Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple iPad: Misses all sorts of marks

The new Apple iPad. The device that has been anticipated for years. The device that was expected to make laptops (and netbooks) obsolete.

The problem is that it doesn't.

It has a 9.7" 1024x768 resolution screen. That's only about 79DPI (dots per inch), not a very high resolution for a screen that size. In comparison, a lot of new phones have 3.6" 800x480 widescreens, which equates to about 250DPI. Note that it's also not widescreen, which most devices are now. Even the iPhone -- and every MacBook -- is widescreen. I'm not sure, but (other than the items that use a large portion of the front for physical controls) this may actually be the only non-widescreen Apple device.

In addition, it's an LCD screen, not OLED that most new cutting-edge phones use. LCD drains the battery more, doesn't have as bright of colors or as good of contrast. It tends to get washed out if used in bright light, like, say, outdoors.

Worse, it uses the iPhone operating system. You can't use Mac programs like Microsoft Office or Yes, the iPhone interface is popular and well-liked, but you can't edit a spreadsheet with it, or not with the same programs you're used to.

Some have referred to the new iPad as a large iPhone. But the iPad can't make calls.

There's no camera, like the iPhone has.

There's no GPS, like the iPhone has.

It can't run multiple programs at the same time, though this is like the iPhone. But unlike any other smartphone out there. You can't, say, stream online radio while surfing the web at the same time, like you can on any other smartphone.

It can't play Flash content, which many websites use. No Hulu, no Youtube.

While tablet PCs generally serve as laptops without a keyboard, the iPad has no real expandability. No expansion slots, and not even a USB port. It's designed - again, like a large iPhone or iPod Touch, to dock with your computer and use iTunes to sync. Which means it's not a replacement device; it's an extra one.

And the price. The cheapest one is $499, more than most netbooks. The highest is $829, about the same as a MacBook. But without the ability to do most of what a MacBook can, and in fact is designed to connect to a MacBook rather than replace it.

If they come out with a version that actually uses a full Mac operating system, they may have a winner. But this isn't it.