Apple iPad Steve JobsIt took years to arrive, and months to be announced, but Apple has finally unveiled its new tablet PC, the iPad. But what does this device, targeted between the iPod Touch and Macbook, mean for online video. The jury is still out on that one.

The Apple iPad

Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple iPad at a special media event on Wednesday. The iPad will comes in a number of different flavors, with 3G and HD capacity options. The basic spec list is below.

  • 9.7-inch screen
  • 0.5-inches thick
  • 1.5 lbs heavy
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • 1GHz Apple A4 chip
  • Speaker & microphone
  • Accelerometer & compass
  • 10 hour battery life, one month in standby
  • Starting price of $499

The bigger issue, and the reason this first-generation iPad has disappointed so many tech fans, is what it not included. You cannot multitask, there is no camera, no Flash support, and no USB or HDMI ports. Some of which will affect its abilities in regards to video.

iTunes & Streaming TV

The iPad will, naturally, have full iTunes support, with the ability to sync the device and buy new content. However, while watching movies and TV content on an iPad will be better than doing so on an iPhone or iPod Touch, the 9.7 inch screen isn’t ideal. For those on the go, it’s an option but it cannot hope to compete in the home as an entertainment hub.

Other options include YouTube HD and MLB.tv streaming, both of which were demoed during the unveiling. But there’s little beyond that at this point in time. Netflix has even stated it has no intentions of making ‘Watch Instantly’ available on the iPad “in the near-term.”

No Flash Or Camera?

As mentioned earlier, the iPad has no Flash support. Apple has been resisting supporting Flash for years, and that stance looks set to continue. This means video on some Web sites will not work on the iPad, and bigger than that, nor will Hulu and the like. Which is a big loss for Apple and its customers.

Also missing is a camera. While no one is suggesting the iPad would have been suitable for taking pictures, it would have been ideal for video conferencing via Skype or a similar service. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option, and many people, especially students, will no doubt be put off the iPad based on this oversight.

Conclusions

The iPad – along with the other tablet PCs that will follow – has the capacity to change the way we consume all types of media. But not yet. Apple’s first attempt is lacking in too many features to make it that important.

However, the iPad Mk II, likely to be unveiled late in 2011, could right those wrongs, fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle, and make the iPad a truly indispensable piece of kit. At least that’s what Apple must be hoping.

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