The iPad: An iPod Touch on Steroids?

Apple iPad

It’s not quite what the pundits were expecting, but the iPad has landed and with it Apple has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging all the other PC makers to catch up – if they can. It’s a slick device, offering all of the features and functionality of an iPod Touch, with a larger screen and more powerful processor. Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple put on a good show, demonstrating the iPad’s deft handling of web browsing, watching videos, reading publications and running apps such as racing games. But the price for this uber-iPod starts at $499 USD and rises sharply as you add more memory and 3G connectivity, leaving all of us to decide if we really need a device that sits somewhere between our MP3 player and our laptop, a device that offers little in the way of new functionality yet nonetheless occupies a category of its own.

Just how much like an iPod Touch is the new iPad? Let’s take a look at the specs:

The iPad features:

  • A 9.7” LED-backlit IPS LCD multi-touch screen (IPS is one of the varieties of LCD technology that uses fewer transistors, but requires more backlighting for an increased viewing angle)
  • A 1.5lbs aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Built-in microphone, speakers and headphone jack
  • 10 hour battery life
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g /n
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • A custom Apple-built 1 Ghz processor, dubbed the “A4”
  • Accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor
  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution (3×4 aspect ratio)
  • Can output 576p and 480p with Apple Composite A/V Cable to a TV

So far, with the exception of the compass, it’s a large iPod Touch, with a fast processor and a not-quite 720p resolution screen. Though it’s hard to tell without benchmark testing, the processor may deliver similar performance to Intel’s Atom platform – the Atom varies between 1.3 and 2 Ghz. In fact, given Apple’s close working relationship with Intel on most of their other computing products, it’s a bit of a surprise that an Atom isn’t at the heart of the iPad. One reason might be cost, but I suspect Apple needed two very important things for the iPad: A need to clearly distinguish it from the netbook category (having an Atom processor would immediately invite comparisons) and the ability to extract every second of battery life possible.

Now for the software:

  • Safari (web browser)
  • Email
  • Photos (with an optional dock adapter that lets you read SD cards)
  • Customizable home screen
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Maps
  • Notes
  • iBooks (an online bookstore very similar to what Amazon offers on the Kindle)
  • iPod
  • iTunes
  • App Store
  • Video & YouTube, both with HD support

Again, we have a few minor enhancements over the iPod Touch, most notably the iBooks integration, but on the whole, it’s very similar.

The pricing:

Though Canadian pricing hasn’t been announced, here’s what they get in the U.S.:

16GB + WiFi: $499; 16GB + WiFi + 3G: $629

32GB + WiFi: $599; 32GB + WiFi + 3G: $729

64GB + WiFi: $699; 64GB + WiFi + 3G: $829

Since the iPod Touch only comes in 8, 32 and 64GB sizes, let’s take the 32GB model for comparison at $299 USD. The same size iPad is $300 more, or double the price. If you want to compare the iPad to the 32GB iPhone it starts to get tricky given the carrier-underwritten pricing, but it’s still cheaper than the equivalent iPad 3G.

Speaking of 3G, this is one area that will give prospective buyers of the iPad the most difficulty when it comes to deciding on which model. You will need to honestly ask yourself if you want to use the iPad absolutely everywhere or just when in range of an available Wi-Fi network. There is no evidence so far, that if you go Wi-Fi only, you will be able to upgrade to 3G capability at a later date. But because you aren’t tied to a carrier for the 3G model (unlike current iPhone purchasing models) many people may decide to splurge, simply as a way to future-proof themselves.

In the U.S., Apple has partnered with AT&T to offer unlimited data on the iPad for $30 a month which is a great deal if you’re going to use it outside of Wi-Fi network range regularly.  For Canadians, who can’t currently get an unlimited data plan on *any* carrier, the questions are: will a similar deal will be struck here, and if not, will the iPad be viable financially when not within range of a Wi-Fi network?

So that’s pretty much it as far as the specs go. If it sounds like the iPad is a little underwhelming from this description, you and I have the same perspective.

