In just a couple of weeks the iPads will start appearing in owner’s hands, ready to take on the world. Maybe take on the web, as that is one of the tasks the iPad is well suited to perform. I have been using tablets to surf the web for years, and I can state with confidence that iPad owners are going to thoroughly enjoy going online with the slate. I have also been testing quite a few slates and convertible netbooks, and based on that experience I believe the iPad will be a better web appliance. In fact, I find there are 168 ways the iPad will be better at surfing the web than convertible netbooks.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to wade through 168 ways in this post. Convertible netbooks have one feature in common, the touchscreen that swivels into a slate tablet configuration. Surfing the web in slate mode with the web page displayed in portrait orientation is what compares most directly with the iPad. These netbooks invariably have a screen resolution of 1024×600, while the iPad displays a slightly larger 1024×768. That means the iPad displays 168 pixels of extra page width in portrait orientation. That’s the 168 ways the iPad will be a better web appliance than convertible netbooks (like the IdeaPad S10-3t) that are getting popular.
The extra width doesn’t sound like much, as it is hard to visualize how much additional information can be conveyed in 168 pixels. The best way to demonstrate these 168 pixels of extra web page information is to show you.
1 / 8iPad Safari
2 / 8iPad thumb
3 / 8jkOnTheRun 600x1024
4 / 8jkOnTheRun 768x1024
5 / 8New York Times 600x1024
6 / 8New York Times 768x1024
7 / 8CNN 600x1024
8 / 8CNN 768x1024
Note that the 768 page widths were simulated on a tablet that is actually 800 pixels wide. The Windows scroll bars were set to 32 pixels wide to achieve the 768 pixel width. It is easy to see how much more of any web page is displayed with the slightly wider screen resolution of the iPad over that of the convertible netbook.
Another factor that will play a role in web surfing on the iPad is the mobile browser interface. Mobile Safari has been designed from the ground up to be run on a touch tablet with no wasted screen real estate. Videos of the iPad surfing the web show the optimizations that were first put in place on the iPhone have been carried over to the iPad. Pages display on the whole screen, without big browser controls at the top of the screen or big scroll bars on the edges. The browser has been designed to be run totally by touch on the screen, and this is a tremendous advantage over Windows-based slates.
So the iPad has the advantage of better screen resolution and a web browser designed for a slate device run by touch. There’s another advantage the iPad enjoys over convertible netbooks, and that is form factor. The iPad weighs only half what convertible tablets weigh, and since we’re discussing handheld web browsing, this is a tremendous advantage. Tablets that weigh over 3 pounds can get tiring to hold for very long.
Obviously, none of us has an iPad in hand to prove my theory. I do like Windows tablets, but web browsing is not as fluid as I believe it will be on the iPad. Plus it’s easy to see how much value is added by those 168 pixels. I predict that many new iPad owners will see right away what I’m saying, and wonder what took someone so long to produce a tablet like this.
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