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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 26, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    iPad hits Irish stores

    Ciara O'Brien

    Friday’s iPad article:

    In the six months since it was first announced, the Apple iPad has certainly made an impact. Described as a “magical and revolutionary device” by chief executive Steve Jobs, the iPad has sold more than three million units since its April 3rd launch in the US, and its May 28th debut in Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

    Irish Apple fans have had to wait a bit longer but from Friday July 23rd the device goes on sale in nine more countries, including Ireland.

    Essentially a large iPhone, the iPad runs on the same operating system as its phone counterpart. The device is aimed at people who want to watch media clips, view photographs, send some email and maybe browse the web without having to peer at a small phone screen or be saddled with a laptop.

    Like most Apple products, a lot of thought has gone into the design. The iPad is slim at only 13.4mm thick, and looks remarkably similar to Apple’s much-praised phone.

    The 9.7 inch high resolution screen is incredibly detailed and has been designed with movies and other media content in mind. It’s bright, and is supposed to be fingerprint resistant, although anyone who has used an iPad for any length of time will probably question its ability to resist smudges.

    The screen, combined with the iBooks application, also makes it a pretty impressive e-reader. Text is crisp and clear, and the iBooks application makes it easy to read, giving the option of customising typefaces and font size.

    However, it’s a little on the heavy side to hold one-handed, as many people do with regular books or e-readers, for any length of time without your wrist taking the brunt of it. While 0.68kg may not seem very heavy when you’re reading the specs, it will when you’re making your way through the latest best-seller.

    On the inside, the iPad has a 1GHz chip to move things along. It’s speedy enough at loading applications and switching between media files. The amount of files you can squeeze in will depend on the capacity you opt for: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, according to your budget. On the face of it, the price difference for such products seems a little steep – €100 for an additional 16GB and 32GB of memory respectively when you upgrade to the 32GB and 64GB versions. The extra cost of getting 3G is also steep – an extra €100 to have the connectivity built in, and that’s before you start paying for your data plan.

    Weighing it up against the cost of a wireless mobile modem, and the price for convenience is clear.

    The cost of such products is always an issue, particularly when comparing them to overseas costs. The 16GB Wifi only version of the iPad costs €499 here, compared with $499 (€390) in the US and £429 (€509) in the UK. The top of the range 64GB version with Wifi and 3G connectivity will set you back €799 in Irish stores and £699 in the UK (€829). The same device costs $829 in the US, the equivalent of €647 at today’s exchange rates.

    The range of functions on the iPad is what has grabbed people’s attention. Aside from movies, web browsing and e-mail, it will also function as an iPod, albeit a large one. It comes with built-in speakers and a headphone socket, and though it will never replace your iPod or iPhone when it comes to portable music, it’s handy for listening to podcasts while browsing the web or watching films in public places – on a long plane journey, for example.

    This is where the iPad’s far superior battery really shines. You would be hard pressed to get 10 hours out of a laptop, but the iPad’s claimed battery life appears to be living up to its promises.

    However, there are some other things to note about the iPad. It does not have a USB port or the ability to connect external storage cards, such as the one inside a digital camera, without the purchase of additional kit. Most of the time you won’t transfer files without your Mac or PC, unless you’re downloading them from an online source. The lack of such functions has been criticised, but it doesn’t seem to phase Apple’s loyal following, who have already crumbled and bought the device despite its perceived shortcomings.

    All the software for the iPad comes from Apple’s App Store. Because it uses the same operating system as the iPhone, it will run applications designed for the phone too. However, to take full advantage of the screen, users will have to shell out for apps designed with the iPad in mind.

    The new device has created a new market for app developers, who suddenly have a lot more screen space to fill. This is a great opportunity for most, with everything from reader applications and games to productivity software benefitting from the larger screen real estate.

    The apps can be, in some instances, more expensive to buy than their iPhone counterparts. However, there are still some that remain free or close enough in price to their iPhone counterparts. And if you’ve already bought the iPhone version and are quite happy with it, you could always just redownload it to the iPad through the App Store for free.

    • Liam says:

      My laptop packed in a few weeks back and was thinking about getting an Ipad instead but in the end decided against it, It falls short of a laptop in a lot of places and I couldnt justify a buying a laptop and the Ipad.

    • Finbar Walsh says:

      Just bought an iPad. Where’s the content? No books for sale only free one’s that are out of copyright. No newspapers or magazines. You have to download a Kindle app to buy books in Amazon to read in the Kindle app on the iPad. For anyone who wants to download books, magazines or newspapers – don’t. The only answer right now is the Kindle.