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back to article Steve Jobs re-invents the portable telly

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 …

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Try again

If you're referring to a tv licence, I think you'll find it does require one of those.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong

As per the hoo-har when the BBC started streaming live tennis a couple of years ago, if you're streaming live TV that's available via broadcast, then you need a licence to be legal. That's why BBC streaming video is usually blocked (or attempted to be blocked) outside the UK - because of the licencing issues.

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depends...

"And the iPad doesn't require a licence..."

Actually that depends on how you're using iplayer.

If you are streaming a live broadcast you do technically need a tv license.

If it's on demand viewing or downloading after the show has been broadcast, however, you do not need a license.

Granted I'm not sure how they go about policing this or how effective policing is but TV Licensing do claim they have detected and taken action against people viewing live streams without a license.

I'm not sold on the ipad, but then again i have no use for one. However, I'm sure it will do well. it does have an apple logo on it afterall.

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FAIL

@tony Smith

Oh yes you do need a licence

The law says that anyone who uses a TV, or any other device, to receive TV signals, must buy a licence.

This includes video recorders, set-top boxes and DVD recorders.

You will also need a licence if you use your computer to watch live broadcasts.

You only need a licence if you use your computer to watch programmes at the same time as they are being shown on TV.

Before now, this has not been a major problem as very few programmes are available simultaneously on air and online.

Computer users only needed a TV licence if they had a special video card that could receive TV signals. Now the TV Licensing Authority says you need a licence to watch any TV station broadcasting within the UK on your computer.

However, you are free to watch archived programmes or downloadable clips without a licence.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Hmmm

I don't want one either, for the same reasons.

But I *can* see lots of other people wanting one. Bigger than a phone, less faff to pick up and use than a laptop.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Hmmm

Yeah, I agree, there will be loads of people who want one. But those people are the types of people who buy one just to show it off. I can't justify that price for something I already have. It has it's place, but only if you don't have a smartphone/touch like you say.

However, that all said, I have a smartphone which can read ebooks but I still bought an ebook reader because it was easier on the eyes. I suppose if you were constantly browsing/watching video on your phone you might want something bigger. If you want an iPad for reading though you'd definitely be better off with a dedicated reader. Extra money for a 3G model doesn't sit well either... and can this thing be tethered to a phone you already have Internet on?

Still a fail in my eyes. It has a market but it's so small it's almost pointless.

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Re: Hmmm

Indeed. I don't want one, which has surprised me since I thought I would, but my dad (decidedly stuck in the Victorian era) keeps talking about it.

Thing is, he can use a computer for email and the web, and does a lot of writing in Word - I gave him my old Dell XPS for it. But he's terrified of the desktop. He's afraid of touching things, keeps deleting shortcuts (and accidentally creating new ones) and misplacing files. He has to ask me for advice when he wants to install stuff ("What's DirectX? Don't I already have it?? What's .NET? Why do I need it?" etc etc etc...).

He's a very smart guy, he just has this fear of desktops and folders and menus and system messages and everything that we take for granted.

I gave him an iPod Touch for Xmas a year ago, and he knows what it is - big buttons all on one screen. He gets that. Now he's seen there's a bigger version, there's no stopping him.

And there's your market. People who don't care about the stuff we do, be it flexibility, open-ness, or just user interface. And we'd be pretty outnumbered by them if we all met in a dark alley...

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Re: Hmmm

Yeah, good point. It's an appliance for non-techies really and it will suit them well. I can imagine my mum using one and she's scared to even sit at the computer desk. Techies will be disapointed though... I am.

Hopefully HP's slate will have better functionality and a similar price... too much to hope for?

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Gold badge

There's a simpler answer

You press a button and it's on. No booting, no hour long slowdown because of the half daily virus updates, no gazillion plug-ins and apps that mention they can be updated, AND MUST OR DOOM WILL BEFALL YOU - which slows you down because you need AGAIN a reboot.

No. Lift, click, swipe, you're in business.

That's what's missing from most Netbooks as well.

