MoD iPad Review

So there are lots of great reviews out there about the iPad so the MoD will try not to rehash what’s been said in terms of information and focus primarily on strengths, weaknesses, and future potential.

Pros/Strengths

– Battery Life. Battery Life. Battery Life. This is the biggest feature that Apple has mastered with this device. It may not have Kindle like battery life, but in terms of all day useability, Apple has nailed it. The all day battery life is transformative for the device, no Netbook or Macbook comes anywhere near the 10 to 12 hour useful battery. Not only does this add significantly to the overall usability of the device, but Apple’s laid down the benchmark which every other Tablet is going to be judged. And Tablets running Win7 and using Intel Atom processors are going to have an incredibly tough time coming close to this timeframe, and MoD expects them to get savaged for it. Now Chrome tablets using Samsung’s Snapdragon processor might come very close, but….

– The App Store – iPad redesigned apps are off to a flying start with a number of cool newspaper/magazine applications, a host of games, and growing portfolio of business and personal productivity applications. Sure Win7 Tablets are going to have a myriad of software but none of it designed for use by a multi-touch tablet. Win7 is a desktop mouse/keyboard operating system bolted onto a tablet multi-touch interface. Chrome is being designed for netbooks and tablets so you’d think it has a chance to compete, except that Chrome is being built for web applications only. There will not be 3000 native apps catalog waiting for any new Chrome tablet. A massive catalog of dedicated tablet applications increase the value and utility of the iPad, and it’s just started.  A few highlights among the already launched applications.

  • OmniGraffle: OmniGroup makes great Mac software and their first app for the iPad is a great productivity application, and their other apps are on the way.
  • Epicurious: When used with an iPad dock you have the kitchen infopliance that so many folks have imagined.
  • Marvel Comics: All this application is missing is a Netflix type monthly account where you can read just released comics. The application is all there, it just needs content.
  • ABC TV: A great example of how streaming Ad supported TV can be delivered to the iPad.
  • AIM: the instant messaging client is better than the desktop version. Looks great.
  • USA Today/BBC News/New York Times/AP: the iPad already is a digital news hub.
  • Scrabble: beautiful rendition of the famous board game.
  • Kindle and iBooks apps: iBooks is a very nice reading client as is the Kindle. There are pros/cons with each application. The nice thing is that customers have a choice.

3. App Store Surprises – MoD will have to admit to being stunned that NetFlix was approved for the iPad. NetFlix is a clear competitor in the digital download space with iTunes. It’s the kind of app you would expect Apple to deny based on it duplicating the function of iTunes. However, it’s there and works great. It’s the sort of all you consume via streaming movie service that iTunes really needs. ABC TV app was a nice surprise, and due to the close working relationship between Disney and Apple that app was guaranteed approval. Still it was nice to see ABC put the pressure on Hulu.com to roll out their iPad application. Slingplayer for iPad is enroute as well, more competition for content from iTunes. Another very pleasant surprise was the addition of Amazon’s Kindle application. It’s a direct competitor to the iBook application/store, again the sort of application you’d expect Apple to deny. A Nook application from Barnes and Noble cannot be far behind. So far, Apple seems far more focused on creating capability for the device rather than enforcing some iTunes only media garden.

4. The IPS LCD screen is just gorgeous. MoD hasn’t had a chance to compare it to a AMOLED/OLED screen, but Apple use of LED backlighting and IPS technology has created the best looking LCD out there. Photos from digital magazines look amazing, as does video. Again, Netbooks and other tablets are going to have a very hard time competing against the quality of the Apple display and OLED is years away from being cheaper enough for a 10 inch size display. An iPhone using this display technology could re-establish a lead in this cell phone aspect as well.

Cons/Weaknesses

1. Multi-tasking – Solved. Next

2. Printing – There are like 9 printing applications in the App Store. How are users supposed to know which one actually works? And the ones that require sharing software on a networked computer are really pointless (just send the document to that computer and save ten bucks). MoD was stunned and very disappointed that printing services was not one of the tent poles of the iPhone 4.0 OS presentation. The iPad has to have direct printing, and a printing API every application can use.

3. MobileMe or Virtual Disk syncing – Apple really needs to clean this up. Ted Landau has a great writeup on this already, but MoD will quote his great suggestion,

“Apple could permit iPad apps to both export documents to and import documents from a MobileMe iDisk. This would make it much easier to shuttle files back and forth between a Mac and an iPad.”

Each application could even be given it’s own space on MobileMe. An iPad folder with sub directories for each application would be fine to keep things as simple as possible. If the user does not have MobileMe account, then create a local shared folder for the iPad to use with it’s synced computer, that can be synced wirelessly when the two devices are on the same network. Either way this isn’t rocket science with Apple’s networking technology, and if Apple wants the device to be a productivity tool it needs this level of networking file access and syncing.

Simple Suggestions for the Future (not mentioned at Thursday’s media event)

1. Some kind of on screen tabbed browsing for Safari so that it’s simply one touch to switch to your favorite browser window. The navigating back and forth to the browser pages is getting kind of old. With more screen real estate, Apple could do something different for the iPad over the iPhone implementation. A popover menu would be an awesome implementation.

2. The multi-tasking option that was shown for the iPhone will work fine for the iPad. However, with the added screen real estate some screen option like tabs on one side of the screen that the user chooses is one practical implementation.

3. Photo application needs to have editing capabilites. Most of the edit functions of iPhoto could be extended to the iPad’s application, the Camera Connect accessories seem like a waste if you are not able to edit the photos that you have just imported.

4. Second iPod dock port. It would be nice to be able to charge the iPad while being able to connect the Camera Connect accessories. Or charge while you are using the video out cable.

5. Ability to project video on a second source for more applications. Now this maybe a limitation of the video capabilities of the iPad but it would seem that more than just Photos or Keynote could be supported.

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