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Apple iPad Reviewed 443

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-the-hood dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Since the iPad's initial introduction back in January, many of us still wonder why we should drop hundreds of dollars for what is termed as a large iPod. Missing features like support for multitasking, a built-in camera for video chats, and Flash support in Safari only add to the dilemma. However, a recently published review of the iPad starts to clear up these doubts. To begin with, the iPad is packing some real quality gear under the hood. Even though the in-house-designed 1GHz A4 chip got little official comment from Apple, the touch screen's instantaneous responses prove that it is outstandingly fast. Furthermore, the iPad runs iPhone OS 3.2, and is currently the only device that runs this version of the operating system. iPad's graphics capabilities come from a PowerVR SGX GPU, similar to the one found in the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch. It can render about 28 million polygons/second, which is more powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon found in devices like the HTC HD2. Also, iPad's extraordinary battery life is not just a myth. According to the lab tests, the battery netted a respectable 9 hours and 25 minutes, very close to Apple's claims of 10 hours."
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Apple iPad Reviewed

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  • right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Adambomb (118938) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @02:28AM (#31698096) Journal

    I guess this makes the news "Apple iPad contains specs Apple claimed it would have!"?

    then again i guess its the 1st already.

  • Touch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CaptnMArk (9003) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @02:37AM (#31698144)

    Personally, I find that I am slowly developing an RSI type problem wrt touchpads and touchscreens, preventing extensive use. Anyone else?

  • by adeelarshad82 (1482093) * on Thursday April 01, 2010 @02:38AM (#31698148) Homepage
    Actually for tablets it is a big indicator given that they don't really run multiple applications that we can test them out on. What the good responsiveness shows is that the chip is capable to running the OS very smoothly.
  • by fan of lem (1092395) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @02:42AM (#31698160) Journal

    In the realm of electronic music production, the iPad is showing a lot of promise [createdigitalmusic.com].

    This is sort of a big deal amongst electronic musicians, as before the iPad the only similar alternative was the US$2,000+ Jazzmutant Lemur [wikipedia.org].

  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:00AM (#31698232) Homepage

    Also, you'd be a pretty poor excuse of an audiophile if you'd been praying for less bass from shitty speakers in portable rigs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:13AM (#31698304)

    Even though the in-house-designed 1GHz A4 chip got little official comments from Apple; touch screen's instantaneous responses prove that it is outstandingly fast.

    I'm sure Apple engineered the entire chip, including the ARM core, which is the reason why it's so fast. Actually, I'm not sure. Designing a modern pipelined cpu is extremely difficult, especially one that is fast and low power. ARM (the company) designs and implements their own cpu's, including the Verilog/VHDL source for the actual layout, along with some hand optimization at the synthesis stage. They then sell this to Apple/Philips/Qualcomm, who add the peripherals and then fab the actual silicon itself. Apple isn't going to reinvent the wheel by reimplementing an entire cpu. They're going to buy the core from ARM at a cheaper price than what they could do themselves. Apple is not the only one that wants a fast and low power arm core: everyone does. ARM already employs the best people to do this, they know the most about their own cores, they've had the most experience, and they are the ones most interested in doing it, so they can sell it to pretty much everyone. (How many arm cpu's are around you? More than you think. WAY more than you think.) Anyways, don't give credit to Apple for the fast ARM cpu, they most likely just bought the core from ARM, who did most of the engineering, and Apple added some other on chip stuff and had the chip manufactured.

    Now I get to watch this modded into oblivion after I spent 5 minutes writing it.

  • Re:Ok, so... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nneonneo (911150) <`ac.wahs' `ta' `eloh_maps'> on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:16AM (#31698322) Homepage

    It (presumably) does for Chinese, since the iPhone does ;)

  • Re:Ok, so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hitmark (640295) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:20AM (#31698340) Journal

    50% faster? i think atom and cortex-A8 benchmark closer then that.

    while the storage space is bigger on a netbook, its a HDD. I morn the loss of SSD from most netbooks today, because they need the room for windows. Using SSD in a netbook rather then a HDD made those small computers a fair bit more rugged.

    no comment on the screen size.

    there is a keyboard dock (basically a combo of the normal dock/stand and the usual apple keyboard without a numpad). Yes, it results in the ipad standing in portrait mode. However, if one is using the ipad to hammer out documents, a portrait ratio may actually make sense, as thats bascially the same shape as the paper it may be printed onto.

    if it was not for apples bonehead insistence on only allowing programs to be had via the app store, and other ball and chain measures, i may actually have grabbed one. I can see it sitting on a desk or table, either for typing or basically as a expensive photo frame, but that one can at any moment grab for looking some info up while on the bed or sofa. If it had a webcam, or could have a usb webcam attached, it may act nicely as a video phone as well.

    still, all this seems to be available in the archos 8 home tablet, so maybe i will buy that instead. I just worry that they will require me to fiddle with a charger attachment each time i set it down, rather then just pop it into some stand that also provides charging.

