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Answers to (some) iPad questions

SAN FRANCISCO--As those of you not trapped under a rock or living at the far end of a mine shaft may have heard, Apple introduced a tablet computer yesterday called the iPad. (In other news you may have missed, President Obama gave a speech last night.)

iPad

The $499-and-up iPad's place in the computing ecosystem, somewhere between the smartphone and the laptop, isn't necessarily clear. Neither are some of the finer points of its announced and potential capabilities, to judge from the questions I've seen here, in e-mail and on Twitter.

Writing on an iPad: The iPad's screen can display a virtual keyboard, like an iPhone's but far bigger. In the demo, as you can see in this video Apple has posted, Steve Jobs makes touch typing look easy. I'm sure that with practice it is... but then again, so is thumb-typing on a BlackBerry.

Apple will also sell a keyboard dock, pictured at the bottom of the iPad's tech-specs page.

Wireless-data options: A lower-end iPad with only WiFi--that's where the advertised $499 figure comes from--won't incur any extra monthly bills but also may be frequently offline. But the $130 surcharge for an iPad with 3G mobile-broadband capability doesn't require signing any contracts. Under the data deal Apple negotiated with AT&T, you can choose among three options in any given month: $14.99 for 250 megabytes of data, $29.99 for unlimited data, or $0 for WiFi only. That's a huge change from wireless service as we've known it.

The hardware inside the iPad: Whatever happens to the iPad, its processor may make a major difference in Apple's future mobile devices. This in-house deisgn--apparently a benefit of Apple's 2008 acquisition of chip architect P.A. Semi--offers dramatically improved performance compared to other mobile-optimized chips. After putting up with a Windows netbook's exasperating sluggishness this week, this seems awfully tantalizing.

What's not there: The iPad leaves out a webcam, SD Card slot and (on WiFi-only models) GPS auto-location. If it can print, nobody with Apple mentioned such a capability to me yesterday. And like its iPhone cousins, the iPad doesn't seem to allow non-Apple programs to run in the background.

Alternate readings of that "iPad" name: As my colleague Monica Hesse notes in a story, "iPad" may evoke associations with certain feminine-hygiene products. I'm not sure what to think about that, considering that I'm a guy, and... uh... er... um... can't we please talk about something else?

The potential audience: The iPa... I mean, Apple tablet seemed to go over well among the audience (note to some of my fellow journalists: Did you forget about the "no cheering in the press box" rule?) But its reception in the mass market seems less certain.

For now, I can imagine two potential markets for this thing: computing veterans looking for a third, coffee-table-based computer to supplement a laptop, desktop or both; and beginners looking for a simple, cheap, secure Internet device. How about you: How would you define the iPad's possible audience--or do you see no proof of its existence? The comments await...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 28, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  E-books , Gadgets  
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Comments

Just a note that there are a number of apps currently existing for iPhone/iPodTouch to print wirelessly, so if the iPad doesn't include it (which would seem strange) then it should be easy to add it.

Personally, I think the big thing that the iPad is missing is the option to use a stylus for handwriting. I would consider buying one to replace my various notebooks and planners I carry around to meetings, but I'm not going to always want to type. I can't type fast enough for that, and it just doesn't fit the way I work.

Posted by: robmck@gmail.com | January 28, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

I am the iPad's target audience; my wife--who has a ThinkPad tablet PC--is not.

I use and prefer a desktop machine at home, but would love something lighter and cheaper than a laptop for travel, use in other parts of the house, etc.

She needs a travel machine which she can use for her job--which includes lots of MS Word use and downloading/ editing/ uploading documents. Without a Word-compatible editor and the ability to manage and archive document files, she couldn't use it to do her job--so it's a non-starter.

(I assume that this could be fixed if (a) the web-based MS Office implementation runs well in Mobile Safari and has all the necessary features of the desktop edition and/or (b) her employer writes a private app to handle the download/ edit/ upload cycle on an iPad-type machine. The former is plausible, the latter not so much unless the device is a real hit.)

Re: keyboards, I would hope that the inclusion of bluetooth would mean that any wireless keyboard that connects via BT could be used with the iPad.

Re: handwriting, I wonder if the larger screen will allow apps that capture handwriting with a finger (rather than a stylus) for later replay/revision/recognition?

