iPad: My Initial Reactions

Note: This very long 2400+ word post was written entirely on my iPad. Approximate reading time = 10 minutes.

So I’ve had the iPad for about two weeks now and I thought that I’d give my two cents as to what my experience with it has been like thus far. First off, the iPad is fucking amazing, but it’s not without its faults. Yes, I am a MacHead and probably the least bias person you’ll find to review this product. So when reading this review, just keep in mind that this is coming from an unabashed Apple fanboy.

Coty_iPad

That’s me on April 3rd at the Apple’s Honolulu flagship store. I look pretty happy holding my iPad in my Slide To Unlock tee by Milk & Eggs Co, which by the way you can pick up for $20.

To start, I should say that I did pre-order the 64GB model and I did stand in line at my local Apple Store on April 3, like every other Apple geek in Honolulu and across the nation. Having purchased the device sight unseen (it was an early birthday gift .. do you see me smiling), I was not really sure what expect. What would I use the iPad for was the big question. So for the past two weeks I have been trying to figure out what the killer features and apps on this device would be for me. I think I found more than a few.

Hardware

Let’s start off by talking hardware. The device weighs in at just 1.5 pounds but I have to say that it feels lighter than what I expected a pound and  half to feel like. The weight of the iPad is comfortable to hold and use for a significant amount of time. The black border that surrounds the screen was initially a turn off for me. I didn’t much care for the thick black border but once I started using the device I understood the reason behind such a thick border – my thumbs. When you grip the iPad your fingers need to go somewhere and the black border allows you to rest them on the screen without interfering with the useable real estate.

iPad

As far as buttons go, Apple follows the footsteps of the iPhone. Physical buttons on this device are kept to a minimum and I like that. You will find an on and off button on the top right of the device like you would on the iPhone. On the right border you’ll find a volume button and a screen lock button. The screen lock allows you to keep the orientation of the screen in either landscape or portrait mode. This is especially useful when watching movies or video clips or want to keep your iPad in landscape mode while you type away on the larger keypad.

The iPad screen is fantastic. If you own a newer MacBook and you like the glossy screen on your MacBook then you will love the screen on the iPad. The glare on the device can be annoying if looking directly at the device but tilting it a bit alleviates the problem for me. When reading at night, I find myself reducing the brightness to about 35%. This reduces the strain on my eyes significantly.

Audio on this device is quite nice. The speakers on my original iPhone sucked. The iPad speakers, on the other hand, are surprisingly good.

Battery life on the iPad is fantastic. I have not found a situation yet where I had run out of battery while doing something on the iPad. I’ve even gone a few days without charging and this was after a couple of days of video and game play. The occasional moments in which I need to sync the iPad with my MacBook is really the only times that I have recharged the battery.

Finally, I’d like to say that the device feels very sturdy and solid. One thing you won’t get with the iPad is a generic plastic feel.

Software

When Apple first announced the iPad I initially thought that it would be great device for media consumption (i.e. movies, podcasts, music, games, reading, browsing) but suck at content creation (i.e. writing papers, blogging). For the most part, I was right.

Media Consumption

The iPad was born to consume and feed us rich media. Video on this device is amazing and interacting with photos is inspiring. On the iPhone, video is clumped together with music in the iPod app. On the iPad, video has it’s own dedicated app where your podcasts, movies and music videos live. I’m happy Apple gave video it’s own app. The device has been a godsend when it comes to watching podcasts while I work on the MacBook Pro.

AppStore

The Netflix app is one of my killer apps. Having the Netflix app on your iPad is equivalent to having thousands of movies and tv shows at your finger tips, literally. I was able to watch a 2 hour movie flawlessly. I was able pause, go to the restroom, return to my desk and then carry on right where the movie left off. Even after a few hours away from the movie, upon return, the Netflix app picked up right where I had left off. The Netflix app is awesome and is a definite must have (it’s free) if you own an iPad and have a Netflix subscription. And if you have an iPad but not a Netflix subscription then I highly recommend that you subscribe to Netflix – it’ll enhance your iPad experience significantly, I guarantee it.

