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Friday, April 09, 2010, 08:05 am PT (11:05 am ET)

In-depth review: Apple's IPad and iPhone OS 3.2




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iPad hardware: other accessories

Naked, iPad feels a bit conspicuous to carry around. The body doesn't seem to demand a cover out of fragility or potential for scratches, but it does feel comfortable inside Apple's $40 iPad Case, which looks like light duty armor in addition to serving as a way to convert the device into both a typing angle netbook replacement and an upright display. Folded close, the case looks like a thin sketchbook.

Positioned in its optional $30 dock, iPad, when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, looks a little like a small iMac turned portrait. There's also a $70 Dock option that includes a physical keyboard, but it won't be available until the end of the month.

Apple is also offering a $30 Camera Connection Kit, which allows you to either connect your camera via its UBS cable, or to use its SD Cards with iPad directly. This package won't be available until the end of the month.

It reportedly works with "standard photo formats including JPEG and RAW," suggesting that photographers can upload their full resolution, uncompressed shots into the iPad's Photos for viewing (and editing in other apps). AppleInsider will review the kit when it becomes available.

iPad accessories


iPad hardware: other iPhone features

A variety of other iPad hardware features are identical to their iPhone 3GS and iPod touch counterparts, such as 3G and GPS: if you get the WiFi iPad, it works like an iPod touch, with WiFi-only triangulation for Location Services; if you wait and buy the 3G version, you get mobile assisted GPS with its much greater accuracy, just like iPhone.

The 7.2 Mbps 3G support on iPad is the same as that available on the iPhone 3GS, and about twice as fast as AT&T's mostly 3.6 Mbps 3G American network (which is still faster than Verizon's CDMA EV-DO 3G network, that tops out between 2.4 and 3.1 Mbps).

iPad 3G will be faster if you can use it overseas in places where more modern 3G networks are available, and AT&T will be slowly updating its 3G service over the next couple years so that iPhone 3GS and iPad users will be able to take advantage of their innate potential.

There's no way to add 3G support to the WiFi-only version of iPad (the only version currently available for sale), as it lacks the slot to accommodate the 3G mobile mini-SIM card, in addition to not having the mobile radio hardware and the plastic window for mobile radio signals.

Other iPhone 3GS hardware features, such its accelerometer and digital compass, are identical on iPad. It also uses the same basic processor design and the same amount of system RAM (256 MB), although Apple clocked the main chip faster and is apparently using a different, faster RAM architecture. Apple also appears to have incorporated some other optimizing enhancements to the iPad's A4 SoC.

The result is that iPad is quick and nimble. Just as the iPhone 3GS made previous iPhones seem a little sluggish, iPad raises the bar again. It's doing quite a bit more (pushing 5.12 times more pixels, and running more sophisticated apps), but feels quicker across the board.

On page 5 of 10: iPad software: iPhone OS 3.x features and changes; 1) There's an entirely new set of Human Interface Guidelines for iPad; 2) There are some interface tweaks and new features; 3) There are several conspicuously missing apps on iPad; 4) Finally, there are features that still just missing in general; iPad software: Human Interface Guidelines & App Design; and iPad software: Human Interface Guidelines & Documents.