Posted by: tegularius | January 28, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I might have been sold on the iPad but the absence of a USB port, webcam and an SD card slot ruins it for me. The price for the WiFi is pretty low ($499) that I would buy it just to have something on the coffee table that doesn't have to be plugged in (if the 10-hour battery life is accurate). But without a USB port, one would need yet another set of proprietary peripherals. And with no SD card, how do I get my pictures into the iPad without wires? Even the cheapest laptops have multimedia card slots and webcams these days.

Posted by: tundey | January 28, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

This will kill all the portable dvd players. If you have any young kids..you know that having 10 hours of battery life on a device that plays movies..is a lifesaver! way to go apple!

Posted by: jimboy435 | January 28, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Apple. For once, I'm SO underwhelmed. It's a very expensive netbook without adequate storage, usable keyboard, or a replaceable battery.

And, we won't even get into the choice of the name....

Posted by: obss | January 28, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm also sad to see no USB port. However, Apple is offering "camera connection" hardware that plugs into the dock port and allows you to either insert an SD card or connect the camera directly via its USB cable. The latter might work for an external hard drive, but I assume that the drive couldn't be USB powered.

Posted by: joatamon | January 28, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I predict that apple will extend the Airport Express product line so all your USB peripherals etc would be accessible over wifi. Just seems like an obvious solution to printing, getting input from digital cameras, etc.

Posted by: troy5 | January 28, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

We should distinguish among diverse contexts of information; they are not equivalent. Has the movie replaced the book? Has a book replaced the handwritten note? Has the handwritten note replaced a spoken sentiment?

No. Each provides unique sentient context for interacting, absorbing and even 'losing oneself in' intentioned information.

I think the iPad is game changing (or at least game accelerating, the game being the evolution of human culture) for a construct I have explored for a number of years that I dub a "memecopia" (literally a "profusion of ideas"). A memecopia is a platform for delivering and casually interacting with complex hyperlinked combinations of media to deliver multidimensional plateaus for intellectual and emotional engagement.

All new media begin by imitating precedent media. Look at the Gutenberg Bible, for instance. It goes to great pains to emulate the products of scriptoria. The first movies simply filmed stage plays. Now, at its debut, the iPad animated page flip simply expresses its infancy as memecopia. [ http://www.spotops.net/index.php/component/content/article/22-sentiarity ]

I salivate at the prospect of conjoining Adobe's rich media player, Kurzweil's Blio eReader and my MacBook Pro's capacity to weld together deliverable excursions through complex inter-associations of media services that may be delivered via an iPad.

But from time to time I will still prefer to displace my momentary sense of situation with the incomparable experience of reading a well designed book that opens into a direct engagement with an author's thought.

Welcome to the cultural dialog, iPad!

Posted by: johojo | January 28, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of Apple's products but I'm probably going to wait for version 1.5 of this device - if for no other reason than Apple's 1.5 versions often include some nice little kicker that substantially improves the thing. And in the meantime I'll wait to see what kind of real uses emerge for it - what incremental value the iPad provides. For instance, I have an iPhone, and I have a MacBook, and I have trouble envisioning many circumstances under which I'd take an iPad with me in lieu of one of those two. It'd be nice to have in the house, I suppose, for casual browsing, etc. but I'm not sure that's a particularly good use of funds.

By contrast, my wife may find this, or something like it, quite useful. She sells real estate and while her Blackberry is sufficient for staying in e-mail touch, she might get good use out of a light and slender, always-connected device that can display house photos, supply large and readable Google map directions, and allow the creation and editing of basic word processing documents.

Maybe I've been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid through the years but my guess is that the real potential of this device is yet to be revealed, in the way that iTunes elevated the iPod, and the App Store the iPhone. It's easy to forget that both of those devices produced the same kind of reaction when introduced as the iPad has, namely, "cool, but why precisely do I want one?"

Posted by: JohnDorsey | January 28, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I want to see what the Real World (TM) battery life is before I consider buying one of these.

Posted by: wiredog | January 28, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the iPad will replace portable DVD players unless it can play DVDs. It may kill off other downloaded/ripped video playback devices, but that is a far cry from the DVD market.

Posted by: soxfan3 | January 28, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It is a perfect device for my use, I have an iPhone, a desktop and a laptop, but I like to be connected to the net at all times fast and with quality.

Now my alternative to this at home is the iPhone, but it very small screen and difficulty to cope with the very small keyboard makes this quite difficult.