It's bloody 2010 and I STILL have to wait for a computer to start, and even wait during ordinary word processing because it's soo busy picking up updates and updating Microsoft that I may have a competing app on my system and animating cursors it doesn't get round to handle my %&ç* keystrokes.

That is what the iPad appears to fix..

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Re: There's a simpler answer

No, that's what smartphones fixed... it's just this has a bigger screen.

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Gates Horns

Re: Where does it fit though?

Yes! I've got a Dell XPS and it's absolutely shit at playing HD video.

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Welcome

Field working?

I see it replacing a hard-cover paper notebook at school (or feet-up handwriting laying on a couch). Does it recognize handwriting, should you use it just as a paper-notebook?

Can it withstand your regular wooden-plank-real-life clipboard binder? I see people walking around storage areas taking notes on inventory (or reading barcode tags), or (battle) field engineers, that need a laptop's power, but not their weight, using that, or architects walking about woking on to-do checklists. If all you are carrying is this and a stylus, you may not even need the clipboard after all.

This is where your regular Tablet PC fails; they are not handheld, and are quite heavy.

Make it rugged and waterproof and we have a go.

It almost fits the UPS delivery guy handheld's duty. Almost.

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Cover

The case looks to be rubberised, which would be nice. Be more reassuring if it was reinforced, but then it probably wouldn't fit with Steve Ives "beautiful" plans.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not really HD though.

Whilst I'm sure the iPad will play HD, it's not actually an HD device. 1024x768 isn't it? 720p is 1280x720. So the iPad will have to downscale. Sure, on such a tiny screen it probably won't be noticable, but still. Not HD.

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Very good point.

This article raises a very good point. To everyone whining 'but it doesn't actually receive TV...' - would you really want an aerial sticking up from it? It's got WiFi, and that's all you need. And out of the house, you could have 3G.

http://www.tvcatchup.com will provide you with most of the live Freeview channels.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and others (4OD etc) will provide you with catchup services.

I use http://iphone.tvcatchup.com to stream live TV on my iPhone - as long as there's a relatively uncluttered 3G signal, it's as smooth as glass.

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Anonymous Coward

I would have one

The missus has been looking for something to show cookery books on in the kitchen. This device (ok too expensive) would be good for that if you drop it down from under a cupboard.

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Paris Hilton

E-Reader?

But then any e-reader will do that just as well and you'll get models out there for half the price if not less...

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FAIL

Not wanting to be obvious...

...but something already exists to perform this function perfectly. Has she tried, erm, cookery books!?!? ;p

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it could be used as a tv - but it should be so much more

It could be used as a tv just by going to this address

http://www.tvcatchup.com/channels.html

Which is already optimised for the iPhone. So it should work straight out the box (as long as you're on wifi - 3G sucks).

It's hard to think that three since the release of the iPhone this is all they could muster in a bigger format. Everyone knew it would look pretty, that's a given with Apple. But they didn't really innovate much here. Just stretched everything - seriously look at the apps, they're just stretched (yes of course until developers tweak the UI).

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Ya see

Ya see, if it was a portable internet connected TV, it would have to support Flash. Apple won't let it. Game over for something like 75% of online video. Including the BBC iPlayer you cited.

Oh well.

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FAIL

Except

That the iPlayer works on the iPhone, which also doesn't do flash, it just dishes up different format content when accessed through one.

MP4 for video, mp3 for audio, IIRC.

That's how the various downloaders get your unrestricted content for you - they pretend to be an iPhone.

I expect that it'll be supported by the "new" HTML5 YouTube too, which should cover a good percentage of that online video quite soon.

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R 4
Happy

The thing I like about my telly...

... is that its screen is not covered with fingerprints and gravy stains.

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TV?

I find it rather strange that El Reg is trying to justify the existance of the iPad as something not even Jesus Jobs thought of. Portable TV ... My 4rse!

3 years ago I bought an Archos AV500 and watched downloaded TV shows / movies and took this everywhere I went. Last year I bought an Archos 5g and carried on watching downlaoded shows AND I have a touch screen and access to the 'net.

So what is so special about a BIG iPod touch? This product from Apple is a monumental c0ck up but it didn't need to be. If they bring out a version than can multitask, that can use 'All of the 'net" (i.e. play Flash) and has a webcam for Skype use, then I'll gladly pay for one.