However, as tempting as it may be to dismiss the iPad as an overgrown and overpriced iPod Touch, as with so many of Apple’s products, there’s always another aspect – an element that cannot be quantified through an analysis of the specs alone. The iPad is very attractive. It has the same simple elegance that has been a hallmark of Apple’s industrial design since Jobs took back control of the company over 10 years ago.

I haven’t even seen it in the flesh yet but I can hardly wait to get my hands on it – to touch it, interact with it, play with it. Though it may not boast capabilities that any well-equipped netbook couldn’t match and for much less money, its touch-based interface and beautiful, jewel-like screen call to gadget lovers like a siren song.  Steve Jobs described it as “magical”. I’m not sure I would call it a magical device given how much of what it can do is already available in other products, but there’s no question – it does exude a magical appeal.

If you ask yourself “Do I really need an iPad?”, the probable answer is “No.” But once you’ve used one, or watched curiously as someone else works with one, then ask yourself “Do I want an iPad?”, I’ll bet the answer will be “YES!”

It is already apparent that the iPad’s strengths are: Surfing the web with a multitouch interface on a screen that lets you really appreciate a full web page; Having access to books and periodicals in full colour with adjustable font sizes and orientation; Watching videos in your choice of letterbox or full-frame presentation, organizing and viewing photos, and of course, accessing the 160,000+ apps in the App Store that not only run on the iPad, but are sync’d with your existing App Store purchases if you already own an iPod Touch or iPhone.

This last point is really the iPad’s greatest strength of all. Not only does Apple already has a superb set of online tools through which users can download anything from apps, to movies, to music to TV shows, the company has fostered an enormous development community who can leverage every line of code that they wrote for the iPhone and iPod Touch and layer-on additional features for the iPad.

As with the iPhone, it will be this dizzying array of creative energy that figures out how to take the iPad to places that even Apple itself hasn’t imagined. I know they had to call this thing an iPad for consistency in branding etc, but I think its unofficial name ought to be “the AppPad”.

On a final note, I’ll share a few disappointments. These weaknesses are more omissions than outright mistakes. There’s no GPS (though A-GPS is available on the 3G models), there’s no camera either on the front or the back, there was no mention of the ability to multi-task or background your apps – something that has been a complaint on the iPhone for some time.

I strongly suspect that all three of these elements will make their way into future versions of the iPad, with multi-tasking being the first to come, with a software update, since clearly Apple’s new A4 processor is more than capable of handling it.

So welcome to the world iPad. You may not be the device that anyone needs, but I doubt that will stop you from winning a place in our hearts.

originalUpdate Jan 28, 2:10 P.M.: found this over at gizmodo… hilarious!






icm20Update Jan 28, 2:55 P.M.: Obviously Apple engaged with the accessory community early on for the iPad launch. If you were really bummed out by the absence of a webcam onboard the iPad, the folks over at iLuv have a solution (albeit a clunky one): A dock-adapter based webcam available in 1.3 or 3 megapixel resolutions. No word on price or availability yet.



  1. mike

    If Apple craped in a box and called it iCrap, the same people who buy the iPad would most likely buy that box to. There is to much disposible income these days.


    • harry

      I’m with you mike, useless expensive garbage. This thing has about as much use and appeal as peeled potato scraps in an iPail. Not to mention you need a large iMammal to carry the thing around. It doesn’t fit in any iPocket I have and You surely wouldn’t want to be whipping this thing out to answer an iPhonecall or surf the internet on a subway unless you want to be ripped off.


      • johnflo88

        the iphone fanboy can hang over their necks like a BIG clock to show it off and as for being ripped off, the thief will be scared off just looking at the iphone on STEROIDS!


  2. riceboy

    It’s def a Touch on steroids. Apple dropped the ball on this one for the following reasons:

    1) No video output. Not having the ability to play my movies I download on my TV.

    2) Not a widescreen.

    3) No multitasking. This is the deal breaker for me. Not having the ability to read an iBook while having my IM+ open at the same time or other app is not good. If Apple considers this a replacement for a netbook, it fails.


    • Spirit Thing

      1 – Yes, you can play the movies you download on your TV. At the bottom of the list of iPad Features: Can output 576p and 480p with Apple Composite A/V Cable to a TV


    • rawk star

      ur wrong on 2 of 3 of those buddy…do your research first. And you read and IM at the same time? You need to chill and just read a book with no distractions guy. That’s what they have laptops for….


