KELLNER: iPad is tech product of year

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Here’s a stunner — several technology writers, your columnist included, were mightily impressed by Apple’s iPad during 2010, so much so that it is showing up on several lists as “the” top tech product of the year.

File that one under “duh,” won’t you?

That’s not to diminish either the tech journalists or the iPad or the designation. There can be little doubt that the iPad has had a greater impact on the world at large than just about any computing/technology product introduction of the past decade.

Within a few weeks, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is, reports suggest, going to launch The Daily, a “newspaper” designed exclusively for the iPad. Then again, Flipbook, a very popular iPad application, can aggregate a lot of news that’s important to you already (translation, stuff you’re following via Facebook and Twitter), and display it on a screen you page through.

Other newspapers, such as the New York Times, have also launched iPad apps — even if the NYT’s application always crashes on my iPad. A great alternative here is PressReader from NewspaperDirect.com, which has been nicely upgraded recently. It’s newsstand doesn’t have the NYT, but it includes many great papers, including The Washington Times.

But it isn’t just newspapers. As mentioned here before, the $9.99 iPad version of the HCSB Study Bible is as fine a Scripture resource as I have seen, at a price that’s a fraction of the cost (and heft) of the printed version. Turning “pages” is much quieter, too.

On the magazine front, the folks at Zinio (www.zinio.com) have done great things with their magazine-producing clients for use on the iPad, perhaps the best of these being the special Rolling Stone “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” issue, a $9.99 stunner that let you hear clips of almost all the songs depicted there, and then buy the ones you want. (The chief exception being songs from the Beatles, which were not on iTunes at the time the issue was released; several other songs are also unavailable in the magazine. Now that the Fab Four’s ouevre is on iTunes, perhaps that will change in a revised edition.)

And it isn’t just reading, it’s also writing, number-crunching and public speaking. The iPad, after all, can run specialized versions of Apple’s Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet and Keynote presentation software, and there are dozens of alternatives to the Apple products if you don’t like those three.

One of the best such, in my opinion, is QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite (http://bit.ly/ePEHTS), which for $14.99 will give you, the manufacturer claims, “full control of editing, formatting and sharing” Microsoft Word and Excel files, as well as PowerPoint 2003 files; you can only view PowerPoint 2007 files, however. But it’s a great bargain that’s only going to get better, in my estimation.

Also, don’t forget that the iPad incorporates the same entertainment technology as the iPod or iPhone, but with a larger (9.7-inch) display. Watching movies, video clips and the like is quite magical: on a recent visit, my father was almost spellbound in seeing several YouTube videos on a device that small and light. Plug in my favorite Bose headphones, the QC15 model (http://bit.ly/dG7di8), and you’re good to go. (If you’re fortunate enough to have a Sonos home entertainment device, www.sonos.com, their new iPad controller app is very good.)

There’s much, much more that can be said for the iPad, but the numbers speak for themselves: some 8.5 million iPads are expected to have been sold by the time 2011 rolls in, and that’s an amazing number by anyone’s standard. The impact on “netbook” sales is already apparent; what is only beginning to develop now is the growing number of iPad-specific applications that will bloom in the weeks and months ahead. The revolution is here; one can only wonder where it will lead us.

As mentioned earlier, it’s no surprise that the iPad is the top tech item of 2010. What 2011 will bring us, here and otherwise, is rather exciting, I think.

E-mail mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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