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iPad Cometh

iPad with iPhone and Bluetooth Keyboard

By: Tony Pittman [ tony@getthenext.com ]

Apple's iPad arrived, as planned, on April 3, 2010. Some analysts estimate that as many as 700,000 iPads were delivered to customers on launch day, making iPad one of the most successfully launched consumer products of all time. Prior to launch, some pundits panned the iPad, calling it nothing more than an overgrown iPhone, without the phone.  Well, in some respects they turned out to be correct.  iPad is larger than iPhone.  iPad can't make phone calls.  But, wow...it can sure do a lot of things well.

First, the most unexpected surprise: iPad's speaker.  I wasn't expecting much in this department.  I figured that Apple would include the obligatory speaker - a plain, unimpressive component that would just be enough to get by with.  Wow, was I wrong.  iPad's speaker is very robust for its size.  I was honestly astounded by the loud, clear, and dynamic sound.

Next, you'll be amazed by iPad's battery life.  By making the device so much bigger than iPhone, Apple was able to do wonders with battery life.  So far, I have no reason to doubt Apple's claim of 10+ hours of continuous use on one charge.  After a day of hard use, I've hardly been able to make a dent.  The battery life is impressive, to say the least.

The on-screen keyboard exceeded my expectations. I was mentally prepared for a new experience, remembering what is was like the first time I used an iPhone keyboard.  iPad's keyboard does not disappoint, especially in landscape mode.  Granted, I wouldn't want to use it to write a novel, so I did pick up one of Apple's $69 bluetooth keyboards.  But, for short bursts of text, the on-screen keyboard is more than adequate.

Finally, the muli-touch IPS display is nothing short of mind-blowing. Prior to iPad's launch, I was thinking more and more about how great it would be to be able to use my Kindle DX as a truly connected, dynamic device.  I found myself wanting to touch the Kindle's display and try to manipulate the connected internet world.  But, everything was just beyond my, and the Kindle's, grasp.  Well, no more.  iPad's multi-touch display not only produced brilliant images, but it's responsiveness is off the charts.  It responds to your touches instantly, allowing you to truly escape into a world that I thought to still be years and years away.  Many had said that you can't appreciate iPad until you have a chance to hold it in your hands and feel how it works.  They were right.

iPad vs. Kindle: The debate Apple should have started.

(Image courtesy of www.redmondpie.com)

No matter what you think of the recently announced Apple iPad, it's clear that no other company gets the attention Apple gets when announcing a new product.  For Apple, this is generally a good thing.  But, they need to make sure they get everything right: the product itself as well as the product positioning.

When it comes to the iPad, they got the product right, but they botched the positioning a bit.

The iPad is a Kindle killer, no doubt about it.  In June, 2009, I paid $489 for my Kindle Dx.  The Kindle Dx is roughly the same formfactor as the iPad, which starts at $499 .  However, the Kindle Dx can't hold a candle to the iPad.  The Kindle can't play video, doesn't have a color screen, can't run apps, and can barely (and I mean BARELY) browse the web. No bones about it, Apple did just as Steve jobs said in his presentation. They stood on Amazon's shoulders and took the Kindle Dx form factor to much higher heights.  Had Apple stuck with this positioning, is there any way the iPad could lose? Now, the Kindle does come with always-on 3G and no monthly fee.  But, for $629 and $14.99/month, most prospective iPad users would still say there is no competition; the iPad is the better play.

The mistake Apple made: asserting that geeks will be able to replace their netbooks with iPads.  This is clearly not going to happen. This assertion reminded me of when Steve said he replaced his high-end audio system with the failed Apple Hi-Fi.  No way.  Netbooks are cheaper, they run Windows, Linux, and some even run Max OSX illegally.  Users can choose what apps run on them, and they can multi-task, though usually to their detriment.  Why fight this battle?  Let the netbooks run their course.

So, the bottom line is pretty clear.  Apple should have positioned the iPad as a revolutionary device that builds in the initial success of the base eReader.  It adds rich multi-media capabilities, gaming, app-store access, and it can even help you get work done in a pinch.  For some, with the added keyboard dock, it can even serve as their complete mobile computing solution.

