Apple iPad First Look

See the Apple iPad in action and read our review.
 
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02.eBooks for Australia

The iBooks app for iPad is available as a free download from the App Store allowing users to download ebooks directly to the full-colour iPad or via iTunes from the new iBookstore, which joins Apple’s other online stores for music, video, audiobooks and apps. Initially, it offered a free Winnie The Pooh book, an iPad guide and many public domain "classics" but little else ue to regional publishing restrictions. This has now changed, as of November, with thousands of commercial titles from major and independent publishers now available.

The iBookstore has thrown down the gauntlet to Amazon, which has possibly the most extensive online book store and two versions of the monochrome Kindle ebook reader device. The entry-level iPad has a similar screen size and price as the large-format Amazon Kindle DX. See our 2010 review of the latest eBook readers for more details.

Meanwhile, iPad users can still access latest release ebooks via Amazon's online store using the free Amazon Kindle app, as well as via other popular ebook reader apps such as Stanza.

 

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Meanwhile, newspaper and book publishers are hoping the iPad becomes the breakthrough product they’ve been waiting for as a way to encourage consumers to pay for content, rather than look for it to be provided for free on the internet. The Australian newspaper is the first to announce its own iPad app,  due to be available at launch, offering a $4.99 monthly subscription. 

Looking at the iPad, at a glance the similarities between it and its smaller brethren are obvious, from the glass touchscreen and icons for apps to the single home button on the front and side-mounted volume and orientation lock buttons (apple.com.au/ipad/features). Under the hood, the iPad has the iPhone OS reworked for the larger screen. Existing iPhone apps can display at their original size, or the iPad can scale them up to full screen, though this pixel-doubling affects the image quality. Games, in particular, benefit from the larger screen and faster processor. 

It appears that Apple has been careful that the iPad doesn’t cut too deeply across the features of its other products, which would affect sales. A noticeable omission is a forward-facing webcam, so there’s no video chat option and there’s also no camera at the rear, as there is with the iPhone.

Though not a full laptop computer such as Apple’s own MacBook range, the iPad will connect with Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard for entering data more easily than via the pop-up onscreen keyboard. Apple has also reworked its iWork productivity suite of Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentations) to suit the iPad. The programs will be available for purchase separately. 

At just 243 x 190mm and 13mm thick, the slimline device weighs around 700 grams and is built for portability, though no doubt many users will spend a bit extra for the optional protective cover that also doubles as a desktop support stand. Battery life is claimed to be up to 10 hours. Though use of Wi-Fi and/or 3G will reduce that, the device is obviously designed for all-day use. An optional desktop dock can charge it while standing it up in portrait mode for ease of viewing. 

No Flash. Not now. Not ever.

Apple’s built-in apps support web browsing, email, photos, YouTube videos, music, ebooks, maps, calendar, contacts and on-device searching, but another notable omission is Flash, the popular fromat for presenting video on websites. The iPad has an app for viewing YouTube only. 

The omission of Flash has resulted in a widely reported war of words between Apple and Flash creator Adobe, with Adobe criticising Apple for restricting users' options and Apple claiming Flash is detrimental to performance and not based on open standards. 

Though not a full laptop computer such as Apple’s own MacBook range, the iPad will connect with Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard for entering data more easily than via the pop-up onscreen keyboard. Apple has also reworked its iWork productivity suite of Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentations) to suit the iPad. The programs will be available for purchase separately.

At just 243 x 190mm and 13mm thick, the slimline device weighs around 700 grams and is built for portability, though no doubt many users will spend a bit extra for the optional protective cover that also doubles as a desktop support stand. Battery life is claimed to be up to 10 hours. Though use of Wi-Fi and/or 3G will reduce that, the device is obviously designed for all-day use. An optional desktop dock can charge it while standing it up in portrait mode for ease of viewing.

See a video review of the iPad on our US sister site, Consumer Reports.

 
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