It's a Tablet Running a Touch OS

At the heart, er surface, the iPad is a tablet computer. This has been tried before and usually met with very little success. The problems were three fold: hardware, form factor and UI.

What sets the iPad apart from those that came before it is that it finally has the right combination of all three. The hardware is powerful enough to run the OS quickly while maintaining good battery life, the form factor is thin and light enough to be portable and the UI is tailored to the device.

The latter is especially important. Where Microsoft has failed in the past with both its approach to smartphones and tablets is in its attempt to scale down a desktop OS. As we've seen countless times, the only way to design for a different segment is to start from the ground up. Microsoft itself learned this with the Media Center Edition UI on top of Windows.

Since this isn't the 1980s, the iPad only has four physical buttons on the device. At the top you have a power/lock button, on the right you have a rotation lock switch (keeps the desktop from rotating) and volume rocker, and then at the lower part of the face of the unit there's a home button. If this seems familiar it's because this is the exact hardware layout of the iPhone, just on a larger scale.

The vast majority of your interface to the iPad takes place via it's 9.7" capacitive touchscreen display.

Along the bottom edge of the iPad you'll find Apple's standard 30-pin dock connector. You can use existing iPod Touch/iPhone USB cables, however this is a much more power hungry device and thus you can't charge off of a standard USB port (more on this later).

For your charging needs Apple supplies a single 10W power adapter, which looks a lot like the power adapters for the first iPhones.

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  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    it occurs to me that i would want a way to protect the screen from getting scratched, and that would mean a
    cover or case that would take the place of the clamshell design of a netbook/notebook.
    why would i want to pay a price premium for a device with slower performance which only achieves acceptable functionality with the addition of expensive peripherals?
    even after all the peripherals, i still lose the ability to effortlessly prop-up a netbook on my lap and type an email, or set a netbook up on a table in a coffee shop.
    nothing about the tablet form factor is convenient for on-the-go usage for me.

    the only situation where i can possibly imagine this being a preferable form factor is for wall mount usage or some other kind of "always left out in the open" type of use, like a universal remote control, or a mini home television viewer in the kitchen.
    but it seems too expensive for those uses to me.
    there must be a better alternative.
    Reply
  • MacTheSpoon - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the great review. I was shocked you'd typed 40% of it with the iPad.

    Would you mind doing a comparison between the iPad keyboard and a physical keyboard? Since there is no utility to measure WPM for the iPad, maybe you could time how long it takes to type the same passage on both--something with some semicolons, quotation marks, and/or em dashes would be ideal, as I'm curious how the virtual keyboard stands up when the user must switch between layouts.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    You know, this was something I was dying to address a few times. I'm hoping that the iTextspeed application developers update their code soon to be iPad compatible, because that's something I want to test for sure.

    I've gotten to the point where I can touch type in landscape pretty easy, but I can also type pretty fast on the iPhone (around 80 WPM using their application). If and when it's updated, we might do something and include the update.

    If it helps any, this was also composed pretty quickly from an iPad. ;)

    Cheers,
    Brian Klug
    Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    1) How did you get a 720p video on the iPhone for the video test when the allowable maximum "up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second" video?

    2) From my testing, the iPad uses about 20MB more than the 3GS on startup. Most, if not all, of this is for the GPU. I've also noticed that native apps are also using more RAM. While the 3GS has enough to support standard multitasking the iPad does not. Even switching pages in Safari on the iPad would have to be reloaded while the 3GS does not. This will even more of an issue with the 3G version of the iPad. This gives me doubts about multitasking unles iPhone OS v4.0 is much more efficient (making 3.2.2 a stand in, which looks to be the case) and Apple has a more intuitive quasi-multitasking concept to unveil today.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    I can't speak about the RAM usage - are you using iStat or similar?

    However 720P H.264 video is certainly supported, which is what we used. I tested all the different profiles in handbrake, all of them work if you keep the video at or under 1280x720:

    "H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format"

    That's straight from http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

    I think you're getting confused with the MPEG4 limitation which is indeed 640x480. ;)

    -Brian Klug
    Reply
  • Ph00 - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    sorry to be ot but is that a black mouth cur dog? Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    I'll wait for iPad v2 with reliably working wifi, no overheating, working PDF export, at least a backside camera for snapshots and maybe short flicks and perhaps multitasking. Ill stop here because any more missing features would seem greedy - apple needs a reason to sell you the 2012 iPad...

    As for atom based ipad - are you nuts? Nobody wants that garbage. Gimme a dual core cortex A9 instead.
    Reply
  • Mike1111 - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    You mean the 2011 iPad, right? Because there's no way Apple isn't gonna do a yearly refresh cycle like they do with all their iPhone OS based products. Reply
  • Mike1111 - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    My mistake. You meant even iPad v2 in 2011 won't be feature complete because Apple needs some features for the 2012 iPad v3.

    Hm, how do I delete a post?
    Reply
  • Lemonjellow - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    "Sure, but so could a TV that made me pancakes. Neither is ready yet or guaranteed."

    Can you confirm or deny that someone is working on said TV project? :- D
    Reply

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