New Apple iPad redefines consumers’ computing ideas

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It has been out less than a month, but the Apple iPad has already made a sizable impact.

The tablet computer’s release on April 3 was greeted with considerable hype and sales. Day one of sales concluded with 300,000 of the $499 tablets being sold according to an April 21 PCWorld.com article. Even after the tablet’s release, the hype continued surrounding the novelty of Apple’s newest product and its assortment of features continues.

The iPad is not as much for “creating stuff” as it is for “consuming it,” a March 31 New York Times review noted. To facilitate consumption, the iPad has numerous built-in applications including standards from other Apple products like Safari for Web browsing and iTunes for music. Additional applications include: Mail, Maps, iBooks and other organizational aides.

Cameron Ward, senior in mass communications and an iPad owner, said he appreciates the ease of completing daily tasks.

“I have kind of made it a laptop replacement, something I bring to class,” he said. “There’s a lot of functionality there and it’s a lot easier and quicker to do most of your daily tasks like e-mail, Web browsing and word processing than it is on a laptop.”

The dynamics of other tasks like reading books have changed as well. The iBooks application gives readers an almost realistic gaze at a book page. Pages are presented in a similar fashion to their published counterparts unlike other e-readers. A simple swipe of the finger turns a page. The ability to purchase and download books is exciting for Ward as well as the broader implications for college textbooks.

“I am sure Apple is really marketing this toward the education crowd,” Ward said. “Being able to deliver textbooks digitally, hopefully at a lower cost than you would in a bookstore is going to be a huge advantage for college students.”

Changing how books and newspapers are consumed has been acknowledged as a possible effect of the iPad’s emergence in several reviews. Richard Goe, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work, has researched the effects of technology on social change and sees changes in consumption habits as a real possibility.

“When you look at younger generations, they’ve totally been raised on the Internet and live online in this digital world, and for them I don’t think it will be a problem,” Goe said.

Older generations will not likely adapt without a concerted effort, he said.

When the iPad went on sale, April 3, the application store featured 1,000 applications, according to the New York Times review.

A notable exclusion in terms of features was Adobe Flash, a multimedia platform often used for adding videos to Web sites. Flash is the No. 1 platform for video on the web and in use by 75 percent of online videos according to an April 18 article by The Observer, a British newspaper. What the effects of this decision will be are debated.

“Right now I would say Adobe is in an advantageous position because they are the technological standard for that,” Goe said. “There are attempts to create a new standard all the time.”

Flash needs to be included on the iPad for it to be a laptop replacement, said Ward.

“But there’s not a really good chance Apple would do that,” Ward said. “Apple and Adobe, they don’t get along.”

The iPad is 9.7 inches measured diagonally and weighs 1.5 pounds. The display is described as a “high-resolution, 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS display,” according to Apple.com.

Chris Hansen, senior in mechanical engineering, said he believes the iPad is “pretty.”

“It’s a really good-looking thing,” he said. “It resembles a large iPhone.”

The iPad does not include a keyboard or mouse. Instead, the tablet includes a touch keyboard, which is “incredible,” according to Ward.

“I have noticed I type faster on that than I do on a laptop just because your fingers don’t have to move as far down to push the buttons,” Ward said.

For those not as comfortable with a touch keyboard, the iPad keyboard dock is available for $69.

The iPad also boasts a fast processing speed. Apple designed the one-gigahertz processing chip independently, according to Ward. Quick processing is aided by the fact the iPad uses the same operating system as an iPhone.

Wi-Fi connectivity issues plagued the iPad shortly after its release. Apple’s online support forum was bombarded with user complaints, according to an April 6 PCmag.com article. Those issues are not universal though.

“I have heard that there have been some,” Ward said. “I don’t know if that was one batch that was manufactured, but I haven’t had any issues with my iPad.”

The idea of a tablet computer has been well received, with several other companies working on developing their own versions. Hansen, the owner of five other Apple products, does not believe the iPad sets itself apart.

“I’d have to be able to compare,” Hansen said. “The iPad is nothing special.”

Meanwhile Ward’s excitement has not ceased.

“I love it,” Ward said. “It’s great.”

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