Apple’s iPad – Simply different

Simply different

Apple’s iPad: between Notebook and Smartphone

The iPad has raised high expectations. It wants to be a gaming console, E-book reader, mobile Internet and multi media machine at the same time. Can a computer without keyboard and USB port replace the netbook?

Now it has arrived, at least in the United States: Since early April you can buy the iPad there. Over 500.000 devices according to Apple have been sold in the first weeks. So many, that Apple has moved to international launch to the end of May. But still no one knows right what it actually is, this iPad.

It shows, that the iPad differs significantly from notebook or other tablet pc’s. If the iPad hasn’t been enabled during the purchase in the shop you must joine it to a PC with iTunes 9.1 (Windows, Mac), otherwise it will not start.

The fascination of iPad begins after the initial configuration. You navigate through the factory-installed apps, browse through pages of an E-book. A completely different feeling than working on a desktop PC or notebook arises as to the content is directly in your hands without going through mouse or keyboard. This works only so good, because of the iPad’s lightning responds with every movement of the user.

A screen with a thin frame, only 1.3 inches thick. The iPad can be used comfortably in portrait and landscape comfortably without accidentally hitting the touchscreen. Weighing approximately 700 grams, the iPad sits heavier in your hand than a paperback book or an E-book reader, but it is lighter than a netbook.

The iPad is sold with wireless function or with wireless and 3G module. SMS or do telephone calls are not supported  – only of you uses VoIP like the Skype apps.

Apple has installed a 11n compatible dual band-enabled wireless entry level chip. According to specification the BCM4329 supports up to 150 Mbps. The net flow with HTTP at close range was tested at maximum 23 Mbps downstream per second  (for comparison: A Centrino 2 laptop works with up to 80 MBit/s). For most iPad applications including browsing and streaming SD videos this speed is fast enough. We tested connections with a distance of 20 meters with 21 Mbps, but when moving into a less perfect position we only reached 12 MBit/s. The position of the antenna below the Apple logo seems to have an impact on the wireless connection. The iPad frequent disconnects when the position is a too far away from the access point.

The 9.7 inch screen is 1024 x 768 pixels and with the 132 dpi the resolution it is not as high as  the iPhone resolution (163 dpi), but higher than most 10 inch Netbooks.  The contrast is exceptionally good (1: 1193) and the extremely bright LED backlight display has more than 300 cd/m 2. The display is great to use outside and using under ‘sunshine’ conditions especially when the iPad becomes littered with fingerprints.

In the Lab we reached twice the performance with the iPad compared with the iPhone 3GS. Standard applications and third party apps tested great and animations and movies were running smooth.  With only 256 MB memory, the iPad warns on startup of graphics heavy games and applications about lack of memory. Using the Safari browser in the background, megabyte-sized web pages or documents can’t run in the background.

The battery runtime is superior for the display size and exceeds the running time of most notebooks. When turning the brightness down, the iPad runs even with intensive use over ten hours. Videos run almost eight hours on full brightness and in the living room with the usual 200cd/m2 around 10.7 hours. The supplied 2.1 amp power supply charges the iPad within four hours to a full charge. Connected via USB to a computer, the iPad charges only when it is turned off. The PC needs a special USB cable for connecting the iPad. Via Bluetooth you can connect a keyboard. Printer don’t work. You can’t expand memory via external hard drive or memory card. The speakers built-in the iPad  give a good volume and  provide quality sound.

In cool places the iPad barely warms up – even without having a built in cooling fan. On a window sill in the sun the iPad warms up after 30 minutes over 40 ° C and running applications stopped with an error, ten minutes later. Only after a few minutes in the shade the iPad worked again. We worked two hours in the afternoon sun without problems on the iPad. Using the iPad in a temperature of 44° C, only the running application stops, but not the device. The maximum operating temperature is 35° C and the maximum device temperature of 45° C as stated in the manual.

Michael Rentmeister, Mesh Technology Ltd

c ‘ t 10 / 2010.

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