Confidence is built upon credibility, something Apple really earned thanks to the first iPod. Apple gained the mainstream credibility to introduce a product, say it's going to be the best thing ever, and have customers give it the benefit of the doubt.

Credibility is a finite good however. Promise the world and deliver beans instead too many times and you'll find yourself back to square one. Luckily for Apple, that hasn't happened yet.

The iPod gave Apple credibility, but Mac OS X, Mac hardware and eventually the iPhone all made deposits in that bank. That's not to say that Apple devices are flawless, but the company has won the confidence of a huge part of the market.

The road to the iPad announcement was riddled with rumors and unsubstantiated claims of what the Apple tablet would do. It was to be the replacement for everything from cable TV to netbooks. Hype is a difficult thing to control, but in the case of the iPad, the market's expectations were beyond unrealistic.

The hopeful child in all of us wanted to believe. We wanted to believe that Apple would introduce something truly revolutionary, something that would let us do anything we ever wanted to do. We just didn't know what that was, but we believed that there was a slight chance Apple might make it happen.

What followed on January 27, 2010, the day of the iPad announcement, was a collection of excitement, disappointment and confusion.

I do have to place some (a lot?) of the blame on Apple. By saying nothing, confirming nothing (short of threatening law suits) Apple let the hype get carried away. And I'm not totally convinced that Apple itself wasn't behind some of the leaks in order to generate free marketing for this device. The worst? Jobs calling the iPad magical. If the device was shipping today with no ergonomics issues, no slowdowns, no crashes and with a full list of heavy hitter apps (real ones, not just ones that showed us what the iPad could do in the future), then I'd call it magical. You can't call something magical if it just promises magic at some point in the future. Well, you can, but then you'll anger a lot of people who oppose to such liberal use of language.

You have to hand it to Apple PR though. Through careful planning and seeding of review units, it managed to end up in all of the right hands a few days prior to its launch.

It had been on every single late night talk show in the span of a couple days. It even made it to the grammys earlier this year. Folks looking to catch a break would kill for the sort of free publicity apples iPad has received. It has celebrity status without even adopting any orphans.

And like a celebrity, the iPad is very polarizing.

The iPad, even moreso than the iPhone, is not the end all, be all universal device for everyone. In fact, unlike the iPhone, it doesn't replace any existing device in your life. It's an addition. There are things it does beautifully, things it does ok, and things it just plain can’t do. Today, I'll try to take you through all of that as best I can.

It's a Tablet Running a Touch OS
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  • strikeback03 - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    My carputer runs fine with temps in the car over 100*F. Reply
  • Mumrik - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    Man! You guys must really have been in a hurry to get this review up.

    It is long, critical and thorough as I expect from you, but there are quite a lot of grammatical errors and you repeat yourself a lot i places. :-D
    Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    When you read the rhetoric between the gtx 470/480 reviews, your most recent Macbook pro reviews, and your current iPad review, its clear the latter is by far the single largest fluff piece ever posted on this site. You seem to have forgotten that people come to your site for one reason. We are the unknowing consumers who turn to your impartial judgement with one, and only one question: should we buy it?

    Ryan Smith's gtx 470/480 review was superb. He didn't write "I could see myself buying a $500 gtx 480 for my 4th PC on summer trips to my house in the hamptons where I don't have to be using my real desktop for any real work". He flat out said "Nvidia was too little, too late". He didn't try to sell anyone on what might possibly be on some distant horizon in the upcoming future if you had the extra money; he delineates whether or not people should buy the item right now.

    When future potential arrives, then you write another article explaining how the landscape has changed. Anand, your latest article shamelessly bent over backwards to positively sell the iPad in this way. How about comparing the ipad to the ipod touch, the iphone, the blackberry, the android, and explaining if people who own these items that deeply saturate our society what the iPad means to them? How about answering the bottom line question of if I should go buy one right now or if I should wait? How about any statement, however remote it is, on what sort of competition the ipad will face and what that means to the consumer? Who are you serving here? The people? Apple? Or your personal beliefs towards tablet PCs as something you simply want to succeed despite obviously being in infancy?

    Anand, don't lose that journalistic sense of justice that requires you tell your readers what they need to know, not how you might use the item if you had extra money for a vacation to australia.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    A couple of annoyances in the past with the iPhone 3g (aside form no-Flash) has been (1) it's lingering keyboard, (2) safari drop down menu assistance, and (3) delayed shortcuts

    1:
    An example of the lingering keyboard is when texting someone else. There is no way to hide/autohide the keyboard once it's open. For the text messaging you can go into "edit" mode or simply go back to "messages" page and then back to the text, but why make it hard? I know my IRC apps make it easy to hide the keyboard, by just touching the screen again, why can't Apple just add a button?

