First iPad Not Quite an HD Lover's Dream

Already it seems few things have been left unsaid (both pro and con) about Steve Jobs' latest so-called "game changer" for electronics consumers, the iPad. It seems to be many things, but one thing the latest Apple device will not be right off the bat is a convenient portable HD media player. At least not for the first couple of U.S. versions planned for March and April debuts, respectively.

As many HD and Apple-centric bloggers have underscored in recent days, like its smaller cousin the iPhone, the iPad will not support Adobe Flash technology — which has become ubiquitous software for online media in recent years. So while navigating with the iPad to various standard Web sites might be easy, viewing any video (HD or otherwise) not compatible with (or reformatted beforehand to) Apple's Quicktime streaming technology will not play out. (One key exception is YouTube.)

Ironically, Apple has been offering 720p movie-TV-concert content for purchase at its virtual iTunes Store for playback on devices other than the iPad.

The iPad's XGA resolution will not support true 720p without downscaling. Also, because of its virtual keyboard, e-mail, electronic book reader, and other laudable attributes, the iPad screen (with 8.9-inch viewing area diagonally) approximates a 4:3 aspect ratio, not HD's 16:9. So any widescreen video will have to be letterboxed. And while it can play HD content, it can't be viewed in HD.

Yet despite its lack of an HDMI port, a camera and telephony, most reviewers who have actually played with the iPad seem to come away impressed, among other things, with the unit's robust screen imaging, overall feel, and quick response time. It also boasts LED backlighting.

But for now, a true portable HD media player it is not.