      • riceboy

        576p and 480p?? You call that video?? And the dock-to-VGA adapter at up to 1024 x 768…wth?? No HDMI, no DVI—not even a Mini DisplayPort.


  3. james

    I agree with rice boy last version of touch no camera or video need to know what people want apple just needed to look at a jail-break model


  4. Steve

    800+ plus a data plan? haha you can get a free netbook these days if you pay for data. Boring. No multi-tasking, videocamera, flash support, usb? way overpriced iFail.


  5. Joe

    Way over priced. I thought according to Steven Jobs that it was supposed to be somewhere between an IPhone and a Laptop.

    You can by a laptop cheaper than that.

    They should have had one or two models and at about half the price.


  6. pb

    So i have to buy all Bluetooth peripherals, no vid output, i cant add external hard drive, I cant download torrents, CANT CANT CANT,, PAY PAY PAY, thats all i see with device…


    • johnflo88

      in the same time steve j.the (controller)laughing all the way to the BANK!I can hear him saying “what a bunch of stupid iphone fanboy” if I put an apple logo on my FART they would buy it too.


  7. george

    i think the iPad is just a iPhone with a bigger screen…
    After whatching videos on the iPad, it includes nothing more than an iPhone apart from:
    Slightly ajusted built in apps
    Larger screen
    better technology e.g. its faster

    But, even after what i’ve mentioned above i think it is worth the money.


  8. hotrunner

    I think when I buy an iPad, I will need an iBattery to run it. When will the iBattery be released? The battery life on the iTouch sucks !!!


  9. hotrunner

    I have come to realize that we all live in a trow away society. Having said this, what Apple has created with a very low iPad retail price is along the lines of buying a Razor and Blade. The Razors are basically sold very cheap, but WOW, the Blades will cost you a fortune over time. Apple will do the same with the iTouch and iPad. Banking on the constant revenue stream from the App store and Apple Accessories. This is the real money is to be made. Perhaps Apple should give everyone a free iPad whereby the user has to pay for APPs…..WOW, what a business plan. !!!!


    • johnflo88

      just like I did with my iphone 3G and upgraded to 3GS for the same iphone.I am stuck with 2 iphones.The 4G and then 4GS are coming for the same iphone again as upgrades and I am not going to be fooled this time.


  10. Brad

    With the larger size, they couldn’t do better than 64 GB? I would be seriously interested in it if it had 256 GB. Otherwise? forget it.


  11. bobby

    what i have to say about the ipad would take days, but simply i think it is junk. it is and ipod touch with a big screen. it is way too much $ and you really think apple could of maybe added something new other than books. maybe multitasking, camera (webcam) or even more homescreen apps. i mean come on apple the icons are the same as the ipods and iphones they could of atleast made one icon per screen or a more interactive homescreen. and last would be making the home screen turn when the device is in landscape. like i said this could take days but i’ll just stop now.


  12. John

    You guys are all right, the I-Pad is nothing but an overgrown I-Touch.
    I was going to buy one but now I changed my mind, you screwed up on this one Jobs. I bought a netbook for $249.00 at Future Shop and it does more than the I-Pad.


  13. DJ

    As someone who travels a lot and is usually dragging a PSP, iPod and book for those long and boring trans Canada flights I would buy one, with one device I can save a lot of room in my carry on luggage.


  14. Rory

    Saltzman thinks this better that sliced bread. No, it isn’t. As someone said this the ‘Ishtar’ of movies not ‘Avatar’. It really doesn’t solve any problems I had. iPad will be a dud. I’m not buying.


  15. Phil

    Not impressed, missing a camera for Skyping, cannot use a stylus so no making notes during a meeting or class, also cannot draw, I don’t want to use my finger. My iTouch and notebook are looking pretty darn good. Apple screwed up, like Mike said, iCrap! :D no PC or office software? and for all of the above reasons too. Maybe next year after those who must buy now, Apple will listen to techies and end users to turn it into a killer. For now I will call it the iFlop.:P


  16. Rabah

    I can not wait to buy the ipad at the first glance that attracted me right away. It’s a beautifull invention thing bravo to apple. I already have the iPhone nearly two years now. And for sure I will buy the ipad. Thanks to apple. Mr Mamou .


