Apple’s New iPad… Gamechanger?

January 28th, 2010 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

Just in case you have been frozen solid and living under a rock- yesterday the eagerly awaited Apple branded tablet device, the iPad, finally was unveiled… to a lot of fanfare and a fair share of catcalls. It has been anticipated as a bold new step for the way people use technology in their daily lives.

Will it live up to the hype?

I think it has a chance to, but right now there is just not enough software written to take advantage of the hardware. Personally I think once there is a wide selection of software out there that is native to the iPad (right now it only has a handful of apps that are designed to work with it’s larger screen… it will run iPhone apps they look tiny at native size and clunky at increased size) the device will start realizing its potential. Right now it’s little more than a better portable way to surf the internet, watch movies or read books than the iPhone or other smartphones. That’s not to say it won’t eventually be the revolution it was anticipated as being, but it’s in its infancy right now.

I’ve read a lot of angry reactions from people who seem disappointed that this gizmo won’t do everything but tie their shoes for them. I think they are missing the point. It’s not supposed to be able to do anything radically more than what your laptop or iPhone already does… what it’s meant to do is those same things but in a way that addresses the limitations of the laptop and the smartphone, and do them better. It’s the form factor that is the selling point. I don’t think people really understand how much this “giant iPod touch” is going to make the Touch and the iPhone look like toys in comparison. The potential that programmers have in this large of a multitouch surface is huge… Apple’s handful of native apps only scratch that surface and yet they look fantastic. By the time Apple releases an updated iPad in a year or so, it will be a completely different animal thanks to the software that developers are no doubt slobbering to start creating and marketing.

The multitouch technology is one of the most intriguing parts of the iPad. In the iPhone and iPod Touch, the tiny bit of real estate makes the technology little more than a novelty by comparison, yet it was hailed as groundbreaking. Imagine being able to drag things around a real screen, access pop up menus, use fingers from both hands to combine and shift objects and make choices. It’ll be like the computer interface from Minority Report. People have been using computer mice for so long they’ve forgotten what it is like to use their hands and fingers for tasks in front of their eyes, instead of separated from them. When some of the native programs start popping up there will be a few eyes opened. Apple’s next step will be an iMac without a mouse using a multitouch monitor.

Regarding the functionality, I think there is a market for something in between a laptop and a smartphone. Let’s face it, using an iPhone or Blackberry to surf the web is an exercise in exasperation… the screen is just too small for it to be easy or enjoyable. Can it be done? Sure, but it’s a major hassle. I’ve been frustrated many times attempting to use my iPhone to order some supplies or such on a website for one of my caricature concessions, trying to switch back and forth from the text field entry boxes back to the entry page. Almost impossible. I’ve had order pages time out on me before I can get to the end of the process. Likewise forget about reading books on the iPhone. Too small a screen. Laptops are plenty big… in fact too big. A laptop is great if you have the room to open it up and use it, full sized keyboard and all. That’s hard to do on a bus or train, at the lunch counter, while you are on a coffee break- even with a “netbook”. Laptops are heavy, clunky in their clamshell design and just not that easy to whip out anytime. Few have built in cellular connectivity, either. They are built to be transportable computers, not instantly accessible anywhere machines. Battery life is only a few hours. They are not truly portable in the way a smartphone is.

The form factor on the iPad is the major appeal, rather than the clamshell/keyboard design of a laptop. Here is a device with a screen big enough to be able to comfortably read a real web page, use a web 2.0 site, read an eBook (and the iBook app looks truly awesome… it’s my favorite thing I’ve seen from the iPad so far), read and respond to an e-mail with a decent sized keyboard, watch a movie that won’t give you a headache from squinting, allow you to really view and edit photos while you are on your vacation, store, read and edit documents from work… all while you are sitting on the bench at the park or on an airplane (even if the jackass in front of you reclines all the way back from takeoff to touchdown). The iPad is lighter than a typical hardcover book, and about the size of a magazine. Not pocket sized, but a far cry from a laptop that needs a shoulder bag to lug about. It’s got (supposedly) 10 hours of battery life, so a day’s worth of use is not a problem.

If you are expecting it to be a portable replacement for your desktop, you are going to be disappointed. If you want it to fit into your front pocket, you will also be disappointed. That’s not the point and never was. This device and it’s eventual decedents will someday be what we get our news, magazines, entertainment and productivity from. Someday everyone will have some form of this kind of portable multitouch device, and we’ll have subscriptions to all the content we want delivered to us invisibly, ready for our consumption when we are. Eventually they will be powerful enough to replace our desktops, but that is years away.

So, do I want the iPad? Yep, absolutley. I will likely get one at some point. I was considering getting a Kindle for eBooks and for just a bit more I can get the iPad which does books even better and so much more besides. This device will let me bring all the videos, books, music, documents, photos, access to current news, communication and information I could possibly ever want or need with me in a 7.5″ x 9.5″ 1.5 lb package. That is pretty handy.

