My mother in law, whose extent of using the Internet is asking where the big blue "E" is, sat done with my iPad and in five minutes of using it, knew how, and was determined that she wanted one. (That is to say that technology is not really her thing, she's a very smart woman)
My three year old daughter, who has prior computing experience on my iPhone, used my iPad for sly of about 3 seconds and was watching videos and playing games on it.
My wife, who also has an iPhone, works on Windows and Macs everyday started using it right away.
Reminded me of that Staples commercial. "That was easy".
I swore to myself that I would approach this device (writing this blog post on it, on the virtual keyboard too) with an open and objective mind, not to be an Apple fanboy, and really use nothing but this device for, say a week, and really give it a good review. I figure the only way to give a good review about this device is to do just that, and see, once and for all, if you really could replace a laptop with it.
Of course there are going to be the people marching with their picket signs proclaiming that the iPad is the end of the net book, "the end is nigh!!!". I am not saying they are wrong, but I am also not proclaiming that they are right either. This device clearly fills a void, that before it came out, we never knew existed.
We never knew what a nice interface for the mobile phone looked like until the iPhone came out either. Remember the interfaces of the Palm Treo and Blackberries before the iPhone came out? We never knew what a touch interface would yield us. Now look at the world, 3 years later, and you'd be hard pressed to go anywhere and not see at least a dozen iPhones on the way to your destination. Even in New York City, where AT&T's coverage is, frankly, horrible, you still see iPhones on almost everyone.
The iPad is similar. You never knew you had a need or a want for a device like this one until you pick one up and use it. For me, when sitting on the couch during the first 10 minutes of having it, browsing the Internet, setting up my email accounts and answering a few emails on it, i said to myself "I get it".
Apple describes the experience in using the device "far more intimate" than using a smartphone or a laptop. Now I understand why they used that particular piece of terminology. It doesn't seem as if there is a barrier to using the device. Not in terms of learning to use this device, but in terms of interacting with the content. You don't have the perception that you are moving the mouse or typing on a keyboard to manipulate the information. You feel like, you are creating or moving the information.
It feels like Star Trek. Ever watch the next generation, when Data or someone was configuring something on the screen? That, was the iPad. That's what it feels and looks like. Minority report (not the big screen, the little one) style.
You want to click on something, you tap it. You want to move or scroll, you move the stuff on the screen with your finger. Want to type something, you just, go and type it.
I'll rate everything on a scale of one to ten.
It takes a minute to get used to typing on it, especially when you are trying to hit the "a" key with your pinky (i keep hitting s). But after about 20 minutes or 10 emails worth of typing, you are whizzing through typing on this thing fast as heck. No problem. I can type almost as fast on the iPad as I do on the regular keyboard, the main advantage I have is the error correction. It takes a second, just like you had to get used to on the iPhone, to remember that you shouldn't back space, just keep typing and more than likely the error correction on the OS will fix itself. Same issue with the apostrophe on certain words. For instance, "hell" you have to type manually, otherwise it'll come out "he'll". But I can imagine, after typing on this thing awhile, I'll go back to a regular keyboard and try and type the double space shortcut (period then space), and I won't be able to.
Also how you hold it is important, personally I prefer to type in landscape mode, as in portrait mode, the keyboard is a bit too wide to use with just my thumbs. In landscape mode, I can type on it comfortably.
Watching videos on this thing is phenomenal. I have watched several episodes of tv shows, both House and Top Gear. All in "high definition" and all looked great. Now, the HD purists will complain that the resolution isn't high enough to be called high def, and the true 16x9 ratio isn't there, but it's a great device for watching content on.
Yeah, it doesn't have flash. No I don't care. I block flash in my desktop browser anyway, I prefer html5 for many reasons, the main being that html5 has never caused my fan on my laptop to kick on and run in overdrive. Flash always does. Try it. See how fast your computer heats up when you are using flash as opposed to html5. See how fast your battery dies in a comparison between the two. Otherwise browsing on this thing kicks butt. I have only encountered one problem on one website, where I couldn't scroll down, but the scrolling action was controlled by flash. So obviously.
Perfect client for writing a small email on. If you are one of those types who likes to write "War and Peace" length emails, then this might not be the device for you, even though you shouldn't have a problem, heck I wrote this whole long blog post on the virtual keyboard. But if you are like the 99.9% of email writers out there that answer there email in about 5 sentences or a couple paragraphs, then this device is just fine for you. The only two drawbacks so far that i see are, a) lack of universal inbox, which Steve Jobs himself said is coming and b) you cant move an email from one account to another.
Apps (6 for the iPhone apps that are pixel doubled, 8-9 for the iPad native apps)
While the pixel doubling for the iPad is good for iPhone shaped apps, some of the text can look a bit blocky, but they work just fine. My daughter had no problem playing her games, and you shouldn't either. I was testing out Real Racing over the weekend and it worked just fine. It was actually much better playing the game on a big screen instead of the iPhone. Some of the apps for the iPad that have been redesigned are great. I love them. Especially the Accuweather app. Beautiful. You can really tell the difference between the apps that were, from the ground up designed to work for the iPad, and the apps where they took the iPhone app, and just, made it bigger. I am sure, in time those apps will be redesigned now that the hardware is actually out.
It actually works, looks, and functions like a calendar. I use the iCal all the time constantly, and it's synced automatically with google calendar. On the iPhone, it worked great, it does work great, but the iPad is just, better some how. It looks better, it looks like a real calendar, or as well as real as a digital calendar can look. They real did a nice job with the presentation of the app, the top of it looks like you just tore off the day prior.
Same as above, it looks like a book, an actual contact book that might sit in that drawer under the phone in your kitchen. You use it like a book, it looks like a series of tabs on the left, and you can use it just like that.
