Apple’s Latest: The iPad

Just hours ago, Apple announced their long anticipated new tablet. Feelings towards the new product are pretty mixed in our office, with some of us hesistant about new products and their usefulness vs environmental impact of upgrading, some of us cynical about the latest gimmick and some of us excited about the new possibilities that new technology gives rise to. Personally, I fall into the last group. When new technology like this comes out, i think it really changes the way we think about how we do things allowing us to improve our efficiency and lower our environmental impact.

So time for a quick teardown. The new Apple iPad is a lightweight, long running, internet device. It’s ever so slightly larger than the paper notepad that I carry around with me – about 2/3rds of a sheet of A4 paper and is about 14mm thick. In terms of weight, it tips the scales in at around 700g. Of course, like most things apple, they’ve gone with a custom operating system (based on apple iPhone OS) and very proprietary hardware. In effect, the new iPad is essentially a larger iphone.

In terms of environmental impact in manufacture, packaging and efficiency, Apple has alway been pretty good. It is arsenic, mercury, BFR and PVC free, has an LED backlit LCD display and comes in a minimalistic cardboard package. The device battery lasts some 10 hours whilst connected to wifi, and uses a 10W power supply. In fact, you can even charge it up over a USB port.

What does it all mean?

Since the iPhone was first introduced a couple of years ago there has been an explosion in the amount of data that people are collecting. For example, I use my iPhone to take pictures, records notes and thoughts, collect data about my sleep patterns and capture travel routes. For a couple of hundred dollars, the iPhone presents probably the best value for money portable sensor pack available. Well, the iPad has all this too, but now with a useable amount of screen real-estate. What this means is that now we have available the first really useable field data collection tool. And because it has been backed by Apple, they’re going to be everywhere.

Finally, it shows once again the benefit of using a web-based platform for modern application development. Applications available on the web, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Apps all work with the iPad now. Come to think of it, so does Earth2.0 🙂

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