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Apple iPad May End the Need for Textbooks

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The day has arrived! Although the device was announced by Apple at an unveiling ceremony on January 27, 2010, the iPad was officially released in the United States this Saturday, April 3, 2010.

Massive crowds of Apple fans camped out overnight and lines wrapped around the buildings at Apple stores around the country as tech-savvy Americans all attempted to be among the first to get their hands on an iPad. Apple, a company that loves to toot its own horn, describes the iPad as “A magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.” Sounds great, but … what is it?

The iPad, a tablet computer which falls somewhere in between a smart phone and a laptop computer, runs the same operating system as the Apple iPhone with an interface that’s been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen. So what exactly can you do with it?

What the iPad Will and Will Not Do

The iPad gives you the ability to surf the internet with Apple’s Safari browser. You can send and receive email and watch YouTube videos. You can view and store photos, but the iPad does not have a built-in camera like many other Apple products. The iPad gives you the ability to play audio and video files and listen through a built-in speaker without the use of headphones, view maps, and schedule events in a calendar- just like the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Users can also purchase e-books at the iBook store and use it as an e-book reader, similar to the Amazon Kindle, one of the most popular e-book readers on the market. iPad apps are also available at the iTunes store.

The iPad does not support Flash (just like the iPhone and the iPod Touch do not support Flash) and you cannot multitask, which means you have to completely close a webpage you are viewing before you can open an e-book, and many people are complaining about the lack of a camera.

Apple claims that a fully-charged iPad will give you up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music but that will vary due to the brightness level settings and other factors. If the battery is anything like the one in my iPhone, I would guess that this is not completely true. I use my iPhone as my cell phone, to send and receive email, occasionally browse the web and update my Twitter status, but I have to constantly charge it throughout the day. I have yet to go an entire day without charging the iPhone, and battery life is a common complaint among most users.

Apple Fans Just Can’t Stay Away…

It’s name is the butt of crude jokes across cyberspace (“iPad: it’s like a tampon but more expensive” and “iPad, the heavy flow model of the iPhone” are two of many that I ran across) but iPad pre-order sales and the crowds at stores this morning show that Apple enthusiasts are willing to purchase just about anything that Apple introduces: I read numerous stories of people that couldn’t eat or sleep because they were so excited about the chance of purchasing an iPad.

An online Atlanta Journal-Constitution article by Kristi E. Swartz mentioned such fans. “It’s an obsession. It’s hard to explain, it’s just something you have to have,” said Kerri Banham, who also owns an iPhone and an iMac.

Betty Gibbs could barely stop to chat as she met her family, who woke up at 3:30 a.m. to make sure they got to the mall on time. “My heart was beating faster and faster,” Gibbs said, describing what it was like to finally have the iPad box in her hands. “The salesperson was talking, but I didn’t hear one word that he was saying.”

This happened in stores everywhere. In fact, an AppleInsider.com reader in Augusta, GA reported that “About 75 people waited in line at the local Apple store, and of those only 15 people had preordered. All models sold out by 9:20 a.m. The first one to sell out was the $499 16GB model, which took about 5 minutes to clear inventory.”

The iPad is far from cheap. The lowest-end version available is the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi for $499 and when they are released later this month, the 64 GB iPads with 3G will cost you $829. Need a case, a power adapter, an iPad dock, or a new pair of ear bud headphones? No problem! Apple is ready to suck your wallet dry!

No More Textbooks?

Apple’s products are already popular with most young college students, a group known to embrace technology and loves staying up-to-the minute with the latest trends. The Amazon Kindle was considered to be the next big revolution in college text books due to the possibility of taking over the textbook market, but it seems as if the iPad could steal that title quickly.

Apple has already announced partnerships with Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and the Hachette Book Group, and college students are hoping that the iPad’s e-book reader will help lower the cost of purchasing expensive textbooks.

If this is true, college students may be able to save a considerable amount of money on textbooks, which are known to be extremely expensive. If textbooks are placed for sale in Apple’s iBook store, chapters will most likely be available for purchase one at a time, comparable to purchasing one song instead of the entire CD in the iTunes store.

It sounds good, but will students – most of who already have a smart phone and a laptop – really go out and spend between $500 and $800 for an e-book reader if the Kindle is under $300? I’m not sure, but students will be probably willing to try it out if it’s handed to them for free!

All full-time students at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania (not to be confused with Seton Hall University in New Jersey) will be receiving an Apple iPad in the fall of 2010. Seton Hill claims, “The iPad initiative kicks off the University’s Griffin Technology Advantage Program. This new program provides students with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools, ensuring that Seton Hill students will be uniquely suited to whatever careers they choose – even those that have not yet been created.”

You can read the full story of Seton Hill University’s iPad distribution at Examiner.com and if you haven’t yet made up your mind about this new gadget, you can check out the iPad and all its accessories at Apple.com


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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