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Peripherals, Potential Problems & The Bottom Line


Peripherals


  • iPad Keyboard Dock (as it sounds with a USB power adaptor)
  • iPad Dock (like a big iPod dock)
  • iPad Case (protective angled case to improve the viewing angle of the iPad in day-to-day use
  • iPad Camera Connection Kit (kit with dock to USB/dock to SD card readers)
  • iPad USB power adaptor (6ft long main socket power cable)
You're going to need a number of these peripherals since Apple has (deliberately) not included either USB connectivity of an SD/microSD card reader in the iPad.

Potential Problems
  • Irregular (unspecified) widescreen aspect ratio for video playback
  • 1024 x 768 aspect ratio not widescreen video friendly
  • No integrated USB ports
  • No card reader
  • Non-removable battery
  • Non-expandable memory
  • No GPS in the WiFi only model!
  • Unlocked iPad not great when network's don't use the micro SIM
  • Mono audio speakers
  • Prolonged typing on glass?
  • No integrated camera
  • {so no augmented reality!}
  • No HDMI/Displayport
  • No Ethernet Port
  • Still no Adobe Flash support
  • Limited codec support (AAC, MP3, H.264)
  • Proprietary iBook eBook format
  • No breakdown of 'up to' 10 hours battery life
  • No mains power cable included
This is quite a lengthy list, though I shall hold back on making any definite judgement since Apple, in its wisdom, decided not to hold any formal press event outside of the US so I have yet to use it personally. For all these flaws, performance - notably web page loading and scrolling - was very fast and smooth and it will happily sit in standby like a mobile phone enabling almost instant use. That said, this is a familiar group of complaints and if you aren't already a fan of Apple's approach to technology you're unlikely to be swayed by the iPad.

Bottom Line
For a product so massively hyped I think it is fair to say Apple certainly hasn't managed the Wow Factor like it did with the launch of the original iPhone. The iPad is certainly a competent product, but one that with its strong iPhone roots lies more closely to smartbooks than netbooks and keeps in place the typical fenced gate Apple likes to enforce about how its customers use its products.

On the plus side, there has been a lot of work that has gone into optimising iPhone OS for a larger screen with highlights including the enlarged Safari webpage view, split screen Inbox/email content view and productivity software, as well as the responsive multi-touch navigation that made the iPhone such a hit.

Overall though, I remain unmoved as to my original complaint about tablets in general: the form factor is more appealing in theory than it is in practice. Typing on the move will prove particularly difficult, especially with no picture frame-style arm support and I can see it getting marked quickly.

Furthermore, the compromises in functionality don't come with significant size and weight savings considering you'll get a full keyboard, 3G, WiFi, GPS and Linux OS on the Lenovo Skylight for just 170 grams more. Meanwhile pricing - while attractive at the entry level - in reality starts at $728 (32GB model + 3G) which equates to £450, more than any netbook and about the same price as a far more powerful and potentially practical CULV machine like the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ. Throw in necessary accessories such as the mains powercord, USB and SD card adaptors, typically brutal UK price adjustment and you're looking at no change from £550/600.

How has the market reacted? At present Apple stock is down 5 per cent. How have we reacted? Well, congratulations go to Apple for building by far the best tablet computer we've seen to date, but that's somewhat like praising it for producing the best chocolate teapot ever made...

Update: TechCrunch Europe reports an Apple rep has confirmed to them the WiFi only pointless version of the iPad will hit the UK in March, but it may be June before we can get the 3G edition. This may well be due to the bizarre choice of a GSM 'micro SIM' (also known as a '3FF SIM'), which is not only rarely used by networks, but means you can't use one sim between your iPad and, say, a 3G dongle or laptop with integrated 3G.

For the record micro SIMs measure 15 x 12 mm compared to a regular sim's 25 x 15 mm form factor and seem wholly unnecessary. Yet more sigh...

Update 2: Apple has finally put the full iPad keynote live, should you be a fan of masochism.

Links:
Apple iPad Official Page
Apple iPad Official Video

 
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