Apple is positioning the iPad to change the personal computer market, bridging the gap between powerful smartphones and fully powered computers. There will be plenty of time after launch to compare the iPad to netbooks and low-midrange notebooks, but regardless, the iPad is entering a niche not largely adopted by consumers. Tablets have been around for years but they have yet to see mainstream adoption. Can the iPad change this or will Apple’s tablet also disappear into the crowd of obscure tablet computers? On April 3rd, we will see.
Prepare Your Content
You want to consume media on your iPad. I know it. Otherwise, what’s the point? Just as the iPhone before it, Apple is locking down the iPad to play only a few video and audio formats. Why? Apple wants you to purchase content through iTunes. Music and video from iTunes, of course, works perfectly on the iPad giving iTunes a boost in sales because of simplicity. If you get your media from other, less reputable sources, make sure to convert your media to the appropriate format.
For audio content, the iPad supports AAC, proteced AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. Most likely, the music and podcasts you listen to now are already in the correct format. In terms of video, the iPad supports H.264 encoded video up to 720p in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats. The iPad also supports 480p content in the MPEG format.
You may also watch video content on the web. Although the iPad doesn’t support flash, it does support HTML5 video. At launch, a handful of providers will support the iPad, including CNN, vimeo, and Sports Illustrated. Apple is compiling a growing list of website who play nice with the iPad to check your favorite website.
Did You Pre-Order?
Just as the iPhone before it, expect supply of the iPad to be limited at launch. Whether the crunch corresponds to marketing or logistical issues, consumers will be scrambling to get their hands on this device. Unless of course, you were smart enough to pre-order the device. In late March, Apple opened up pre-orders allowing customers to order online for guaranteed April 3rd delivery or reserve a unit for in-store pick-up at launch. Although convient for early purchasers, those looking to purchase on launch day will find it more difficult to locate an iPad.
All hope is not lost. Reservations expire at 3:00 in the afternoon so if your store is out of units, check back at around 3 to pick up a device not claimed. Perhaps a better shot, check out your local best buy. Although not available online, local best buys with certified apple departments will be selling the iPad on April 3rd. The inventory for each store is confidential, with sources claiming only 15 per store. Best buy’s will not be opening early but a best buy rep says best buy will be issuing iPad tickets before the store opens to ensure the safety of their customers.
As with other Apple devices, the iPad will feature simple set-up. Like the iPhone or iPod line, plugging the device into your computer should be the brunt of the set-up.
However, you need iTunes 9.1 to sync your iPad. On a mac, go to software update and make sure you have the latest version of iTunes. On a PC, launch iTunes, click on help, and then select “Check for updates” to confirm you are running the correct software.
Once your software is updated, your iPad will show up just as any other iPod or iPhone. Simply follow the prompts and choose to sync your music, photos, apps, and videos.
According to Apple,
all most apps currently in the app store will run on the iPad. The idea here is to get the huge library of iPhone and iPod touch applications running on the iPad. To do this, the iPad will scale these nonnative applications. However, from early reports, scaling isn’t perfect and some apps run terribly on the iPad. To ensure a great experience, here are some native apps you should install on your iPad.
Designed by Apple, iBooks allows users to, you guessed it, read on their iPad. Simply sync your DRM free ePub documents in iTunes, and get to reading. Oh wait, you are looking for new content. iBooks doubles as a book marketplace allowing you to purchase your favorite titles and new releases all from your device. This application also allows you several in book features as well, including search, bookmarking, and font adjustments. Look out Kindle, iBooks is coming.
- ABC Player
Looking to watch your favorite ABC content right from your portable device, this app is for you. Allowing you to view full episodes of Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and the rest of the ABC lineup, this application is great for consuming quality media. In fact, this app won’t cost you a penny and ABC is not charging anything per episode, so you essentially get all the media you want for nothing. Why download an episode in iTunes for $1 when this app legally gives it to you for free?
- WordPress 2.4
I love wordpress. I have been using it for years to manage my various blogs and have never had any problems with it. Version 2.4 of the wordpress app is designed for the iPad allowing you to create and edit blog posts and monitor comments all from one simple application. If you run wordpress, this app is critical to your mobile workflow.
Are you a netflix subscriber? If so, prepare yourself for unlimited streaming right on your iPad. This netflix application allows you to watch all the TV shows and movies you want as part of your netflix unlimited membership. The app itself is free for netflix subscribers. With plans starting at $4.99 per month, video content on the iPad is getting cheap.
I get a lot of my news from national public radio. I currently listen periodically on my freecom musicpal and look forward to catching up on the days news directly through the iPad friendly application. At a cost of nothing, why not download NPR to stay connected?
Consuming media, checking email, and causally browsing the web is fun but sometimes we need to get some work done. Apple has engineered the iWork suite specifically for the iPad allowing you to professionally create, edit, and view word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. For $30, or $10 for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote respectively, managing schoolwork or business information cannot be easier.
The iPad looks to change the market the way the Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone changed their respective markets. But the iPad is dependent on third parties to produce high quality apps and content to enjoy. Although launch looks to offer a wide variety of this media, I expect the future to hold an even brighter outcome. The iPad will be the device of the future.