Perfect, then for my european style "2 minute breakfast" browsing (what device is really "on" the net in 2 minutes?), also for "pre-sleep" browsing, and any casual "2 minute" time window to connect (while TV commercials on...)

So, I hope to have it available soon here in Europe, I think here it will be heavily promoted by communication companies, as it has happened with iPhones, but this will mean tighted to an operator.

Posted by: Juanjobenavent | January 28, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Some computer musicians are already using TouchOSC on iPhone/iTouch to control audio software like SuperCollider, pd, ChucK etc. A bigger control surface is intriguing. Remains to be seen if it's more than a gimmick.

Posted by: jamshark70 | January 28, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The business model potential off iPad is off the charts as app developers can bring new, creative and exciting ways to read books by interacting video and/or audio, offer new, cheaper ways for self-publishers to market and make better profits off their Works, and the next generation of magazines and newspapers that also have more moving parts. And what about live local news? All through the apps, thus app sales as revenue streams. It's fascinating.

Posted by: dentuttle | January 28, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

As a Kindle devotee, I have to admit that I am intrigued. I am not a Mac owner, but I recently bought an iphone and am obsessed with itunes. But if ibooks can't compete with Amazon in price or selection, it won't work for me. My question is, could I run the Kindle app on ipad and just have another vehicle for my Kindle purchases? Or in thory, could someone start purchasing Kindle content and just read it on their Kindle app on an ipad? I think I am just a big sucker because I probably plan on buying one (wifi only, no way in hell I am paying AT&T more $).

Posted by: blackandgreen | January 28, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Just buy a notebook : you will save money and be happier without smug indignation.

Posted by: stikyfingas | January 28, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Rob, how does this device's weight compare to the other eReaders?

Posted by: jbernstein3 | January 28, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

No USB or SD slot = more money for Apple on peripherals.

Posted by: mediajunky | January 28, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

As an eBook Reader, it is a bulbous monstrousity to lug around. It is like planting a 5 gallon rose bush with a steam shovel! I think you can scratch eBook Reading off of it as useful. Not having an SD card slot is not good. I like the Wi-Fi option. I assume it at least plays music. It does not print??

This device will run smack up against 7 inch MID devices (such as Astak is developing). At less than $299, the Astak (for example) will do all this does and will weigh far less and be easier to use while traveling. That will have a camera, a webcam, and SD card slot and a lot more.

So... I think this will catch a ton of attention and be as useless as the steam shovel for the rose bush!

Posted by: EZReader1 | January 28, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I had also wondered about if/how printing would be handled with the iPad.

It also seems like a user would be "locked-in" to the iTunes Store, if he wanted to add new music. I guess you could re-sync newly added songs from a laptop or iPod, but that seems cumbersome.

Maybe the iPad will eventually accomodate a 3rd party device that plays (and allows imports) of CDs or the viewing of DVDs.

Posted by: sdcafunnyguru | January 29, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Only 250 MB per month?!!! Is that progress???

Posted by: docchari | January 29, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Only 250 MB per month?!!! Is that progress???

Posted by: docchari | January 29, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

The market will consist of 3 types of people:

1) Those that live in houses (not apartments/condos) where it would be convenient to keep this lying in the living room as opposed to busting out a laptop or walking back to your desktop. Note this demo will also be affluent enough to pay for something that's expensive for what it does.

2) Apple lovers that will buy any gizmo that the company makes because they just assume it's awesome. (I'm not saying that some of the products aren't awesome, but keep your heads, people).

3) Computer noobs that either didn't do their research or just didn't understand what it was that they were buying. I really don't see this as a good way for adults to enter the computer world because it just isn't versatile enough to be anybody's only computer--especially when you can get a decent laptop for less than the price of the high end ipad.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | January 29, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

more male-centric stuff from Apple. the sheer contempt for women by these fanboys is more than enuf to warrant passing this weirdly configured, over-priced netbook by.

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | January 29, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm baffled by many of these comments. Did anyone bother to read the specs?

http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

If the iPad doesn't do USB, why does it require a Mac or PC with USB 2.0?

Posted by: MarkGisleson | January 29, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I travel A LOT and would love a thinner, lighter computing device to take with me. Unfortunately I don't get paid to surf or watch videos so it must run some real office apps. This means either MS Office or Open Office. It must also have a SMALL standardized way of loading new data. aka a USB port. What is the point of a small light device if you have to carry extra junk just to read a memory stick?

