We have seen the 7 inch tablet market explode in the last year or so, as millions are gravitating towards the smaller form factor, preferring it to a larger 10-inch device. Its portability and convenience are major positives for these devices, even if their hardware isn’t always up to scratch when compared to the larger alternatives.
Microsoft only recently joined the tablet market with its Surface offering, and is looking to expand it sooner rather than later. Later this year, according to Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is starting production on its newest range of Surface tablets. They will be “completely redesigned”, and this time around we will see a 7 inch variant as well.
As a teenager all I ever wanted at school was a locker. There were two reasons for this, firstly so I could have awkward encounters with the pretty girl serendipitously placed next to me and secondly so that I didn’t have to carry all those heavy books around!
Thankfully Core (the distributors of Apple in South Africa) have both solved my historical problems and ruined my serendipity fantasy. Last week the company released ZABooks, a project to get every single South African textbook onto the iPad to get kids learning using digital textbooks.
The concept is simple: you download the ZABooks app onto your iPad (I can see the iPad Mini becoming the de facto choice for schools soon) and then go to the ZABooks website to buy the books you require. You then login to the app on your iPad and you can start downloading books. You can get books from Grade 1 to Grade 12 and at launch there are over 600 textbooks already available. All the major publishers are on board and books are generally at least 25% cheaper than the print editions. I took a random book on the store (Advocates For Change by Moeletsi Mbeki) and while ZABooks charges R180 for it you can get the print edition for R202 on Kalahari.net. That is without shipping (anything over R250 gets free shipping) and Kalahari is generally cheaper than brick and mortar stores so pricing does seem spot on. From a pricing perspective it’s probably going to take a while to amortise the cost of the iPad but in my house we have an upgrade cycle where an “old” iPad is passed down to the younger members of the family meaning that child already had access to an iPad. (more…)
This Just In: SA to get iPad 2 on 29 April!
Well this is great news – last year South Africa only got the iPad in November, some six months after the rest of the world. Well it seems Core or Apple have been listening to our complaints of getting the iPad late. It looks like SA does not have to be treated like a second class tech citizens, and we will be getting the Apple iPad 2 very soon!
Bandwidth Blog has already reviewed the iPad 2 (twice), finding it to be a great device which refines on all the features which has made the iPad a success worldwide. If you have been holding off on getting iPad 2, now might be the time to take the jump. Only question now is to see what Core’s interpretation of the official pricing is-if it continues the pricing trend until now, I expect it to be a very popular device in SA. Will this drop the pricing of iPad 1 even more? Will there be a blown out sale?
Update: Official pricing has been released by Core, and it looks pretty good! Have to commend Core for keeping the pricing competitive! So lets see: (more…)
And just like that Apple makes the “magical” iPad first generation feel old, heavy and slow. The new iPad 2 sports a even more minimalistic design with tapered edges, a flat back and some better guts. Here is the rundown:
The bigger news is what is found on the inside however – the new device runs on a latest generation “A5″ dual core processor, which apparently almost doubles application performance, but more importantly gives much, much better gaming performance. The iPad also now gains two cameras – one standard rear facing cam that cam record HD video, but also a front facing camera for use in Facetime and Photobooth (maybe now Skype will make a decent iPad application?). A gyroscope also finds its way into the iPad. All of these new features have not changed the iPad into a power hog – Apple still claims a 10 hour battery life.
The iPad is thinner this time round – only 8.8mm, which makes it even thinner than the iPhone 4, which is still one of the thinnest smartphones around, and weight has dropped by 15%. Doubt that will silence the Kindle fanboys, it is still nowhere near Amazon’s e-book reader. It still retains the steel chassis, but this time round it gets the option of a white bezel around the display, which actually looks quite good.
