Our thoughts on the iPad

The iPad, announced earlier this week,  has been a massive media extravaganza. Some people were elated, and some let down. We’ve been asked over and over what our thoughts on the device are. Join us after the break to find out.

[Caleb]–My grandma would love this. I really think that she is their target. It is easy to use, portable, and has a custom interface that removes all of the windows style interface cruft. Personally, I don’t need one. I have an iPhone (yes, I know most of you hate them). The iPad offers me nothing that my iPhone doesn’t, except a larger screen.

I am excited though. I’m excited at the prospect of a mid level touch screen tablet with an appliance style interface becoming common. I can’t wait to see the knockoffs that can run Linux with a custom interface. The knockoffs that will actually have USB ports, and a non wobbly back. Those same knockoffs that will most likely have a front facing camera. I want one of those.

As far as hackability goes, this might actually be fairly hackable. The processor isn’t actually as proprietary as some would think. It is ARM based, and not too different from some other devices we’ve seen. It appears as though they planned for a camera. There might even be a spot on the motherboard for it. I fully expect to see it “jailbroken”, but what I WANT to see is the guts modified. I want to see home hackers add external storage (card slot), load a different operating system, up the storage. Then again, I thought the same thing about the iPhones and iPod touches, but haven’t seen hardware hacks at all really.

[Mike]–This is the first I’ve heard of the iPad. I got soooooo tired of all the apple tablet rumors that I quit paying attention. I run Linux only and unless this device will sync out of the box with my Linux systems I’m not interested. I also don’t usually do hardware hacks on anything that cost me more than $250 but buy so I’m not going to be cracking the case open on this thing anytime soon.

[James] — The iPad has the opportunity to be a great product, but probably not for me, and probably not for most of our readers. It markets itself to the casual internet user who wants to listen to music, browse Facebook, or watch Youtube on the couch rather than the hardcore photo editor, writer, or programmer. I am excited to see someone like Apple really push the market, and cant wait to see the responses, especially from people like MSI and Asus. Personally, I’m waiting for someone to make a really great convertible tablet netbook with native support for Linux.

[Jakob] — I hate Apple products, I mean almost with a passion. But I actually do own an iPhone – and I admit, it is one slick nice device. Small, powerful, convenient – all things the iPad is not. Its like Apple couldnt decide on making yet another iPhone revision or a full tablet PC and decided to give us a semi nerfed iPad instead. From what I’ve heard, there is no multitasking and several other features that – if can be included on the iPhone – why did they remove it from the iPad? Final note: being an apple product, its  about $500 more then it should be.

(And it doesn’t even come with wings for extra absorption)

[Devlin] — Meh, I don’t think there is going to be much to do with hacking the iPad, I won’t buy one because I don’t see a reason for having it. If others have the same thought, not many people are going to be buying the iPad and therefore not many people are going to be hacking the iPad.

162 thoughts on “Our thoughts on the iPad

  1. “My god how blind are you people? Can you imagine going to the doctor and the receptionist hands you an iPad to fill out your information on? Or any other service oriented place?”

    yes thank you, finally a way I can have my medical records locked into a propitiatory device that is in constant link with its parent company

    The star trek notion is cool, and yea I want that also, but I personally dont want apple to control every single thing about it

    On a side note, I cant help but wonder if Steve Jobs didnt stumble on a time machine jump years into the future, video taped himself at age 80, then came back to 84 for the commercial

  2. P.S. Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Sony Reader. These e-paper solutions already exist. What was Apple thinking?

