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Evaluating Apple’s iPad

Evaluating Apple’s iPad

The iPad sold today is actually Apple’s second generation product. The iPad 2 (imaginative name, that) supplanted the original iPad in March of 2011. It’s thinner, lighter, and faster than its predecessor, while sharing the same 9.7” screen and similar pricing structure.

As such, the iPad has defined what we think of as a tablet computer. The iPad is relatively small and lightweight; you can hold it in one hand, at least for short periods of time. It’s completely wireless, connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi (or, on some models, 3G). And operation is totally intuitive, using a series of finger gestures similar to those used on Apple’s iPhone.

Figure 1 Apple’s iPad 2.

The iPad 2 upped the ante by adding two cameras, front- and rear-facing, along with the FaceTime app for real-time video conferencing. You can also use the iPad 2 to both shoot and view photos and movies, as well as edit them onscreen.

In short, the iPad is a device that screams user friendliness. You don’t need to read a book to learn how to use it (although Que does offer lots of books about the iPad, in case you’re interested), nor do you need to connect it to a PC to get up and running. It’s a self-contained device, supported by more than a half-million third-party apps that offer all matter of functionality. As with all things Apple, these apps are easy to find, install, and start using, thanks to the online Apple App Store.

What do people do on their iPads? Just about anything they want. That’s one of the joys of the iPad ecosystem; there’s an app for just about anything you might want to do. You’re not limited to Apple’s apps or the media they offer (although there’s quite a lot of the latter, with music and videos from Apple’s iTunes Store and books from the iBookstore). Even though Apple has a bit of history as a closed system, the iPad is surprisingly open; you can even read Amazon eBooks on the iPad, thanks to the Kindle Reader app.

The result is that the iPad shines as a device for both consumption and creation. If all you want to do is read eBooks and watch movies, it’s great for that. But the iPad is also great for social networking via Facebook and Twitter, sending and receiving email, working on letters and reports, learning about science and math, playing games, and more. The quantity and quality of apps available is truly astounding, making the iPad the perfect device to do just about anything you want.

All of this functionality comes at a price, however. The base iPad, with 16GB storage and Wi-Fi-only capability, sells for $499. Add more storage (up to 64GB) and 3G connectivity, and it’ll set you back more than eight hundred dollars. Pricey, yes, but overwhelming popular – obviously, millions of people think it’s worth the price.

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