Netflix

Another media consumption app that I have been using a lot is the ABC app. I admit that I am not a fan of streaming tv on the Internet. Other than Hulu, streaming TV sites like ABC, CBS and NBC aren’t very good. The interfaces on these sites are typically very clunky and the streaming is often unreliable. And so I was skeptical when it came to streaming shows using the ABC app on the iPad. I was mistaken. The ABC app was made with the iPad in mind. It looks beautiful and works flawlessly. I have been using the ABC app to watch Modern Family and I have fallen in love with the show. I will admit, though, that the app did freeze on me once towards the end of an episode. Unfortuantely, the app does not allow you to fast forward. So if I had wanted to finish the episode I would have needed to watch it from the beginning. Kind of lame, but I can deal. The app does show commercials intermittently. The commercials are short, about 10 seconds a piece, and are actually not that annoying.

So many people considered the iPad to be the Kindle killer. I’ve never used a Kindle before so I can’t compare the two. What I can do is tell you about my experience in using iBooks on the iPad. iBooks is Apple’s book application, built into it is the Apple iBookstore. I found it weird that iBooks was not a default app on the iPad, instead, you need to download it from the AppStore (it’s free). iBooks does come with a free book, Winnie the Pooh and they also offer the entire Gutenberg Project Catalog in the iBookstore. I thought this was great considering that if you’re interested in reading a classic (over 3000+ classics), you can, for free!

I decided to make Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ($9.99) my first iBookstore purchase. My reading experience thus far with reading this book on the iPad has been great. You are able to swipe to turn the page and you can increase and decrease the font size to your hearts desire. One of my favorite features is the dictionary feature within iBooks. Don’t know a word as you’re reading? Click it and select dictionary and boom, instant definition. Want to bookmark a word or paragraph, you can do that too. The iPad will make me read for enjoyment more so than I did pre-iPad and that is a good thing.

iBooks

I’ve had a few people ask me what the iPad is like when reading outside under sunlight. Unfortunately I can’t answer that question because I normally don’t read outside. I have only used this device indoors.

I am not a hardcore gamer. I like simple puzzle games, like Bejeweled. Nonetheless, I had to get a feel of the gaming experience on the iPad and to do that I downloaded a game called Azkend HD, which is Bejeweled type game were you need to match three or more objects in order to clear it from the board. Needless to say, I had a great time playing this game. And for someone that is notorious for not finishing games, I finished Azkend HD in a little less than two weeks. Total gameplay time was just a little over 5 hours. If you like puzzle games then definitely check out Azkend HD. It’s available now in the AppStore for $4.99. Again, I am not a gamer but that did not stop me from buying Sparkle from the AppStore and I also think that I will be buying Plants vs. Zombies in the very near future. The iPad makes for an awesome casual game playing device.

Content Creation

As a blogger, my main test of content creation was publishing an actual blog post from the iPad and straight to the web. As such, I am typing this article using just the WordPress app on my iPad. I started off typing using my thumbs with the iPad in portrait mode. That lasted two paragraphs before I began to get annoyed. I then switched to the peck and hunt method using my pointer finger in portrait mode, and that was even more annoying. Finally, I jumped on my bed and plopped myself on my tummy and began typing away with the iPad on my bed in landscape mode. I started using the slightly smaller then normal keyboard the way that I’d normally use a keyboard and I was surprised by how good the landscape keyboard was. I was able to quadruple my typing time from the very slow thumb and peck and hunt methods. Having said that I still wish that I was typing this on my MacBook Pro.

I can see the iPad being useful for short blog posts, but for longer posts like this one, it can become cumbersome. Trust, you don’t want to type long documents on the iPad. If you need to write more than 1000 words, I would suggest using your desktop or laptop.

