Characteristics of the iPad
By John Papiewski
Apple's iPad, in its third generation as of September 2012, continues to lead the digital tablet arena with a market share greater than 60 percent. Its responsive, gesture-driven user interface, compact form factor, abundant applications and other positive characteristics outweigh the restricted options for expansion in its minimalist design.
The iPad is a flat tablet computer measuring 9.5 inches high by 7.31 inches wide and weighing 1.44 pounds. The screen viewing area is 9.7 inches diagonally. The current iPad's thickness is .37 inches, up slightly from the second generation model's .34 inches. It has an Apple dock connector on the bottom edge, a Home button on the front and switch controls for power and volume along the sides.
Though Apple does not completely reveal some aspects of the iPad's hardware, analysts have performed teardowns on the device to discover some of its secrets. The iPad gets its processing power from Apple's A5X, a system-on-a-chip design that combines two ARM Cortex A9 central processors and a PowerVR SGX 543MP4 graphics processor. The tablet has 1GB of RAM and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of flash storage memory, depending on the model. The screen, incorporating Apple's Retina technology, has a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels. The rear-facing camera has a 5-megapixel resolution; the front camera takes VGA-quality pictures and video.
The iPad has no hardware keyboard, mouse or trackpad; much of the control happens through the touch-sensitive screen. Finger gestures such as taps, swipes and pinches start apps, change screens and set control sliders. A virtual keyboard appears only when an app requires typed input. As of iOS 6, the iPad also has Apple's Siri virtual assistant, which follows spoken commands and questions.
Although the iPad comes with several apps, including Notepad, Calendar, Music and Photos, you can download others through an exclusive software outlet called the App Store. Through this arrangement, Apple maintains quality standards on third-party programs and has been successful at preventing outbreaks of malware. You can "jailbreak" the iPad, giving it access to sources outside the App Store, although the practice voids the iPad's warranty.
Unlike other tablet computers, many of which have ports for USB and HDMI connectors and SD memory slots, the iPad has only the standard Apple docking port. The iPad has Bluetooth technology, which lets you use accessories such as keyboards, and its dock connector mates with camera and video adapters.
Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."