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TV in your home..

"In short, the TV in your living room is no longer a television - it's a general-purpose display system."

Absolutely, and what an eye-opener. OK, we're a bit old-fashioned in the McCoatover household, we were using a 12-year old 14" telly. As we watch TV about 2x/week, didn't seem worth changing.

However, local department store here has 'Mad Days' where they reduce - dramatically - some things. So I bought a Philips 32" LCD thingy for €400.

I still haven't exhaused its capabilities. Today's task - will it display my netbook display? Can it display my Finnish language learning videos stored on a memory stick? Quite probably.

But I don't think, at twice the price of the telly, I'll be rushing out for an iPad. Don't think many others will, either.

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FAIL

The iTampon

Like all Apple products, it has strings attached.

No USB.

No Flash.

No SD card slot.

No multi-tasking.

Overpriced and U.G.L.Y.

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FAIL

Remember the old saying

About a fool and his money. Never has it been anymore appropriate than to anyone who buys this.

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IR

Flash!

So it has flash, since that is what most tv streaming is based on? If not then it is useless as a tv.

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Jobs Horns

Tony, are you 'avin' a larf.... ?

"" It's also arguably the first true information appliance. "" .....

I'm sorry Tony but, this time you are barking mad.

Utterly. The Ipad is a me too product treading the evolutionary path laid out before it and is, arguably, a colour Kindle with some bloatware......

If I dd not know better, I would sware you are on the fuity payroll with comments like this.....

I am huge fan of El Reg [and HW Reg] but there is a huge amout of tripe comign from Reg towers about Apple / iphone /ipod blah blah blah.....

If yo really love the ver hyped paper weights so much, give them a microsite of their own, and stop filling Reg's otherwise fine pages with this turgid drivel.....

P.

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@ Tony

It's not very often you have to make so many posts in the comments section!

For me the only downside is that lack of a tuner. Until Apple/Adobe sort out there differences I won't be able to watch Formula 1 on it live.

The promo video on Apple's site gives the impression that this thing is no slouch so I'm sure you're right about it not being underpowered.

However, We'll have to wait to see what it's like when we can get our hands on one. - I think they'll sell truck-loads.

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Nice analysis, wrong analogy

I think what this REALLY is was shown in Kubrick's "2001" movie. There is a scene where Bowman is sitting and eating alone on the ship while almost everyone else is in stasis, and he takes a recorded video message from his parents wishing him Happy Birthday. He watches it on a notepad sized device that has an edge to edge screen with video playback, no thicker than a pad, that also displays text.

THAT is what this is - Kubrick's notepad from 2001.

Hey Steve, Stanley's lawyers would like a word...

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WTF?

Re: Hmmm

I had been expecting a true jesu-pad, like the iPhone, only more. That it isn't is a disappointment. Steve seems to expect that we'll be lugging an iPhone AND an iPad. I'll wait before calling FAIL, at least until the 3G-enabled version. Seems only fair.

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WTF?

BBC iPlayer

Didn't I read that it doesn't have a flash capability? Therefore you wont even get BBC iPlayer on it.

I really cannot see the point of this thing. A glorified iPod Touch for the mindless generation.

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Badgers

TV ?

A reasonable analogy but perhaps computer monitor with an embedded PC bolted on its back ( albeit tidied up and nicely packaged ) is a better one.

And there's not really much difference to this and what a digital picture frame is. The original Elonex One seemed to be precisely that, picture frame with a detachable keyboard.

The question then is how this iFad [sic] is any different to or better than those ? Application, connectivity, packaging, marketing and Fanboi appeal really.

What I want to know is why, if they can make digital picture frames for around a tenner, do these devices cost hundreds of pounds ?

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Joke

Apple's hype goes like this...

Let me guess a couple things that are about to happen about the IPad:

- Battery not serviceable / replaceable. Yet someone finds a way to hack it out and replace it anyways.

- It is supposed to play TV, yet no P2 audio connector, proprietary connector only. (OK, this one may fail...)