  • by Bongo (13261) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:31AM (#31698380)

    It is a fair point but it also applies to closed software where you don't get the source. It applies to any product that was created for a market where the purchaser simply wanted a ready made thing that just does certain things. Most people don't design their own house, design their own plumbing, grow their own food, prescribe their own medicines, build their own cars, and so on. Most people don't even bake their own bread. We have people and companies that specialise in these things, and because we delegate the work to them, they have more control over it than we do. We get to choose to some extent whether to buy it, but on the whole, if you want open computer systems, you'll need to explain to people why it is more advantageous and worth their time, to learn to use them. The app store basically removes most of the sys admin tasks that a person might have to otherwise do. People drive down the motorway, discover they're almost out of petrol, and in two minutes, tap tap they've found and installed and run an iPhone app that'll tell them where to find petrol. It is closed, but it fucking works.

  • How much RAM? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by black_lbi (1107229) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @04:10AM (#31698572)
    Really, does anybody have the slightest idea? Is it 256 MiB, like the 3GS?
  • Re:Ok, so... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @05:16AM (#31698802)

    In my experience, the average netbook is painfully unresponsive and slow to use, regardless of more GHz and Gigabytes. Only thing that matters to me is that the machine doesn't slow me down. Right now, Apple is the only player in town that understands what I'm on about. But that's only my opinion.

    But for some reason you obviously did not read the story, I wonder why. Ipad has a keyboard - not handwriting recognition. You can even use a regular keyboard, if you really want to. And please tell me where I can find a netbook with even remotely the same dimensions and longer battery life.

    I agree that it would be great if the thing had a USB port - that would make it the ideal travel companion.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @05:36AM (#31698866) Journal

    I own an iPhone and a MacBook Pro (15 inch) and I'm not sure what to make of the iPad. It is certainly an interesting, even a promising device, but I don't see a place for it, not for me at least. I've never been in a situation where I was using my iPhone and thought, "I wish this screen was bigger" AND I didn't have my laptop with me. I can't read for long periods of time on a screen and nothing is as pleasurable (to me) as a real dead tree book so that's out. E-mail is fine on my desktop, laptop, and phone. Watching videos is again a case of either the phone works good enough or my laptop is handy. I don't mind carrying around a laptop so portability isn't a selling point to me.

    On top of all those reasons is the fact that it's just not that compelling in the things that it does do. The home screen is very underwhelming. It's the same as the iPhone which is my biggest complaint. It's just a grid of icons, some of them with various badge indicators for e-mail, SMS, etc. But other than that the screen is just a list of icons that do other things. I look at the Android phones and I'm envious of what they can do--although I dislike them for various reasons too. With the extra horsepower and screen space I was hoping the iPad would do more with the "desktop" screen than just having it be a list of icons, time, battery indicator, signal strength.

    It's a very cool device, certainly. They've put something interesting in a nice looking package. It also has some novel uses like playing games on a large touch screen in that handheld format. Battery life is also very nice. It's just not useful enough and I suspect that there are plenty of other people who feel that way. Regardless, I know it's going to be successful because it's the hot new thing from Apple. And maybe in a few revisions I'll find it worthwhile. I wasn't that impressed with the first gen iPod, but now I'm on my 3rd, fourth if the iPhone counts as one. I see a lot of promise, but this gen-1 device is, to me, a testing ground where Apple will use early adopters to really improve the later revisions and that's when I will be most likely to pick one up if I ever do.

  • Re:Ok, so... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @05:46AM (#31698894)

    50% faster? At what? Performing benchmarks? Running bloated operating systems?

    And what about the quality of the screen? Do any netbooks have IPS LCD screens?

  • by MunchMunch (670504) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:02AM (#31699198) Homepage
    I think if you're an experimental musician, or willing to use it as a gimmick, the iPad could be useful.

    However, compared to a real musician's workflow, the iPad is just a toy. Yes, sooner or later someone will come up with a halfway decent sequencer app for the iPad. But it will always pale in comparison to the openness of real sequencers. There are just some things that will not work well on the iPad, without extreme effort. Just to name a few:

    1. File-management to access and organize real samples in the proper uncompressed formats at the proper bitrates.
    2. Ability to use standard plugins, like VST and VSTi.
    3. Ability to multitask and interact with other software using standard protocols.
    4. Easy integration with hardware using standardized ports

    Yes, you'll get distracting fun music "toys," and little cheap DJ mixing apps, but the "pro" of having a music device with a little Apple logo on the back can only cover up so much "con" of having to re-invent every wheel that a music producer uses by restructuring your workflow and buying/downloading a new app to do everything you are used to doing on a modern full PC or Mac.

    Finally, multitouch full-PC tablets have been around since before the iPad, and will now flood the market now that the iPod has legitimized multitouch tablet computing. That's the one benefit, in my mind, to the iPad, and notably it doesn't entail buying an iPad. It's much smarter for a musician to simply wait and buy one of the Win/Linux multitouch tablets that are now springing up, and have full access to your existing work environment. Certainly, because Apple strongly controls their hardware, you probably can't get OSX on a tablet. But the great thing is, even if you used a Mac exclusively before, you can switch to one of these Win/Linux systems with little issue, because both have full-fledged sequencers that aren't limited like the iPad in the ways I described above.

