The Apple iPad - Anand's Analysisby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 27, 2010 5:00 PM EST
Will it Work...Literally
Today my issue with the iPhone (and netbooks for that matter) is that they are very limited when it comes to productivity. I don’t have a good solution if I need the performance, usability and capabilities of my notebook, but want something lighter to carry around with me. You could always get a CULV notebook or from Apple something like the MacBook Air, but that’s still a notebook. There is no perfect blend of notebook functionality with smartphone portability. If the iPad can achieve that, at least in the same manner that the iPhone did for smartphones, then I will consider it worth the hype.
Achieving that goal requires a delicate balance of the right UI, the right hardware (including ergonomics) and the right functionality.
The UI looks clean and snappy. Apple’s biggest omission here appears to be multitasking support. One of the most frustrating things about using an iPhone is its inability to do two serious tasks at once. Email + Web browsing, Pandora + anything. You get the point. This is perhaps a temporary issue. The iPad runs iPhone OS 3.2 as of today. The next major release of the iPhone OS, version 4.0, is expected to add multitasking support. This could presumably make its way onto the iPad later this year (or early 2011?).
Yeah that looks super comfortable...
The hardware looks good. It remains to be seen whether or not it’s actually comfortable to hold a 1.5 lbs tablet while you type on it. Although Apple has a couple of accessories that look to address that issue:
The software keyboard looks like it could work well, if it’s combined with the same sort of predictive trickery that the iPhone uses. I’ve been asking for the sort of tablet the Enterprise crew (Star Trek, not the server market) carried around. The iPad’s interface, at least what I’ve seen of it, has the most potential to deliver that sort of experience. The iPad UI could be something that feels like it was made in 2010, not 2002.
The functionality is also a big unknown. When the iPhone first launched its killer apps were the ones that Apple made for it. While the App Store is far more mature now, the iPad will need some key functionality for it to be a productivity device.
Porting iWork ($9.99 per app) to the iPad was necessary. The fact that Apple did this right off the bat indicates that at least someone over there knows that the market for a $500 - $900 toy is slim. But we need more. We need things like Photoshop for the iPad. Dare I say that we even need a port of Microsoft Office?
At CES everyone talked about tablets and eReaders being huge at the show. I saw a lot of neat devices, but nothing I’d want to go out and buy. The iPad is the first one I’ve seen with potential. And much like the iPhone before it, whether you like it or not is irrelevant - it will at least pave the way for other companies to emulate and improve upon the design.