Measuring Apple’s tablet against other digital devices

Jan 26, 2010
Finance

Here is how Apple’s iPad compares to similar products already in the marketplace.  The Amazon Kindle While the Kindle revolutionized the publishing industry and made it desirable to read books and periodicals on a portable digital device, measured against the tablet it is a one-trick-pony. If your primary interest is reading, than the Kindle at […]

Here is how Apple’s iPad compares to similar products already in the marketplace. 

The Amazon Kindle

While the Kindle revolutionized the publishing industry and made it desirable to read books and periodicals on a portable digital device, measured against the tablet it is a one-trick-pony. If your primary interest is reading, than the Kindle at $259 is a great value as it offers easy and immediate access to Amazon’s rich library of content. Where the Kindle is limited, however, is in its ability to distribute multimedia content beyond the written word and black and white images.

Apple’s iPad costs between $499 and $829 depending on memory and if it is the standard WiFi or 3G model. With a bookstore possibly powered by Barnes & Noble, the device will have comparable e-reading capabilities to Kindle, but with the display experience similar to an iPhone and Mac. Magazine publishers in particular are salivating at the possibility of distributing their content in a glossier, more interactive form the tablet is expected to provide.

If the tablet were merely a higher-end e-reader, it would not be worth four times the price of the Kindle. Thankfully, at least if you’re an Apple shareholder, the tablet will offer a whole lot more. 

Netbooks

A year ago, Netbook computers were all the rage because of their ability to perform routine tasks like emailing, web surfing and word processing at a reduced price. Netbooks by Dell and HP typically start at around $300 and go up to about $800, and are significantly smaller and lighter than laptop computers. In fact, Netbooks are everything you always wanted in a Windows-based laptop, and less (less memory, less clarity, less utility.)

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Expect the market for Netbooks to tank once the iPad is finally shipped this March. Folders-based operating systems that have powered desktop and laptop computers for much of the past generation are no longer applicable on devices like tablets and Netbooks that have approximately 10-inch screen sizes. The touchscreen capability of a tablet, similar to what is found on an iPhone or iPod touch, will be more application-driven and will have access to the more than 125,000 iPhone apps already in the marketplace. 

The iPhone and the iPod touch

The biggest flaw with the iPhone is its ability to actually serve as a phone. It’s astounding that AT&T, which remains the iPhone’s only North American carrier, hasn’t figured out a way to fortify its network to eliminate so many dropped calls. Even with that seemingly fatal attribute, the iPhone is the most significant digital device to emerge so far in the 21st Century. Like most mobile phones, iPhones are relatively cheap to purchase (about $100), but that price is typically tied to a two-year carrier plan which will ultimately run into the thousands of dollars. Different versions of the iPod touch, which has all the same capabilities of the iPhone minus voice and a 3G wireless connection (it is wi-fi enabled, however) range from about $200 to $400.

Expect the tablet to most closely resemble the iPhone and iPod touch, and for more third-party developers to create applications specific to a 10-inch screen device. For portable Apple products, it really is all about the apps. Research firm IDG estimates that more than 300,000 apps will be available to consumers before year-end. As more apps become available to both the iPhone and tablet devices, major developers and media companies will increasingly make more applications available for free and generate income from advertising and other forms of “in-app” commerce. With more high-quality content available to consumers than ever before, the challenge will be how to find iPhone apps and tablet apps that are truly meant for you. Stay tuned.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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