Posted by: boomer5 | January 29, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

You have to buy their connector.
From the site -

"iPad Camera Connection Kit

The Camera Connection Kit gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera. The Camera Connector lets you import your photos and videos to iPad using the camera’s USB cable. Or you can use the SD Card Reader to import photos and videos directly from the camera’s SD card."

Posted by: cmecyclist | January 29, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I want an Ipad Versatile device that
is a telecommunications device that allows us to speak to one another face to face, like in a science fiction movie; It has to have fully functional iphone capabilities too,

Allows us to mix film, sound, television, radio, and internet media, and also mix it with its own video camera images and sound.

Will allow us to use it as the ultimate books on tape reading device, where one can hear the book being read while viewing the text of the book.

I also want it to work as a cash register device for business, the touch pad would be programmable for this function.

This device should be the ultimate conduit for information consumption and production.

Posted by: g-lo | January 29, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The possibilities for this device in high school education are endless. Imagine all of the text books this can replace. Simple WIFI in the classrooms would allow all transfers of study material and completed assignments. A simple lease program,insurance plan and an (iCase) would allow for students to bring the iPads home. Having a sixteen year old I know how important a laptop is today for high school students, but not every student has one. If every student had this device it could revolutionize education while also training in technology and efficient methods of communication which will help them in life.

Posted by: tkunk70 | January 29, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Here's a killer - it's not really a stand alone device.

You still need iTunes on a separate computer to sync and update it.

It really should have a USB port and SD card slot as so many others have mentioned. But maybe the iTunes sync necessity is the reason Apple didn't include those.

Posted by: trpt | January 29, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

It's audience will be the garbage collectors taking it to the dump. It seems useless. No secondary drive whatsoever...sd slot, optical drive, usb port...nothing. It's supposed to be a reader yet there's no flash support leaving out about 60% of the interenet's rich content. No multitasking. And I'm sure, as-per-usual, no battery access which means buying a entire new unit when the battery dies. Apple is out of touch.

Posted by: rsmiff | January 29, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Interesting idea, but with some misssteps.

Being locked into one memory size with no internal expansion capabilities (SD slot) is kind of a turn off. No USB would be a total killer.

Finally, I like to avoid proprietary formats when I can. I ditched buying things from iTunes a while ago in favor of amazon mp3s (no DRM). This makes Apple's e-book reader not that attractive.

Posted by: wwc4g | January 29, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I am an iPhone owner and a laptop user. I could still definitely see myself using this for a variety of reasons. The touch screen will offer so much ease of use, I can't tell you how much I dislike using a mouse or stupid little touch surface that is only two inches wide on a laptop.

My uses: Surfing in the family room and just being able to put it to the side and pick up quickly, taking it with me when traveling and having quick and easy access to internet and apps, reading books (why would I want a separate device for reading, I know I can handle carrying something slightly larger than a normal reader around if it does all types of other things), and gaming (a larger screen interface could really open it up for gaming compared to the iPhone, and the iPhone has some really good gaming apps).

From a work perspective, I can still use the email and view documents. What I really would like is to be able to write on this device and store/OCR the writings (maybe this is already a feature, maybe just an app in waiting). In addition, the ability to mark up presentation decks would be great.

This may not be the perfect product now, but the mobility and ease of use it offers is currently incredible, and let's not forget, it will only get better.

Posted by: khumphreys1 | January 29, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Can't help but notice that most of the negative comments are around old school PC issues (USB ports, card slots, etc.). Times change, technology changes, wireless is where things are going. In a few years, do you really think you are still going to be relying on cables? Get out of the old school, think of the future.

Posted by: khumphreys1 | January 29, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm not an Apple fan, and I don't get this. So I asked a friend who is an Apple Fan.

He said that he and his fellow fans took one look at this and thought, "Oh, it's an iTouch for Grandma!"

Posted by: PubPeople | January 29, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

There are several scenarios that define why I want this device:

On an airplane. I can check the laptop and turn the iPhone off. There's never been a better airplane device -- movies, books, music, magazines, games, even some work, all in one small device.

In bed in the evening and my wife is watching "Hoarders" ... I don't have to get up to watch TV in another room or go to the computer. (And assuming they update the Slingbox app ... could be a very nice way to watch something else on TV.)

