Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apple's iPad

So the badly kept secret is finally out and Apple announce their shiny new touch-screen tablet dubbed the iPad. So firstly isn't that name a touch close to the iPod - iPod, iPad; iPad, iPod. They could have gone for iTablet, but that's two syllables and we know they don't like that and iTab? Well Tab is a drink so that'd be confusing. Pad makes sense it's just a little too similar to my mind.
Another delightful problem is that the word iPad is a trademark by Fujitsu; Apple do seem to like picking names already owned by other companies as they did with the Cisco owned iPhone.

So what is the iPad? According to Apple it's the "Best way to experience the web, email, photos, and video". So why is everyone comparing it to the Kindle or the Sony eReader, why all the demonstrations seem to show how you can read buy and read books on it?

There's a reason people don't read novels on a computer screen and that's because your eyes get tired. The majority of screens emit light whereas the majority of objects in the real world reflect it; sounds dumb after all light is light; but in the real world the intensity varies producing the shading that our eyes have evolved to cope with. Staring at a screen is like staring at a light bulb or the sun.

That's why the Kindle et al didn't kick off until a method was discovered to emulate this reflected light, in their case magnetic ink swimming in a naturally white background. At the moment though they can only work in shades of grey so no colour and that's what Apple obviously wanted. So they're using an LCD screen just like most computers today.

So you're not going to sit down and start reading a book on your iPad. So as they said use it to show photos and video and browse the web; except I can do that with the iPhone and make calls with that, so why switch?

The other problem with a bigger and light emitting screen is that it uses juice all the time it's on, the Kindle and others only draw power when the screen changes. They claim a 10-hour life using the same batteries for the iMac; were those the batteries that were built-in and couldn't be changed without going back to the shop?

Well it's bigger with a 9.7" screen, so you can really see photos and full web pages and yes that's a good point, except that being bigger means that it's well... bigger. It's not something you can pop in a pocket and pull out and consult easily when you're on the move or settling a bet in the pub.

So what's it for? Well I can see this is for use in office meetings. No need to set up a laptop, just prop up your iPad and get all the documentation on screen to read, at the same time you can make notes using the built-in handwriting recognition tool; oh silly me it doesn't come with that and when I mean that I don't just mean the ability to write things on screen, I mean reading a document and making notes, because it's not multi-tasking.

So it's not something you can carry around, it's less use in an office than a laptop so um is this something that's going to be sitting on the coffee table and used for browsing the web or showing off photos rather than sit around a computer? Possibly but with the cheap options available to hook up computer to TV why would anyone want to spend $499 for that?

It'll still sell out though because it's Apple and it looks so yummy, but those who do so for that reason probably already own an iPhone and an iMac and I bet they'll be turning back to using that and the iPad will just gather dust.


Orphi said...

From where I'm sitting, it looks to me more like everybody else likes picking product names that sound like Apple.

Apple made the iMac and the iPod, and suddenly everything made by any company has to have an “i” at the front to make it sound cooler. And then when Apple themselves produce a similar product, the name is already taken.

It's almost like the 1990s, where everybody suddenly had to have an “e” at the front. Email, e-business, e-commerce, e-banking, e-money, e-dating, e…valuating?

I'm still waiting for the iSuck vacuum cleaner to turn up. ;-)

Do you remember back when Apple just made computers? Some commentators are suggesting that they've taken their eye off the ball with that one. I saw a review of the latest iMac or something, complaining that it contains an nVidia GeForce 7300GT graphics card which you can't upgrade for something better.

The review went something like “This is the Mac that will be bought by art departments and publishing houses for their high-end work, and it contains a entry-level, previous-generation GPU that can't be upgraded. What where they thinking?”

Personally, I'm one of these people who occasionally thinks about buying a Mac, but then looks at the price tag and goes elsewhere.

Tav said...

This might be of interest to you.

FlipC said...

Heh thanks Tav, I'd found 7 things Apple left out of the iPad and Apple iPad Backlash Begins but not that one; oh just to note I found these sites after my entry so I wasn't copying :-)

Orphi - yeah the great i- prefix even the damn BBC came out with iPlayer as for buying a Mac you still don't get the choice of games, you still don't get the choice of apps. It might be more stable as it's controlled, but I still can't see how they can get away with not having a second mouse-button.

Don B said...

I was amused by the article in today's New York Times

FlipC said...

The dumb thing is that the rumoured name bandied about was iSlate which is kind of cool, but I suppose some wag pointed out the addition of a space made it iS late so they went for the iMaxiPad.

Orphi said...

