February 8, 2010
By Mark Ollig
The rumors were that Apple’s new tablet computing device was going to be called the iSlate or the iTablet.
Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs walked out onto the stage at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco to make the dramatic announcement in front of an anxiously awaiting audience Jan. 27.
Yours truly was watching the live video-stream broadcast over the Internet.
Jobs was dressed in his traditional laid-back blue jeans and comfortable looking black turtle neck sweater.
On this day, Jobs started his keynote by talking about how we use laptops and smart-phones, and whether there was some computing device that could be in the middle of the two.
I thought the netbook was this middle piece.
Jobs magically seemed to anticipate my thought and said in front of the audience “. . . some people had thought that’s a netbook. The problem is netbooks aren’t better at anything.”
This remark drew laughter and applause from the audience.
“They are just cheap laptops,” Jobs continued. “We don’t think they are a third-category device,” he said.
There was a moment of silence.
Jobs finally broke the tension by saying “But we think we’ve got something that is . . . and we call it, the iPad.”
“I happen to have one right here,” he said as he held up the half-inch thin, tablet-like device, about the size of a sheet of paper.
The audience in attendance erupted in spontaneous applause.
When I saw Jobs holding this new iPad, my first thought was that it looked like a larger version of my iPodtouch.
The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds and has a 9.7-inch LED-backlit, glossy, wide, multi-touch display screen. And just like ordering eye glasses with “scratch proofing,” the iPad screen incorporates a “fingerprint-resistant oleophobic” coating.
All iPads will have built-in Wi-Fi, and some will have 3G capability for Internet access via a cellular phone network.
Jobs proceeded to sit down in a chair on stage with the working iPad and demonstrated how easy it was to get on the Internet. He then accessed and scrolled through the front page of the online New York Times newspaper.
Jobs pointed out how nice it was being able to see the whole web page at one time.
There was one embarrassing moment while Jobs was opening a news story containing a media format which did not load on the iPad. The media format was coded in Adobe Flash, which Apple’s iPad does not support.
Jobs then quickly exited the New York Times and went to the Time magazine web site for a brief moment.
While on the National Geographic web site, Jobs turned the iPad sideways and the screen changed from portrait to landscape viewing mode.
At each web site visited, Jobs stated how easy it was to navigate the web page by simply using the touch of a finger – there’s no need to use a mouse.
Jobs said how “phenomenal” it was to “hold the Internet in your hands.”
Reading e-mail is easier on an iPad versus an iPodtouch. Typing a message is effortless using the almost life-size on-screen touch QWERTY keyboard.
Photos can be stored as “stacks of albums” in the iPad, and Jobs demonstrated how easily they can be viewed and shared.
The iPad’s calendar, address and contact book, along with a map application, were also shown.
Jobs said the iPad is “an awesome way to enjoy your music collection.”
Of course, Jobs also mentioned the iPad’s “built-in” iTunes store, where one can purchase music, movies, TV shows, podcasts and more.
The over 140,000 available Apple applications will work with the iPad.
During Job’s demonstration using e-mail, I noted he was able to successfully open the attached Adobe PDF file. It would have been a bigger surprise if the iPad did not support a common Portable Document File.
Jobs then showed how simple it was to start a slideshow presentation using music in any of his photo albums, which brought applause from the audience in attendance.
I was impressed how effortless it is to just “tap-tap-tap” or glide your finger on the touch screen to maneuver on the Internet or using an application.
No doubt playing games or “gaming” will become one of the iPad’s popular uses also.
The iPad scores high on the comfort factor – heck, my mother might even enjoy using the iPad to do her crossword puzzles on.
The iPad comes in 16, 32 or 64GB flash drive sizes which provides plenty of storage space for video, applications, games, music, and photos.
During the demonstrations, the high-resolution, full-color, 9.7-inch, back-lit screen displayed crisp, easy-to-read text, while the colors were bright and vivid.
The iPad is powered by Apple’s 1 GHz A4 custom-designed processor.
The internal rechargeable lithium-polymer battery will provide up to 10 hours of web surfing, video watching, or music listening.
One description of the iPad – which I like – calls it a “media consumption device.”
Apple also announced their new iBooks store, where e-books can be downloaded and read on the iPad. This appears to be Apple’s shot “across the bow” at the popular Kindle book reader.
McGraw-Hill has made arrangements with Apple to develop school textbook, study guide, and test-preparation applications for use on the iPad.
The FCC needs to approve the iPad before they can be sold to the public, so look for the iPad being available sometime this summer.
To learn more and see the accessories for the iPad, go to www.apple.com/ipad.