Wordpress

The WordPress app was also a bit buggy. I found that it did not save certain pages even after I had hit the save button. The fix for me was to sync my WordPress blog every time I wanted to do a save. Also, the one thing that found very difficult to was add pictures to this post. WordPress allows you to add photos to your post but it does not allow you to specify where you would like the photo to go. All photos are place at the end of the post by default. This sucks. I ended up having to add photos using my MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, with the WordPress app you cannot make formatting changes such as bold and italicize, nor can you change font sizes. And finally, I had a lot of trouble publishing this post from the WordPress App. I finally resorted to copying and pasting the post from the dedicated WordPress app to the browser version of WordPress using Safari on the iPad. Wordpress, please fix this.

The WordPress for iPad app is very bare bones. In order to make significant formatting changes and to add photos you still need to use the browser version of WordPress, which you can access via Safari on the iPad, i just wish you could do it all within the dedicated WordPress app. This SHOULD be a killer app for me, but for now, it’s barely functional. I might have to give BlogPress as an alternative or until WordPress get’s its iPad app into working order.

The Flash Issue

I really don’t care that flash is not supported on the iPad or iPhone for that matter. Flash is buggy and is a resource hog. HTML5 is the future and Apple knows this. Flash is to the iPad as the floppy drive was to the original Bondi Blue iMac. Flash is unnecessary. For a list of iPad compatible video sites that matter, check out this short list composed by Apple.

Some side notes:

Everything is fast and responsive on the iPad. Apps load very quickly and are very responsive to your touch. Browsing on the Internet with Safari is very fast and pages load very quickly. My only gripe is that Safari does not cache pages so every time you go to a page it has to load. Also, I wish there was a private browsing option within Safari.

Emailing on the iPad is a pleasure. The interface is beautiful and very spacious. I am currently using Twitteriffic but I am patiently waiting for Tweetie to make its way to the iPad. Tweetie was actually bought out by Twitter and will be rebranded as the official Twitter app. AIM is another app that I use regularly on the iPad and it just works, in fact, the AIM app for the iPad is much better than the iPhone version.

I did purchase Pages, Apple’s software equivalent of Microsoft Word. However, I have not yet used it to write a paper or take notes. I did, however, use it to import a highly formatted Word file that I had downloaded from email. The Word file opened up in Pages but not without a formatting issues. The main issue was that the running header was partially missing on all pages, an odd error I know. Other than that, paragraphs breaks were there as well as indents and other formatting changes. Images imported fine as well.

As a researcher and academic scholar in training, I print and read a ton of articles from scientific journals. On my MacBook Pro I use Papers to organize all of my scientific journal articles. Needless to say I was surprised to find that at launch, there was a Papers app made specifically for the iPad. The iPad version of Papers and the full version of Papers on my MacBook work together flawlessly. Whenever both applications are open they sync together wirelessly and flawlessly. Papers on the iPad is a definite killer app for me. No more printing out articles. I have every journal article I’ve ever downloaded at my finger tips, much like I do my podcasts, movies and music. I love Papers!

Papers

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very happy with the iPad. I was skeptical when it was first announced, but having actually used one for a good two weeks I have to say that I am officially sold. The iPad has met and surpassed all expectations that I had for it. Apple has innovated once again. Now, when I head to the coffee shop the only thing that I am left to worry about is whether or not I really need to lug that “big” MacBook Pro along with me.

Comments

  1. Jetgirl says

    I played with one of these at BestBuy the other day and i can see the appeal of a huge touch screen ipod. However, having owned a Kindle id have to put my vote with amazon as far as book reader goes. The plastic case on it has a better grip and doesnt smudge. Not to mention zero eye strain and the battery lasts weeks with normal use. Sure you cant read it in the dark but honestly who reads in the dark?! Lol whats really cool About the ipad tho is check out squareup.com, they have a mobile cash register app that accepts credit cards via an attachment.

  2. says

    @Jetgirl, yeah Square looks to be a killer device for merchants on the go.

    @Ade, while I stood in line I had a few people ask about your awesome tee!