by Tom Kaneshige

Four of the iPad’s Biggest Whiffs

Jan 28, 2010
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

One technologist calls out the iPad's technical shortcomings. At the top of the list: a hard-on-the-eyes, power-draining LCD screen.

What’s not to like about the Apple iPad? Plenty, says Aaron Vronko, CEO of Rapid Repair, an iPod and iPhone repair shop, and one of the first techies to take apart the iPhone 3GS and write a guide.

Vronko feels Apple made too many concessions with the iPad in order to hit a baseline price of $500, which puts the iPad in the same price category as popular netbooks.

“I think Apple tried to split in too many directions,” Vronko says. “The iPad converges a lot of things but, unlike the iPhone, doesn’t quite go the distance.”

Here’s four of the iPad’s biggest whiffs, according to Vronko:

1. LCD Screen: An E-reader Handicap

Vronko didn’t think the iPad would have a 10-inch touchscreen. He figured Apple would use AM OLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) rather than a conventional mobile LCD. After all, AM OLED uses far less battery life yet shines more brightly and vibrantly indoors than a power-draining, backlit LCD that’s hard on the eyes.

The problem is that an AM OLED 10-inch display wouldn’t be readily available until later this year. That’s why Vronko predicted Apple would go with a 7-inch AM OLED screen. He was wrong.

For the iPad, Apple went with a 10-inch LCD display. To power it, Apple had to use a battery that’s more than five times the capacity and size of the iPhone 3GS battery. Apple claims the iPad has a 10-hour battery life.

But the LCD screen alone consumes roughly 2 watts per hour, Vronko explains, and will drain the large battery in 12 hours by itself. This will hurt the iPad’s chances in the critical e-reader market.

“The iPad has just a 10-hour battery life, although it might last slightly longer when used as an e-reader but not significantly longer,” Vronko says. “Most serious e-readers offer anywhere from the mid-20s to 40 hours.”

2. Where’s the Camera?

The most obvious omission: the iPad is missing a camera. One of the reasons for its absence probably has to do with cost, says Vronko. Apple likely would have had a tough time hitting the $500 price point for a device that included a camera.

Sure, no one is going to hold up an iPad, which is the size of a TV dinner tray, point it at a someone, and say, “cheese”—but the iPad could’ve used a webcam for video chat. Imagine cradling the iPad, peering into its 10-inch screen, seeing your friend, and carrying on a conversation.

Nearly all netbooks come with webcams, and people are beginning to embrace video chatting. Yet not only does the iPad lack a webcam, it doesn’t support multitasking. And people often use their webcams while using other apps.

“Video chat fits right in with the hardware profile,” Vronko says. “Not having that really limits the benefit of that device. The iPad is no more capable than the iPod Touch as a communicator.”

3. Big Screen, Small Thinking

Apple went with the cheaper 1024-by-768 pixel screen resolution—”basically, an old computer monitor-type of resolution,” Vronko says—instead of the newer 1280-by-720 resolution. Admittedly, the higher resolution would be negligible on the iPad’s 10-inch screen.

But the advantage is in the bigger picture, literally. With the better resolution and support for high definition output, says Vronko, the iPad could’ve have been a boon for home entertainment aficionados.

“Any video content you would have bought for your iPad would have outputted extremely nicely to your HD TV,” Vronko says. ” I think Apple lost another big opportunity here.”

4. Still No Flash

Apple CEO Steve Jobs billed the iPad as a great web browsing device. In fact, he says this is one of the reasons for making the iPad in the first place. “iPad offers the best web browsing experience there is—way better than laptops,” Jobs says.

Yet the iPad, like the iPhone, doesn’t support Flash even though the hardware likely supports it. “Still no Flash support? Come on, guys,” Vronko says. “Without Flash, it’s really not a full web experience.”

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for in Silicon Valley. Send him an email at Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.