Pages, Keynote, and Numbers (7)
These apps are great. I haven't gotten the chance to use Numbers and Keynote yet, but i sent the better part of today editing a document in Pages. (hey like i said, i really wanted to test the thing!). It's not as full featured as the desktop version, but it's a damn good word processor for the majority of documents that are going to be created. If my wife or my mother-in-law wanted to write a document, make a sign, or work on their resume, they could do so very easily.
iTunes, Videos, and Youtube (8)
They clearly designed this device to take advantage of the media in your iTunes library, or some deals that Apple is trying to make. This is a great device to watch videos on, as i already said, but the interfaces wrapped up in each of the above built in apps clearly make this a device perfect for consuming media on.
It's good. You can watch a movie, tv show, or whatever, and it functions great and has plenty of sound. It's not a 5.1 surround system, but it works great and it was actually a bit surprising.
Buttons (uh 10?)
Home button, volume buttons, and lock buttons just like the iPhone. However, the silent/ringer button has been replaced with a "screen lock" button. When switched, locks your screen in whatever position you currently have it in. Landscape or portrait, it just stays there. Useful if you are sitting at s strange angle on the couch or something and the iPad's accelerometer doesn't know if it's up or down or sideways.
The battery is unbelievably long lasting. I've been using it since Saturday, basically as my primary computer, and I've plugged it in once. I've watched videos on it, I've browsed on it, I've played games on it, I've read books on it. Just great battery life.
The books are great. I've a couple free ones on my device here, and I've read about 100 or so pages. The books work great in landscape or portrait, in sunlight, and in shade, inside and out. The only thing about the iPad is that it weighs a pound and a half, which isn't a big deal, you just shift the weight from hand to hand every couple pages, unless you are a total sissy, or if you are 2 years old. (My three year old little girl can hold it for a long period of time and not complain, so if that's any indication)
The screen is beautiful. Yes it gets fingerprints on it, but I have a little cloth from KlearScreen.com that I have had for years (since I first started using Macs), a newer one can be found in these kits. I wipe the screen, it comes right off. Something a little micro-fiberish takes everything right off, yeah, you could use a Tshirt too. Glare on the screen? People seem to think that sunlight would create a gigantic glare on the device, I disagree. I think apps that have dark backgrounds are the worst culprit. You read a book in iBooks, in full sunlight, no problem. But if you are using the (AWESOME) Accuweather iPad app, which has a black background, it can be difficult.
I have read some forums online where people are complaining about the Wifi connectivity with the device. It will start off at five bars, and then shrink down to 1 bar, then go back up again. I have to admit, I was experiencing this at my mother-in-laws house, and her router is using WEP, Verizon FiOS Actiontec regular old wireless router with both B and G bands. At home, I have two Apple WAPs running 802.11G and 802.11N. The iPad communicates flawlessly all over the house, yard, and porches with a full five bars on either connection point. Maybe this is a firmware issue (because apparently lots of people are experiencing problems), however, I.. am not, at home.
Now, as you'd expect let's address some of the downfalls of the device:
No flash -- well, be that as it may. It is what it is, and I am sure, the longer the iPhone stays out, and the bigger the iPad gets, the end of flash may draw near.
No removable battery -- this was the big bitch about the iPhone when it first came out and it seems that people have largely gotten over this. You know, by plugging the darn thing in. This isn't a phone, you don't need to trade out the batteries like you should need to with a phone.
No remove-able storage -- I don't know how this is that big of a deal. The iPad comes in 16 gig, 32 gig, and 64 gig of storage. If that's not enough space for you, then you might want to evaluate a cloud based storage solution of some type.
No Usb ports -- well clearly this is not a full featured computer. For the most of the audience and consumers out there, this could be a everyday useful computer. I think it's perfect for kids at school, for doctors, for lawyers, for my parents, for my brothers. Those of you that need to plug in your wacom tablet, or your thirty USB based devices, this isn't it. Apple clearly wanted the device to be stable and not susceptible tom third party drivers for USB devices and such.
Printing -- you can't print from it. Not natively, not yet. While it is certainly possible to set up a printer on the network and print wirelessly, heck I do it at my house, the iPad does notmhave the built in ability to print. Which kinda stinks. But, just like the iPhone, where someone wrote an app to be able to do just that, I imagine, given time, the iPad will be able to do the same thing.
No Camera -- The iPad has no camera, forward or back. I don't think a back mounted iPad (like the iPhone) would be of much use, I mean, it would just be weird trying to take a picture with a device that big. A forward facing one, so you could use it for video conferencing with iChat? That would be AWESOME, and I wished they would have built it in, but alas, they didn't, so hopefully they do in a future version.
No Microphone -- It has a built in mic, I think the headphones are better. I took my iPhone headphones (the ones with the mic built in to the lanyard) fired up the Skype app and made a call. It worked perfectly.
I am sure there are more, if you feel so inclined to tell me what you think the downfalls of the device are in the comments, I'll be glad to update the post, and/or give my opinion.
I clearly believe that there is no way that you'll fully understand this device unless you use it. There is clearly a market, and tons of potential for this device, and we'll see where it goes.
What do I recommend?
I recommend you get the biggest one. 64G. You'll understand why once you have it, because you'll want to be consuming media on it, you'll want to be watching movies, have your apps, have your documents, have your stuff. Especially those of you that are like me and travel a lot and want a device to use on the plane. Get the biggest one. The 3G vs. Wifi is a debate only you can answer. Personally, I have a Mifi, so I have no need to have the 3G version, I use the Mifi as a Wireless access point, connect my iPad to it, and away I go. Simple.
Overall Grade: 8
It's an excellent device, try before you buy, but you won't think you need one, until you use one. Then, you won't know how you did without it. It's the perfect couch device, bedside table device, and going to the bathroom device.