Will Apple's iPad live up to the hype?
The hot new device hits the streets Saturday
IDG News Service - Apple has asked people to drop their netbooks and go with the "magical" iPad, which will be uncloaked in U.S. stores on Saturday morning. The excitement around the device is high, but will it live up to its hype?
Apple has a history of changing the consumer electronics landscape with products like the iPod and iPhone, and the iPad could have a lasting impact on computing, analysts said. Initial signs suggest the iPad will be a success, with financial firm Broadpoint Amtech on Thursday predicting Apple will ship 4 million iPad units by the end of the calendar year.
The device could spawn new ways to deliver content like video, news and e-books to users, analysts said. However, some potential buyers are holding back, arguing that the iPad lacks features that limit its use as a multimedia device.
The iPad has a 9.7-inch touch-screen display and uses an on-screen keyboard for typing. It can be used for tasks like Web browsing, sending e-mail, reading e-books and playing movies and games. Apple claims the device fits somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook.
The initial iPads going on sale on Saturday will only include Wi-Fi, with prices ranging from $499 to $699, depending on storage. Models becoming available later this month will include 3G mobile broadband, with prices ranging from $629 to $829.
Initial reviews posted this week have praised the iPad for its speed, battery life, and multimedia and e-reading capabilities. Apple claimed 10 hours of battery life on active usage, but some reviewers clocked up to 12 hours of battery life after video use. Powered by Apple's A4 chip, the device can play back 720p high-definition video.
However, the device has its drawbacks, including the lack of a video camera and support for Flash, which enables video on the Internet. Compared to a netbook, the lack of a keyboard also has been viewed as a drawback, as it stops users from using it as a full-fledged PC.
"I don't believe it has the amount of functionality needed to replace something like a laptop," said Nicolas Dinatale, a Web project manager and independent consultant. "If I have a laptop and a smartphone, why would I need the iPad?"
Apple's lack of Flash support is also surprising, considering the device was meant for consumption of media, Dinatale said.
"They are trying to force change in the market with their power and influence, while consumers are happy and content with Flash. They should have supported it out of the box," Dinatale said. Users are also chained to Apple's proprietary multimedia and application stores for "every little thing."
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