The iPad Experience: great 1st gen device, definitely not for everyone.
Apr 9, 2010
I had made up my mind during the 2 months or so between the announcement of the Apple iPad and its release date that I was not going to get one, or so I thought. I figured the UI would be fantastic as it was running the same OS as the iPhone but with a bit more horsepower and my iPhone 3GS was a pleasure to use, jailbroken with multitasking. The key feature, or lack thereof, that swayed my decision was the fact that just like the iPhone, any video you wanted play from the device locally first had to be converted to H.264 (MP4 or m4v) and I loathed the idea of having to convert anything that I wanted to watch from my 2+ TB's of video that is all either MKV or AVI. I would be using the device primarily for the 45 minute train ride (each way) to and from work so playing local video was a big deal for me.
Then the week before launch came and I started reading all these reviews from media members that got the device pre-launch to review it and I started wanting one. The Apps, the screen, the battery life, the speed, everyone was raving about how smooth it was, not to mention how gorgeous the device is, and I found myself dying to play with one.
I woke up Saturday morning around 8 am and was on my way to McDonalds when I passed by a Best Buy and noticed a pretty small line, I couldn't help myself, I pulled in and got in line. 8:45 am and 6 people ahead of me. An hour and a half later I was back home and excitedly ripped the shrink wrap off and opened the device.
Powering it on I was amazed at how beautiful the screen was and then the first major disappointment hit immediately. You have to plug in to iTunes before you can use the device at all. This seemed really odd for a device that requires no activation and, at least from what I gathered, was supposed to challenge netbooks and destroy all other tablets yet it cant even be turned on for the first time unless you have a Mac or PC and iTunes installed.
I shrugged it off, plugged it in, went through the initialization (about 3-5 minutes) and I was immeditaley rewarded with a beautiful display and a super fast home screen. The OS is so responsive its amazing. I spent the rest of the day streaming Netflix, ABC, music, playing with Apps, surfing the web posting on Twitter (tweetdeck has a killer UI for the iPad) and for the next 12 hours played with the device non-stop. The Picasa Web HD is also a pleasure to use, displaying all my web albums in an interface very similar to that of the stock Photo app with pinch to zoom working just as well and extremely responsive. It's rather amazing to take a snapshot on my Droid, upload to Picasa and instantly look at the photo on the iPad's wonderful screen. Straight out of the box, no charging, the device lasted over 12 HOURS!! I was absolutely blown away, I finally went to bed around midnight and plugged it in to power with the battery at 8%.
Over the past week I have used the device heavily everyday and I am still very happy with my decision and the device. I set the last 2 seasons of Californication and 2 movies (The Big Lebowski and A Serious Man) to convert to m4v on my home media server and using Handbrake the process was not as much of a pain as I though it would be, put them all in a queue and let it run overnight.
I purchased the 16GB model and it held both seasons, both movies and still had 5GB's free, these were all 720p MKV files and I was pretty impressed that I could store all that with room to spare. On the train the video was breathtaking, even when the sun hit the screen it was easily viewable, my laptop screen would get completely washed out when the sun hit it.
Using it at home is so convenient as well, I can sit back on the couch and easily surf the web while watching TV or watch a video with the headphones on while my wife watches her TV shows (which I usually hate). The fact that, like an iPhone or iTouch, the device is always on and springs to life when you hit the lock button is so much nicer than waiting for a laptop or netbook to boot up. It really sets this apart, I am now going to the iPad for things I used to have to boot up my laptop for and its a much nicer experience.
Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely do not believe this is a laptop replacement, but the list of things I can't do on this that I can do on my laptop is much shorter than I thought it would be. The lack of flash has not popped its head up for me yet, I dont play flash based games online, youtube has its own app (which is awesome by the way and much nicer than on the iPhone or Touch) and sites like ESPN and Vimeo stream and play video with no problems.
The keyboard was another pleasant surprise as in landscape mode I can type pretty quickly using all fingers just like on a regular keyboard, not quite as fast but much quicker than the two thumb or hunt and peck method.
I, like many, wish the device was able to multitask as for something so fast it is a bit ridiculous that I have to completely close and app to use another. However, this will only be a problem for another 4-6 months as OS 4 announced yesterday that they are bringing multitasking to the iPad in the fall.
Another glaring ommission is a front facing webcam, I understand not putting a regular snapshot or video camera on the back as this device is to big to use as a camera but a front facing webcam would have made a HUGE difference, the ability to hold a video call over Skype on the iPad would have been awesome. Considering this model is WiFi only it baffles me as to why a webcam was not included, Ustream and a few other apps exist for the iPhone to broadcast live video so clearly this device is capable of it yet Apple decided to leave one out.
However while I have been very happy with the device and glad I purchased one, I can see this not being a home run for a lot of people. If you dont have time to watch videos outside of your living room, or are perfectly happy browsing the web on your current laptop or desktop, this device is definitely more a novelty. If however you do watch videos away from home or have a lot of photos you are constantly sharing nothing currently available even comes close. The speed, responsiveness, screen and battery life on the iPad are unrivaled.
The most important thing to remember, is this is a 1st Gen device, next years model will no doubt have more features and be a step up. Also, the reason this works so well is because it is a tightly controlled experience, many people have complained about Apple's strict policies in what users can and cannot do with the device however if this were a free for all, it would perform like windows mobile. The iPad has yet to freeze up, restart or get even the slightest bit sluggish on me, all things that happen somewhat regularly on my Droid. It just works, and the experience doesnt change no matter what you do with the device.
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About this product
The iPad is a tablet computing device product from Apple Inc. The device was announced on January 27, 2010, at a press conference at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The device was rumored for several months, with iSlate and iTablet among rumored names. The device is expected to incorporate a 10-inch (26 centimeter) multi-touch display made by Innolux, a subsidiary of Foxconn. The price is expected to be more than the iPhone but less than an Apple notebook computer.
The iPad's lowest grade model with a 16GB hard drive will run for $499 dollars with the 32 GB running for $599 and the 64GB running at $699. Buyers will also have the opportunity to purchase the iPad with 3G connectivity with the lowest grade model starting at $629 and going up. The Wi-Fi models will ship in late March while the 3G models will ship in April.
Yair Reiner claims the iSlate will compete in the market against dedicated e-book devices such as the Barnes & Noble nook and the Amazon Kindle while offering 70% of revenue to publishers, the same arrangement accorded developers of the App Store. These arrangements would also extend to print publishers who currently receive less in digital work royalties from companies like Amazon.com.