Apple making smaller iPad?

Written by Clive Webster

April 9, 2010 // 3:34 p.m.

Tags: #5in #6in #7in #97in #apple #ebook #ebooks #ereader #ipad #slate #small #smaller #tablet

DigiTimes (via TechReport) is reporting that Apple is currently scheduling a 5-7in version of its tablet-style iPad device for introduction as early as Q1 next year. Digitimes Researcher Mingchi Kuo cites talks with ‘upstream component sources’ (no, us neither) and says that the new device will cost less than US$400. It’s aimed at ‘the highly-portable mobile device market and consumers that focus mainly on reading and do not have a high demand for text input.

That sounds a lot like the concept for the original 9.7in-screen iPad if you ask us, but we’ll go along with what Kuo says as he follows up that ‘the HP Slate is unlikely to provide a competitive portable experience to the iPad since it uses an Intel processor which consumes more power.’ That pretty much fits what we expect of any slate-type device that uses conventional PC hardware and Windows 7 to be like. We’ve used UMPCs, after all.

Perhaps the reason for the new, smaller iPad is as a reaction to the less than stellar reviews of the iPad when it’s used as an eBook reader, one of its supposedly primary uses. For example, our compatriots on PC Pro say that the iPad is ‘far too heavy to comfortably read a book on’ at 680-720g (depending on whether you have the 3G module or not) when eBook readers typically weigh much less than 300g. Secondly, ‘the contrast … becomes uncomfortable after ten minutes of reading’ and the reflective TFT makes reading under bright lights tricky too.

Then again, Engadget says that the iPad ‘ didn't hurt our eyes to use this as a reading device.’ However, Engadget did also say that ‘we won't speculate on what prolonged use will feel like’ which suggests that War and Peace is still in its electronic bookshelf. The Telegraph reports that ‘the backlighting of Apple's pin-sharp display is going to cause a lot of tired eyes… and I don't think serious bookworms will be swayed to chose the iPad over the Kindle or a Sony Reader.

The New York Times also agrees with our colleagues a couple of desks over, as its techy review says ‘you can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone.The Guardian also has issues with the iPad as an eReader, saying ‘The backlit screen doesn't come anywhere near the clarity of electronic ink, which means it's going to prove a lot harder on the eyes of bookworms(it's great for reading in bed, one Apple flunky told me, keen to stress the positive side).

What do you think? Will the smaller size and weight of the rumoured new iPad make it the best eReader ever, or are you still unconvinced by the concept of tablet computing? Thoughts in the forums please!

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