Apple iPad – Quick Thoughts

I am a recent Mac convert and not a full blown Mac Fanatic.  In August 2009 I became a Mac User when I purchased a 13.5″ MacBook Pro prior to attending the USC Executive MBA program.  At the time, Apple had a “Going Back to School” promotion which gave students who purchased a MacBook Pro a complimentary 16 GB iPod Touch.  After decades of being a dedicated Windows user, I finally crossed over.

I really enjoy the Mac & iPod Touch experience, so when I heard that the iPad was arriving in stores Easter weekend, I decided to visit one and see what all the commotion was about.

I hesitate to call this a full blown “Product Review” because I don’t own an iPad and haven’t spent hours dissecting each and every feature and function.  However, I believe I have enough information to make a buying decision.  Here are my thoughts on the iPad 1.0 (I added the version number):

Tech Specs
I am a visual person who likes to compare products side by side.  So, I organized the key specs from the online Apple Store for the iPad, iPhone 3Gs, iPod Touch, and 13″ MacBook Pro into a table (see bottom of page) & chart.

Next, I summarized the data by ranking each specification on a scale of 1 to 10 based on my personal preferences.  You can agree or disagree with my rankings, that’s a matter of personal choice.

iPad Comparison

Apple Product Comparison

I scored the iPad below the iPhone and iPod Touch on weight, but higher than the MacBook Pro for obvious reasons.   For the wireless category, I scored the iPad higher than every device except the iPhone because while you have cellular connectivity, you can’t make calls from the iPad.  Since the iPad does not have a camera, it scored very low in that category.  The processor of the iPad was a decent 1GHz speed, low power chip, so I scored it higher than everything except the MacBook Pro.  The iPad display is a nice sized 9.7″ diagonal screen, large enough to score it second behind the MacBook Pro.  The capacity of the iPad was a bit disappointing, only slightly better than the iPhone and even with the iPod Touch with a max of 64 GB.  In today’s world, 64 GB won’t last long.  With a starting price of $499 the iPad scored in the middle of the pack.

For the Geeks - Apple iPad Parts Gallery (via InformationWeek) Thanks to @mikehalston.

Now for the intangibles.  The following chart measures the intangible characteristics of each of the products.  My definition of intangible characteristics are features of the product that are difficult to quantify with known units of measure.  This is where arguments at the water cooler are born.

Apple - Product Comparison (Intangibles)

In the audio category I scored the iPad in the middle of the pack.  The small built-in speaker wasn’t too impressive to me.  As far as input and output was concerned, the lack of a USB port on the iPad was disappointing.  The battery life category results surprised me.  If you believe the specs on Apple’s site, the iPad scores worse than the iPod Touch and iPhone.  I wish I could test the battery life of all the products side by side, but I’m not going to purchase an iPhone or iPad just to do the test.  Camping out in an Apple Store for 30 hrs to do a test is not going to happen either.

In the typing category, the large touchscreen keyboard was impressive.  Being a proficient touch typer on a standard keyboard I was pleased by the performance of the iPad.  For the chic factor, which should be named “Geek Factor” (in today’s world “Geek” is “Chic”), the iPad wins.  If you need more proof, take a look at the long lines at the Apple Store just to play with the iPad.  The iPad wins the touch screen category by a slight margin over the iPod Touch and iPhone.  Last but not least is the iBooks category.  Since the iPad is the only device that iBooks app is currently available for, the iPad dominates.

So what does this all mean?  To me, this means that the iPad seems to be stuck in the middle of the pack between these four products from Apple.  The entry level price of $499 is a bit steep for my pocket book.  I’m not into the Geek Chic factor that much.  Although it is much smaller than the MacBook Pro the iPad‘s size is a bit large for me.  I don’t know what I would do with it.  As it stands, I already have too many gadgets.

I thoroughly enjoy my MacBook Pro and iPod Touch but I think I’ll wait for the 2nd version of the iPad to see if they add features that might entice me to buy it.  If the MacBook Pro had a touch screen…

Table 1

Product iPad iPod Touch iPhone 3Gs MacBook Pro
Price $499+ $199+ $199+ $1,199+
Capacity 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive 32GB or 64GB flash drive 16GB or 32GB flash drive 160GB or 250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive; optional 320GB or 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive, or 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive
Display 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi) 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreenMulti-Touch display480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colorsSupported resolutions: 1280 by 800 (native), 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio stretched; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio stretched
Processor 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip Unknown Unknown 2.26GHz or 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed 1066MHz frontside bus
Camera None None 3 megapixelsAutofocus,Tap to focusVideo recording, VGA up to 30 fps with audio Built-in iSight camera
Wireless UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)Data onlyWi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology Wi-Fi (802.11b/g),Nike + iPod support built inMaps location-based serviceBluetooth 2.1 + EDR UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless technology Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking2 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible,Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology
Size & Weight Height:9.56 inches (242.8 mm)Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;

1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

Height:4.3 inches (110 mm)Width: 2.4 inches (61.8 mm)Depth: 0.33 inch (8.5 mm)Weight: 4.05 ounces (115 grams) Height:4.5 inches (115.5 mm)Width: 2.4 inches (62.1 mm)Depth: 0.48 inch (12.3 mm)Weight: 4.8 ounces (135 grams) Height:0.95 inch (2.41 cm)Width: 12.78 inches (32.5 cm)Depth: 8.94 inches (22.7 cm)Weight: 4.5 pounds (2.04 kg)

2 responses to “Apple iPad – Quick Thoughts

  1. I haven’t spent much time with the iPad, even compared to your modest amount of research but my (admittedly ill-formed) impression of the touchpad is that it would be frustrating in the long term. After having used a variety of keyboard formats on PDAs and smartphones, I consider myself moderately adept at adjusting to new methods of input, but like you mention, the iPad seems to live in a new space between phone and laptop; the touchpad is a physical incarnation of that.

    • Brian – I think a touchscreen keyboard will become the standard if companies follow Apple’s lead. It will be interesting to see how it plays out because I think 90% of the existing keyboard users will have a tough time adapting to the touchscreen keyboard…especially the people who rely on the “feel” of a traditional keyboard. I know for me, I rely heavily on the bumps on the F & J keys to get me back to square on a traditional keyboard….you lose that with a touchscreen.

      We’ll see how this all plays out in the next few years.


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