By Joe Terrell - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE/KLTV) - It is supposed to be the future of mobile computing. It is somewhere between an iPod and a laptop. If you have been breathing and conscious over the past month, you have heard about the new tablet computing sensation called an iPad.
They are hard to get your hands on, but we found one and put it to the "Does it Work?" test.
It is a thing of beauty. 1 1/2 pounds, just .05" thick. Its bright screen measures almost 10" diagonally. Just like the iPod Touch and iPhone, it has a super responsive touch screen, only bigger. It is about six times the size of the iPod Touch or iPhone.
If you can operate an iPhone, you can work an iPad. If anything, it is simpler. No phone, no still camera or webcam to mess with. On the downside, no phone, still camera or webcam to mess with.
So what does it do?
It does maps, detecting at all times, your location, even showing you the front door, street level view of where you are or where you're going.
The well hidden speaker on it is of a higher quality than you will find on some laptops.
With your iTunes account, you can watch TV shows and movies you buy in the virtual store.
Two taps on the screen, take if full. Tap again and it is back in wide screen.
If you are a Netflix subscriber it comes in handy, and you can do the same thing with ABC's free app.
It is a beautiful display, but there is no DVD slot. Another thing it does not have is a keyboard - at least not a real one. The virtual keyboard is your ticket around the web using Apple's pre-installed browser and your touch. The pinch and spread technology to make things bigger and smaller, including text is so fun and intuitive. Email is easy to set up, although you will want to keep the messages short. The keyboard is almost full sized, but it is not the same as typing on a real one.
There are some other limitations. Video using Flash Player will not play on the iPad - at least not now. Flash is a very popular web format, and until it is resolved it will scare some folks away.
The other hang up some have with the iPad is its inability to run multiple apps simultaneously.
You can listen to music with the iPod app and work other programs, but that is about it.
All your old iPhone apps work with the iPad. A touch of a button makes them full screen, too.
The apps made for the iPad really give the struggling magazine and newspaper industry a boost. USA Today's free app is a thing a beauty. Buying and reading books from the iTunes store is so cool. You will love flipping the virtual pages with thousands of titles to choose from.
The iPad is a serious contender now as a major gaming platform unlike any other.
Is it a replacement for a laptop? No. The iPad is about consuming content, rather than creating a lot of it. It is not perfect, but it definitely has its place in the computing world and it definitely works.
We give it a big "Yes."
The iPad we showed you does not have 3G cell connectivity to the web. Those models did debut Friday, but sold out quickly. The model we have is a 32 gigabyte iPad with WiFi connection only.
Depending on the amount of memory you want and whether you want a 3G connection to the web, you will pay between $499 and $829.