What's Wrong With The iPad Besides The Name

The much-anticipated iPad debuted this week, introduced by Steve Jobs as a device that will revolutionize the industry. The 1 1/2-pound slate computer will bring you books, movies, music and even word processing, all on a 9.7-inch screen. Host Liane Hansen talks with NPR's Laura Sydell about the much-hyped device and whether it's worth all the fuss.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

On January 24th, 1984, Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh computer to the world.

Mr. STEVE JOBS (Co-Founder/CEO, Apple): You've just seen some pictures of Macintosh. Now I'd like to show you Macintosh in person.

(Soundbite of electronic voice)

Unidentified Man: Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag.

(Soundbite of cheering)

HANSEN: This past week, 26 years later, Mr. Jobs had a new product to unveil: the much anticipated iPad. Jobs introduced it as a device that would revolutionize the industry. The one-and-a-half pound slate computer will bring you books, movies, music and even word processing all on a 9.7-inch screen.

NPR's Laura Sydell was there at the unveiling, and she joins us now to talk about the reaction that this iPad is getting. Hi, Laura.

LAURA SYDELL: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: So, you got your hands one. What did you think?

SYDELL: It's nice. The touch screen is beautiful and it has - you can use both a real and a virtual keypad. You can play games on it, watch movies. And, of course, it has books in color and that is the addition to the - what was, you know, the iTunes store - is they're going to start to have books. And the books will be interactive and that will be great.

And a lot of people are excited about the idea of textbooks. So you could have a textbook and maybe have a quiz at the end of a chapter. And wouldn't that be great? And, also, think of all those students who've been lugging around big, heavy textbooks. Oh, my goodness. They'd be so much lighter if you had it in this little - it's one-and-a-half pounds. That's it.

HANSEN: And, I mean, the price? Is that the price?

SYDELL: Oh, yes. Yes. The price is important on this.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SYDELL: The lowest priced one is $499, basically $500. That comes with WiFi. That's coming out in about two months. And then three months later, the higher-end ones, which will have 3G, and they're going up to $829. So, not cheap, but not, you know, as expensive as some thought.

HANSEN: No. No. But it's still lots of money. And I hear that people have been criticizing the iPad for what it doesn't have.

SYDELL: I'll give you the Zen answer: No camera, no phone, no Flash.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SYDELL: You know, and in some ways, you know, Flash - for people who don't know - is what animates a lot of things on the Web. So people are not happy about that.

HANSEN: So are there people who are finding it so lacking in certain ways, are they getting mad about it? Are they protesting?

SYDELL: Yeah, actually there was a small protest, believe it or not, outside of this announcement. That's how big a deal it was. The protest was about a couple of things. One is concern that they're going to put encryption on books. Now, people may remember when the iPod came out, you would download a song and you could only share it within your own system. You couldn't share it with other people; only make so many copies. Well, there's the fear right now, and it's not clear, but that they may do that with books as well. As for right now, finally Apple got rid of that encryption, that lock on the music.

So, but one thing people are particularly upset about is the apps store. So you have all these cool applications, right? That you're going to be able to put on your iPad, and the concern is that it has to be approved by Apple, right? Every single application. Problem is, if this is really like a computer on which you're going to do work and enterprise, would you want a laptop where you could only buy all of your software from one company? So, people are a little uneasy about that.

HANSEN: Big question, one that was asked before the unveiling and one that gets asked now. Is it a revolutionary device?

SYDELL: I'm not making any predictions yet, but so far I'm not sure. There could be an application that comes out between now and when they finally release it two months from now, maybe a newspaper, something that really makes it great. We don't know yet because it was like that with the iPod - it took a little while for it to catch on. Once the iTunes store got the record companies on board, it took off. So, we'll see.

HANSEN: NPR's Laura Sydell in San Francisco. Thank you, Laura.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

HANSEN: And if you'd like to see Steve Jobs' full Macintosh presentation from 1984, you can go to our blog npr.org/soapbox.

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