It's noisy at work and I want to go to a coffee shop for an hour or two to write ... leave the laptop, bring the iPad and a bluetooth keyboard (question: will the iGo foldup bluetooth keyboard be updated especially for the iPad? Seems like a natural.)

In the car ... seems like creating a cheap from-the-roof cradle for the iPad so it could be used as a backseat movie viewer to entertain the kids would be cheap and simple ... much better than buying an in-car DVD system.

Now here's one scenario that scares me about buying the iPad ... my 2 1/2 year old twins get their hands on it. The glass screen won't survive 10 minutes with Mac and Finn.

Posted by: danconley | January 29, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the purpose of this device. It doesn't fit in a pocket so it has to be lugged around just like a laptop. It has many limitations, but what's its benefit over a laptop?

When they design one of these with a flexible OLED display, allowing it to be folded and put into a pocket, then they'll have something.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | January 29, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Ok, here's what I told my husband (tech boy) I wanted for Christmas: a larger version of my iPod Touch that could do MS Word with a detachable keyboard, and that plays nice with my office systems. I travel for work; not enough that I want a real laptop as my primary computer, but enough that I both need a laptop and resent the weight/annoyance of lugging the thing around. It is flat-out annoying to travel with iPod for tunes/games/movies, laptop for work, work cellphone/bb (since my office won't yet support Apple), and, of course, any books or magazines I may want to bring. My backpack usually weighs more than my suitcase!

What I really want is something smaller than a laptop but bigger than my iPod that combines most or all of this into one. All of my iTunes music/movies/apps for fun, together with the ability to do the work I need to do (a/k/a playing nice with my office system and wireless access); books would be a huge added bonus. At first glance, the iPad looked to be the answer to my prayers. Except, once again, it looks like they've shorted the "work" side of things in favor of the "play" side (DH is still investigating, so jury's not out on that yet).

I'm a Mac-head -- not because I'm a techie, but because I'm the opposite: I love how they make things simple. I don't need fancy, "cool" tricks; I just want stuff to do what I need it to do. Which, alas, continues to be the sticking point with Apple. I love how well they do the "fun" stuff. But I have to work, too -- and I'm stuck with an office that insists on MS office apps. Which means I am also stuck NOT being able to use Apple for work until Apple decides to play nice. They've come a long way on home computing, which is great; after probably 10 years of PCs, I was finally able to come back to a Mac when they learned to play nice with my office system/Word documents. But I still can't use their laptops (much as I want one), because they aren't compatible with the air card my firm uses to get wireless access when I'm traveling -- and I'm not going to pay double for another wireless account. I just don't get why they still continue to insist on their own, different version of basic peripherals -- you'd have thought they learned that lesson 20+ years ago.

I would be happy to pay $700-800 for an iPad, if it allowed me to work seamlessly on my Word documents and use my firm's wireless access. Heck, I'd be first in line! But unless I can do that, well, it's just a bigger, more expensive iPod, which I neither need nor want.

Posted by: laura33 | January 29, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

My spouse was going to buy a Kindle, but I was not impressed with the limitations. The Kindle DX was an improvement, until I discovered you can't enlarge a PDF; many of the PDFs I wanted to read were microscopic (so much for using the Kindle as a portable documentation library).

While we'll have to touch one to be sold on the idea (another Kindle problem: you can't touch unless you buy), the iPad looks like it beats the Kindle on every front: music, movies, books, Web, color. So it looks like my spouse will get what she wants, but it won't be a Kindle.

Posted by: lcharters | January 29, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I love the iPad and intend to buy more than one. I have enjoyed the Kindles and will still use them for some purposes. I have always envsioned a tablet that was simply there for me when I wanted to browse the net, look up stuff while hanging out and for travel. The iphone is enough computing/entertainment power for me but the size of the screen makes it more work thank pleasure for casual browsing and reading. Complaints of no usb, sd card etc, are just trying to keep one foot in the past. The cloud makes those devices borderline obsolete and in due time, they will be. My laptop is going to collect dust.

Posted by: cornelllawgroup | January 29, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Jobs is into selling gadgets that have a small market window time wise but extract the most dollars (or Euros) from a captive audience. They are like exercise machines. The Notepad PC is where he probably got the idea to supersize the Ipod (which is what I see this is). The notepad PC appears to me to have a broader capability then the Ipad and also lower in cost. With 80 gig memory sticks makes the Notepad PC a pretty powerful portable computer.