Is it perfect? Hardly. No camera? Only 64 GB max? No flash capability with the browser? Only Apple sanctioned software? No pressure sensitive/stylus drawing (that’s just for us artists)? It has some growing to do, but as software for it matures and expands, and as future hardware improvements are realized, this kind of device really is the future.


  1. Mugshotz says:

    You made some pretty good points. I was never a fan of watching you tube videos or even movies on my iPhone. I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything longer then five minutes on it.

    The camera was a big disappointment. I’d think with all the Skype, and video conferencing and video blogs people do, this would have been a great opportunity to make it more accessible and quite a leap forward. But, today, someone said today on a web chat about even her $200 phone has a video camera, his response was “Well it doesn’t have cheese either .. and my 99c cheeseburger does.” Maybe it’s not the point.

    I’m not sure why Apple doesn’t do flash.. does it take too much battery? It’s really one thing holding Apple back from really making the web surfing complete. Any site posting videos in formats other than Quicktime and YouTube (which isn’t quite a lot) has to have it own application to be seen.

    I think I would have liked to have it had a DVD player too. I was mostly thinking this would have been a great travel device for short trips. I knooowww.. you can rent movies on iTunes. But when you’ve already paid $24.99 to own a movie, it’s rough to have to pay another $3.99 to watch it on a plane.

    • Tom says:

      I don’t care personally about the lack of a camera, as video conferencing is the only thing it would have been good for (who would use an iPad as their snapshot camera?), but I can’t understand it’s omission when it would have been so easy and cheap to include.

      From what I’ve read Apple won’t allow Flash on the iPhone (and now iPad) as it’s a developer level element that would allow anyone to write a program and put it on a webpage, which would then allow it to run on the iPhone. As Apple has proven over and over, they want total and complete control over everything their products can do. What amazes me is that consumers are not screaming their heads off over this.

      The exclusion of the DVD player was one of the more forward thinking parts of the iPad. Adding a DVD drive would have added $$, bulk and weight to the device, and seriously drained the battery. The most important aspect of that decision is knowing that ultimately physical media like discs are going to go the way of the dinosaurs. They will only be used to back up data, and will quickly be replaced totally by cheap, small and reliable backup hard or flash drives.

      Ron- if you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch you can atch any movie you own on DVD without having to pay or download it. Get a program called Handbrake (, it’s free and it will convert your DVD to virtually any portable format, including iPhone, Ipod, PSP, you name it. It’s (currently) legal to make a copy of a DVD YOU PURCHASED so you can watch it on a portable player. BTW I love how many new movies are coming out on Blu-Ray with a “digital copy” included you either download using a special code or copy from an included disc.

      • Mugshotz says:

        I never knew about that program, thanks. I understand the physical space and bulk it would add. But things like burning CD’s and DVD’s will continue to keep an umbilical cord to a main computer. If you could link the iPhone and this device, you’d really be looking at something fantastic.

        I probably will buy one down the road. I won’t have to lug my laptop around to talk to show clients my artwork, this will come in handy in that aspect. I didn’t buy the iPhone right away, and now I can’t live without it.

        But sadly what the people at Apple didn’t foresee what I do see … is a future where men will now have to carry a Man-Purse. God help us all!!

  2. Maybe, if the magazine subscription service really takes off on the ipad, then we’ll see MAD return to a monthly basis?! Fingers are crossed. I know I’d buy an ipad just for that prospect alone.

  3. This is the first device I’ve seen that could genuinely change the game for all types of digital publishing -especially the larger formats like newspapers, magazines, and comic books. I have never been interested in a Kindle because it strikes me as too limited, too small a screen, and too clunky. I love the fingertouch page turn on this thing.

    I have never ever stood in line to get a new gadget but for this one I just might.

    Re, watching movies on it without a DVD player. If you have a netflix account, they now offer instant viewing via internet streaming for most of their library. It doesn’t cost any extra and means you truly have an unlimited amount of entertainment available for your monthly subscription fee. This has been great for our son at college who is on our account and can watch netflix even though he is not here with us. I can’t imagine this tablet wouldn’t be compatible with such subscription services. If it isn’t at first, I would bet apple and netflix would work out something quickly. Netflix has too big a market share to be ignored.

    • K McNutt says:

      That’d be really awesome if it works, but a possible hurdle I see is that I believe you need to install Microsoft Silverlight for Netflix streaming- but if the iPad is capable of having it installed, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to Netflix all the live-long day.

  4. Jeff says:

    Tom, I second the “No pressure sensitive/stylus drawing (that‚Äö√Ñ√¥s just for us artists)” issue.

    I really hope this is on the way! a $500 replacement for the crazy expensive Cintiq would be awesome for us poor folk!

    It will be interesting to see what enhanced content magazine & newspaper publishers come up with!

