I’ve just received an iPad as my birthday present. I’m totally stoked about it – however, I was never really part of the early-adopter scene (I much preferred to wait until the 2nd or 3rd gen to drop my cash), so this is pretty exciting and uneasy for me.
I’m writing this review hopefully to give you another perspective (lots of the tech blogs that have or will write about it, are usually coming at an angle of early adopters), and cut through the hype (for example, the best surfing experience will likely not be on the iPad, contrary to Steve Jobs’s claim) to let you know what this device is all about.
The iPad I’ve received is an 16GB Wifi version, without 3G (I’m also planning to get an Android phone – so I’m looking into tether it to my smartphone and share the data) . My first impression of the device is that the screen is absolutely gorgeous – this is the kind of device gadget geeks like myself is waiting for, the kind of all-powerful, portable supercomputer you’d expect to see in sci-fi films. It really is quite thin – it’s hard to imagine that you basically have a small form-factor computer packed into a casing the thickness of a pop-tart.
There have been comments that the iPad is essentially a gigantic iPod Touch (iPod Touch Mega, anyone?). This is not far from the truth. The OS, UI is largely similar – if you had an iDevice before, this thing is basically pickup-and-go. Really, the learning curve is so low that you kind of feel like something is missing – have I really just gotten a giant iPod Touch?
That said, one of the major selling points of the iPad is that it is compatible with 150,000-something iPhone apps from the App Store. Pretty much all apps will be compatible on the iPad. However, the gotcha here is that the experience is not great – you’re either stuck with a tiny, true-to-the-form display of the app, or the scaled-up, ugly-to-the-bones pixelized version of the app – neither of which is very pleasant. Unfortunately, at the time of writing there’s also few apps for the iPad that matches their iPhone counterparts (why are there no good weather apps for the iPad yet?), but this will change in the next months. To me, this is a nice to have feature, but not something I’d look forward to use on a regular basis, so don’t buy too much into the hype around this one.
(Once multi-tasking is introduced in OS4, it would be cool if we can design an app to launch multiple iPhone applications on an iPad screen. It would be like a customizable widget dashboard on Macs, but with iPhone apps – there’s an idea!)
One of the reasons that many apps on iPhone do not show up on iPad, is that the large, beautiful screen and the powerful web browser simply eliminated the need to have an app (think about it – apps are basically web pages, initially condensed and designed to serve the tiny form-factor of smart phones).
Take Facebook, for example – the site looks works wonderfully on an iPad. The colors are crisp, clear and the full-fledged Safari browser is really fast. One of the first things you’ll notice is that how amazing webpages look in portrait mode – you see a lot more content at first glance, and scroll a lot less to find what you want. It really is a different way to experience the web – but whether or not it is the best is certainly up for debate…
To be continued – more to come about the kinks of iPad web browsing, book / graphic novel reading, getting work done and some really cool apps!
Feel free to leave a note for me if you have any questions, or suggestions to what you would like to know in the future posts!
p.s. I wrote this review on the iPad… Some thoughts coming around the touchscreen keyboard as well