This article originally appeared as a guest post on iTechReport titled ‘Thoughts on the iPad’ but sadly they have recently shut down. I’ve decided to repurpose the post as a updated review of the iPad.
My experiences are detailed after spending around 6 weeks with the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad.
The iPad is a very interesting device, allowing people to consume and create content in a new way – direct multiple-touch input. The iPad is supposed to be a ‘new category’ however in my experience, it’s replaced 90% of the things I use a laptop for.
Whether it’s flipping between IM, Facebook and Twitter on the couch while watching TV, or taking notes in a meeting, there’s a mountain of reasons to love the iPad.
The iPads 9.7" inch multi-touch screen produces amazing viewing angles and responsiveness. I’m not going to lie, fingerprints are an issue, something that can be overcome by increasing brightness, but that’ll hurt battery life. The lowest brightness setting in my opinion is still too bright for viewing comfortably in a dark room.
Many people feared just how useable an on-screen keyboard would be. In my experience, the answer is very! In landscape mode I can actually touch-type on the device with a fairly high rate of accuracy. The only downside is Apple’s crazy auto-correct, which helps 95% of the time, but will leave u wanting to throw the iPad the other 5%.
A travellers new best friend
I found travelling with the iPad a great experience. While travelling around the US I spent a number of hours in the bus between cities. The iPad really helped fill in the time, playing games, browsing photos or writing posts, it worked great. Then there was the 14 hour flight home from San Francisco to Sydney, I can’t speak highly enough of a device that gets the battery life of the iPad. I spent the trip using the iPad for around 7 hours, sleeping for 4 hours and watched a movie for 2.5 hrs. My only wish is that transport of the future all has Wi-Fi.
Then there’s things like cars, trains and trams. I’ve tested the iPad in cars and can confirm it works great, your probably going to want a case with stand though. I find typing on the landscape keyboard fast and can be pretty accurate, even in bumpy conditions.
Usable by all ages
I’ve been amazed to watch how people from all walks of life use the device when touching it for the first time. From my very non-tech-savvy 61yo father, to my gorgeous 2yo niece, to complete strangers enquiring about the device, they all "get it" almost instantly. With essentially no instruction most users can successfully navigate around the device. That’s amazing, when considering the complexities typically associated with an online device.
There are some apps that use a non-standard UI, these could benefit from a help guide to smooth the learning curve. Also Apple user interface guidelines seem to be ignored in a lot of cases to applications detriment.
One of the key uses for the iPad is reading, on a device that’s around the size of an A4 page. I’ve not noticed any eye strain from reading or using the device, even for extended periods of time. The iPad is however 2 heavy to hold comfortably for long periods of time, especially single handed.
Due to the limited applications that come on the device, the iPad lives and dies by 3rd party apps. To be frank, right now the app selection is kind of limited. Most categories have a decent number to choose from, but the quality of the iPad apps varies, a lot. It’s been said many times before, competition drives innovation and were simply not far enough into the development cycle for serious competition to emerge to drive that innovation.
Naturally some apps are strong out of the gate, but I’m talking across the board. Maybe we’ve just been spoilt with the 2 years of iPhone app development.
Right now the standout 3rd apps are for me are Scrabble, Pinball HD, Epicurious and Air Hockey. These each offer a unique experience unavailable anywhere else.
Naturally the photo app from Apple is awesome, but the calendar leaves a lot to be desired. Im also puzzled as to why we haven’t yet seen additional apps like Remote for the iPad from Apple, and an Apple TV remote, you’d think these could be a selling point for the device.
Adobe and Apple’s longstanding, now very public feud over Flash on Apple’s mobile products simply hurts consumers. Regardless of the arguments offered from each side, when you come across flash content and you can’t view it, it really breaks the experience. There’s been times where I’ve had to fire up my laptop just to view that one piece of content, this leaves me wondering why I don’t just use the laptop in the first place. Then of course I remember the noise, heat and weight of a laptop.
So while it may be fine to say you don’t need flash when your browsing casually, when your actually trying to get work done and you can’t reach the content you need to, its a serious problem.
If flash doesn’t run well, I would have much rather Apple worked with Adobe to ensure that it does, rather than simply saying no. Like I said, this just hurts consumers. Apple’s claim that the iPad is the best way to experience the web, isn’t true for this one single reason.
Personally I love the iPad, it’s a great device that fits a number of use cases – streaming live audio/video while doing tasks around the home, browsing the web while watching TV, taking notes in meetings to mention a few. Does this mean I think everyone needs one? Not at all.
It is a device that’s new, unique and one of the hottest tech products on the market, but most people already have laptops at this point that work perfectly fine. It is also A$628 + for the iPad, which is reasonable, but normal people have kids, mortgages and bills to pay.
What will be interesting is when it comes time to update that laptop, the iPad maybe a viable alternative for a lot of people, but then again, hopefully there’s some.