    Would it not be easy enough for Apple to merge with Sony or buy the technology from a company like Sony and just come up with something feasible? (*hint, hint*)

  3. i’m not a fan of mac so i can truly say there is not a single aspect of a portable device with out open ended media support,flash player support,flash drive ports of any kind or general usefulness beside being a giant I-Touch.
    With that said i am going to wait on a more useful’ less restricted device with actual ports and full blu-tooth support. which IMHO is going to be easier to do than some have suggested.
    on another note why hate Apple? when you can just move along and ignore the trivial hype?what should be a larger concern is the workmanship that is put into ANY device these days …. a crashing economy suggests those with out money are likely leaving control in the hands of those that are irresponsible and dubious at best…. if you do not like some thing {change it} especially the minds of those in control … this is a democracy in a pseudo republic. stand up or get trampled appl relies on the same business all other companies do …tell you favorite brand you would like these types of products and HOW you would like them to be…don’t just BITCH….

    this is,

  4. And just like the iPod and iPhone, you will have to wait a few years or hack your device to get the features you actually need, that could have been present right from the start. It’s a clever marketing ploy by Apple. They sit around, release a stripped down device and with software and hardware revisions make it into a decent device, then people praise how innovative they are. Case in point: MMS on the iPhone. EVERY phone I’ve had from my SIemens MC60 upwards has had MMS capabilities built right in. iPhone didn’t have one until 3.0 and when they did, “oooh MMS! Apple are so clever!”. It could have been done from day one! Case two in point: Photos on iPods. Doable from day one, never implemented. When it is, millions of sales for Apple and praise from the press. Even my cheapo $20 Chinese player can do that!

  5. I have an ipod touch, and I find it quite usefull for sitting on the couch and checking email/ this site when we are spending time together and I don’t like what she is watching but feel obligated to be in the same room with her. I use the X-copy for PSP to rip movies that I can drag onto the ipod a bit cheaper than itunes. Iv’e played countless games for free that itunes gives away. I see a big market for rented movie watching and book reading with this kind of device.

  6. The effect of the ipad I’d expect or should I say would like to see is more attention to the specs on the screens with things like netbooks, apple specifically went for a quality IPS panel and that’s something you’d think a company like samsung and such would do, sell a netbook and such and specifically highlight that is has a quality IPS panel in it, since samsung is a monitor manufacturer and sells netbooks they would be in a good position for it, but they aren’t the only ones that could differentiate their offering that way.

    The ipad itself is a non-entity really, as caleb says you’d hope someone would hack it up into a usable thing, but it didn’t pan out so much with the iphone/touch so why bother hoping for that really, I think it makes more sense in hoping for the knockoffs and trust the imitations will be way better and then finding a nice one in those offerings .

    So basically I agree with caleb’s sentiments.

  7. Best apple can expect from the ipad release is a boost in sales of iphones and ipod rtouch, since they seem so nice and small now, so comfortably pocketable and easy to hold.
    I think they might have released them in the wrong order.

  8. The “knock off’s”” will be pretty sweet if the trends continue….people will demand these features and also liken to have an open development platform as others have often suggested before. it is a good thing and also a sign of the times as paper is pushed aside for endless meglomedia…
    I for one am looking forward to the up and coming variations of the concepts this has presented.
    I honestly hope Apple consumers are happy with it so that it will spur more trustworthy products that can be used and customized unlike the ipad/ipod/iphone/imac/idontcares

    Signing off,
    The City Spiders

  9. @no
    “its just disgusting to see fans of this device calling anyone that doesn’t love it derogatory terms. ”

    This is a joke, right? You ARE kidding, right? It is the PC & Linux crowd that calls Mac users “drones,” “kool aid drinkers,” and “gay.”

    Give me a break.

  10. People will buy it anyway. By thousands. There are hordes of people who don’t need the device to be hackable or compatible or something. It’s pretty, it’s heavily marketed, it’s easy, so your mom can use it. Just enough for million sales.

    I personally would like the x86-compatible tablet with Pixel Qi display, please. HP tc1100 was a killer. Now when we have Atom, Ion, Tegra etc, they can make something in this form factor, which would be a serial murderer.

  11. I bought an iPad about half a year ago. It’s pretty neat – came with a full OS, several ports, a giant screen (in comparison to this new model here), a processor that humiliates this new one, and is highly customizable. In fact I could (and did) immidiately install a secondary OS – Kubuntu Linux. Got the whole thing for $300, too.

    Oh, wait. I bought a freaking laptop.