  17. Marc C.

    Simon wrote :
    Apple has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging all the other PC makers to catch up – if they can.

    Catch up?

    This device is hobbled, nay, crippled right from the get-go. I won’t bother with things like the wide bezel and specs – those are up to the individual to decide if they are deal-breakers. Undeniably the lack of a camera, particularly a front-facing one, is a huge mistake; no video chat possible, whether by Wi-Fi or 3G. No multi-tasking means a nigh useless device for any actual work. And since the back of the device is rounded, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to type on it while it sits on a flat surface. These three things convince me that while it may be pretty it is also pretty useless. Get a netbook; save some money and get some actual work done.


  18. dave

    does the new Ipad sync with your ipod, as I have a pretty cool docking sound station for my ipod ands do not want to buy new sotware for the ipad

    answers would be appreciated



  19. Bob

    Update says that you can add a web cam.When you
    start adding things on,doesn’t that take away
    from the whole concept?The only way to get Apple
    to build a better product is to say”No sale.”


  20. habs

    Let’s see, a netbook is much cheaper and for what most people really need them for – email and reading the daily news, the ipad is not worth it. Probably will have to buy a special case to protect the screen. All about the hype with Apple products.


  21. Brad

    I am seeing TV ads right now showing the iPhone multi-tasking/”backgrounding” apps…so if multi-tasking has come to the iPhone it must be on it’s way, and right soon, to the iPad ? Would Apple protect those who buy now by offering an easy upgrading process ?


  22. riceboy

    I’ll wait and see when MSI releases their Tegra based Tablet. The MSI tablet PC device features Nvidia’s Tegra line of ARM system-on-chip processor package whih comes with a 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 MPCore processor that will allow the device to multi-task and play HD videos.


  23. Marla

    Maybe some of the younger people don’t know but Apple has screwed up before, and more than once. Remember the Newton? Once you get past the hype and the uncomfortable name, there’s really not a whole lot there. I can imagine Steve Jobs saying “Ignore that man behind the curtain!”… I think the iPad (cringe) will be the new Bluetooth, with all the hipster douche-iness that implies.


  24. JAST

    Wow, I see most of the emails take this to heart.

    To me the IPAD is just a huge Itouch without many improvements. Maybe its for the near sighted? As products like this are developed it drives the competitors to one up them. This being a good thing! So as this product being successful or not is dependent on the market. Time will tell. I like the Itouch for music and some apps but the IPad may not be for me.



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  26. Jem

    I laughed for 10 minutes when I read the specs. Everytime someone mentions the Ipad it starts up an Ipad rant. I can’t believe how they are ripping people off. Too bad their brainwashing works.
    Worst part…16, 32, 64. Your kidding me right?
    Is there actually anything positive to say about the Ipad?
    I read all the time…I sure wouldn’t pay $500 US (for 16GB only NO 3G) to read on this. That is what my DSlite is for.


  27. emma

    The only reason anybody would want to get an iPad would be to show off how much money they had and how cool they were, and then end up storing it in their underwear drawer after software updates reach the iPad. Trust me. I’m in high school and this is basically what everybody is trying to do: show off their parent’s money!


  28. Steve

    To all the dumbasses that say the ipad is just an oversized iPhone, think about your tv…it’s just the same as a 12″ only bigger. So would you rather watch a movie on 12″ tv or a 60″? If everyone thought the same way you idiots do we would still be watching tv with 20″ screens. Half the people just don’t have the money to buy one so they knock it since they can’t have it. Every person that I’ve ever met that has said they hated the ipad have truthfully never even touched one. Go try it out for yourselves before you make another stupid comment.


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  30. alex

    apple = restricted, no sharing, corporation controlled software, its alot like being in the matrix – you think everything’s good but you don’t know your locked into a system in which you have no power. I seriously resent steve jobs, and to all the ifans, i suppose its not your fault that your ignorant. long live freeware (not free of charge but free of restrictions) if you don’t understand look it up. knowing how software works is your right, apple doesn’t want you to know that because then they’d make far less money off of you.


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