Usually after an Apple event, I go through the products announced and just size up their specs. This time, I’m not going to do that. Plenty of other online sources can give you all the knit and gritty on the iPad 2. Let’s cut through the technical jargon and spec list and talk implications, because there are many.
Today’s iPad 2 event made one thing very clear: the iPad is a computer now. It’s not a consumer tablet, it’s not a multimedia appliance, it is a full-fledged computer. Think about it, what can’t you do on the iPad now that you cannot do on your Mac? It has apps, loads the internet, has productivity software with iWork and creativity software with their version of iLife. Apple’s mixture of hardware and software has allowed the iPad to completely replicate the basic needs on any computer. Today the line is completely blurred.
It starts with hardware. Apple’s new A5 processor is dual core and has 9x the graphics performance of the A4 (due to a pair of SGX543s no doubt). It has performance to spare, more than my first iMac by several orders of magnitude. Apple has equipped the iPad with enough power to handle anything a developer can throw at it. Games and new apps will scream on this machine. Cameras front and back allow it to capture 720p video and video conference, just like the MacBooks. 1080p HDMI output is something my iMac G5 would have desperately struggled to do and the iPad does it easy. 10 hours of battery life and a frame that is thinner than an iPhone 4 makes this a feat of technical marvel. The iPad has the technical prowess to not only be fast enough but also be more than fast enough. With ARM-based operating systems, that’s the target area for hardware: strong enough to anticipate the future, but not so powerful that it pollutes the light, low power design of the hardware. Not only that, but this is the first “computer” from Apple that you can get with always-on 3G wireless from Verizon or AT&T.
Does the iPad 2 lack some desired features? Sure. No SD card slot, low resolution display, lack of Thunderbolt, no 4G. The OS still needs some more features and I wanted to see iOS 5 be announced. Sure, these things detract from the iPad 2, but they don’t change the fact that it is as capable as your standard Mac.
People constantly complain that Apple has been incapable of selling a cheap mac portable but this is that computer. Great hardware, applications that mirror their desktop counterparts, and a UI that is now what the desktop is trying to copy. It’s happened: the convergence is here and the iPad 2 is that device.
Apple said today that the competition will fail to compete because they are only seeing the tablet market as the next PC market, instead of seeing it as a post-PC device. It is one that combines tech with liberal arts, humanities, and deeper integration between hardware and software. Apple is doing this on a level I’m not seeing with the competition. Your move, Android.