    To all those saying “It’s got great hardware”…Sorry to say, it really doesn’t. It’s basically a crappy netbook w/ a capacitive touch screen slapped on so that I can’t use it for any purposes I care about (eg. word processing, programming, model editing, non-casual videogames, freaking Flash playback, etc.).

    oh, and
    “It is the PC & Linux crowd that calls Mac users “drones,” “kool aid drinkers,” and “gay.””

    Have you seen an Apple ad recently? Notice how it was an attack ad?

    Seen a Windows ad recently (btw Macs are PCs)? Notice how it was positive about Windows & didn’t attack Apple?

    Seen a Linux ad recently? No, you didn’t.

    Windows has a much bigger usage than Apple’s PC OSes, so it makes sense for you to see more Apple hate online, simply because more people hate Apple – not because Windows & Linux users are evil scumbags.

  12. @RoboGuy
    “Notice how it was positive about Windows & didn’t attack Apple?”

    Didn’t attack Apple? Nearly every “I’m a PC” ad that showed people buying laptops had them saying “I guess I’m not cool enough for a Mac” or something around those lines, pretty sure that’s a direct bash.

  13. iPad only belongs on Hack a Day if it had been rooted.

    Apple’s tablet entry is underpowered, overpriced and DRMed.

    In terms of price, performance & hackability, there are other tablets coming with the Tegra 2 chipset which means a well documented dual core ARM CPU with dedicated gfx acceleration by Nvidia. The Tegra 2 prototypes were shown in person at CES and can play 1920x1080p video, have more RAM, multitask, have real USB ports and can run GNU+Linux and NetBSD.

  14. Steve Jobs = Apple, when he dies so will is company and by the look of him lately, that wont be too long. Has he changed the landscape of computers, and how we view and use technology YES, debate, argue it doesn’t matter most of you are probably not old enough to remember they days before the internet or before Apple and Job’s line of ripoffs.

    Apple used to be a lot of things, and people have a lot of expectation. Apple’s products have always been more expensive compared to other products but what you pay for is the brand. If you fall for that pit then the “extras” will kill you. AT&T is to the iPhone what all the adapters you need to make the iPad a netbook.

    I have been in computers for 30+ years! They are all tools. They will all die and leave you with big holes in your pockets. Cray, Kaypro, Commodore, Atari, Tandy, VAX, Texas Instruments, Compaq, (Mosaic, Netscape) etc the list is long but I have used them all and eventually something better comes around. Some work and have long life’s others not so much. Linux, Windows, OSX the mythical great “Cloud” (caugh *google*).

    I am sure Apple’s agreements with AT&T, music copyright holders, hardware accessory’s vendors are all like working for Apple or being an Apple consumer. Do it there way or take the highway. This kind of bulling only works so long as you have the market captured. They have to keep releasing new crap or buy out the competition before its a viable option. If those options don’t work, pay lots of money to lawyers to make the other companies life miserable. Apple only exists now because of Microsoft’s handout.


    How does all this relate to the iPad, next year you will be going what the hell was an iPad? Then you will go off and find something else to complain about. :)

  15. I already have too many electronic devices and it is fun packing them for the shore.

    It is thin and it will probably crack once you drop it.

    I have a bunch of nail marks in my notebook keyboard from my wife so typing on a tablet will only be worse. Make sure you have plenty of windex.

    I won’t buy Apple products or any with DRM.

  16. If it wasn’t an apple product there would be zero discussion of this thing… but alas it’s an apple product and that makes it “special”. I’m not bashing apple, I’m writing this on a macbook (running debian),.. but why can “apple people” never give you a straight answer on things. This is an argument I had today.

    me: ok, look I don’t care either way.. but tell me any resounding, ground shaking, amazing feature of any apple “product”.

    them: they’re easy to use!

    me: well that’s debatable and a lot of that will be down to personal tastes won’t it? Do you have anything of technical merit to back up your argument? Proof of “ease of use”

    them: n number of people are using it! they must be right

    me: but more people are using windows, 90% of the market share is windows on the desktop… so windows must be doing something right too?

