The newest creation of zeitgeist-botherers, Apple, is the iPad- the company’s new tablet computer announced last month in San Francisco. Apple was typically secretive about the device prior to its launch, perhaps in an attempt to cultivate the hype. If so, it certainly worked.
But the hype, whilst being rabid and credulous, isn’t totally unjustified. The iPad’s aesthetics will be immediately familiar to any iPhone owner and all indications point to it being a beautiful device to both look at and use. Its main attraction is the stunning 9.7-inch multi-touch screen, but this is also backed up with some real hardware clout: a fast processor, storage capacity of between 16 and 64GB and impressive battery life of up to 10 hours of constant use. Connectivity comes in the form of Wi-Fi and 3G, although you’ll have to wait another month for a version with the latter. Apple haven’t yet released any UK prices, but you can expect to pay around £400 for the entry-level 16GB model, up to around £650 for the 64GB model with 3G.
Brand new to the device is ‘iBooks,’ an application for downloading and reading e-books, although in this market the iPad may struggle to compete with dedicated e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, which offers better readability and battery life. The iPad will also feature all of the iPhone’s functionality short of actually being able to make calls: iTunes, the Safari web browser, e-mail, calendar, photos, YouTube and more, all of which have been upgraded for the larger screen. But before you rush out and spend your next loan instalment on one, bear this in mind: the iPad is not a laptop. It isn’t even a netbook. For example, although the storage capacity sounds impressive, it pales into insignificance next to most netbooks and its functionality will be limited to the applications Apple authorise for its (admittedly expansive) App Store. And you can say goodbye to multitasking and Flash, features that netbook users have enjoyed for years. Spencer Kelly, prolific technology journalist, told BBC News that the most revolutionary aspect was the availability of a keyboard and stand.
However, the iPad does have a lot of potential if you consider it the new concept that it is: an accessible and simple entertainment device, and one that is wholly more fun to use than a netbook. I’m sure much of this won’t matter to some; put simply the poser potential is enormous, a fate the iPhone itself too often suffered upon its release two years ago.
Apple are marketing the iPad as ‘magical and revolutionary’, Stephen Fry labelled it a “game-changer”, Charlie Brooker referred to it as an “oblong that lights up” – you’ll be able to make up your own mind when it hits the UK next month.