For a very long time I have played with portable devices, trying to get one that met my needs. I tried the Pocket PC, Palm Pilot, cellphones, and nothing quite satisfied my needs. In general, I wanted a light weight, easy to carry device that would enable me to search the web and read pdf/word/powerpoint/ and excel documents. I was also looking for something to store my address book and a calender for scheduling and to do list.
Despite popular belief, the ipad is in no way a tablet PC. As a matter of fact, it is basically an ipod touch with a larger screen and slightly more powerful processor. Understanding that, you can decide whether this is really the device you wanted. In my case, it absolutely was. I have no ipod touch, so I did not have that feeling of repetition when purchasing this item. I have enjoyed the ipad, and while I initially felt some pangs of buyer's remorse, the longer I have it, the more I have enjoyed it.
When purchasing the ipad, you probably should plan to spend some $50 on additional applications. Apps are not too expense, but you may want 5-10 applications to help you get what you want out of the ipad. One bonus, most ipod touch games work with the ipad, so you have access to all of those games and software. Unfortunately, one of my biggest reasons for wanting the ipad was to have a portable office. So far, I have yet to find any software (free or buyable, that really provided me with the office I wanted. The closest program so far has yet to be ported to the ipad, and the ipod version does not work correctly. On the other hand, the ipad brings a new feel to gaming. It is unique, fun, and enjoyable. I enjoy the gaming on this far better than the nintendo DS (stylus) gaming. It is fun, and there are hundred's of games for both the ipad and ipod touch to keep you busy for a long long time.
In the end, I am someone who wanted an ipod touch, but with a larger screen, and I got it. I didn't care for an mp3 player (I have one). So I basically wanted a palm pilot with a large enough screen to be able to surf the web and read pdf's comfortably, and that is exactly what it is. Trying to make it more is what leads to disappointment and the lower score others are giving it. It is not fit in your pocket portable, but if it was, then you wouldn't be able to read and use the web comfortably. It is portable enough for me to take along in the car on long drives, take to a friends house, bring along on vacation, and do all the things with it that I would need on the go, without the need for a bulky keyboard or an inconvenient stylus, but I wouldn't "drag it everywhere with me", since it is too inconvenient for that.
It is a 4 out of 5 because although I like it, it is lacking a couple of things that I think are no brainers. Some of them you can download at a cost, but I just would have expected them to come with the device free, such as a viewer and editor for .doc and .xls documents (word and excel), and a to do list. (seriously, you have to buy and download a to do list, they couldn't just give you one for free). If there are so many free widgets and gadgets out there, then why do ipad apps, which do no more or less than a widget of similar ability, have to cost $2-$5 each?
Update: I figured I should reiterate what I mean with the portable office and my score. Yes, they offer "pages" and "numbers" at a cost of $9.99 each, but besides costing $30 to get all of the software needed (powerpoint, word, excel equivalents), they also limit the fonts used and are not the software I would choose. I would have expected at least a free viewer to be able to look at these files, but you have to spend money on that (good reader is what I purchased). For a device centered around the idea of being a very slick and portable itablet, they didn't put any effort to ensure it could do what an actually itablet computer can do. They should have thought of making a document viewer and editor come with it with limited features. Eventually, companies will come out with them, and I will purchase them at a cost of $10-$15 when a decent one does, but it is something almost required on this kind of device, but absent. There desire to nickel and dime customers with there apps is incredibly apparent, almost every free app either has ads, or tries to get you to buy their paid for version. Many of the free games constantly tries to get you to make "ingame" purchases. And seeing how easy it is to make a purchase once setting it up, definitely make sure you kid doesn't touch it or you could end up with a $200 bill easy. So Apple Ipad gets a 4, because for all its' potential, apple limits you so it can get every penny out of you it can.
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