  5. Kurt says:

    i really don’t get the hype. tablet laptops have been around for along time. what makes this different? that it doesn’t run on windows?

  6. Jon says:

    The digital magazines of tomorrow can be made, sold, protected from piracy (using Flash to obscure image sources), and be future-compatible today. Web browsers are device independent – why segment your potential audience with a proprietary format?

  7. Mark Engblom says:

    I’m puzzled and a bit amused by all of the complaints there’s no camera function for the iPad. I personally can’t imagine using a 7.5″ x 9.5″ slab as a camera, but maybe that’s just me.

    I think one of the biggest new markets for the iPad will (eventually) be the older (50+) demographic, who would love the ease of emailing, reading, internet browsing, and (best of all) a way of browsing photos that seems to have come full circle back to a photo-album like experience (from what I can tell).

    One might think the Kindle is in big trouble now that the iPad is coming, but the risk of eye-strain from iPad’s back-lit screen is enough of a reason for bookworms to stick with the Kindle’s very page-like appearance.

    For older folks, the size of the iPhone and iTouch make them too small to see and operate effectively, and more powerful loaded-to-the-hilt laptops are probably more complex and expandable than they’ll ever really need (or understand).

    I can certainly see me owning one somewhere down the road (especially for traveling), but at this point, I can probably wait.

  8. Vee says:

    The iPad is a cheaper solution for the wonderfully great but expensive Cintiq. I watched the video with Jonathan Ive saying that the multi-touch contains a 3-level sensitivity. It’s only a matter of time before the software is written. Can you imagine a paint-draw program that can recognize the difference between a stylus pen* and your finger! You can quickly use your fingers as an eraser while drawing on the device. *A Nintendo DS stylus pen is very cheap, you can purchase 3 for $10.

    A pianist/composer Edward Weiss has already posted a very interesting article concerning piano lessons and the iPad – A Perfect Match.

    Overall, “I think they are missing the point,” is the key. Too many people were basically expecting the “Jesus” tablet that would take photos, do their taxes, and compelete their thesis in seconds. Besides, I never saw the point of watching a movie on any handheld device . . . after all, would you want to watch a visually beautiful film on a handheld device, smart phone or an IMAX screen?

    Tom, great post.

  9. Tom says:

    I think another point people who are complaining about the iPad are missing is that much of what may or may not be missing with the device is SOFTWARE based… it’s not like a washing machine that either has a feature or doesn;t and therefore never will. The combination of the large screen, wifi/3G and multitouch technology makes the iPad limited only by the creativity and power of the software written for it. Killer apps will be debuting monthly for this thing once the ball gets rolling… using the multitouch feature combined with the screen real estate in ways that nobody is thinking about doing right now.

    In five years many new computers won’t even have mice or trackpads… they will be driven by multitouch monitors and computing will be a much more tactile and intuitive experience than it is today. People will point to the iPhone and the iPad as the beginning of this fundamental shift in the way we use computers.

    • Mugshotz says:

      I agree, this certainly has a large potenital for growth. In 18months over 120,000 Aps were created in the (including a few with your artwork) But, one problem the do need to work out, because it puts alot of people off is in the age of multitasking, the iPhone has very few programs that can work simultaneously. Hopefully they will work on this aspect for the iPad. It wasn’t demonstrated that it will be any different. If they want to stay on the cusp they need to really use test markets. I have a feeling there are alot of Yes Men at Apple.

  10. Trevour says:

    I’m very tempted to get an iPad. I too was thinking about getting a Kindle, but why go that route when the iPad is color, surfs the web, plays movies, and more? No-brainer, even if I gotta pay a couple hundred bucks more.

    If the iPad would have utilized pressure-sensitivity for drawing/illustrating, I’d be first in line to get one! However since it won’t be that specialized (maybe future incarnations will do that?), I would still consider the Modbok though. Full OSX in a tablet. I can’t afford a Cintiq and a Modbook would seem like the next best option. Furthermore, my dad has used a Tablet PC for several years and I love that thing.

  11. Floyd says:

    I have a gateway tablet that was great for drawing (minus my talent) and would love to see it pressure sensitive as well the tablet does a good job for what it is. I too have long anticipated the iPad and wish it would be capable of drawing tablet but am confused if the 3 layer thing will be able to give the results, because one person said it cant in present state. Can someone expand on this? not that I could afford it at present time lol.

  12. Figaro says:

    Steve Job’s new product will soon evolve after the pumped up launch during it’s unveiling. The lack of keyboard and Apple’s potential to fix some problems will begin to make the iTablet a huge product in the time ahead.

  13. Ray Gardner says:

    I’ve been an Apple guy since day one (that day was a Thursday, and many moons ago) but I never “adopt early.”

    The price will drop within months and it will be a better product. I waited for the 3rd generation before I got my iphone, and I suspect I’ll live comfortably waiting for the evolved version of the pad.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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