- Should the firmware go bonkers (handhelds are dropped you know), no way to reboot / reset / reinstall the thing. Only Apple themselves can repair it, because there is no SSD, flash, hard drive in it to boot from. It boots straight from a proprietary IC.

- Should any form of online chat be created for it, you will be typing straight at the console, so words like quit, reset, reboot will cause the thing to shutdown out of the frikkin' blue.

- You can only buy it bundled with an AT&T contract in the 3G version (phone line), even if you live in a country where most people don´t even know what AT&T means.

- There are no means whatsoever to plug it on previous generations IPods and watch all the MP4 movies that got ripped into them. Not without some hacking, anyways...

- All the docking stations made by 3rd party companies for Ipods are immediately incompatible, yet it the iPad uses the same IPod pinout.

- You can't plug an IPod in it, neither you can plug it in a 42" TV, and use it as a set-top box HD tuner.

- Someone will find a way to plug a GSM sim card and a webcam into it, and use it on a "I enlarged my iPhone" practical joke, (picture someone holding it beside head) but it turns out that it can actually make phone calls and video conferencing better than any Nokia's.

- It will star on a "Will it Blend" show, but you can't watch it on the device itself, since the site runs on Flash.

- Some hacker on-call will dissassemble it online, just to find out what makes it tick. With plenty pictures and ripping "void warranty" tags off involved. He will find out that only a couple plastic screws keep the whole thing together.

- Some other hacker will find a way to make it run Linux, using some sort of memory stack overflow. It will run faster than the original firmware. An associate to this guy finds out that the CPU can be replaced by an Intel Atom and extend battery life to a fortnight. It is revealed later by a former Apple employee that the original processor is in fact an Atom processor rebadged and overclocked to 2GHz, otherwise HD video would not be possible.

- Life goes on

- Someone calls it "Jesus TV" should it ever catches fame.

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Too big and too small

So, how are you supposed to keep it with you and how do you keep from scratching the screen up?

I also wonder how hot it will get and when it will burst into flames, other than that it just makes no sense.

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Jobs Horns

Bullcrap

My 3+ year old tablet already does all that stuff just fine, including streamed 720p material (and though I haven't tested it, probably playing 1080i off its 120gb disc or a wifi-linked NAS - though it's only XGA itself it does have SVideo and VGA/component out), AND I can edit word documents whilst playing iPlayer radio catchup in the background. Pretty sure some old 10" slates my workplace threw away recently could at least manage the SD stuff, which would be just fine on their old SVGA-rez screens (still better than an iPhone).

Can even hide away the keyboard and just have it as a battery powered, portable 12" LCD TV (or write with onscreen keyboard and handwriting recognition). Whether the TV feed is powered through the iPlayer ---- or over analogue or DVB with the plug-in receiver card I have (and even if it didn't have the card slot I could use a USB 2.0 one).

Oh yeah, and my battery is replacable, and I can get pretty cheap 3G coverage with a USB dongle.

Stitch that, Jobs.

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My 4 year Toshiba M200 tablet does all that too too...

but it gets nowhere near 10 hours of battery life - about 90 to 120 minutes tops. And that is QUITE limiting in terms of using it untethered...

And it's a fair guess that the resistive screen of your tablet is about as compromised as the one on my Toshiba - a very high resolution, but dulled by the resistive coating in a way that makes photos and video at best 6 out of 10. If the screen on the iPad is like the Touch, it's miles better for media.

Finally, our old tablets need the most dreaded of all devices - a STYLUS!!! And that just doesn't do it...multitouch is a real bitch with a single stylus for example, as are gestures. In short, our UI will never be all that hot - a limitation of the hardware of the time.

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FAIL

By the way........

.... if the XGA screen is anything like the WXGA one in the Macbook, it'll look like arse for showing video content. It's like some kind of STN from the late 90s. Horrible viewing angle range, contrast and reaction time.

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Anonymous Coward

It's an IPS screen, same as the current iMacs

which everyone seems to agree are way ahead of Macbook panels

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iPlayer

works beautifully on my iPod. What doesn't work is LIVE telly!

Similarly, YouTube works beautifully on the iPod.

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