Like 5M or so of my fellow technophiles (that number is certainly up for debate—see http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/10/05/how-many-ipads-has-apple-really-sold/), I recently purchased an iPad. The next day, I began what ended up being a 16 day trip throughout Korea, where I put the iPad through its paces. A disclaimer: I estimate I used the iPad probably 25% of the time for email, 25% for web surfing/downloading, and the remaining 50% for video watching. Other usage models are bound to change opinions, sure—what follows is strictly mine based on my experience.
First reaction—it is really an impressive piece of electronics. Battery life is pretty darn good. With WiFi only enabled when I was online, I was averaging 10 hours of use/3 days between charges. The display (in good viewing conditions—more on that later) is crisp with accurate colors. The familiarity of iOS helps tremendously in learning how to navigate. Other than the lack of folders (though I hear that’s coming in November with an OS upgrade), the iPad is a mirror of my iPhone, minus the phone call capabilities. The A4 processor is extremely quick—I noticed very little lag in processing, especially as compared to older generation iOS devices. iPad-specific apps are lacking in number, but I’d bet there are a lot more iPad apps today than there were a few months after the initial introduction of the iPhone app store.
For as good as the iPad is in most areas, I still have to point out what I believe to be its biggest flaw from a user experience end—the viewability of its display in sunlight. At this point, I am likely to be challenged “of course you’ll say that, you (and QuickLogic) have been pushing this as a problem for some time”. Fair enough—but quite frankly, the iPad screen is darn near unviewable in high ambient lighting conditions. I am not the only one who has noticed this—see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIrvamOXqxs. My specific issue—my hotel in Seoul didn’t have wireless internet. In order to sync my email and update the daily newspapers, I had to exit the hotel and walk across the street to a restaurant that offered free WiFi. Standing outside at 9 AM, I had to tilt the iPad at extremely weird angles relative to the sun and ambient light in order to see anything on the display. Even when I did my best to form a tent with my hands over the display, I still had a hard time making out the content (and yes—I turned display brightness to maximum). That wasn’t the only time I had issues…on a train ride out of Seoul, sunlight beating through the window again caused issues. In a tunnel—gorgeous display. Out of a tunnel—performance depended completely on the angle of the sun.
QuickLogic’s VEE technology can absolutely reduce display unviewability to a bare minimum. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
QuickLogic has the above video up at Youtube showing how VEE works, and has demonstrated the technology at various industry events and forums (next one is CES – contact me if you are interested in seeing a demo). Most people are understandably suspect of new technologies, especially when performance is shown in controlled environments on systems created and controlled by the inventors of that new technology. In an effort to perhaps persuade any doubters that may be reading—below are two photographs I took early one afternoon earlier this week.
The image on the left is a photo of an iPad with the standard displayed image (that is, exactly what is displayed on an iPad without any non-native modifications or enhancements). The picture on the right is the image displayed on the same iPad, but processed by QuickLogic’s VEE technology. No settings on the iPad have been changed between the two pictures–this is simply a comparison of the same iPad with and without VEE.
Again, the iPad is extremely impressive—this is certainly not a knock at a product which has turned the computing world on its head. But it has flaws, and it can be better—as can every consumer electronic device—and I believe QuickLogic can help.
Ohhh…and one more thing…VEE, working with its sister technology DPO, can extend single-charge battery life on smartphones and tablets by 25% or more. Better viewing experience and longer battery life? that certainly sounds good to me…
Find more information on VEE at http://shop.quicklogic.com/visual-enhancement-engine-vee-overview/, and DPO at http://shop.quicklogic.com/display-power-optimizer-dpo-overview/