    2:
    While the scrollable, assisted, drop-down menu in Safari is neat, those long-texted options are inadequate. Especially for cases that start off with the same sentence; for instance:
    "I am a customer that heard about this site ..." {offscreen: from the web}
    "I am a customer that heard about this site ..." {offscreen: from a friend}
    "I am a customer that heard about this site ..." {offscreen: from work}
    -- basically, you can't see the off-screen stuff until selected. I don't understand that since Apple has made a zoomable, fluid, paging device.

    3:
    While certain shortcuts would be effective on the iPhone, I think it's the response time that's lacking. For instance, the touch-and-hold period button has a popup option that allows you to select the ellipsis (tri-dot). That would be effective if the popup was more instantaneous - instead, it's faster to type out 3 periods. It's these menus that I hope are still prevalent in the iPad keyboard, but have a better response time.

    vol7ron

    ----------------------
    PS: loved the review. I am thinking about getting an iPad now - as stated before, I will have to wait for a price drop. $500-1000 is not acceptable, especially given the amount of storage. I'd love to see this device price range reduced to around $250-500 (perhaps hopeful future thinking).
    Reply
  • Locut0s - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    Looks like it. Nice if so! Reply
  • CSMR - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    We are seeing that limited devices (iPhone, Windows Phone 7, iPad) have an appeal to many consumers, who just want to do a small and finite number of things with them. This type of device can be stylish and effective.

    But I think Anandtech and other tech sites should have a prejudice in favor of computers rather than locked down devices. Limited devices can be cool, and I'm not saying AnandTech shouldn't review them, but it should prefer systems that are not limited.

    Rather than going along with the average consumer tech sites could show the market how to make unlimited systems (tablets running Win7, phones running OSes like android, windows mobile) better designed and more intuitive, and show users how to use these effectively.

    The current proliferation of locked-down devices has some strengths but it is a threat to computing. We've been fortunate that computers have been so popular. What if most people no longer use computers, but devices, and the market caters to them? What if the computer market becomes like the console market? What will advanced users do?
    Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    Anand mentions that the iPad keeps performance decent by relying on solid state memory and a lightweight OS.... I'd like to see those iPad vs. netbook tests re-run against a netbook w/a SSD... I mean, a decent netbook plus a 40GB Intel X25-V is still cheaper than an iPad. ;)

    I realize that a $120 drive upgrade to a $300 computer isn't something the average consumer does, but it's pretty common amongst us geeks. /shrug Plus we've seen the X25-V as low as $99 (or $75 for the Kingston version). My X25-V gave my Acer Aspire One a nice kick in the pants, sure it doesn't make it play Flash video any better but it significantly improved multi-tasking, app loading, and hibernation.

    A CULV laptop + a decent SSD wouldn't be much more expensive than some of the iPads after you factor in some of the options (stand, apps, 3G, higher capacities, etc). I realize they're not the same type of device, just trying to speak purely to the performance side of the argument here...
    Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    I wasn't quite done reading the article when I wrote that last post... The battery life numbers for the iPad are pretty impressive, heck even the 3GS numbers seem impressive compared to my 2nd gen iPod touch. I don't know if Plants vs Zombies is just poorly optimized, or if the reduced processing capabilities of my touch drain the battery faster, but I'm lucky if I can get more than two hours of the thing with that game. It just rapes the battery life...

    I guess one reason Apple might've skipped out on Moorestown would be battery life considerations, 'specially when playing back media... The degree to which many games seem to drain smartphone batteries these days makes me wonder why we even bother though, I can't possibly consider gaming on my smartphone if it means the battery's not gonna last me thru the day because of it... Despite the fact that this one of the few things I do like about the direction Apple has taken the iPhone OS in (the gaming environment/potential).
    Reply
  • Mr Alpha - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    I can of the top of my head think of two reasons why the iBooks app isn't installed by default.

    1. The iBookstore is US only, and the iPad is international. This means they would either have to ship the iPad with an app people can't use or have two sets of firmware, one for US and another one for the rest of the world.

    2. The developer license agreement states that you can't duplicate functionality. So if they had included the iBooks app by default they would have had to either kick all other ereader apps and catch hell for it, or ignore it and come of a hypocritical while undermining their own license agreement.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    The iBooks app does not come with the firmware of the iPad, it is a downloadable app like Remote and iDisk. Reply

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