Well, there is so much going on and it has been several days since I blogged that I don’t know where to begin. Apple unveiled the iPad device Wednesday that is basically a souped up iPod Touch or iPhone depending on which flavor you get; they have WIFI-N and 3G (with WIFI-N). They will market it as an alternative to the Kindle for ebook reading, while touting its color screen and cool iPod touch interface (the kindle is not a touch screen device). My first reaction to the press releases is “cool,” followed by “I could use that,” which was followed by “why?”
The device is just a bigger iPod. Sure it has a slightly beefier CPU, but it is not a productivity tool. It is an entertainment device. Even with that label, there is a small problem: the device is not small. The iPod slips into a pocket or purse with ease. The iPad is tablet-sized, which means it will have to be carried—either by hand or in the nifty flip easel/carrying case that you can buy from the Apple Store. It is thin, but not as thin as the Kindle. Of course, the big screen does come in handy for those tired-eyed people like me.
What about apps? We used to call it “software” back in the day. No tech toy or tool is worth the plastic it’s made from if it doesn’t run cool apps. Well, the iPad can run all the apps the iPod and iPhone can run, as well as running iWork. Of course, it has the app store, iTunes and now a new store app for ebooks. But it doesn’t run Office, which is a deal breaker for me. As a writer, I need a device that I can use to compose on the fly, and I do not see the iPad filling that bill until it gets a full-blown word processor. iWork’s “Page” app can generate text, but it is not as full featured as Word or even Open Office.
While the iPad beats Kindle on graphics (the Kindle is painfully slow turning pages), the Kindle smokes the iPad on battery usage. The Apple website says the iPad gets 10 hours of WIFI-powered app usage and a month of standby time. Steve Jobs is quoted as saying 8 hours of life when he announced the device at the unveiling. Either way, it isn’t much. Of course, it is more that the average laptop or netbook, but that isn’t saying much. The Kindle gets 2-3 weeks of reading usage and months (that’s monthS with an s) of standby time.
Also, buying the Kindle provides a 3G connection to Amazon anywhere. The cost is included in the price of the device. The iPad offers WIFI-N for those with wireless hotspot access, and they have a 3G flavor which will use a data plan that you have to buy yourself. They have not announced which carriers will support the iPad, but it will probably be the same one that supports the iPhone. So you can add a $40 per month charge to the overall cost of the device.
Another place where the Kindle has an advantage is the ebook market. Apple has made deals with several publishing houses to market new books for the iPad at slightly higher than market prices. Kindle has all of Amazon’s book marketing power behind it. More titles and cheaper (though not much) prices give the Kindle the clear advantage for now. Don’t discount Apple’s marketing team though. They managed to break the DRM pact on music and get the Beatles on iTunes, they can get more books for the iPad. Someday.
Remember, these are just first impressions based solely on the press release and articles touting the device. I have not touched it yet or even laid eyes on it. Once I do, you will be the first to know.