    In short, the iPad is a great little toy, and I'm sure if you buy enough apps and spend enough time recreating your entire workflow, determined musicians can certainly use it to make music. But it's in spite of the iPad, not because of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:13AM (#31699272)

    Think for yourself. Do you want a 'computer' that only allows you to do what they want you to do? Do you want people who offer this to get your money and drive the market further in that direction?

    As one of my computers, sure. I have a game console, too. Is that a problem?

  • Re:Ok, so... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sandbags (964742) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:34AM (#31699412) Journal

    Exactly, I have Win 7 on a dual core farily basic rig with a 3 year old GPU and 2GB of RAM. It takes about 30 seconds from completion of POST (which is about a minute since I have a RAID adapter in there, and dull a full memory clean on cold boot), to a login screen, and about 15 more seconds after that until it establishes a wifi connection and stops thrashing the disks long enough to open e-mail and a browser. all said, not bad.

    My wife's friend brought by a shiny new $600 netbook, one that actually had a basic non-intel GPU capable of limited video performance (most netbooks fall flat with flash, and can not do H.264 at native screen resolution let alone 720P). It had a 2GHz Atom/arm/whatever it was, and 2GB of RAM. It took more than 3.5 minutes to boot windows 7 to a login screen, and more than 70 seconds after login to open outlook and a web browser. by 5 minutes in, I'll have forgotten why I was booting it up. Technically, it smoked the iPad's specs, but it was compeltely unusable from a concencince/companion device standpoint. $250 more and I'd have gotten a machine capable of playing WoW, running virtual machines, a 13" screen, and the power and performance to edit video and run a full OS, on a 7 hour battery (aka, a White Macbook).

    A USB port might have been nice, but honestly the thing is designed to consume from the cloud... A USB adapter is provided to connect cameras and SD cards, but aside from that, very little ever needs to be physically connected to the device that can't be done via bluetooth.

  • by RalphBNumbers (655475) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:40AM (#31699458)

    Yeah, all the other reviewers I saw who tried testing the battery life got more than the specified 10 hours (12:23 for Pogue, 11:28 for Mossberg).
    Lets see some real reviews, not just the outlier /.!

  • by tibit (1762298) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:48AM (#31699520)

    I think that the real bummer is apparently poor virtual memory management. Here's an anecdote:

    My MacBook Pro spends a lot of time on seeking the disk heads. And that's with 4 GB of RAM, 1/4 of that taken by a 1 GB VMware VM instance open. The only stuff running in the OS X, besides VMware and Finder, is Preview, Safari and iTunes. When it's I/O bound, the CPU meter drops, as expected, and there's noticeable latency to doing things -- say bringing up Spotlight after a period of non-use takes ~5 seconds. Reinstalling the OS, with a clean user account (I only moved data around), made no big change. OSX was reinstalled on a new, faster hard drive (7.2krpm vs 5.4k), and that made some difference, but obviously what was needed is two orders of magnitude worth of improvement.

    I didn't look into debugging the actual OS X memory use and the VM stats, so maybe all of that is a simple matter of tuning things. But it certainly doesn't "just work" out of the box. I think that VMware is to blame, because as long as it's not running, I can have lots of memory hogs open and switching between applications is "instantaneous".

    I have had the ability to borrow Intel's 1st gen SSD drive from a friend, and test-drove it for a few days. In line with expectations, with the I/O latency essentially gone, everything felt like you think should.

    And it wasn't even about the swapfile usage. Since 4GB of RAM seems to support whatever notion of working set OS X has for the applications I use, the swap usage is 0 most of the time. Sometimes it creeps up to 200-300MB, and that's it.

    So the issue seems to be related to paging in memmaped stuff from the hard drive, and maintaining the cache of said stuff. Why it's so bad, I just don't know... I sure do agree that it should be better.

  • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @10:24AM (#31700570)

    I sense the iPad will be a remote control & display device for MANY applications.

    It's all about the view with an iPad. Let some other device do your processing. LogMeIn Ignition and all of my custom server interfaces are going to be awesome on this device.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#31703504)
    You, sir, hit the nail right on the head. Long ago, Apple learned not to depend solely on 3rd party application vendors in differentiating the Macintosh platform, and they've basically taken this mantra on the iPhone and iPad. Apple will take the initial steps in making these products desirable for customers, and then will let the 3rd parties join in.
  • by curunir (98273) * on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:51PM (#31704076) Homepage Journal

    They could also be great for musicians who play traditional instruments.

    As a pianist, I'd love to have sheet music that I can advance to the next page with a simple touch of the screen. Turning physical pages doesn't take long, but it's noticeable when the time spent is time you're not playing. I've grown accustomed to memorizing the beginnings of pages up until a point where one hand is unused, but some pieces don't have those breaks and that only works for pieces I've played a few times. If I could speed the page-turning process, I might not have to worry about any of that. If an app comes out that can handle repeats, codas and such, I'll probably end up buying an iPad for that purpose alone.

    Also, the ability to bring my entire collection of sheet music everywhere I go would be awesome.

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