Posted by: captain3292 | January 29, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The opening of Jobs' presentation showed the iPad as a device between the smart phone and the laptop. Most of the criticisms seem to say, "It doesn't have ____ like a smart phone" or "It doesn't have ____ like a laptop". It is not a device for all things - it is something new. "No USB or SD port!" I remember when the first iMacs came out (the clear-shelled CRT model) People were screaming, "It doesn't have a floppy drive!"

It is not for everyone or every use, but it is technology looking forward, not looking back for more of the same.

Posted by: murphyb74 | January 29, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Six months from now we will all be laughing at the predictions that the iPad would be a flop. If people will pay money for a piece of crap like the Kindle, they are going to just eat this up. Stop thinking of this as either a phone or a notebook -- it is neither. Apple has once again created a completely innovative product. Wait until you see the apps that are going to run on this thing, now that it has a fast processor and enough screen real estate. Not to mention a keyboard which is large enough to actually use...

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 29, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I would also get this for my grandmother. Simple and intuitive to use, without any real need for tech ability to manage it (i'll sync it for her on my computer when necessary). In her case, a closed OS is perfect. She already can handle email and now she has easy access to pictures of her great-grandchilden.

i'd put one in my kitchen, mounted on the wall. Many of my recipes are online....now i don't have to worry about getting the laptop dirty or scroll/zoom on my iphone. And i can listen to my media server or the radio while cooking with out another device.

FInally, I can easily imagine this as the greatest universal remote ever created.

Posted by: stantonpark | January 29, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

For Laura33, I had your same questions about workability of the iPad. It simply must be able to handle the basics that Microsoft Office and/or Photoshop Elements provide.

But from my understanding from Apple, their iWorks package does everything Word and Excel do, can open those files, save-as those files, and does so on the iPad as a $9.99 app.

That's a good start for those of us who need a legit word processor on such a device.

Posted by: dentuttle | January 29, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

thanks, dentuttle -- that's exactly what I've been trying to figure out. Nice!

Posted by: laura33 | January 29, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Did you watch the keynote? They introduced a version of iWork for the iPad. iWork is totally compatible with MS Office files. And although it may take a little effort to connect the dots, if anyone cares to read the technical specs, there is enough there to provide affirmative answers to most of the desires being expressed here. Does it currently have everything everyone wants? No. Neither did the iPhone when it was first released. There are still two months (or 3 counting the 3G version) before the iPad hits the market. That is quite enough time for various internal improvements to be made or added. The Camera Kit IS a usb port and also a card reader (two unique adapters). All it takes is a product relabel and some internal program code and those complaints are resolved. If Apple doesn't do it, I am sure some third party will. Also, if Apple doesn't include a camera in the iPad, you can bet third parties will have one available that plugs into the home connector port with a rotating head so it can be used in any direction - front, back, sideways, etc. and then fring and skype will take care of the video phone problem. Again, I am sure the 3G/ATT thing is the reason it isn't there now. Also there is always the possibility that Apple plans to link the iPad with the iPhone to give users the iChat experience. From a design standpoint, an internal camera is a problem. A device that is as large as this and weighing 1.5 pounds would be difficult for many people to hold in just the right position for any length of time to get a good image for conversation. A very small and lightweight detached (maybe wireless) camera that could be placed separately would be the best solution.

Posted by: john_in_dallas | January 29, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Possible audience? Educational institutions, especially higher ed.

Apple has a long established relationship with the educational segment. There are schools are issuing/making available the iPod Touch and are using it as medium to deliver instructional materials. Many have iTunes stores to deliver content specifically to their students. Quite a few have experimented or are experimenting with digital textbooks. How many students own or are familiar with the functionality of the iPod, iPad, the app store, etc.?

The iPad could be the next step. Textbooks and other content available to students via a familiar interface (the school iTunes/App Store) on a device that is (operationally) familiar to the overwhelming majority of students.

As far as the device itself, the size and weight of the device are nothing compared to what most students (esp in higher ed) are lugging around during the day currently. And the basic features are generally what a student would want/need without lugging areound a full size laptop. Certainly there are a few hardware improvements that can be made (USB without an accessory; camera for video chat; ability to "write" on screen) but either those will happen w/ v2.0 or something else will come along to replace them.