    them: erm erm you’re twisting what I’m saying.. anyways the build quality is outstanding.

    me: what like earphone jacks that break after minimal use, machines that are shipped broken.. again technical merit?

    them: ugh ugh, it’s made out of dolphin friendly plastic!

    there are plently of reasons why you might consider apple products over other products.. for example.. um I can’t actually think of any. Oh maybe some of the mixed CPU/GPU processing stuff apple are coming up with is interesting. But if you argue about an apple product you just go around in circles and the end product is that you establish the other party has no ability to consider things based on merit or even their own needs and is too stupid to use anything that hasn’t been reduced down to the simplest hand-holding mush imaginable (it’s user friendly!).

    iPad.. meh. other devices are out there that do more, but jobs didn’t hold it up and say “this is going to do x” so no one cares. Ask anyone the merit of the device, where it fits into their needs.. “aaa my gran could use it to browse the internet, its sooo user friendly!”, “ok, so you’re gran can’t operate an modern intuitive graphical environment as shipped by windows, any linux distro, hell even solaris… but she can navigate her way around the shit hole that we call the interwebs? right”.

  17. WTF is it with people and Adobe Flash? Stop whining about the phones not having it and whine to the company who owns Flash and that’s Adobe.
    It isnt up to the phone companies so much as Adobe to port Flash to devices. Stop blaming manufacturers and phone companies like Verizon and Tmobile and email Adobe.
    It effin amazes me at the constant drone about lack of Flash. You can have the security prone cpu sucking Flash on your phone, leave mine alone

  18. The iPad had a very basic flaw: It doesn’t fit in my pocket, so when I’m done using it I’ll need a bag or case to store it in. Unfortunately that bag currently contains my laptop which happens to be much more versatile and useful than an iPad.

  19. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a flawed product, but that’s to do with where it’s aimed, not with any technical problems. What I wanted was a replacement for my 12 year old Newton, not a shiny A4 pad with no handwriting recognition. Still, that’s a gripe from an old hand in the mobile industry, not from the target market.

    For those claiming the crunchpad or other tablet computers are somehow “better”, get real. What Apple know how to do is put together some pretty average hardware, and make it fly, make it work in a way that nobody else can. Consider the way the iPhone works – when it came out people were “meh, it’s got no buttons”, but pretty much every smartphone is now an iPhone clone. And yet, somehow, apple’s overpriced iPhone continues to sell by the truckload. Why? Because the clones are about as appealing to use as a sackload of sick. I found (yes, really, it was buried in the snow at work after dropping out of a client’s pocket) a windows-based smartphone. One button? check. Big screen? check. looks a bit like an iPhone? check. I spent an hour or so trying to get at the contacts on the (locked) SIM, gave up, and handed it in to the lost property people. If it’s not claimed at the end of the season, it’s mine, but frankly, I don’t want it. It was vile to use.

    As for flash:

    A: The videos clearly show flash video running, Apple aren’t stupid enough to fake something like that, they’d get sued.
    B: Apple have hung their hat on *standards compliant* HTML5 video as opposed to *inaccessible, proprietary* flash (see http://youtube.com/html5)
    C: Flash has always run like crap on the Mac, but that’s not Apple’s fault, it’s Adobe’s. A flash-based youtube video embedded in a webpage grabs 40+% of CPU on my iMac, whereas I can play HD html5 video, fullscreen or windowed, or zooming between the two fluidly, on the fly, using well under 5% CPU.

    iPad is likely to be to the tablet market what iPod was to MP3 players. Before – a few geeks had them. After – everyone has one, and the majority are sold by Apple.

  20. “As for flash:

    A: The videos clearly show flash video running, Apple aren’t stupid enough to fake something like that, they’d get sued.”

    Guess what? Adobe released images showing what webpages REALLY look like on the iPad.

    There is no Flash support. Apple, as usual, is misleading.

    the iPad is probably the least imaginative (and considering how their entire business model exists around ripping off other people’s stuff and putting it in pretty packages) “product” yet. And that’s actually saying something.

    Oh look, we made an iPod touch bigger!

