Did you get up early to stand in line to buy an iPad today? If not, you might want to wait until Apple manages to make the thing useful. The Washington Post has an informative review of the iPad that’s gives a good outline of what the device can and can’t do. On the plus side:
The free iBooks ships with a copy of A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” that shows off a big iPad advantage compared with the color-deprived Kindle: the ability to display the book’s original artwork.
A slight negative:
The 1.5-pound iPad feels heavier than it looks, which makes me doubt how many people will want to walk around with one while they catch up with their favorite blogs. This gadget seems made for a comfortable sofa (or a less-comfortable economy-class seat).
And a great, big negative:
Like its more compact cousins, the iPad can’t run third-party programs in the background. So although the new iPad-compatible Pandora Web-radio application looks terrific on the iPad’s bigger display, it still stops playing if you want to switch over to your e-mail.
This seems more of a problem on the iPad, thanks to it featuring a screen that looks and feels big enough to allow switching among multiple programs. At some point, Apple should find a way to make that happen. Will it?
Apple says the iPad can run “almost all of” the 150,000-plus applications available for the iPhone and the iPod touch. But that doesn’t mean you’d want to. These programs either occupy a small frame at the center of the screen or, if you tap a “2x” button in the corner, are crudely magnified to fill the display. The resulting bitmapped text and blurry images may leave you thinking you need a new eyeglass prescription.
Instead, you’ll want to seek out programs that have been written or revised for the iPad (which Apple designates with a small plus sign in the iTunes App Store).
Which brings up yet another problem, related and fundamental to the Apple way of doing things:
Also unclear: Will this Cupertino, Calif., company continue to exercise its arbitrary control over the App Store, the only remotely easy way to install extra software on an iPad? The iPad offers programmers a new palette on which to create, but as long as they risk having their work rejected from the App Store–or removed after the fact for poorly explained reasons–some developers will direct their creativity elsewhere.
As with all Apple products, the strength of the iPad appears to be its simplicity and convenience. It’s smart and rather elegant.
And as with all Apple products, the weakness of the iPad is that it will only do what Apple wants you to do with it, so that Steve Jobs and his stockholders can make the most money possible from the captive buyer. It’s a big investment for a device that doesn’t do very much in its current configuration.
I think this video sums it all up quite well: