The Apple iPad - Anand's Analysisby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 27, 2010 5:00 PM EST
Resolution and Video Decoding
The iPad uses a 9.7” IPS panel with a 1024 x 768 resolution. The panel technology is great, the resolution is a bit disappointing.
Video decoding is presumably fully hardware accelerated, but there are limitations here. Apple says you can only decode H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 48kHz. The only containers supported are .m4v, .mp4 and .mov.
This is horribly unfortunate and it means that anyone with existing content not in a friendly format will have to convert it before it’ll play on the iPad. While Apple likes to assume the world revolves around it, the truth is it just doesn’t. This is great for folks who already watch movies on their iPhones and not so great for those who don’t. Luckily with a good enough desktop, transcoding movies to your iPad shouldn’t be too painful.
There’s no camera on the device so I’m assuming there’s no video encoding support either. You can get rid of any image processing as well. In order to hit that $499 price point with such an attractive device Apple most likely had to cut corners wherever possible.
Apple never entered the netbook market because it believed the devices weren’t very good. I’d tend to agree. You can get better performance and similar size out of a CULV notebook if you’re looking for an actual notebook. The netbook makes sense if you are using it as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th machine - but then who’s to say that you need to stick with the same form factor as a notebook?
This is where the tablet/smartbook device comes in.
Intel’s Atom processor is more than fast enough for the tasks you’d do on a netbook. The issue is that the OS and its applications running on netbooks are optimized for a class of processor that’s many times faster than Atom.
The iPad isn’t revolutionary, it simply takes an OS tailored to the power of the machine and pairs it with hardware that doesn’t look or feel like a netbook. Assuming that browsing the web, sending emails, using apps and watching videos is as fast on the iPad as it is on an Atom based netbook, Apple will have effectively capped the price of netbooks at $499. And to be honest, there’s no reason netbooks should ever approach that price to begin with.
A device that slots in between a smartphone and a notebook shouldn't look too much like either device. It needs to borrow from the strengths of both and bundle them in an attractive package. As a consumption device, the iPad looks promising. The big unknowns for me are: multitasking support, the performance of the A4 and ultimately whether or not you can actually be productive on the iPad. Based on all of that, we'll be able to figure out how much this thing is really worth.
Like the original iPhone (perhaps even moreso), the iPad is an extremely polarizing device. Even among AT staff it's a hit or miss depending on the person, regardless of their Mac buying history. For what it's worth, Mike Andrawes and I are both excited about its potential. Perhaps it's what we've been waiting for these past ten years.
We’ll find out in 60 days.