iPad 1.0: Early Adopters Beware

The iPad, now finally unveiled, is a technical marvel and will be the envy of many. But should you be the first on your block to own one?

Apples iPad first generation

The iPad, now finally unveiled, is a technical marvel and will be the envy of many. But should you be the first on your block to own one?

Wow. Steve Jobs broke the Internet. I mean like, really. People REALLY wanted to hear about this thing.

A lot of New Media Weberati made a number of predictions about this device, myself included. My own biases aside, I am incredibly impressed by what Apple has been able to achieve, not so much by the technology being deployed but at the sheer gutsiness of offering such a compelling product at such an aggressive price. As someone who has often been called an Apple hater and with a (self admitted) bias against many of the company's business practices and their supporters, even I have to acknowledge that the iPad is a game changer, for a number of reasons, most of which have been outlined by my esteemed colleagues.

All that being said about the iPad -- you might not want to own the first version that hits the market.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry link below for more".

Why not the first model? Because what is glaringly missing from the device that is about to ship will almost certainly make its way into the next one. Allow me be the first New Media Jackass to start predicting what is going to be in the iPad 2. Yes, I know the first one hasn't even landed in stores yet, but what can I say, I like to make predictions.

I think I was amazingly close in predicting what the iPad 1 would end up being, in my two previous pieces about the device. My predictions yielded a product that was pretty damn close to what was actually shown today, although where I missed completely on the mark exposes what the limitations are in the current design.

Where did I miss? Well, for starters, on price. I didn't expect the entry model to be so cheap, but then again, I also had much higher expectations on portability. Apple took the middle ground with iPad 1, in picking components that would allow them to offer the unit to early adopters inexpensively. This is probably the best evidence to date that yes, even Apple is subject to the limitations of what most consumers are willing to pay for certain things in the current economy.

I expected Apple to use an LCD screen to keep costs down, but I also expected the device to weigh less, due to a smaller battery and thinner/more compact form factor. Frankly, when you look at the iPad compared to other devices that Jobs and Apple's industrial designers have been involved with, it's kind of klunky, especially with the huge black frame around the display. 1.5lbs is a lot of gadget to be schlepping around especially if you already own a laptop and a smartphone. It's three times heavier than a Kindle 2, and about 6 ounces heavier than the $489.00 Kindle DX (so nice knowing you and welcome to oblivion) which has approximately the same screen dimensions, just to put that in perspective.

Much of the iPad's weight comes from the battery that powers that big In-Plane Switching (IPS) backlit LCD. While real world power usage scenarios have yet to be publicly benchmarked, Jobs claimed in his demo that on a 10 hour flight to Tokyo from San Francisco he was able to watch video constantly on it. I'm not sure how much of that time the unit spent being charged -- he claims none -- but if that's the case it needs a LOT of battery to provide a full day of usage.

I had thought that there was an outside chance that iPad 1 would launch with a Pixel Qi transflective dual-mode screen. Obviously, that did not happen. However, I think that it is almost a virtual certainty that iPad 2 will use this technology. First, because we know that the 10.1" part will ship in large volumes by the end of 2010. Second, the part will be comparable in price to the screen Apple is using today or even cheaper. Third, it uses less energy in that it does not require the constant use of backlight and can run in an e-Ink mode just like the Kindle's Vizplex screen.

I know my Editor in Chief, Larry Dignan, is a hardcore Kindle user and in our conversations today expressed concern that while he'll almost certainly buy an iPad to replace his netbook, he'd find difficulty tossing his Kindle because the iPad's IPS LCD screen will be next to useless while lying on a lounger at the pool in direct sunlight. Not so with Kindle's Vizplex screen or Pixel Qi's transflective e-Ink mode.

While I am happy that the iPad 1 will have a full day's worth of use out of its battery, I am somewhat disappointed that the unit actually needs to be plugged into a dock to be charged. The iPad would have been an ideal device to ship with magnetic induction charging out of the box, with the iPhone 4G and a second generation Mighty Mouse following on later in the year and being able to use a single induction charging plate to handle all your Apple gadget power needs. Proprietary power cords and various other clunky interfaces? Gah. C'mon Jobs, this was a no-brainer. Put it in the next one.

And how come there's no integrated swivel webcam with integrated mic? You'd think this thing with its kickass A4 custom silicon would be ideal for video conferencing, digital signal processing with voice recognition and augmented reality apps like we get on the DROID and the Nexus One. This one ain't got it, but iPad 2 may very well get one. No multi-tasking?  No HDMI output? No native 16:9 aspect ratio? Is that coming in the next model?

That being said, this Apple "hater" is probably going to pick one up, even though I'm sure to be ticked come the end of the year that I didn't wait until the next one came out. What were you expecting in iPad 1 that almost certainly is going to end up in iPad 2? Talk Back and Let Me Know.