The iPad is not the first tablet device to emerge from Apple`s laboratories. Back in 1993 the launch of the Newton MessagePad 100 took that accolade and Apple has been attempting to produce something in the same vein for the last decade.
In fact it is rumoured that Apple CEO Steve Jobs canned two previous versions of the iPad because the hardware was not up to scratch with the ambition behind the project.
However, at last the iPad has arrived and it is certainly an interesting device to study and use. But the main question many will ask is “can the iPad ever become as influential as the iPod or the iPhone?” To attempt an answer, let us first examine what makes the iPad tick.
The iPad is a slim all-in-one tablet device that has very few physical buttons, relying mostly on the multi-touch sensitive 9.7 inch screen. This screen is comparable to the popular range of netbook PCs that have gained popularity over the last few years, though of course since this is an Apple device the iPad is running an in-house operating system based on the iPhone OS version 3.2 and not Windows XP or a Linux variant as you would expect from other manufacturers. Powering the iPad is a 1GHz Apple A4 processor and it will be available with a selection of internal storage ranging between 16GB and 64GB depending on your requirements.
Like the iPhone 3Gs, the iPad will have built-in motion sensitive controls to allow for the screen to automatically rotate depending on how you orient the device. These controls will also be used in applications and games to alter onscreen movement and the iPad comes with the same digital compass built into it for navigation.
At first the iPad will only be available with Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning you can use it in your home or in an area with an unsecured wireless network, but once it is out of range of a Wi-Fi signal it will become isolated. Apple plans to release a version of the iPad that has both Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity, which will essentially allow it to access the internet anywhere within range of a 3G mobile network base station, in the same way that the iPhone does.
The iPad will come with access to the App Store for downloading custom designed applications and useful bits of software to enhance its basic functions. It will also have access to iBooks, which is an app that lets you read and purchase eBooks. The screen itself is certainly large enough for this purpose and with LED backlighting it is not too power hungry.
So the iPad looks fairly good on paper and its interface is certainly more engaging and colourful than that of the iPhone. However, there are a few issues. One major problem is that the iPad does not support Macromedia Flash, which is used extensively across the internet to provide engaging, interactive content and videos on websites. The second is that the iPad could have difficulty finding a market. Wireless broadband providers will have to consider producing SIM cards that are compatible with the iPad and customers of current mobile broadband packages could take advantage of the 3G version when it arrives.
Opinion compiled by Broadband Expert