Apple have just released their new iPad [pictures here], and since they’ve signed up several publishers with the intention of it being (in part) an e-book reader, I thought I’d better say something about it.
In common with most of the world, I haven’t had my hands on one yet – just seen the pictures, heard a few comments and read the specifications. But that’s enough for me to form an opinion, so here goes.
I’m sure it’ll sell by the million, as Apple stuff usually does, but I don’t intend getting one myself just yet. Or even at all. Maybe I’ll think about it when it gets to version 2 or 3, if they eventually manage to get it right.
They could so easily have made it one of those must-have items that would have had even the likes of me salivating, and queuing up at midnight to get my hands on it. But sadly, that’s not the case, because to my mind there’s an awful lot wrong with it, and after all the hype, that’s come as a massive disappointment.
First, let’s consider it as an e-book reader: a nice idea, but they’ve got it wrong.
It’s good news, of course, that Amazon’s Kindle will have some decent competition at last. But Apple’s iPad appears to have a standard laptop screen -132 dots per inch (dpi). Admittedly it’s nice and shiny, and lovely to look at. But it’s not the paper-like e-ink screen you’ll find on proper e-book readers. If they couldn’t use e-ink they should at least have used a high-density screen with a minimum of 250 dpi. But no. On the positive side, at least it’s colour – unlike the current e-book readers. But very much on the negative side, it’ll be just like trying to reading books on your laptop. And that’s not generally a very pleasant experience. It’ll be pretty much impossible outside on a sunny day – an environment where the Kindle is in its element.
Next, you can watch movies on it. But sadly they’ve got that wrong too, because it isn’t the right shape. Movies are all shot in widescreen these days, and the iPad hasn’t got a wide screen. So you’ll get those annoying black bars across the top and bottom. Or, if you want the picture to fill the whole screen, you’ll lose whatever’s happening on the left and right and only get the middle bit.
You can view photos on it, and even see slideshows of them. But you can’t take your own photos because there’s no camera. I for one would like to know why they left that out. It would have had so many more uses if it had a camera. I refer you to some of the amazing augmented reality things you can do with an iPhone, which would have been even better on an iPad. If it had a camera. Which it doesn’t. I think someone seriously dropped the ball there.
And of course you can use it to surf the web. Sort of. But, as I understand it, it doesn’t support Adobe Flash (nor does the iPhone), so half the websites you visit won’t work properly.
Those are the things that – for me at least – turn it from being an item of infinite lust, and something I’d use every day, to something that would just sit in the corner silently gathering dust.
So, what is it good for? By my reckoning, there is just one thing that it will be exceptional at – and this is why it’ll sell so many millions: video games.
It has a touch screen that can be used both vertically and horizontally, it supports multi-touch, and it’s big enough that 2 people can play at the same time. You’ll be able to stab and poke and flick with abandon. Remember that table-top football game Subbuteo? (Just ‘flick to kick’.) That would be brilliant on an iPad. Things like tennis/squash, pool/snooker, and even good old shove ha’penny would work well too. It could revolutionise gaming in much the same way as the Nintendo Wii has done.
So – what do you think? Is Apple’s iPad going to change the world, and revolutionise book publishing? Will it be one of the best games machines ever, but otherwise useless? Or have I got it hopelessly wrong? Let me know!
Dave Haslett, www.ideas4writers.co.uk