Apple also showed off its new cover for the iPad dubbed the “Smart Case” – essentially a flap that covers the front of the device that folds into a stand for easy typing or video watching. But somehow they made the case function brilliantly – its contains magnets that automatically aligns itself perfectly with the device, but also attaches using magnets. Opening the cover also switches the iPad on, closing it switches it off – an idea I guess they got from Blackberry right? Now the explanation might not explain exactly how cool this cover works – look at the video:
How cool is that?!!!?
This morning BandwidthBlog posted its predictions for the iPad 2 – so lets see how we did:
Improved form factor: Yes. But not really rocket science eh?
Double the memory: Unknown. We just dont know yet – but knowing iFixit, we will get the teardown soon enough. Competitors now ship with 1 Gigabytes, so lets see if Apple decides to follow suit.
Camera(s): Yes. Both front and rear. Rear records HD video, but no details yet on megapixels. Both front and rear cams record at 30fps.
More speaker power: Well, they did not give it stereo speakers, and we also dont know yet if the speaker is louder this time round.
Dual Core processor: Yup. And graphics is improved.
Support for GSM and CDMA networks: Currently it looks like Verizon iPads will sell seperately, so I do not know if it will sell as one device with an option to just switch between GSM and CDMA.
What we did NOT expect to be announced:
Retina display: Nope, did not happen.
128GB of storage: Did not happen.
A white iPad: I admit defeat. While the overall device is still silver, the bezel now has a white option.
A smaller 7 inch iPad: No go.
We were sketchy about these:
SD Card slot: Boo Apple – still an add on device. Not cool.
Dual Dock connector ports: Nope.
A “Smart Bezel”: Nope, but the display does switch off if it gets covered by the new smart case. Few details still – does it function with a magnetic switch, or is it a standard proximity sensor?
What we also expected:
iOS 4.3: Yeah, it was announced. Expect it on 11 March. Includes new Airplay features, and the new Personal Hotspot feature.
iOS 5 Roadmap: Nope – guess Apple is keeping that for the WWDC conference.
So now the next question is how does one get one of these bad boys? Core will probably take a while to get it, because Apple did not include it in a list of countries which is getting this month already. Hopefully they do not take another 10 months this time round. If you are hasty however – there services that can ship the iPad 2 to you right here in sunny SA.
(Update: iPad 2 has been launched in South Africa)
(Update: iPad 2 has been launched in South Africa)
It is no secret that today Apple will announce its iPad 2 – and needless to say the rumour mill has gone into overdrive. People look at trends in the tablet market and subsequent releases from Apple since the last iPad was announced for clues. However – not every pie in the sky feature can reach the iPad, in many cases it would drive the cost up, or perhaps more likely – Steve just does not like the idea… So here goes Bandwidth Blog’s predictions for what to expect, but also what NOT to expect:
What to expect in the iPad 2:
Improved form factor: While the overall size of the iPad will not change, expect the device to be ever so slightly thinner, but more importantly, get a flat back. The current round back on the iPad makes it wobbly when placed on a surface, but also creates small scratches on the rear when it is not inside a case. A lighter weight would be great as well – a major criticism from the Kindle fans.
Double the memory: The first generation iPad has 256MB of memory, but then the iPhone 4 was launched with 512MB of memory only a few months later. iPad 2 needs to have 512MB of memory as a minimum, and hell, give it even more. Applications are becoming more complex, especially games.
Camera(s): To be honest I never really missed a camera on the iPad, until I used Facetime on the iPhone 4. With Apple’s big push with Facetime (it is now available on OS X as well), its only natural that the front facing camera will reach the iPad as well. A better question is whether a standard rear facing camera will also reach the iPad – I can really see it being useful in conferences to quickly take a snap of a presentation, or that diagram on the white board.
More speaker power: The iPad’s speaker is better than expected, but still weak sauce. With such a great screen, the iPad really needs better sound, and preferably stereo sound when placed in landscape orientation.
Dual Core processor: The iPad’s performance is adequate up until now, but with the recent stream of Android releases at CES, Apple would have to keep up with the processing power of devices like the Xoom. While one might argue that iOS does not need the same horsepower as Honeycomb, the fact of the matter is that applications and especially games would gobble all the power up very quickly. Apple A5 perhaps?
