Engadget, is a separate song. A lot of our time is spent on emails, and dealing with them on the iPhone has not always been fun. Has it gotten any better? Not really. As Gmail devotees, we’re used to the usual email schemes that Google provides. It seems to us to be the most convenient and smart way to handle mail and correspondence. The OSX email client adopts some of these schemes, allowing you to group themed emails and keep your correspondence under control at all times. But that’s not the case here. It is because the iPad is not a computer that we could never find a solution to the problem of exporting a simple txt file into an email, which severely stalled our work on the review (it was written entirely on the tablet). Another annoying thing is that in order to insert an attachment as a file, you have to export it to Mail from the program in which it was created – what the hell is the point of such complications? While the interface of the program is nice and user-friendly, such problems occur all the time. Mail is fast, beautiful, and convenient. It’s just not what it’s supposed to be.
iTunes / iBookstore / App Store
All of these spending money machines are similar in device to the desktop version of iTunes, which is nice. The search-find-purchase process is extremely fast because of the large amount of information that fits on one screen. The iBookstore is a true reader’s friend, although we didn’t find the selection of books as rich as expected (we were particularly acutely aware of the lack of Phillip K. Dick and George R. R. R. Martin). Downloading is linear and easy, with lots of free previews and even free books. It makes sense that publishers who haven’t yet partnered with the service should take a closer look, as its success is rapidly gaining momentum. Of course, there is still room for improvement, but already now the iBookstore is as convenient and good as the other services.
Video / iPod / YouTube
The entertainment media section isn’t strikingly revolutionary in its novelty, but it’s still good. The iPod section looks much better than its younger counterpart, although the lack of support for the new iTunes LP format surprised us. The video player manages to play HD video (720p with limitations) with spartan confidence. Sometimes I wanted to stop the playback and just admire how cool the high-definition picture looks on the luxurious IPS display.
YouTube looks mature, adopting the already familiar "splitscreen". And of course HD video support is there too, and it works as it should.
iPhone apps on iPad
Yes – the tablet spins almost every one of the 150, 000 programs already written for the iPhone and iPod Touch (not 100%, but a significant majority). And it spins in two modes: full-size and in the center of the screen, or full screen, cloning missing pixels. Cool, but not without a fly in the ointment. The first thing to remember is that this is just an iPhone simulator, with all that it implies. This means that in typing you have to use the iPhone keyboard, which even in full-screen mode does not look too good. It is convenient if you need to use some special application, but you don’t want to spend much time on it anyway.
If you doubt that the iPad can be handy for creating and working with complex office documents, these three programs will dispel your doubts. They are simple, surprisingly convenient, and functional. Although the current document storage scheme can’t be called very convenient, it is likely that Apple will come up with something like a shared repository for this purpose in the future. But overall the iWork suite proves that doing office work on a tablet is not only possible, but also enjoyable and comfortable.
Our colleague and friend, Michael Gartenberg, wrote A more in-depth review and analysis of this package , if interested.
Third party applications
There are already a lot of programs available on the store that have been written specifically for the iPad.We have only highlighted a few that we liked and that we think are examples of how a tablet should perform other application tasks. If you want more, here’s a more complete and detailed list here
- Marvel: Just a cool app that shows off the potential of the device in a way that makes you drool. Great startup, despite the new content format being used.
- ABC video player : Although it bypasses the problem with Flash support, the program copes with its task hurrah. I wish Hulu would do the same.
- Netflix: Netflix for iPad. Apparently, there will also be on younger platforms
- Yahoo! Entertaiment: Now this is a real surprise. We didn’t expect Yahoo!’s first tablet app to be cute or handy… And it is both at once. All the basic features work great, but we would like some in-depth features in future updates. Oh, and a client for US Weekly.
- Photogene, SketchBook Pro, and Brushes: Three programs showing that a tablet can not only consume but also produce content. Used them with pleasure, we think they show how much potential the platform has.
- TweetDeck: Just an example of a very good Twitter client. Almost like a desktop one. If only you could run it in the background…
We downloaded and tested a lot of new apps, played 3D games, watched HD-video, all during the background download email. All in all, raped the device to the bone. It’s very hard to believe, but the iPad not only endured as much as promised, even more – a full 10 hours and 43 minutes. No, we didn’t watch HD movies. everything time, didn’t spend all 10 hours with music playing in the background while the Netflix video was downloading, so we can’t promise a similar result in every situation. But all the same – it’s awesome.
We’re going to do some more tests when the rest of the editorial board gets a tablet to come back and definitively say what the device can and can’t do.
Now our opinion of the iPad is finally formed. It is clear that the tablet has qualities that we liked, as well as those that we disliked. In sum, we can provide two conclusions about the device: the first in terms of whether it is suitable for the role of "evolutionary" personal computers, and the second – whether it is worth its money.
Conclusion one: the iPad is a real revolution. Is it really representative of a new stage in the development of personal computing? Yes, sort of. Regardless of what you think of it now, or what limitations Apple has placed on some of its features, it is indeed a significant contribution to the market today. The iPad is powerful, elegant, and the most extraordinary computer we have ever used. Remember how old games on a game console feel compared to games released years later? Imagine what iPad could be in a year or two. The contribution of software developers is especially important here. Although the gadget is not magic, but still a small revolution it has made – you have to hand it to Apple. After all, it’s no different than creating such a fine-tuned platform with tactile controls.
babam si shit to concoct.
Conclusion two : is it worth buying the revolution today? The first thing that needs to be said, though it has already been said – the iPad will not be a replacement for the laptop. Not yet. This means that if you need to work with something like Exel, Word or any of the countless other desktop programs, you should not expect a tablet to meet that need. But most people don’t use their machines for anything other than music, movies, toys, networking or communication. If you’re that kind of person, $499 shouldn’t be a high price to pay for such a treasure. Because those are the very things this device does better than any laptop or PC.
So, the verdict? A person who has bought an iPad can be placed in one of two categories. The first is people who are enthusiastic about the potential of this thing, or are chasing luxury (and the thing is really luxurious). The others are those who don’t need to do complicated tasks, who prefer a simple, fast and beautiful way to handle data. Know anyone like these guys?