The Apple iPad: Underwelming but not a bad price

Apple Ipad

Apple release the islate, itablet as the ipad today. I’m sure many people will write about the device and how they really want one but even with my mac bashing hat on the table its not enough.

If you’ve not seen it, think of a ipod touch and grow it quite a bit and you got yourself a ipad.

The first thing which puts me off is the size, its too big to slot into my life. I want something which I can discreetly hold on the bus without people going hey whats that he’s got there? Something you don’t need another case or bag for. Something I can just carry with me just incase I got 30mins to do something. Some of you will argue that the smartphone is that device but I’m not so convinced. Its also quite weighty, which don’t get me wrong – is good for a large LCD but I want something really light. The real deal breaker and to be fair this was always the case even before it had come out. The Apple App store and Apple Ecosystem.

I can’t express how sick to death of the Apple Ecosystem I am. Everytime I even consider the ipad, I think about my experience with the ipod touch I bought last year. I couldn’t even turn on and use the device without the device talking to iTunes, which meant installing itunes on a work machine to just use the damm thing. Then there was the problem with storage. If I wanted to transfer something over to the device, it had to be via iTunes again. Not even Bluetooth push/ftp/send would work.

Compared that experience to my Sony Ebook reader. First day, I plug it into my Ubuntu machine and it pops up as a storage device with simply named folders for ebooks, pictures and audio. This also means later I can do automated file transfers from any media player I’m using at the moment (I tend to bounce between Rhythmbox and Banshee). Yes the Sony is a less complex device but they got the basics right. In actual fact the Sony ebook reader is the model of what I’m looking for. When I first bought it, I never knew I wanted something like it for size and use outside of reading ebooks. This is why I switched from the Sony PRS505 to the PRS600 with touch screen and ability to write/draw notes.

Since all this hype about the ipad (the last 4 weeks at least) I’ve been thinking what would I personally do to the Sony EReader to improve it.

Essentials

Add Bluetooth for file transfer, dialup, networking, etc. (Sony could still do this if the SD slot is SDIO)
Run an open operating system like a cleverly crafted Andriod on it
Add accelerometers, proximity sensors and some haptic feedback
Wireless 802.11b/g (Sony could still do this if the SD slot is SDIO)

Some would ask why not a colour screen? Well the problem is colour screens require a LCD or OLED as mentioned in the last blog post, which means less that 12hours battery life at the very best. Having over 2 weeks battery life on E-ink takes some getting use to, but I think the benefits of having e-ink certainly puts it in a different category of device and thats a good thing. Steve Jobs was trying to create a device which is in a different category but I think ended up which is too computer like in hardware but too consumer device in software.

Android would be great to have on there with a open marketplace so people can really develop for it. I don’t know if Android would work on a e-ink screen but you could imagine it wouldn’t take much to build a custom build just for E-ink screens. Bluetooth, Wifi and Accelerometers would open up a whole bunch of applications which the ipad has demonstrated. But the smaller screen would be much more mobile and friendly.

Agreed it wouldn’t be as flash but boy would it be useful and something which people might happily carry around more that this massive pad thing.

I also hope this isn’t going to start a media revolution, because if it is the publishing industry is going to put its eggs in the Apple itunes/apps store they’re crazy. This device isn’t anywhere near impressive. The only slightly impressive part is the price but I assume Apple are gambling that people will use the store to make up the difference in price. Maybe in the end the store will be the undoing of Apple, if developers move elsewhere and/or get fed up of Apple’s treatment, a sudden drop in app downloads and itunes usage could spell a lot more trouble than expected.

Before Apple launch what ever…

I wanted to quickly get my thoughts down before the Apple announcement later today.

I can’t see myself buying what ever Apple launches. But we all know that was the case anyway.

If Apple do launch a Tablet device, I will only be interested if it has a colour e-ink screen and costs less that 400 pounds. If its LCD screen then the battery life is going to be a killer, unless it holds 3x more charge per hour that your laptop. Why carry around a tablet which holds the same battery life as you laptop? If its not cheap, it will be eaten up by the small netbook industry or the whole host of smartphones coming on to the market. If its OLED then cool but its not going to be anywhere near cheap. And thats another problem. If its 500 pounds plus, why not just get a laptop? Or even add a nice top of the range netbook like the Nokia netbook or Dell Mini10’s? So could Apple do a crunchpad and get a LCD tablet down to the price of a Netbook? Maybe but the appeal is low. Would it have 3/4g? unlikely, specially after the AT&T burning Apple’s received.

