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January 28, 2010

Gadgets -Gadgetheads Mad Over iPad? Depends on Who You Ask


Now that Apple (News - Alert) has finally launched iPad, we rounded up a few gadget gurus and wireless analysts -- whose job it is to study devices -- to weigh in before you spend your hard-earned money.
 
Strategy Analytics’ Alex Spektor, a wireless devices analyst, told TMCnet he hasn’t had a chance to play with the iPad yet. But from what he can see, the WiFi-powered, 9.7-inch, “large form-factor iPod Touch” has a few great perks.
 
“The key difference, large screen aside, is the inclusion of (optional) 3G connectivity, which should help to give Apple a larger distribution footprint,” Spektor told TMCnet. “That is, like the iPhone (News - Alert), the iPad will also be open to distribution via ATT stores, similarly to netbooks.”

Another key difference is wireless transparency.  
 
“One thing that Amazon does well is reselling wholesale access from Sprint, so that the price of the device includes lifetime access and no need for separate bills,” Spektor said. “The iPad, on the other hand, requires (when it is desired) paying for a 3G connection, which is an additional expense for consumers already paying for smartphone data, home broadband and maybe even laptop mobile broadband. Yes, the monthly price is reasonable and entirely optional, but it still lacks the nice transparency of the Amazon Kindle model.”
 
Transparency aside, TMCnet’s own gadget fiend Tom Keating (News - Alert) was overjoyed about the fact that “you can do VoIP” on the new Apple iPad.
 
“The iPad sports WiFi, 3G, speaker, and a microphone -- all you need to do VoIP,” Keating said in a blog posting. “But the real kicker is that Apple just modified [its] iPhone/iPad SDK to ALLOW VoIP over 3G. Yes, my friends, now you too can hold a massive 9.7-inch screen to your head -- bulkiness and radiation be damned!”

VoIP support aside, Spektor said he puts iPad and Kindle in separate categories, adding that “Kindle is designed for a much more limited set of use cases, and is priced accordingly.” At $499 and up, “iPad is more powerful and is priced higher -- more in the range to compete with premium netbooks.”

Meanwhile, ABI Research’s (News - Alert) in-house expert Jeff Orr said his firm forecasts 4 million media tablets – a category that now includes the iPad – will be shipped worldwide this year.

“While laptops are focused on productivity, and mobile phones are still primarily about communication, the main focus of media tablets is entertainment,” said senior analyst Orr. “Content consumed on laptops and smartphones is increasingly based on Internet services. Home networks and mobile broadband data services make viewing possible without wires. These media tablets could not have come to market any sooner than 2010.”
 
Elsewhere in the Northeast, gadget lover and wireless authority Rich Tehrani, TMC’s (News - Alert) CEO, weighed in via a series of iPad-focused blogs.
 
Though he called iPad’s lack of Flash and openness a “blow” to publishers, Tehrani blogged that he is as “excited as any tech enthusiast would be about a new Apple gadget.”
 
“Similar to an iPod Touch, this device would definitely be useful for surfing the Web on the couch while watching TV,” he told this reporter. “But one has to wonder if the lack of Flash and multitasking will make the experience so inferior to a laptop that I will opt for a traditional laptop/netbook which adds a real keyboard as a bonus.”

Marisa Torrieri is a TMCnet Web editor, covering IP hardware and mobility, including IP phones, smartphones, fixed-mobile convergence and satellite technology. She also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet's gadgets and satellite e-Newsletters. To read more of Marisa's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri
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