Strangely, I have not heard anyone complain about the fact that the Kindle Dx can not multi-task, has a worthless browser, and can only run apps that Amazon allows it to run.  Apple is re-discovering that it's tough to be on top.  Shouldn't they have learned this from their 1980's experience?

Get the Kindle DX

dx

Amazon recently started shipping the 3rd version of its Kindle book reader, the DX.  The draw: the HUGE 9.7" screen.  Compared to both the original Kindle and the Kindle 2, the reading experience on the DX is....."WOW!".  The DX natively supports .pdf files and it can even read out loud to you using its built in text-to-speech function.  At $489 it's a bit pricey, but if you love to read, the DX is by far the best Kindle yet.

Battery life is great, and the native .pdf support is a nice feature.  However, I've seen the DX behave a little strangely when paging through .pdf files.  In some cases, the device will crash and automatically re-start.  In order to prevent this, I've had to remove the problem .pdf.  I hope that this is something Amazon wil be addressing with a soon-to-come software update.

Get The Next _ Kindle App for your iPhone

iKindle

The Kindle 2 is here.  And, now another great ingredient gets added to the Kindle recipe - Kindle for iPhone.  If you already have Kindle and an iPhone, this free application is a must.  If you have either a Kindle or an iPhone, but not both, you may want to now complete the pairing.  

Kindle for iPhone allows you to buy readable content from the Amazon Kindle store right from your phone.  If you have a Kindle, the app allows you to synch your content across both devices.  Amazon calls it Whispersynch.  And, even better, both devices keep track of pages you have read in your books.  So, if you are standing in line somewhere and have a few minutes to get some reading done on your phone, the next time you fire up your Kindle, it will know what page you left off on.  The reading experience spans both devices very well.  I've actually tried it.  It works!

Amazon made a great move allowing the Kindle experience to make it onto the iPhone.  The Kindle is CLEARLY the better device for reading books.  But, adding the iPhone capability to the pie will allow avid readers to enjoy their content even more.  So, in the end, this should give the Kindle even more momentum.  Reading is fundamental...again!

This post by Tony Pittman - tony@getthenext.com

Get The Next _ Amazon Kindle

kindles2

"To Kindle or not to Kindle?" - that is not the question.  The question is: "Is Amazon's new Kindle (generation 2) the one to get?"

Some, including Leo Laporte, are predicting that the Kindle will do the same thing to hard copy media that the iPod did to music. That is, the Kindle may be a tremendous game changer when it comes to how we consume the written word.  The Kindle is indeed compelling.  It's not just another e-book reader - the Kindle does much more.  It comes with an embedded wireless connection to Sprint's wireless network (US Only), and you don't pay a thing to stay connected. You can then shop either on the device itself or on Amazon's site.  As you buy books and/or subscribe to newspapers and magazines, your content is sent wirelessly to your Kindle within minutes.  It's that easy. So, with the Kindle, you can carry around hundreds of your favorite publications in one nice, neat, small package. 

If you are an avid reader, I'd say the Kindle is a must.  The amount you save on book purchases alone will justify the Kindle's pricetag ($359).  For example, I recently went to a local bookstore to pick up a book on programming.  The price at the store: $44.99.  The price to buy the book on my Kindle: $26.99.  I bought the book on the Kindle.

Now, there are some tradeoffs.  For certain books, it's great to be able to flip paper pages back and forth quickly, for example.  But, overall, the Kindle seems to win out for me in many cases.  It is just so easy to buy the content, and the reading experience is really very good.

Now, when it comes to Kindle 1 vs. Kindle 2, existing Kindle owners have a question (new owners will have to go with the Kindle 2 unless you can get your hands on a used unit). For me personally, the original Kindle is quite good (not perfect), and while the Kindle 2 offers some enhancements, it may not be worth the full upgrade price.  It has a faster wireless connection.  It's buttons seem to be better placed (reducing accidental page flips), and Amazon claims better battery life.  Still, I am still very happy with the original Kindle.

The bottom line is: if you like to read books and newspapers, the  Kindle is probably a device you will want to pick up.  The convenience of being able to buy written content quickly and easily is huge.  And, you can carry so much with you at one time - much easier than carrying a stack of books.  Amazon certainly has a winner on its hands with the Kindle platform.

This post by Tony Pittman - tony@getthenext.com