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Apple continue to underwhelm - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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sesquipedality
sesquipedality
Apple continue to underwhelm
Apple really seem to have lost the plot recently. The Ipad Mini continues this uninspiring trend. They have released a tablet too large to fit in a handbag or jeans pocket with a lower screen resolution, and costing 70 quid more than the equivalent Nexus 7. This is a product whose only market is people who only buy only Apple because it's Apple.

Now doubtless there are enough people who will buy an Apple tablet with no discernible use case because they still think of Apple as 'cool' that they are going to make money off the damn thing anyway, but gods I miss an Apple who were innovating, even when that innovation was basically prettifying and simplifying already awesome tech to the point where it could become mass market.
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Comments
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: October 23rd, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
My full-size iPad fits in my not-particularly-big handbag... I'm not disagreeing with the rest of what you say, but I'm curious as to how big you think the average handbag is. :)
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 23rd, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't describe my handbag as in any way small. It would not contain a larger tablet than my Nexus 7.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: October 23rd, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
That implies it would also not successfully contain, say, 2 paperbacks. Which makes it a small-and-not-useful handbag by my criteria. :)

My not-particularly-big handbag was at the time I bought it one of the smallest available from M&S - because I had vouchers - and a response to noticing that my usual shoulder bag was actually quite big and was probably doing my back in. It is perhaps 11 inches long, 8 inches tall, and expands to around 3 inches wide - significant leeway for iPad purposes, but still really quite small for a bag that also contains purse, keys, phone, book, make-up, random Lego, etc.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 23rd, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, I could get 2 paperbacks in it unless they were doorstops. It is a handbag rather than a shouderbag. Perhaps we are thinking at cross-purposes.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: October 23rd, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
My iPad would fit into most of the handbags I've owned, although it would be a bit of a squeeze in some of them. A slightly smaller version would fit in all of them except the one that was definitely Too Small (because of not fitting a paperback).

There are plenty of reasons to diss Apple, especially at the moment, but I'm not sure that the size of this particular product is one of them.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 23rd, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
As far as I'm concerned, an 8" tablet might as well be a 10" tablet. They are both as difficult to transport and use. 7" is definitely my sweet spot for portability and 1 handed use being about the same form factor as a paperback book.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: October 23rd, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
That doesn't mean it's everyone's sweet spot. Me, I take the view that if you're using a tablet as small as 7" you may as well just get a phone instead and have done with it :)

Though I agree that the mini is... underwhelming and overpriced.
zandev From: zandev Date: October 24th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty underwhelmed by both products (though I am considering a Nexus 7 as I don't have a tablet at all).

The Nexus 7 is a reasonable base price, but doesn't (at least yet) have a 3G connection.

The iPad mini's base price at 70 quid more isn't terrible as it is in a number of respects slightly better than the Nexus 7.

What I'm particularly underwhelmed by is how both change an absolute fortune for upgrades over the base specification. Both are gouging on price.
zandev From: zandev Date: October 24th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to add:

The Nexus 7 base price shows that it is possible to do a decent tablet for not much money (as it should be - the components don't cost much).

Given that you can buy complete 3G phones for less than 50 quid and 256GB SSDs for not much more than 100 quid, I'm baffled by why no company seems to be able to produce a decent spec tablet for a reasonable price (i.e with 3G and at least 128GB for under 300 quid).
the_magician From: the_magician Date: October 24th, 2012 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)
The components don't cost much, that's true, but turning components into a working device (with working software) costs a lot ... that's why the "pile them high sell them cheap" Chinese tablets that get slightly rebadged/recased and sold for around £100 are cheap, the cost of development is spread across a vast number of units.

Putting in the aerials for wifi, 3G, bluetooth, 2G etc. is a fairly complex (and hence) expensive job, particularly if you don't want the problem of someone putting their hand over the aerial and losing signal (which Apple went through) ... which is why external dongles are so much easier/cheaper. Batteries, unsurprisingly, are a great way of blocking signal. High speed circuitry and tracks on a circuit board make great RF receivers, so you have to get the shielding right to stop your 3G radio from messing up signals inside your device ...

The larger memory costs are a total puzzle to me though ... but with cloud storage, spotify, pandora etc. it is becoming less necessary to carry a large amount of data with you on your device (and there are wifi accessible portable drives if you want to carry around a few hundred Gb of data with you, which you can leave in your case/bag/desk and access from your portable device)

And that's even before the cost of writing drivers, applications, testing them, testing security etc. ... I mean you couldn't imagine Apple releasing, say, iOS6 without having their maps pretty much perfect could you? (sarcasm alert) ... now if Microsoft Maps were poor, no one would be surprised, but Apple got a lot more flack because usually they *have* spent the time and money into making their stuff just that bit more friendly and useable.

