What is the Apple iPad?
To put it simply (and crudely!) the Apple iPad is a touchscreen Tablet computer that sits somewhere between a Smartphone and a Netbook computer. The iPad includes some of the advantages of each without fully replacing either.
To put it another way, the iPad is gorgeous eye candy and will create a stir wherever you take it. It is very compact and portable, but large enough to surf the internet or watch movies comfortably. It will run happily for up to 10 hours without a recharge, and benefits from all the Apps that are already available for the iPhone. Although there are other companies making tablets, the iPad will probably be hailed as the start of a new genre of computers in the same way that the iPhone redefined mobile phones.
iPads are already being put to a wide variety of business uses, from Speakers and Trainers displaying their notes, Photographers viewing photo albums with clients, and Lawyers accessing legal documents on the move, but undoubtedly the most popular use is mobile internet access.
But the news is not all good. There are some omissions in the technical specs that have caused concern. Whilst considering what the iPad could do for your business, you also need to be aware of what it doesn’t do quite so well. Lets take a closer look.
- A bright, crystal clear touchscreen, ideal for comfortable viewing of web pages, photos, videos and other documents
Size of screen is 9.7inch and resolution of 1024×768 pixels
Compares to 3.5-inch, 480×320 pixels touchscreen on original iPhone, and 3.5-inch 960×640 pixels touchscreen on the new iPhone 4.0
- Two versions are available : Wifi only and 3G enabled (3G enabled version has black bar at top of rear casing for the antenna)
Wifi is the kind of wireless network you might find in a cafe or have at home, whilst 3G is the type of wireless network that mobile phones use
The 3G version of the iPad can use both types of network, greatly increasing the chances of reliable internet access on the move
The 3G version is usually sold alongside a data contract from a suitable mobile network provider
- Solid State drive for storage – No mechanical parts
Solid State technology is similar to that used in memory cards for digital cameras etc
They use less power, produce less heat, make no noise and are typically more reliable than normal hard disk drives
iPad comes in a choice of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. This cannot be [easily] upgraded so choose the best you can afford at time of purchase
- Low power consumption means good battery life (Up to 10 hours). Faster at loading applications, games and websites than iPhone
Powered by 1Ghz Apple A4 (ARM based) processor
- Weighs 0.73kg (1.6lbs), and is 243mm x 190mm x 13.4mm in size
- External connections include Apples 30pin connector (for docking with external devices), 3.5mm headphone jack (standard headphone socket), Volume controls, Screen rotation lock switch
- Download books from a list of tens of thousands of titles on iBookStore including guidebooks and countless iPhone and iPad apps
Also compatible with Amazon and Kobo book stores using Amazon Kindle app and Kobo eBook app
- Bluetooth support as standard, supporting devices like an external Bluetooth Keyboards
- Almost instant start-up time compared to Windows Netbooks and other PC’s
- Very Quiet
- The iPad cannot be used to make phone calls over the 3G mobile network. It is possible to use a VOIP application to make voice calls over the internet, for example Skype
- Only 3G-enabled model has Assisted GPS built in for location based services and maps
Location based services are possible on Wifi only model, but may be slower or less accurate
- There are no USB sockets. Everything must be done wirelessly, ie printing
- No integrated camera
This could be an issue for some Skype users and those wishing to keep video diaries, but could be an advantage for those who work in sensitive or secure locations, such as courtrooms
- Multitasking originally omitted, but now included with iPhone OS4 update
Multitasking allows you to use several applications at once, like listening to music whilst checking emails
- Storage not expandable beyond what is included. There are no slots for multimedia cards
- No Adobe Flash option for browsing websites – and unlikely to be added in the future
Some websites utilise Adobe Flash and will display as blank boxes instead
- Might feel conspicuous whilst travelling – consider your security if using abroad
- Some have reported tired eyes after extensive use, for example, when reading books
I would recommend an extended trial if this is your intention
- There are no dedicated TV / Projector connections. To connect to an external display device requires the use of an additional cable plugged into the 30 pin connector
- Apple are keeping a tight grip on what the iPad can and can’t do, but this in turn ensures that it is easy to use right out of the box
- If you regret buying the Wifi only version, take a look at the Mifi from Three.co.uk
This little gadget converts a 3G mobile network into a Wifi network and can be used with the Wifi-only version of the iPad
Find Out More
Where to get an Apple iPad
For reading electronic books (e-books) : Sony’s eReader, Amazon Kindle
For mobile internet : Dell Streak, iPhone 4.0?
Windows/Android tablet PCs : Nothing even close yet, but watch this space!