Well, some console manufacturer (I forget who) came up with a machine called “pee”, and it's selling profusely. Maybe it's not that bad.

I think the principle confusion here is that nobody's sure what the hell this device is supposed to be.

Is it a phone? Well, no, you can't make calls with it.

So is it a laptop? Well, no, it can't multitask, and will only run limited software.

So is it a PDA? Well, again no, it's horrible to type with.

So, uh, what's it for then?

Anyway, while reading the various articles, I came across a few interesting comments:

“Think of how you use your computer: you probably have a half dozen applications open right now, from a browser to a Twitter app to an IM client to a feed reader. You can't do that on the iPad.“

Um… what?

Who the hell uses their computer like that?! Why would you have a browser and a feed reader open at the same time? Why would you be running Twitter if you're using your IM client? Does anybody actually work like this??

“I hope you don't care about streaming video! God knows not many casual internet users do. Oh wait, nevermind, they all do.”

What the hell is this guy on about? Who actually watches video on the Internet anyway?

“You need an adaptor for USB.”

Oh… oh dear God. Fail!

“It's not widescreen. It's like owning a 4:3 TV all over again!“

I have yet to figure out how owning a 4:3 TV is any kind of disadvantage. 99.998% of all TV content is broadcast in 4:3 aspect, so having a widescreen TV just means that you have to watch everything distorted so that people's heads look like squashed eggs, or you have to have black bars of wasted screen space down each side of the picture.

Hell, even recordings which are supposed to be wide screen don't come out right! (Why did the HDMI spec not include a way to indicate which aspect ratio the signal has?)

That is all.

FlipC said...

Hey I'm all for producing something technically innovative out there and saying "Hey find a use for this", but it's not innovative - it's a big iTouch heh see they should have called it the iTouch Max.

Multi-tasking - I've got four spreadsheets, email, browser, Skype and the Google sidebar running at the moment and yep I use some of those in conjunction with each other. As I said view a document at a meeting and make notes at the same time - no can do.

Proprietary connections, yep there's no reason not to use a standard mini-B USB slot even the Google mobile HTC models use one. Wait silly me there is a reason you can sell cables.

4:3 screen, but the big thing is to play movies that come in 2.35:1 ratio or TV that is rapidly switching to the 16:9 standard; the decision for a 4:3 screen deserves a slap.

As for resolution I thought it did? My television switches to 1080p for the Home screen on my PS3 and most often switches down to 720p to play games; both it and my dedicated player will black bar 4:3 and 2.35:1 formats so it knows what's coming through.

"That is all" okay where have I heard that at the conclusion of some sort of radio broadcast?

Orphi said...

I can understand that multitasking is useful. For example, here at work my email program is always open, in case somebody emails me. (Of course, using Exchange you can tell when this happens. At home there's no point in doing this since IMAP lacks such a feature.)

I'm just puzzled as to guy you'd have Twitter and IM running at the same time, given that they're both almost exactly the same thing. That would be like listening to the radio while also watching TV — nobody does this.

Proprietry connections — great for Apple, but a great big reason not to buy this product from the customer point of view! :-P

I still honesting can't comprehend where all this “widescreen” stuff comes from and why it's a good idea. There is no content anywhere which uses widescreen. All you're doing is paying extra for some black unused areas at the side of your screen. How is this beneficial?

Maybe my mum's TV is just rubbish, but it can't seem to tell what aspect the image it's showing is supposed to be. Every single time I watch something that does actually have a different aspect, I have to manually cycle through all the display modes (including the “I'm going to bend your picture in half to fit a different aspect and hope you won't notice too much“) to find the correct one. And sometimes it isn't even that easy to figure out what is the correct one!

Anyway, I guess a 4:3 aspect object is easier to carry? *shrugs*

FlipC said...

More like using the phone while watching the TV.

As for Aspect ratios. Take a 4:3 screen and display a 4:3 picture and you're using up 100% of the screen with no waste (discounting overscan).

Put on a 16:9 and you're using 75% of the screen and wasting 25%.

Put on a 21:9 (2.35:1) and you're using 57% and wasting 43%.

With a 16:9 screen you've got the zero waste on 16:9 obviously and the same 25% waste on 4:3, but you got roughly the same 25% waste for the 21:9 movie films.

Now as the majority of movies are in 21:9 format and most TV is moving to 16:9 which screen is better for a device being touted to watch just these very films?

Speaking of your TV have you got the new blu-ray hooked up to it yet? As for aspect ratio it took some minor twiddling, but I got mine to auto-switch regardless of input, I'm sure there's a way for yours.