It’s tough to miss a new product announcement from Apple these days—the company is playing a major role in reinventing the ways we interact with media and data, with an emphasis on mobility. Most of the attention paid to the iPad has been around the subject of e-books and whether Apple’s hotly anticipated device will be a “Kindle killer.” What’s more interesting to us as photographers is the potential of the iPad to be the must-have mobile companion for reviewing, editing and sharing our images.
Along with high-profile accessories like a keyboard dock and a case that doubles as a stand, Apple quietly included something really excellent for photographers: a pair of connectors that allows you to download images to the iPad. One of the connectors accepts SD memory cards; the other allows you to tether your camera to the iPad via your camera’s USB cable.
The concept isn’t entirely new. A few earlier generations of the iPod were compatible with a similar accessory, but the idea never really took off, mostly because of the iPod’s small screen at the time. The iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, with a resolution of 1024×768, offers a lot more real estate for viewing photos larger, organizing shots and even applying special effects using third-party apps. The screen offers a wide, 178-degree viewing angle, so it looks good for everyone huddled around it.
ROOM FOR BACKUPS
We’re big advocates for making frequent backups of photos on your camera’s memory cards, especially when traveling. Stuff can get lost, left behind or snagged, but cameras and gadgets are replaceable—your once-in-a-lifetime shots aren’t. The iPad is available with 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB of storage—ample room for backing up photos when you’re on the move. If you also plan to use the iPad for viewing movies, TV shows and playing music, you might want to opt for the larger-capacity storage.
Along with photo downloading, reviewing and backup, the iPad’s brilliance is that it can connect to your favorite websites or send photos by e-mail practically anywhere in the world. All iPad models have Wi-Fi built in, so you can get online at coffee shops, airports and hotels—even some cities are offering free municipal Wi-Fi these days. There’s also a version of the iPad that adds the ability to connect to 3G cellular data services. The best part of this deal is that there’s no contract to connect; you pay for a month of service in advance and can cancel anytime. Buy it when you need it and skip it when you don’t. In the U.S., two monthly plans are available through AT&T: $15 for up to 250 MB of data or $30 for unlimited data.
TONS OF APPS
The iPad isn’t just an iBooks reader or a multimedia player. It may be the forerunner of the future of computing for many of us. That’s because, like the iPhone, the iPad can run thousands of different programs, turning the device into just about any gadget imaginable. If the explosion of development for the iPhone is any indication, expect to see some genius applications for photographers. We’re anticipating apps that will greatly reduce—and potentially eliminate—the need for a traditional computer for most common photo tasks and enhancements.
If your left brain is sold, but your right brain needs convincing, consider that the iPad isn’t just a creativity springboard, but it’s a practical business tool as well. Handle your e-mail, write letters, create spreadsheets, manage investments, get breaking news and pay your bills online, wherever you are. Use this to justify your iPad purchase, as needed.
AWESOME DIGITAL FRAME
When you’re not using your iPad, the optional case from Apple doubles as a stand, turning it into a sleek digital frame for displaying photos on your desk. It can automatically play slideshows, too.
CONNECT TO THE BIG SCREEN
An optional adapter lets you connect your iPad to a TV, projector or display with a VGA input, so you can watch your photo slideshows (plus movies and TV shows from iTunes) on a bigger screen when you want to share.
READY TO GO
The iPad is about a half of an inch thick and weighs about 1.5 pounds. Apple describes it as slightly smaller than a typical magazine. The iPad will deliver about 10 hours of performance on a single charge—but the battery is sealed inside, so you can’t swap in a replacement. List Price: Starts at $499. Contact: Apple, (800) MY-APPLE, www.apple.com.