Five things to know about the Apple iPad

The iPad has landed. We might have to wait a little longer over this side of the pond, but the new Apple paradigm is here. So, we all know it's mega-thin, at less than half an inch, and it's very light with just 680g to worry about and we even know it has a nice big 9.7-inch LED touchscreen. But what else is worth considering before putting the money aside to splash out on one of these? Here's just a few to think about but let us know what's eating at you.

1) You've got to go ugly early

Having decided you are going to get one, you've then got the gut-wrenching decision of getting it with or without 3G. This decision is going to be made even harder for the Apple faithful by the fact that the non-3G iPad will be available a full 30 days ahead of the 3G offering. Do you go ugly early as they say. 

Of course if you're prepared to wait the 30 days, why not wait a full 365 and hold out for the second generation model which is bound to come out sooner or later. Exactly what it is that the second generation tablets will have we don't know - HD screens, a built-in camera - but rest assured that those who buy this first range will be grinding their molars to dust when the second flush is released. You can also rest assured the rumour mill will be in full swing probably by tomorrow telling us what it will and won't have.

2) It doesn't use e-ink

Okay, so it's got a really competitive sounding bookstore and all the newspaper, magazine and website content and apps for easy viewing as well, but one of the joys of eReaders is that they use e-ink or e-paper. Anyone who's used one will tell you what a pleasure they are on the eye compared to laptop screens and LCDs. There's no drying out of the eyeballs as you look at them which means that you can even enjoy them wearing contact lenses without the things turning blurry and popping out of your head.

The iPad just has an LED screen. After a while, that's going to hurt. What's more, it won't offer the same long battery life as an eReader - measured in thousands of page turns rather than a still fairly lengthy but fixed 10-hour life. On the plus side, the iPad's screen is in colour which is a very nice touch indeed, but it's all worth remembering for the bookworm weighing up his/her options.

3) What is an IPS screen?

There was quite a lot of reference to this IPS technology at the Apple press conference as if everyone should know what it was. If you didn't, it's all to do with the viewing angle on the LED display. "In-plane switching" is what it's short for and it was introduced by Hitachi in 1996. The idea is that the liquid crystals move in a parallel direction to the display rather than against it. That cuts down on the amount of light scattered across the screen matrix and results in both a better side view and superior colour reproduction as well. Very nice indeed, particularly if there's a friend next to you who wants to watch your film too.

Naturally, it's still a multitouch capacitive screen as well but worth picturing that it won't quite be the same finger and thumb, one-handed pinch and zoom as the iPhone all the time. This is a 9.7-inch screen we're taking about here. Some of that interface is going to be down to the index fingers from both hands working in tandem. Sounds like fun.

4) There's no contract

Well, at least not in the US anyway. The deal for data that Apple has put together with AT&T is a rolling monthly relationship that you can get out of at any time. Fingers crossed, it'll be the same situation when the iPad arrives over here and you may even be able to do some kind of sneaky tethering action after several levels of jail-breaking all round. That might mean no monthly cost whatsoever.

While we're talking launch dates, the mooted June arrival of the iPad in the UK really isn't that far behind the US at all. The 3G series will only be released State-side in 90 days from now, by which time it'll be pretty much May as it is. There's no reason there should be a similar extra delay over here but anything is possible.

5) An XL iPod touch?

Just to put the cat amongst the pigeons a little, and we have, is the iPad really anything more than an XL iPod touch? It's bigger and slightly better, some of them even have 3G, but it won't multitask nor will it play Flash video on the web, besides what else does it really offer that the quite reasonable working combo of an iPhone and MacBook doesn't? 

How long would you be happy to sit and work on the iPad for rather than a laptop? Would you really want to carry this thing around for watching videos on your commute to work? Worth considering whether the iPad really fills a functional space or whether it's just a vanity gadget. Thankfully, we don't have a problem with them here either.

So, what do you guys think? Do you want one?

 



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