The original iPhone didn't have many of the features of comparable Symbian phones, but was just easier to use and prettier (and had multitouch) ... eventually they added cut and paste, video calls, GPS, MMS, and all the other things that were already in, say, the SonyEricsson P910 and P990 ... but Apple makes products that people want to use ... not necessarily the most complex, fastest, most functional or technologically "the best", but with a better understanding of what is wanted by those on the other side of the chasm from "early adopters"

This is a product whose only market is people who only buy only Apple because it's Apple.
Actually I'd only buy a tablet if it could do what I wanted it to do, at a price I was willing to pay ... but there are a heck of a lot of apps that are available for the iPad that I'd like to use, many of which are not available on Android (yet) ... so it's on my "one day maybe" list ... though at this point I'd rather have a 12" iPad than an 8" one.
zandev From: zandev Date: October 24th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree there are technical issues with 3G, but my point was that as you can buy a quality 3G capable non-smartphone for £50 retail, then it can't actually cost that much to add 3G to a mobile device.
the_magician From: the_magician Date: October 24th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
It costs between tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds to add 3G to a mobile device, maybe more. If you can sell 100,000 devices then it may only add £1 per device, but you have to spend that money first (and you have to put them through additional regulatory testing, and you have to have variants for the different GSM frequencies in different countries etc.)

And then you have to have stocks of machines with and without 3G available, so that means your production lines are more complex, your stocking is more complex, your logistics are more complex etc.

Of course the thing about the iPad mini is it is going to be one of the first *4G* devices in the UK, so there's definitely an early adopter premium as well ... but still, £100 extra is a *lot* of money ... I'd just use my Samsung Galaxy phone as a mobile hot spot and get the iPad mini in wifi only :-)
the_magician From: the_magician Date: October 24th, 2012 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and it appears that the 4G network frequency that is available first in the UK 1800mHz, is not the same as used in the US or elsewhere, so these will be UK-only 4G iPad minis ... sure a lot of the circuitry and aerial work etc. should be mostly identical, so saving some costs ... but it does mean running a special run of UK-only machines off, and to get those CE approved ...
zandev From: zandev Date: October 30th, 2012 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, looks like the 3G Nexus 7 is getting much closer: 32GB and 3G for not much more than half the price of an equivalent iPad mini.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 24th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Nexus 7 is far from perfect, and a microSD slot could have solved this so easily. I would in many ways rather have spend 40 quid extra on a microSD slot than on an extra 8G memory. I am already pushing the space constraints on the 16GB tablet (the Bard's Tale game takes up 3.5GB). Add to this the fact that Nexus 7 flash performance plummets if you have less than 3GB space, and that only 13.5GB of the 16GB flash is user accessible anyway, and you end up feeling short changed.

I find that with tethering, the lack of 3G isn't really an issue, especially as I don't want to pay for two mobile contracts.

It's easy to forget, but the advent of the Nexus 7 actually caused a 100 pound or so drop in the price of tablets. While it is imperfect, it's the first tablet I have been able to regard as a good value proposition.
robinbloke From: robinbloke Date: October 24th, 2012 10:51 am (UTC) (Link)
They definitely need something new for the iPhone 6, Siri was stretching it as a stand out feature really; but now the phone market is so saturated with stuff what are they going to do? They have their own maps now which they'll get sorted so this gives them the edge to do something exciting with that - which is my guess, otherwise they'll have to put something wacky in like a brain reader, eye scanner, lip reader.

Otherwise it'll have to be some kind of new tech, like the iPen, iTV, iRemote, iGlasses or something or they risk white becoming the new grey.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 24th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
It depresses me to see litigation replacing innovation at Apple. I've never had enough money to afford the Apple tax (although I did own an old slow PowerPC Mac I built from spare parts from work for a while, but it wasn't really usable for general purpose computing), but there was a point (round about Ipod Video time) where the premium was less insane, and I loved my Ipod Video until it died. (I didn't use Apple's software on it, but it was a beautiful piece of hardware.)
robinbloke From: robinbloke Date: October 25th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Litigation is the must-have for any tech company at the moment, the most depressing of them all is the pre-emptive suing, where a company suspects it's going to get sued for something and therefore sues the company it is nicking ideas from before they can do the same to it.

I quite like apple products (I have an iTouch) but the horrendous markup and lack of exposure or access to the root system with a good ol' usb port swayed me to Android and I'm staying there.

I remember you mentioning your iPod video, and how the UI was somewhat customised :)
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