    Apple’s released a lot of things I thought were gold covered turds, but this iPad is a real piece of crap.

    If you think Netbooks are crap. At least they can run more than one application at a time!

    AND browse with Flash!

    AND don’t have DRM! AND have a user replaceable battery. AND have storage expansion. AND have a keyboard. AND…

    The iPad is fail on every level.

  21. >> their entire business model exists around ripping off other people’s stuff and putting it in pretty packages

    Please expand on this.

    >> The iPad is fail on every level.

    And it will still sell more in a month than every other tablet device ever made rolled together.

  22. When the hell are the US/EU goverments going to bring an anti-trust case against apple and their restrictive/industry retarding practices? Would that be before or after consumers have filled apples pockets so their big enough to plunder?

    Steve Jobs alone should be arrested for tucking his jumper into his trousers. All those PR gurus and no one has told him he looks like a cock.

  23. I am loving hating on the iPad! Seriously, no multitasking, flash, or a douche-level checking app? They steal from UNIX while making a fuss about MS and Xerox. Jobs is a complete egomaniac that surrounds himself with yes men. And wonderful proprietary hardware and a nice 3% of the market share lol. Did anyone else mention apple will take a bath on this one lol?

  24. >> When the hell are the US/EU goverments going to bring an anti-trust case against apple and their restrictive/industry retarding practices?

    At about the time Satan is skating to work.

    There’s nothing anticompetitive in this. Apple have released a tablet device. Other tablet devices exist. They aren’t pressuring other manufacturers not to make tablet devices, or to only put Apple’s operating system on their tablets. If you don’t like Apple’s tablet device, go and buy a different tablet device, and enjoy iy.

    The same goes for mobile phones. If you don’t like iPhones, don’t buy an iPhone. Buy a Blackberry, or a Nokia, or a Motorola, or, or, or…

    Again, the same goes for (desktop) computers – don’t like Apple’s range? Go buy something else. MP3 players? It’s not like Apple have put Creative or any of the thousands of other MP3 device makers out of business, is it? Buy yourself a Zune. Get with the social, or something.

  25. My initial thought was “Look a huge iPhone!!!” which is pretty much it. An iPhone with a big display and faster processor. Pretty looking (like most of Apple products) but functional and innovative I don’t think.

  26. well, I’m certainly underwhelmed. Hopefully it gets a few people to see a kindle or nook (perhaps to me) and then dies out quietly. So I’ll have a nice toy with e-ink, and the world won’t have to deal with a giant ipod touch

  27. What a lot of fucking FUD.

    I don’t care about the iPad either way, but people *so* invested in hating Apple are so much sadder than the equivalent fanboys.

    I enjoy an even tempered discussion of Apple’s failings as well as its successes, but when that’s replaced with impassioned half-truths and squealing misinformation from people with little actual experience, its indicative of the actual-energy the haters put into a company that they don’t need to patronise nor waste their time on.

    They have chosen to invest their time in something they hate.

    I could understand the Microsoft hate, back in the day, when there really was little alternative to a client handing you some locked-in MS formatted file. Shouting about it eventually gave us open standards and ways around the MS clique. But if you don’t like Apple, there is really no reason for you to be dealing wih them.

    “But the media and my favourite blog won’t stop talking about Apple!”

    Find a new favourite blog then, and ignore that one-more-story like you ignore all the other stories about shit you don’t care about. The problem is you DO care, so sort it out and stop caring. If you stopped clicking the blog-links and generating such intense “debate”, the media/blogs wouldn’t report on it so much.

    And here’s a tip to the Linux fans: try get the Windows bitches to really hate you, seems to drive up the public profile no end and we might finally see that Year of the Linux Desktop.

  28. @wifigod — both Sprint and Verizon offer the Alcatel MiFi 2200 3g-wifi bridge. I got mine from Verizon for $29 after $50 rebate and the 5 gig per month data plan is $60; they have a 250 meg plan for $30 if you’re cheap and won’t use it much. This device acts like a wifi router so any wifi device can get to the internet via 3g without installing any drivers or special software.