Ok lets say its a Ebook device with E-ink. Well that market is becoming flooded and I can’t really see what more Apple could do in the space. I’m also sure E-ink would frustrate Steve Jobs. So were back at LCD/OLED again.

I had another thought that Apple could do something like a slate which is pretty underpowered when in its default state but when you plug in your ipod touch/iphone it binds the two together for something more powerful. So yeah all your games from the apps store can be played at its full rez instead of the iphone screen rez.¬† I was thinking they¬† could do the same using a bluetooth pan (personal area network) but we know Steve doesn’t like Bluetooth. So we’re left with either Wifi or some other new radio technology. Having the ipod/iphone part of the sum seems to cut the costs down quite a bit, plus when your at home it could piggy back off your laptop or other apple hardware.

I do also wonder if this big announcement be the next AppleTV, Apple Stereo or even Lisa? If so, we’d wasted so much time for a piece of crap. The chances are that its not because Apple have been working on this for years and it might be Steve Jobs last major product launch. So it could be something very different like a Apple branded LCD TV, a larger screen movie player or even finally the Apple Pippen (the games console which never came out). There is a thought that Steve Jobs must be surprised by the amount of casual games created on the appstore that the idea of a mobile gaming slate or device. Knowing Steve Jobs, he’ll be using that new standard for wireless digital hdmi system to interface with larger screens.

I guess we’ll find out soon…

Ars Technica provides a Storytlr tutorial

Well I say a tutorial but actually its more like a review of the process of setting up Storytlr. I was hoping Ryan Paul (Mr Gwibber himself) would have provided some hints to why my Storytlr isn’t working as it should do. And to be fair he’s leading me to believe that PHP5 Tidy isn’t installed on my Godaddy account plus there might be something wrong with my Cron job. What however he doesn’t do is explain in full what he did to fix the problems. So he says,

The first problem that I encountered is that the RSS import code requires PHP5-Tidy, which isn’t available on Dreamhost. It was pretty easy to remove that dependency by changing a few lines of code. The code for the individual services is stored in protected/application/plugins. Each plugin has model and view scripts that are used to download and display content. To remove the dependency on Tidy, I just had to make some trivial changes to the plugins/rss/models/RssModel.php script.

While they might be trivial to you, but I’m scratching my head looking at the PHP, thinking humm, I could really screw things up here, I wish I was looking at Velocity templates instead.

Someone else wrote up there experience of installing storytlr here which is actually pretty useful.

Hopefully I’ll get the whole thing sorted soon.

HTC technically make the best smartphones in the world?

HTC Quietly Brilliant

Right from about 10 years ago HTC have been making phones for many phone companies such as Orange in the UK and France. Because of there small eastern background, few people had heard of them and I guess the operators were able to get away with selling quite amazing handsets for pretty cheap. In my history I’ve had…

  • Orange SPV E200
  • Orange SPV M500 (I had a 3G Nec e808 too)
  • Orange SPV M600
  • Orange SPV M700
  • HTC TyTN II (I had a Sanyo S750 inbetween)
  • Orange Touch HD

Anyway, its time again when I can upgrade my phone again (I don’t do 2 year contracts) and honestly looking around the only real choice has got to be a HTC made phone. I know most of you people reading this are in love with Apple but technically I would argue that HTC has had the best smartphones for a few years at least now. Its specially since Android, HTC phones have really started to shine. I’m still shocked at how sweet my current Touch HD is and I’ve not even had a chance to play with the HD2 or Nexus One yet.

And just when you think things can’t get much better for HTC smartphones, rumours of the HD3 are leaked. If the specs are true, I really should hold out for this simply amazing smartphone. Until then I’ll be slowly switching over to Android on my current Touch HD. Others have been check out the same way of running Android but with not as much success as myself it would seem. But you have to give it up to a phone which can run more that one operating system.