Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Skinny on the Apple iPad

Hey everyone!  I asked my husband to guest post today because he is an Apple expert and has been reading everything he can get  his hands on about the iPad.  I told him to explain it like he was taling to me,  a domestic goddess and savvy  blogger....just like many of you are.  So...I bring you ...Calvin! 

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My wife asked me to digest much of what I have seen, read and heard about the iPad. There is a lot of material out there and varying opinions. I must admit that at first glance, I just had to have one right now. However, after Steve Jobs' aura of appeal wore off, I had to consider just how I would use this product. I intend to answer that question, but first I must address the name iPad.

Some critics of the iPad claim that the name suggests it should be found in the feminine products isle at your local supermarket. I must admit that I giggled quietly to myself when Steve confirmed the name. Yet what is in a name? How many recall that when Apple first announced the iPod, that it was difficult to understand how the name had anything to do with music. Unless you have to be living in a cave for the past five years, you know iPod and music player are synonymous. I suspect in five more years the word iPad will replace Laptop, and Netbook will be as ubiquitous as Eight Track Tapes.

One interesting thing to consider is that iPod and iPad are close siblings. The editors of Macworld magazine remarked that the similarity is one letter away from a typographical error. There may be a deep-seeded reason as to why they are so close. Imagine one of those cave dwellers stepping into an Apple Store for the first time wanting to buy an iPod and walking out with an iPad simply due to a thick Southern accent. Only time will tell if there is some grand marketing strategy at play.

So what is the iPad? Simple, it is a larger cousin to the iPhone. It runs the iPhone OS instead of a Macintosh OS. The difference is that you cannot run the same kind of software that you may have on your MacBook, iMac or MacBook Pro. Therefore, it will not likely be a good candidate for replacing your current computer, if you want features like video editing, video conferencing, and the ability to run multiple applications at one time.

However, if you are happy with the applications that are available on the App Store for the iPhone, this product may be for you. If on the other hand, you don't like iPhone applications because they are too small to get real work done, this device still may be for you. Apple showed some very cool demonstrations of their iWork applications, i.e. Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I was blown away by the functionality and ease of use. Even the basic applications like e-mail, contacts and Safari were vast improvements over the iPhone. The new Calendar application was better than what is on the Mac. But the reason I said it still might be the device for you stems from what developers will do with all that additional screen space and multi-finger controls. I suspect they will be amazing.

So to answer the question I opened with, I think the line of iPods, iPhones, iPads and MacBooks will be akin to skateboards, bicycles, sports cars, and sports utility vehicles. What I mean is that many of us have multiple modes of transportation, some for fun, daily use and heavy lifting. iPods my be great for that daily run, iPhones for most needs on the go, but not for catching up on your reading or seriously surfing the web. The iPad could be a daily device that will get you where you need to go, but like a sports car it is not convenient to carry your whole family and all your luggage and pulling a boat. The SUV is much better for that. If you are a current Apple fan, I suspect that once you actually hold one of these in your hand, and you realize that the device is under $500, it may just be too difficult to not want one.

With all the iPad does, this device could replace the need for a laptop altogether. But for others, I suspect it will be a handy device for travel, leisure, and quick reference. The iPad can be a dynamic picture frame on your coffee table. Grab it to look up what is on TV and control your AppleTV. No need for a Kindle to read a book in bed or a separate device to watch a double feature on a cross country flight. Access recipes while in the kitchen, take it to the John to read Glamor or Sports Illustrated. No need for a GameBoy to play games. This device does it all.

If you are like my wife and me, I think we access IMDB on a daily basis when some actor shows up on a show who looks familiar, but we cannot remember from where. The iPad would be far more convenient than going to a desktop Mac or even the iPhone. The iPad may also be quite handy when shopping or updating your BLOG while on vacation or that very important blogging conference. And you can plug in accessories via a cable or Bluetooth. How about a full keyboard for some serious data entry or driving a big screen projector for an important business presentation.

The only features the iPad lacks for me, that would replace my MacBook Pro is the ability to play World of Warcraft and video conferencing with the grand parents. I imagine that some day the iPad will do these things better than a laptop, but for now I can't replace my main computer. I suspect that Apple has many great plans for this slick device and that someday the laptop will be replaced by the iPad form factor. One thing I can say for sure is that my children still cannot use a computer, they lack the hand eye coordination to operate the mouse and keyboard, but I bet they could use an iPad right out of the box to play games and even learn letters and numbers after Daddy loads some quick apps from the App Store. After all, they can use my iPhone with ease.

