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Educators intrigued by Apple’s iPad

New tablet device brings color to eBook reading -- and a larger screen for iPhone applications

Educators intrigued by Apple’s iPad
The web-enabled Apple iPad starts at $499.

The web-enabled Apple iPad starts at $499.

Apple’s new tablet computer, the iPad, could push other companies to bring more color-capable eReaders to the market in a move that could make digital books more commonplace on school campuses, educators said after the long-awaited release of the technology giant’s latest product.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad Jan. 27, calling it a new third category of mobile device that is neither smart phone nor laptop, but something in between.

The iPad, which is Wi-Fi enabled, has 10 hours of battery life, features a 9.7-inch screen, weighs 1.5 lbs, and will use the iPhone operating system, meaning education companies that have made iPhone apps can make their technology available for iPad users.

The iPad will be available in two months, according to Apple.

Jobs said the device would be useful for reading books, playing games, or watching video, describing it as “so much more intimate than a laptop—and so much more capable than a smart phone.”

He said the iPad can sit for a month on standby without needing a charge. What’s more, Apple is selling a dock with a built-in keyboard for the device.

A 16-gigabyte iPad will cost $499, according to Apple’s announcement. A 32 GB version will cost $599, and a 64 GB version will cost $699. Jobs also said Apple soon will launch an iBooks site that will be much like iTunes, where customers go to download music and movies to their iPods.

Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Harper Collins are among the publishing companies that will have digital books available in the iBooks store—an encouraging sign for eReader advocates who hope students soon will be downloading their textbooks on a tablet rather than lugging them around campus.

“I think this changes the picture for eBooks considerably,” said Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, an international group of colleges, universities, museums, and technology companies. “This has a lot of potential for higher education. … [Apple] has really seemed to think through the book experience.”

Educators have long complained that eReaders like Amazon’s Kindle lack the color that brings textbook graphs and charts to life. With the iPad bringing color to eBooks, Johnson said he expects competitors to follow.

“It’ll really drive others” to embrace a color screen, he said.

Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster, called the iPad a “terrific device” that gives readers the ability to adjust the typeface and turn pages by touching a finger to the screen, as opposed to pushing a button, as the Kindle requires.

Steven C. Mitchell, owner of Componica, an Iowa-based company that developed an iPhone app called “Memorize Words for Spanish,” said the iPad holds promise as a learning device for students.

“Most eBook readers, for whatever reason, are priced at about the level of a low-end netbook, which proves to be a significant barrier,” Mitchell said. “A tablet that is both an eBook reader and a netbook-like device would make it much more attractive to your everyday user. Plus, interactivity will bring new content and media that hasn’t been imagined yet.”

Still, tablet computers have existed for a decade with little success. Jobs acknowledged that Apple will have to work to convince consumers who already have smart phones and laptops that they need the iPad.

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Comments:

  1. PatrickA

    February 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    This is what I said over 2 years ago. Back in 1987 MH started building these kinds of Apps. Cesare DelVaglio was the innovator. He was and still is brilliant. I learned everything I know from him. A true visionary and a great person to work with.
    This is the future of books. Publishers better realize it. Books will include video, audio and hypertext. They will basically be the blog format exported as an xml and uploaded for browser distribution.

  2. PatrickA

    February 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    This is what I said over 2 years ago. Back in 1987 MH started building these kinds of Apps. Cesare DelVaglio was the innovator. He was and still is brilliant. I learned everything I know from him. A true visionary and a great person to work with.
    This is the future of books. Publishers better realize it. Books will include video, audio and hypertext. They will basically be the blog format exported as an xml and uploaded for browser distribution.

  3. rcockerill

    February 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I’ve just finished a pilot with iPods in our Middle School Foreign Language classroom and I feel like I’m well versed on this stuff. We were concerned about a 1:1 laptop program. It seemed like too much of everything … and too much for the kids to carry around everywhere, too much classroom management. The iTouch allowed our kids to have little bites of lessons in the fabulous number of applications designed for education. The recording capability was perfect for supporting oral fluency over written work but … the screens were too small for reading, the keyboards a little too small for essay writing. The iPad is the Dream Machine in my mind. We just need the iPad to get through a couple of versions and sort out the bits and bobs that aren’ts quite right!
    Regina from England

  4. rcockerill

    February 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I’ve just finished a pilot with iPods in our Middle School Foreign Language classroom and I feel like I’m well versed on this stuff. We were concerned about a 1:1 laptop program. It seemed like too much of everything … and too much for the kids to carry around everywhere, too much classroom management. The iTouch allowed our kids to have little bites of lessons in the fabulous number of applications designed for education. The recording capability was perfect for supporting oral fluency over written work but … the screens were too small for reading, the keyboards a little too small for essay writing. The iPad is the Dream Machine in my mind. We just need the iPad to get through a couple of versions and sort out the bits and bobs that aren’ts quite right!
    Regina from England