Think about it: every year a few thousand new iPads purchased for each school's incoming Freshman class.

I think this is Apple's real target.

Posted by: vjackson2 | January 29, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe no one has mentioned gaming! I have an iPhone and use it for all kinds of games. I see the iPad as the most awesome hand-held gaming device ever. I have found that games on the iPhone that rely on thumb controls kinda suck because your thumbs cover too much of the screen. iPads bigger screen means that problem is solved. I want one!!

Posted by: captainparadox | January 29, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

A better name for it would have been "iEdsel".

I mean sure, it's neat tech, but Apple is the company that taught us the application justifies the purchase...and boy did they depart from that logic.

What will it do for the user? If you cant rattle off functions they want (like you can with an iPod or iPhone), they won't buy it, and I can't do it for this thing. It's a bigger, bulkier iPod and you probably already own one that fits in your pocket.

It has *one* application it will rock at: Book Reading. It's just gonna eat the established market leader (i.e. the Kindle) in a way we haven't seen since NT Server 3.5 destroyed Netware -- assuming the price point and wireless service fees won't price it beyond what people who arent hooked on "Apple flavored Kool-Aid" can afford.

Posted by: JCritter | January 29, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Rob Pegoraro asks: "How would you define the iPad's possible audience...?

Initially, here are three:

1. Digital clipboard for physicians, able to access patient records, search medical information databases, and take audio notes.
2. Digital textbook, initially for higher ed; expect Apple to cut some subsidized pilot project deals with universities and publishers. This is an application where color is important, and the size and cost of an iPad are miniscule compared with a stack of printed textbooks and reserve readings.
3. People who do not own a laptop/netbook, and have little desire to learn to use a computer for more than consuming content.

All three strike me as niche markets. If the next generation ads a camera, it could be a very nice Skype/Vonage platform. Beyond that, we'll have to wait and see if Steve Jobs jumped the shark with the iPad, or if deveopers create enough additional uses to create a mass market. Perhaps the most significant thing about the iPhone/Touch/iPad family is that Apple has developed an entirely new "language" for interacting with digital devices. That said, I still want my keyboard, and I won't know if the iPad's virtual keyboard is a satisfactory substitute until I get my hands on one at an Apple store in a few months.

Posted by: Selden | January 29, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Likely, just around the corner, will be the wonderful, less-proprietary, e-book computer.

Posted by: GDuncan1 | January 29, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Ever since I got my iPod Touch I have thought it would be great if there was a bigger version of it. For one thing, I found I liked to write at night in bed and still have text to import instead of retyping from handwriting or trying to use voice to text software. And a bigger keyboard would be great for this. Also, it would be nice to play games on something bigger. However, if this thing doesn't include some version of RealPlayer, I don't think it is worth it for me to buy. Apple's refusal to allow RealPlayer is just plain annoying. I also would be more interested if it were more of a laptop without a cover than just a big iPod touch. I was hoping for something more, but I'll be sticking with my iPod Touch. Very disappointing!

Posted by: AnnNY | January 29, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

There's an app to print...FYI

People are overlooking the #1 draw of the iPhone: 3rd Party Apps. I think we'll see a boom of new innovations now that there's a larger screen.

Posted by: brocrow2000 | January 29, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Is it really more absorbent than Kotex?

Posted by: thrh | January 29, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

How do I get it in my shirt pocket? Too big for the nerd protector!

Posted by: thrh | January 29, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The Greatest Invention since the Segway! Modern civilization will never be the same!

Posted by: thrh | January 29, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

It might be a great way to surf the web from your couch... if it was flash-compatible. C'mon, Apple!

Posted by: mcriswell | January 29, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

All the detractors are the Win-dozers who are stuck in the 20th century. No USB, no huge disk, no Flash, no M$ Office, no coffee maker, no this, no that. So what?? Apps will take care of the things that the Win-dozer types think they 'must' have. For those of us who think outside the box, there are no issues really. Web-based apps and storage let you do anything from anywhere. Remember this is NOT intended to be a REPLACEMENT pc. If it doesn't suit you, or if you have to limit the way you think and work, then simply don't buy it. No-one is forcing this upon anyone. If it's not for you, fine. But you don't have to bag it for those that accept it.

Posted by: sandbagger | January 30, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

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