iPad, the First Apple Computer Designed for Boomers
At last, an Apple for the older set. That may not have been what Steve Jobs, 55, had in mind when he previewed Apple's new tablet last month, but that's exactly what the iPad is with its triple-sized screen compared to the iPhone, built-in features for those with some vision and hearing loss, and connection to the biggest collection of apps in the world, all in a device that weighs less than this month's issue of Vanity Fair magazine.
The iPad is categorized as a tablet computer, measuring about 9-1/2 inches tall by 7-1/2 wide, a bit smaller than a standard magazine. The high resolution, LED backlit touchscreen is 9.7 inches, measured diagonally. It runs on Apple's proprietary processor offering high speed start-up times for programs, high definition video output and long battery life. Apple estimates the iPad will run for 10 hours while watching video. A stand and keyboard are available to turn the iPad into a desktop computer.
What can you do on an iPad?
You can watch movies, TV shows and podcasts after downloading selections from iTunes. Each is stored under the "Movies" icon for easy access. If you need to take a break, the iPad will mark your place and start the show from where you left off, whether that's minutes or even days later.
You can do all of your email. iPad has its own email interface that transforms most popular email programs like Google Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and AOL into easy-to-read screens. You can read emails full screen and view attachments in full screen as well. The on-screen touch keyboard is big and clear when held in the horizontal or landscape orientation.
You can dive into Apple's new iBookstore, which turns the iPad into an ereader. Tapping on the iBook app will display an empty bookshelf on the screen. Visit iBookstore to download books, magazines and newspapers, and your items will appear on your virtual shelf.
Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, you can listen to music, surf the Internet with the built-in Safari browser and use the dizzying number of apps available through the App Store. While all iPhone and iPod Touch apps also work on the iPad, many developers are redesigning their apps to suit the bigger screen and functionality of the iPad. More than 2,000 are available now, but more will roll out in the coming months.
Apps starter set
If you're new to the apps world, you might like to start with Handmark's "Zagat to Go" app, which contains over 40,000 restaurant, hotels and shopping reviews, plus integrated directions, one touch reservations, and an offline mode in case your device is out of signal range. This app is $9.99 for a one year subscription. Golf enthusiasts will like Handmark's "Golfweekly," a free app with news and commentary from the worlds of amateur and professional golf.
Also try Pandora Radio for free music. You will select some of your favorite music, and from then on, Pandora will intelligently guess your preferences with ratings from you. If you enjoy journaling, iPad's built-in virtual yellow lined pad may suffice, but you might like an Oprah-recommended gratitude journal like "Happy Tapper" for 99 cents. "Words with Friends" is akin to Scrabble. Play anytime and with friends who have an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch or anyone on the Internet who has indicated they would like to play.
With more than 150,000 apps and more being added everyday, browsing the App Store may be worse than looking for a needle in a haystack, so get a recommendation and type it in the search box. Many apps are free and paid apps run from a dollar to about ten dollars.
A built-in webcam may be the only thing you'll wish the iPad had, but it does not, so no video calls on this device.
Easier to see and hear
The iPad has built-in features to make text easier to read like full-screen zoom magnification and high contrast white on black display option. There is support for playback of closed-captioned content, a voiceover screen reader and mono audio which combines sound for delivery to one ear.
The iPad comes in two versions: Wi-Fi available as of April 3 and Wi-Fi with 3G cellular connection through AT&T, available later this month according to Apple. The $500 Wi-Fi iPad with 16 gigabytes (GB) of internal memory will be more than enough for many people.
You will need a wireless router in your home for the connection, and many public locations offer complimentary Wi-Fi access if you plan to take your iPad on the road. Alternately, Boingo, the Wi-Fi service provider just announced "Boingo Wi-Fi Credits" app in the App Store, which offers Wi-Fi by the hour for $1.99 in most airports, many hotel chains, and all Starbucks. If you opt for AT&T 3G equipped iPad coming out later this month, you'll pay $30 a month for unlimited access by the month, no two year contract required.