  29. Unlike the Iphone/Itouch theres nothing really innovative about this except nice packaging. Considering that similar devices have been around, and considering the platform restrictions other netbooks will win here. Lacking competition and hype in the tablet sector have kept prices quite high so we should really be happy about the move. There’s probably good money to be made programming initial apps for this devie… We can hope other manufacturer (lenovo) will provide affordable windowsxp/7/linux touchpad tablets soon… Hackers/hardware developers will naturally prefer the open platforms…

  30. It’s so funny to read all the responces here, the only other product to cause this much keyboard bashing is the Arduino, I dont like Apple products, their slow, overpriced and restricted by licensing, Lookup ipod flee parody, it’s an old parody but so true of apple products

  31. I agree that the hardware on the iPad isn’t that innovative. But I think the thing that’s going to work (eg. shift units) is removing the desktop metaphor from the OS and making a limited-purpose appliance, rather than a full-spectrum ‘computer’.

    I think that the limitations in the iPad OS will make it a bigger hit than other tablets, because it doesn’t have any of the negative baggage non-geeks have with using computers; painful installs, viruses, arbitrary directory structures, etc.

    No-one (in the real world) expects multi-tasking and root access from their Kindle or their dumbphone. Those products have unambiguous purposes, and are not trying to be “computers”, per se. They do what they do. iPad happens to be expandable (va apps) to do more things, but they are still single discrete tasks, without a lot of hassle.

    Also, until there is a non-desktop interpretation of W7 there is unlikely to be a hugely successful WIndows based tablet (whether or not there is a hugely successful iPad). I understand there are a number of Linux touch-OS solutions, that don’t use the desktop metaphor, so there may be some good news there.

  32. it’ll be another locked in device, tied to X format and restrictive practices on 3rd parties writing their own software. That’s the non-innovating bit. Then of course there is the near saturation point in advertising for apple products, I am truly numb from it all, I shouldn’t have to constantly avoid places to not be annoyed by another condescending advert because I chose not to buy their product (same as apple users shouldn’t have to put up with the M$ bull).

  33. I think the iPad will be a scuccess simply because it’s available from a trusted company…
    Of course there are a lot of other tablets out there but nobody sells them… Go to your next electronic market and try to find a tablet.. There will only be some overpriced and slow x86 hardware with an OS that is not realy thought to run on a tablet… if there are tablets at all…

    So the iPad will sell simply because it’s available and usable.

  34. There are plenty of good points here, but I’d like to try to add a few news ones.

    Apple products are not for the frugal. They are aimed at people with disposable income. The average hacker or maker is right on the edge of having true disposable income, so the market is limited right there.

    Apple products are about design. Johnnie Ive and Steve Jobs put together sexy products (and sometimes the Newton). As an audience, we tend to build using bare wires and boards. Clearly there is limited appeal for good design by itself.

    Apple products are modal. Steve said many years ago that he wanted an interface that was easy to use (I read it somewhere on Gizmodo, if you want to find it). Modal interfaces mean the iPhone looks like a phone when you want it to be a phone, and looks like a calculator when you need one. It’s not like a Windows system or even an OS X system where the phone and calculator work at the same time. Apple is focusing their mobile market on having a flexible device that is readily understood by non-technical people.

    That’s the secret, folks: “non-technical people”. Here, they aren’t getting any respect for dumbing down interfaces or hiding complexity behind well-designed curtains. It’s not that they’re doing the wrong thing, it’s just the wrong thing for this site’s readers.

    Sorry, but I’m an old fart with a hint of disposable income, so I bought my first iPod Touch a couple of years ago, and I’m going to stay in this space for a while. And yes, it did seem to cut back on my making. So that’s a bad thing, I guess.

  35. Back @ Prince:

    I don’t recall that, but I’ll take your word for it.

    Still, the direct attacks on Microsoft by Apple are much more consistent – and you really can’t argue that Apple doesn’t like to show off its “style.”

    The point is, Apple’s not all that considerate to a company that once bailed them out and is largely passive these days.

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