The Apple iPad.
The CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, unveiled the long-awaited Apple iPad this week at a special press event in San Francisco. Since then, discussion has centered around whether the iPad is a great device that can truly challenge netbooks, as Jobs declared it would, or if it's just an oversized iPod Touch.
Make no mistake, the Apple iPad is an impressive feat of engineering. In his address, Jobs said, "The problem is that netbooks aren't better than anything. We think we've got something that is better. And we call it the iPad."
Apple's newest device is only half an inch thick and sports a beautiful 9.7-inch multitouch screen, not to mention Apple's own 1GHz A4 processor inside. In the demos, the iPad handled Web surfing, music, high-definition video playback, productivity tools and iPhone apps effortlessly.
As impressive as it is, the iPad is still not as powerful as a laptop, and it doesn't do much more than the iPhone except display media on a larger screen. There are even more complaints from consumers on the Web because the iPad has some serious deficiencies that not only hamper its fight against netbooks, but make people question its value.
Here are just a few things the iPad is missing that many consumers want.
At first glance, a camera might not seem too necessary for a tablet; no one wants to hold up a 10-inch device to take a picture. But the lack of a camera poses problems for more than the shutterbugs. A forward-facing camera would have allowed video chat via Wi-Fi or 3G, and there are many apps that use the camera. Some popular ones are barcode scanning apps, which allow users to download info and pricing about a product, and augmented reality apps, which overlay information about a place when viewed through the camera.
Multitasking refers to the ability to run multiple programs and tasks at once. Desktop computers have been doing it for decades. The iPhone and the iPad, on the other hand, cannot. This might not be a noticeable problem on phones because their small screens and limited inputs don't facilitate easy multitasking anyway. However, the iPad has a larger screen that could easily let people view and switch between multiple programs or apps. Consider this example: Without multitasking users won't be able to type in a document and have a Web browser with pertinent information open at the same time.
SD Card Slot
For removable storage media, the SD card has become the de facto standard. SD card slots allow users to expand the storage of a device with an easily removable flash memory card. It also facilitates easy transfer of files to and from other devices, such as cameras and digital camcorders. The iPad has no slot to accommodate such cards, or any other external storage device.
The USB port is the standard way for devices to connect by cable. Most cameras, external hard drives, smartphones and other portable devices connect to a computer via USB cable. The iPad won't accept any of those devices because it does not have a USB port. Files can still be transferred to the iPad, but users will first have to first move the files to a computer that then connects to the iPad via a special 30-pin connector cable and then move the files to the iPad. This also means keyboards that connect by USB cable can't be used with the iPad.
Widescreen Aspect Ratio
Many portable devices have a widescreen aspect ratio, meaning the screen is much wider than it is tall, in order to show widescreen video. This makes sense because most professionally produced video is shot in a widescreen format, so videos fit the screens better. The iPad, on the other hand, has an aspect ratio nearing the 4:3 ratio seen in older TVs. Widescreen video on the iPad will be displayed at a smaller size in order to fit on the screen. It may not be a major concern to some users, but it does seem like an oversight considering the amount of media available in widescreen format now.
Much of the video and interactive elements on the Internet run on a special kind of software produced by Adobe, called Flash. YouTube videos, browser games and interactive sites all use Flash to run. The iPhone does not support Flash and it appears the iPad won't either. During a demonstration, Steve Jobs navigated to a site that required flash to display certain elements on the screen. The iPad couldn't display it, suggesting the device doesn't support Flash, like the iPhone. This is an enormous problem for a device designed to connect people with Internet content. Without Flash, users will not be able to see much of the media on sites. It's possible Apple has a workaround in the works, but unless the iPad fully supports Flash, the Web browsing experience will be severely hampered for users.