Earlier this year, eReaders were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It seemed every company imaginable had or was coming out with a new reader-type device. I blogged about many of the readers right here on the O'Reilly blogs. I didn't blog much about the iPad. I thought it was rather expensive.
For $499, the price of the cheapest model, you can get a pretty decent laptop. For $829, the price of the most expensive model, you can get a pretty a-m-a-z-i-n-g laptop. Still, I was fortunate enough to able to play with and test the iPad then and now. Admittedly, testing and playing with the iPad was fun, and the title of my post is of course tongue-in-cheek. (The question mark in the title, I put one in there when I was talking about twitter too ;-).
So what's my opinion? After playing and testing, I certainly have one and here goes...
L-E-D and Multimedia
One of iPad's strengths is its LED display. Note that I didn't say LCD, rather LED. As with the latest big screen televisions with LED displays, the iPad's LED displays gives you brilliant clarity and color. Eye-popping color in some cases.
When playing video, the device uses 480p as standard and tops out at 576p. This leads right into another of iPad's strengths, it's versatile multimedia capabilities. Video and audio do indeed rock and have exceptional quality. You will L-O-V-E watching videos on your iPad and you L-O-V-E listening to music on your iPad.
The 16 GB model (the low end) gives you plenty of storage space for audio. Not so much storage for video, but still enough to keep a few favorites handy.
The 64 GB model (the high end) gives you oodles of storage space for audio. That's ample storage for video; enough to keep multiple favorites handy, but not enough to build much of a collection.
When it comes to apps, the iPad and current generation apps are a bit weak. At the time of this writing, about 1 in 4 iPhone apps were retooled for the iPad.
Many new iPad apps are in development; many are being released as well. The quick developers will likely get a lot of sales, yet not enough of the early apps really use all of the iPad's explosive capabilities. It's the same story with most new platforms; it takes time to develop quality. The biggest thing developers can take advantage of here is relative acres of screen space as compared to the iPhone (and also the vivid clarity of the display).
When it comes to surfing the web, the iPad's browser is fairly quick and efficient. The browser had most of the capabilities I expected and was fairly responsive. The transfer speed/reception quality over wireless and 3G seemed to hamper performance more than anything else.
On your home/a dedicated wireless network, you'll likely get really good speeds. Over 3G, your throughput will depend on signal quality and how fast the experience seems will depend on how much data you are pushing through the 3G pipe. One thing's for sure, if you are going 3G, you need to give serious thought to the unlimited monthly option. Not going unlimited, could cost you a small fortune.
When it comes to reading, you'll find the iPad is highly capable. Text is crisp, clear, and brilliant. Great for gaming, movies, web surfing, and the like.
However, a backlit LED suffers some/many of the same drawbacks as a backlit LCD. The brightness of the screen itself can lead to eyestrain. I haven't read a full-length novel on it yet, but I'm not sure I want to (unless I was reading only a few pages at a time and my definition of "few" might not be yours). It seems the older I get, the more problems I have with brightness on my displays.
Tune in next time when I talk more about the advantages and disadvantages of the iPad as compared to both laptops and eReaders.
Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also just released is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.
William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com