The Ipad: Apple’s Latest Baby

Is it a smaller Macbook? Or is it a bigger iPhone? Those are the first questions that come to the mind of people when they hear about Apple’s latest product, the iPad. The answer to both is the same- No. Apple describes iPad as “not only one of a kind, but a different kind altogether”. The iPad has been specifically designed to enhance one’s leisure time. With a 9.7″ screen (measured diagonally) and a multi-touch screen, the iPad has been made for watching movies, browsing the net or reading ebooks while lying back comfortably in bed or while on an airplane.

The iPad is compatible with 140,000 popular Apple applications, all of which are available for download on the Apple website. It works with most of the popular email providers such as MobileMe, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL. It even has a YouTube application designed to make watching YouTube videos easier, much like the Macbooks and iPhones. The iPad charges via a dock, and comes with a specialised case that has a flap specially created to act as a stand for using the iPad. The Apple engineers have even given it the same lithium-polymer battery as the Macbook, giving it a battery life of upto 10hours. It has built-in 802.11n, giving it the ability to use the fastest Wi-fi networks. It has Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology that allows it to connect to wireless headphones and wireless Apple keyboards. The iPad will soon arrive in 3G models with net speeds upto 7.2Mbps. The A4 chip in the iPad is claimed to have been specially designed as a low-power chip,made just for the iPad. The list of specifications is,no doubt, spectacular.

Another big question is whether the iPad can replace Amazon’s Kindle DX. The features of the iPad that work in its favour are the very obvious difference in weight (iPad’s 1.6pounds compared to Kindle’s 8pounds) which makes a big difference when it comes to holding the device fo a long time; and the price. The 16GB iPad is priced at $499 and goes up to $829, whereas the Kindle begins at $489 for the 4GB model. Another major difference is in the screen. Apple boasts of an IPS( in-plane switching) screen, describing it as a high resolution LED- backlit screen, with a wide, 178° viewing angle. Most readers, like the Kindle, use electrophoretic screens, which rely on light bouncing of the screen to give the picture. The LED lit screens are much brighter and better suited for use in the dark, but their downside is that they hurt the eyes after a certain time. The electrophoretic screens are much easier on the eyes, and very easy to see in the daylight. The next point of contention is the reading software. Amazon uses its own custom made software, that supports Amzon book formats and the .Mobi format, whereas Apple uses the more commn ePub format. However, the Apple demos show the price of ebooks as higher than the $9.99 Amazon store books, though this will only be verified once the store goes live. Overall, for hardcore ebook readers, the Kindle still seems to be preferable, with a larger database available at Amazon, atleast for the next couple of years.

One cannot disagree that Cupertino’s marketing strategy is clever. He has decided to come up with a device that has all the latest technology and market it as a product of leisure. It is essentially a product that has not been designed to replace anything. Its target category is that of a luxury product, an expensive toy, so to speak, like a large Gameboy with bluetooth and internet.It will surely appeal to the boyish greed for fancy toys.Personally, however, try as I might,I cannot see much use for it. Apple is banking on the iPad’s appeal as a decorative gadget for it to sell, and I’m pretty sure they will succeed too. But the amount of technology that has gone into creating this device and the money spent on its marketing seems to me, a waste. Apple has no doubt spent millions of dollars in the development of the iPad and will, in all probability, make profits. But there is nothing new in the iPad technology, for all features are adaptations of the iPhone and Macbook. Overall, I believe that the iPad is Apple’s transparent attempt to just make more money, and has nothing to do with their earlier successful attempts of revolutionarising laptop and computer technology. The iPad is a perfect design for a very specific market,that of consumers looking for another gadget to add to their collection, and already possess a laptop and a phone. I, personally, regard it as a money making gimmick which will definitely work considering Apple’s goodwill in the market, but one that reflects badly on a company that has been known to work for the benefit of technology and for its faithful users.