Better gaming performance: Yeah, I am repeating myself. iOS has become a formidable gaming platform, and Apple will continue to push this. Games currently run better on the iPhone 4 because of double the memory and a (slightly) lower resolution. Expect some serious graphics grunt in the next iPad.
Support for GSM and CDMA networks: While not really relevant outside the US, it would make sense that the next version of the iPad and iPhone would contain chipsets that can handle both GSM and CDMA network standards. In fact, the latest Verizon-only iPhone already contains this Qualcomm chip, but just no SIM card tray.
What not to expect:
Retina display: Oh I really hope I am wrong about this one, because a Retina display in the iPad would be brilliant. After using the iPhone 4 a person can already notice that the iPad screen is not so sharp. But I really doubt they can pull it off within the current price ranges. Its pretty simple really: in order for a 9.7-inch iPad to qualify as a Retina Display (300 DPI) the screen would need a resolution of 2560 x 1920 – which is huge. This is more than any other screen that Apple currently manufactures, including the large 27 inch Cinema display.
128GB of storage: While I believe that the lower end iPad’s 16GB of storage is perhaps too little, I do not believe the high end model to jump from 64 to 128GB. While Apple is the world’s largest user of flash memory, I just cannot see them being able to give that amount of memory at the same price as the old one. I can however see a simplification of the range – only 32 and 64 GB storage for example.
A white iPad: Come on – Apple cannot even make a white iPhone 4. And also, what part would they make white? The black bezel around the screen creates a good contrast, and rear is silver. This of course assumes that they will stick with a steel body. I really hope they do not move to a plastic body…
A smaller 7 inch iPad: After using Samsung’s Galaxy Tab I was really impressed by the size of the device, but I did notice that the larger screen of the iPad soon becomes a great thing – the keyboard becomes easier to use, apps look better and the web browsing experience is superior. With Samsung now also announcing a 10 inch version of the Galaxy, you might have to concede that maybe 10 inch displays make more sense.
SD Card slot: I bought one of the iPad Camera kits with the little SD card dongle, and it works a treat. But why it is not built into the iPad has to come down to cost. There is a lot of free space inside the iPad – just look at the iFixit teardown of the iPad. Come on Apple – do the right thing.
Dual Dock connector ports: One of the criticisms of the current iPad is that the dock connector is only on side, which functions in cradles when the device is in portrait orientation. I would think that many people would prefer to have the device in landscape mode while charging or typing a document using the keyboard dock. It would not be too hard for the next device to just have a dock connector on the right hand side as well? (Image Source: PatentlyApple)
A “Smart Bezel”: Uncovered patent applications also show off a “smart bezel” which is not really explained in any detail. Could it possibly be additional touch sensitive surfaces outside the actual display area. Perhaps a way to scroll without covering a part of the screen? (Source: PatentlyApple)
What also to expect
iOS 4.3: While the featureset for iOS 4.3 is already known, it would make sense for Apple to release it within this week. The big change this time is the addition of a wifi hotspot feature which is already available on the Verizon iPhone in the US. It will basically act exactly like the current tethering feature, but you can connect up to five wifi devices to it to access 3G network data. Also, iPad would not trail iPhone on iOS releases like in the past. Expect all devices to get it on the same day.
iOS 5 Roadmap: Apple might show off what to expect from iOS 5, but they have traditionally used their WWDC conference to entice the developers. But with all the tablet competition popping up, Apple might want to brag a bit about upcoming features. Case in point – the notification system on iOS is seriously lagging compared to Android, but especially WebOS. The current “in your face” notification needs a rethink.
Expect a post tomorrow to see if I was anywhere near the truth – after all, it will be Apple’s job to try and surprise people, and not only give them what they expect…
Update: These images just leaked online – can it be real? I really hope not…