Opinion » Cybernaut

Happy St. iPaddies Day



Top 'o the mornin' ta ya! May the road rise up to meet you, and may the wind be always at your back...

Apple doesn't make a lot of green products, maybe an iMac back in the day and a few iPods, but on this St. Patrick's Day edition of Cybernaut it's all about green — the "green with envy" that you get when the guy/girl next to you pulls out the latest immaculately concepted Apple product like the iPad 3; the "green with illness" look that Apple's competitors get every time they release those new products; and the green, green cash that is piling up in Apple's Cupertino vaults as the Cult of Mac grows to insane proportions.

By all measures the iPad 3 is already a success, and it doesn't even release until tomorrow, Friday, Mar. 16. By the time St. Paddy's day arrives a day later Apple will have sold millions of the devices.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this launch, Apple's first since Steve Jobs passed away last fall, was the lack of surprises.

As predicted, the iPad 3 has the retina display, which enables the 9.7-inch tablet to have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 of pixels, with 264 pixels per inch — not quite as good as the 300ppi retina display on the iPhone 4 but four times as many pixels as the iPad 2, and far higher resolution than a 1080p HD television can offer.

The "retina" display concept is essentially about maximizing the density and minimizing the physical size pixels in order to make it impossible to distinguish between them without a magnifying glass — images as close to real life as technologically possible.

The iPad 3 also boasts an A5x chip with about four times the computing power of the Tegra chips in the iPad 2, as well as a better HD video camera/5 MP still camera and support for high-speed 4G and LTE wireless services. There's a new Configurator tool that allows a business to keep a fleet of iPads and other devices synced.

Since January of 2011, Apple has sold about 55 million iPads and retains about 60 per cent of the marketshare. While Android is slowly catching up and Windows 8 waits in the wings, but today Apple sells far more tablets than all the other companies combined.

The iPad 3 wasn't the only thing announced by Apple this week. An update to iOS is coming, as well as a third generation Apple TV unit that makes it possible to stream 1080p for the first time.

Despite the fact that the iPad 3 is still the clear leader in tablets, and will likely hang onto that title for years to come, there was a deep sense of underwhelm in the media this time around. I honestly don't know what the pundits were expecting, but to me this seems like a sizable leap forward with a technology that's always going to be limited by its form factor. A tablet is a tablet, and conceptually they're all pretty much the same.

But I do have a few of my own concerns about the iPad 3.

For one thing, the SKU's quoted in the media don't make sense. The iPad 3 will ship in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, and for a device that's touting its HD screen that 16GB model seems woefully small. A single HD movie can take up 3GB of space, so with Apps and iOS you might have room for four movies at most. A higher resolution camera is going to take higher resolution pictures and videos, and apps optimized for the retina display will also take up more storage space.

That limitation is remedied if you have a good WiFi connection and a cloud service that lets you store information elsewhere. There are also other storage solutions in the pipeline — visit www.kickstarter.com and do a search for Cloud FTP to see one of the more brilliant ideas I've seen to expand storage for portable devices.

Personally, I would have also liked more ports to expand storage and accept peripherals, such as a plug-in controllers for gaming. Given the number of iPads stolen around Whistler lately I'm also guessing that theft is a major problem — so why hasn't Apple included a free security feature to help people protect their personal information if their iPad is stolen, and to help the police locate the devices? There are third-party apps that do this, and .Mac subscribers can do it for an annual fee, but Apple really needs to step up to the plate to protect its customers.

The new iPads start at $519 for a model with no 3G/LTE and 16GB of storage, which is on the expensive side compared to other Android tablets on the market — although the true magic of Apple is that they really can't be compared to anything else out there. It's also worth noting that the iPad 2 price has dropped to $419 for the base model, which should keep that model flying off shelves until the supply runs out — while pissing off millions of people who bought the iPad 2 for Christmas and could have saved $100 if they waited three months.