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The iPad: What It Means for Movies

01.27.2010

Today in San Francisco, Apple unveiled their highly hyped and long-rumored tablet titled the iPad. It's about as boring a name as I could possibly think of but, hey, the proof is in the pudding, right? The iPad itself is 0.5-inches thin and weighs 1.5 lbs with a 9.7-inch display. It will be offered in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models and Apple claims it can get 10 hours of battery life (good luck replicating that in the real world). Steve Jobs described it as, "More intimate than a laptop, and...more capable than a smartphone." But what does it mean for watching movies on the go?

When first announcing the tablet, Jobs didn't even mention movies specifically. His first mentions were browsing the web and reading newspapers. He went on to talk about listening to music, viewing maps and sending e-mail. But what about watching movies, TV and video?

Jobs eventually pulled showed some YouTube style videos before segueing into iTunes. The primary usage they seem to be touting the iPad for is reading. When Jobs first sat down to show attendees what you can do, the first thing he did was pull up the New York Times. He did eventually mention going to Fandango to buy tickets for a movie but that's something you can do with relative ease with an iPhone. In fact what we've seen just make this look like a bigger and faster version of the iPhone, which should make for great movie or TV viewing.

According to those at the event, the iPad is more 4:3 than 16:9, which leaves watching a widescreen movie on the iPad a little "awkward." (Jobs picked UP as an example of watching a movie on the device.)

For those that have all kinds of movie-related apps (or games) purchased through iTunes, don't worry because "virtually every one" of the apps will be usable with the iPad. There are a number of accessories that are available that can prop the iPad up to make it a little easier to watch a movie, say on a plane.

But what you really want to know about is pricing. Here's a handy spreadsheet that breaks it down for you.

In addition, you're likely going to want to be able to connect to the web with this thing. While it does have WiFi, you can also purchase 250MB of monthly data from AT&T for $14.99 or unlimited for $29.99 (and for your troubles, AT&T will throw in free use of their AT&T WiFi hotspots).

So really the iPad is designed more for reading and to take on the Kindle than as a kind of mobile movie device. And frankly, I think Apple's missing out on something here. True, people can already watch movies on their laptops and iPhones, but honestly, we can do pretty much everything the iPad is offering already on both of those devices. But with a bigger screen and a much lighter device, why wouldn't we want to carry this around and watch a movie on the train, plane or, hell, the bathroom?

I suppose there's not much to add to the iTunes movie experience. You can already download movies in HD and this is just another way to watch them. But marketing this device to movie buffs as well as readers of digital content would seem to have been a better strategy. If you're downloading movies on the go, you'd most certainly have to go for the unlimited data plan and if you've already got an iPhone, this is starting to be a pretty expensive proposition.

So for the price involved, do you think this is something you'd pick up? Is it something you'd want to watch movies on on a consistent basis?

Source: GDGT.com

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