Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The iPad: First Impressions

This has been a very long time in coming.  For the past 3 years it has been rumored that Apple will revive the MessagePad, and this time base it off of the iPhone multitouch technology.  It was rumored to be called the iPod Slate, iSlate, iPad, and various other references.  Lots of suggestions and comments were made, wishlists were created, including my own.  Now that I have seen Apple's presentation that was made today about the iPad, I want to go over my list:

  1. Reasonable Price:  This was number one, and I think Apple hit it on the head.  At $499 for a 16GB WiFi only device, it's killer.  It's $130 more for a 3G enabled device, which has unlimited use on AT&T for $29.99.  If AT&T would let VoIP work on it, I could replace my cell phone for something far more valuable to me.  Yes, I'd say it's a good price.  ^_^

  2. Multiple Apps At Once:  This one wasn't even touched on, so it most likely didn't happen.  That's a shame, because a lot of education buyers will want a book that would keep their place while they switch to their document, and then switch back.  No smile for this one.

  3. iWork:  Woohoo!  The interface looks killer, and the programs are priced well.  You can get any one of the three iWork apps for $9.99, so it's a total $30 for the whole suite.  And it's a full suite, not a watered-down version.  That's killer.  ^_^

  4. Voice To Text:  We will have to see if the Dragon Naturally Speaking app will work for this.  With a built in microphone, it should, or at least with a microphone jack, so I'm giving it a smile until proven otherwise.  ^_^

  5. Bluetooth:  This one I'm not going to assume works, though I really hope it does.  Bluetooth is built into it, but there is no indication that one can tether anything to it, nor any mention of a bluetooth keyboard option.  Instead, there is a dock with a keyboard.  Well, we will see. 

  6. Open 3G/4G:  Yes!  It's immediately open using a GSM microSIM card, and is unlocked!  Anyone can use any service they would like, if they get the 3G model, as long as the service is compatible.  I would say that this is a very good thing, because while I don't have any personal problems with AT&T, I don't want to be a slave to any one price structure.  Though, at $30.00 a month for unlimited use, it's a hard price to compete with.  ^_^

  7. Display Port:  There isn't a display port, but it's claimed you can hook it up to a projector.  My guess is, it's through one of the docks that was presented, though The coverage I read didn't specify that.  I'll have to verify that to be sure, and find out how much the docks will cost.  Also, will the keyboard dock work on an iPod Touch?

  8. Access To Stored Files:  The assumption is that iWork files are accessible, and could be shared with versions of iWork on the Mac.  That's what the presentation said, but didn't explain how.  Is it synced?  Do you have access to your stored files?  I don't know, and until I do, I'm going to keep this one with no smile. 

  9. Full iTunes:  I don't think we have a full iTunes, though it almost looks like it.  I wonder how it will compare. 

  10. Video Conferencing:  That's a big, fat, no.  Pity. 

  11. FM Radio:  With 3G this wouldn't be too big a deal, but it still would have been nice. 

  12. GarageBand for Podcasting:  I guess I'll just have to look for an App for that.

  13. Battery Life:  I didn't have my hopes up for this one, but boy was I floored with a whopping 10 hours of battery life!  I figure it will be a full day's usage, which is at least twice more than I get from my iPod Touch.  ^_^

  14. iBooks:  This one has me intriqued...  Will it be a part of iTunes?  Or will it be another application entirely that I can get for free from Apple and use on my Mac as well as on the iPad?  I'd like to be able to add any ePub books I already have into the iBooks reader.  If I can't, then I think I'll stick with Stanza as my default reader, which should look killer on the iPad.  ^_^

So, those are my takes on what was presented.  A lot of it comes from my focus on what I wanted.  Gaming looks awesome, but I'm not a big gamer anymore.  But the thing is, this device is so cool and powerful, I could easily imagine a version of World of Warcraft coming specifically for the iPad.  That would be cool.  But the best thing that came from this device is easily the price.  It's priced right there with a Netbook, and does just about everything I would want from a mobile computing environment.

What's even more exciting is the possibilities made available for the Autism community.  Here is a device, much like an AAC device, and yet it's not in the $10,000 range.  Therefore it's possible to use the already killer AAC software available on the iPod Touch on the iPad, and have it be more functional.  That, to me, is a huge benefit that will probably never get mentioned. 

1 comment:

De. Eitan Schwarz said...

I personally love good technology and will probably get an iPad or something like it for myself. But before bringing a new gadget home, every parent must think through its impact on the kids and family life.

Kids left to themselves consume media as they do junk food. The more the media, the poorer the grades and the lesser imaginative play and family interactions. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 1/5 of those ages eight to eighteen now get as much as nineteen hours of media daily but report more unhappiness.

I am also concerned that parent distraction by media might be damaging vital formation of youngsters' brain circuits. I have seen mothers on their cell phones or texting while breast-feeding --surely they are not fully present with their infants at a key moment. Can such interruptions in bonding contribute to later brain-based problems, including to the recent rise autism? There can be great benefits to technology, but there are alarming trends and important unanswered questions.

I believe that parents should commit to leading their youngsters towards positive uses whatever electronic media happen to us. They should plan media consumption as they do meals, and for the long run, as they do for college. By being fully present and applying sound child-rearing and family support principles, parents can now create balanced media plans that lead youngsters to the values and orientation they will need to succeed in an increasingly technology-rich world.

Eitan Schwarz MD FAACAP DLFAPA is the author of “Kids, Parents, and Technology: An Instruction Manual for Young Families” ( )