Feeds

Steve Jobs re-invents the portable telly

And at exactly the right moment

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Analysis If you don't understand what Apple's iPad is all about, think of it this way: it's a portable TV.

You think we jest? Consider. What we call a TV has long become divorced from its original function: to receive and display broadcast pictures. The process of separation began in the 1980s when we started watching pre-recorded tapes on our VCRs, but is now reaching its peak.

Today, we display content from games consoles, disc players, media extenders that pull content off network-attached storage, videos from the likes of YouTube, photos stored on memory cards, and, increasingly, general internet sites. BBC iPlayer and its like show that even the programmes themselves no longer need by explicitly associated with the process of broadcast by transmission.

In short, the TV in your living room is no longer a television - it's a general-purpose display system. And that's what the iPad is, only portable.

There's nothing inherent in the nature of today's flat-panel TVs that prevent them doing anything the iPad can do. E-books, for instance, are no more than just another form of digital content. All the iPad lacks is a remote control, but then, since it's a handheld device, it doesn't need one. Likewise the TV doesn't need a touch UI - both have the control mechanisms appropriate to them.

But the underlying application - multi-format content display system - is exactly the same.

In other words, the iPad is a portable telly. Not the kind Sir Clive Sinclair envisaged - or, at least, produced - in the late 1970s, but a handheld TV nonetheless.

It's also arguably the first true information appliance. Analysts talked a lot about these devices during the late 1990s, punting them as set-top alternatives to the personal computer that would bring about the so-called 'post-PC age'.

They never did. At that point, the internet hadn't yet become an important everyday tool for the majority of the population, and no one understood then the desire for mobility. And the UIs were generally awful.

One of the few companies that might have made a difference back then was Apple, but it preferred - understandably - to focus its UI talents on its computing line, in particularly the newly introduced iMac.

The iPod took it beyond that market segment into the broader consumer electronics arena, and the iPod Touch and iPhone eventually showed us what a true mobile internet device might be like.

However, both were designed for a specific, pocket-friendly form-factor. The iPad, on the other hand, is the true mobile internet appliance.

Some people will bemoan the iPad's lack of a real keyboard - they can go and buy a netbook or lug a laptop around. Or use Apple's keyboard dock. Others will complain about the lack of a general-purpose file-focused operating system - they can go and use a Windows Tablet PC. Yet more will decide their smartphone is sufficient - this reporter has - and will happily continue to use it for mobile internet and media consumption.

But a lot of folk - and not just the usual suspects - will take a shine to this handy, personal, internet-connected portable telly. A telly that's not restricted to the room it's placed in. A telly you can easily take on holiday with you, or just out to the park.

The TV isn't going away anytime soon. And neither is the iPad. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.