I think the future is bright for the iPad, and I think it will sell with its low price. As word gets out that NetBooks are inexpensive, they are really cheap underpowered laptop imitators that lack the speed and sex appeal that come with an iPad. And other Windows tablets are simply Windows PCs with a touch screen and not a new way of thinking about computing or distributing software, books, music, and more. I disagree with the naysayers that think that this product will not appeal to a wider audience. When you compare how many devices this single device replaces and add up those costs, the iPad will be the big price winner. So yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and I am sure that we will be adding an iPad to our Macintosh family in the near future.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them...leave a comment with your question and I'll answer it in the comments.

EDITED:  Some of you have commented on Apple having a monthly fee to use 3G. There are three things I will mention.

First, if you are using iPad primarily at home and you have WiFi, you may not need 3G.

Second, there are two 3G plans, one allows 250 Megabits of data at $15 per month. The other is unlimited use for $30 a month. For light use outside a home, the $15 plan my be sufficient. Contrast that price for 3G with a MacBook or PC Laptop. Most plans start at $60 per month. Thus, AT&Ts plan is actually pretty good.

Lastly, the 3G requires no contract. If you really don't need it full time, you can activate it only when you do need it. For example, you could activate the 3G plan before going on vacation and cancelling when you get back. The activation is actually done on the iPad itself (according to reviewers at MacWorld magazine.)

The flexibility of 3G access gives owners new options that iPhone owners don't have. I am sure that more details will be revealed closer to launch, but I think AT&T's offering is strong.

17 comments:

  1. Wow. Awesome synopsis. I don't have an Apple anything and now I want one. The only thing holding me back is the monthly fee.

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  2. I don't have any questions (yet), but that was a very helpful and well-written review!

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  3. Thanks Calvin. I definitely have the iPad iWants and can't wait until it is released. The monthly fee of $29.99 doesn't bother me too much but the 3G fee feels a bit hefty. What is your opinion of getting the WiFi vs 3G models.

    Thanks Connie for sharing...

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  4. Thanks for the information Calvin!

    I think you and my husband would have a great time talking. Jeff used to work for Apple and is very into everything tech. I am sure we will be getting one of these in the mail any day now :)

    Thanks for guest posting!

    XOXO
    Jen

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  5. Well I know I love my iPhone, and now I think I want an iPad! I'm going to ask my husband to read this. Thanks Calvin!

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  6. FROM CALVIN:

    Some of you have commented on Apple having a monthly fee to use 3G. There are three things I will mention.

    First, if you are using iPad primarily at home and you have WiFi, you may not need 3G.

    Second, there are two 3G plans, one allows 250 Megabits of data at $15 per month. The other is unlimited use for $30 a month. For light use outside a home, the $15 plan my be sufficient. Contrast that price for 3G with a MacBook or PC Laptop. Most plans start at $60 per month. Thus, AT&Ts plan is actually pretty good.

    Lastly, the 3G requires no contract. If you really don't need it full time, you can activate it only when you do need it. For example, you could activate the 3G plan before going on vacation and canceling when you get back. The activation is actually done on the iPad itself (according to reviewers at MacWorld magazine.)

    The flexibility of 3G access gives owners new options that iPhone owners don't have. I am sure that more details will be revealed closer to launch, but I think AT&T's offering is strong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was very informative! Thank you.

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    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm always late for the dance Calvin! I just got a Dell PC a week ago with Windows 7. I'm still basking in the newness of it. I wish I would have waited to read your article. It's ok I can pass it on to my Mac friends.

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  10. Holy moly, thanks for the awesome review! I really didn't know what it was so it was nice to have it in easy terms. You should be working for them!

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  11. Ok I really haven't cared too much abt the iPad hype, and even at the start of this, I was just reading it with mild interest. Now I am absolutely itching to go check one out! It really does sound pretty good! Great review Calvin!

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  12. These are really cool! I could totally use it when I am on the elliptical!!

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  13. Wait? Is AT&T going to be selling these? I've been pondering an i-phone for soooo long. I think I'll hold out for the ipad. Should i? Technology scares me.

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  14. akaMommy....If I didn't already have an iPhone...I would get one of these instead. I use my iPhone more like a computer than a phone.

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  15. Great info Calvin... thanks a bunch. We have an iPhone and I was wondering if it was something that we needed on top of it. With the info you gave, I now know that we are all set with our iPhone because of how we use it.

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I love you. You are my best friend! Your hair looks fantastic today!