The title says it all, but if you want to keep reading, I’ll happily babble about the iPad a bit more.
They said it would be magical and revolutionary, and in a lot of ways it is. I’d been somewhat worried about the size — I hate clunky heavy devices. It’s shockingly thin. And fits nicely in the hands. The touchscreen is responsive as all get-out, and the color, brightness, clarity is lovely. My photos look quite nice. Video is clear. Everything we were lead to expect.
In one area, the iPad is surpassing expectations. Steve Jobs talked about 10 hours of battery life, which everyone (myself included) heard as “10 means 6 or 7, maybe”). But apparently, for once, Jobs was giving a low estimate — users are reporting almost 12 hours of battery life with heavy use. That’s impressive. Heck, I was tickled that it came out of the box with a full charge (how do they do that?).
Speaking of the out-of-box experience, it’s minimal. iPad, USB dock connector, power adaptor, booklet with very little instructional information. Typical. I would have appreciated a little wipe cloth, because the iPad picks up fingerprints like a CSI unit on speed, but I had some lying around already. As for accessories, they’re still coming off the production line; the keyboard isn’t available for a few months, but to be frank I won’t be buying it. Typing with the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode is easy and fast. I’ve never had much use for docks. I will absolutely buy a protective cover/case, but the pickings were too slim right now (I thought Apple’s case was, to be blunt, an overpriced piece of flimsy junk). Most importantly, though, I find that I want a second cable. I don’t know if the iPhone/iPod cables are supposed to be interchangeable; it works, but it’s not a smooth fit. And as some users are discovering, the iPad doesn’t seem to charge when it’s connected to your computer; you have to use the wall charger for that, and then sync on your computer. That’s fine, but I don’t feel like moving the cable around every time. Otherwise, setup is a snap. You plug it in, it starts, you give it a name and sync. Connecting to WiFi is easy, as usual, as well.
I spent most of yesterday looking for interesting iPad apps and setting up iBooks. Apple was very proud of the fact that iPhone apps will work on the iPad, just scaled down or magnified. Yeah, not so much. Oh, they work, but they look terrible, and aren’t able to take advantage of the iPad on-screen keyboard. It’s not a fun experience. Luckily, there are some terrific new iPad apps (the Netflix app for your Watch Instantly queue is fantastic, as is the ABC app, with full episodes of all your favorite shows, both for free). And a few front-runners have updated their apps, including Amazon’s Kindle reader and IMDB. But a few others need to get with the program.
iBooks is a beautiful application; the iBookstore just needs more content. I’ll post more about e-reading on the iPad in a few days, once I’ve had more time to explore.
A lot of noise is being made by the lack of support for Flash on the iPad, just as with the iPhone. I think the amount of complaining is disproportionate to how important it really is, to be frank. Sure, you find flash on a lot of sites. Most of the time, though, isn’t it stuff you don’t really need to see? You’re all set for YouTube with an app, and ditto for Netflix, and we all know Hulu is working on an app as well. Let’s cut to the chase: no, you can’t play Farmville on your iPad. It’s a travesty, I know.
The bigger omission, in my opinion, is the lack of a camera. I didn’t think I’d care — I’ve got several cameras, and the one on my iPhone, who needs another? Except, argh, it’s already aggravated me twice in 24 hours that I have to take a picture with another device, sync that to my computer and then the iPad, or upload it online, or email it to myself, or something, and *then* use it for whatever I wanted it for. If they’d just included the most basic little camera into the iPad, it would have been so much more convenient.
Otherwise… I have no complaints. The iPad does exactly what I thought it would do, and does it nicely. I really think this is a device where your satisfaction with it will depend on whether you want to use it for what it does, or whether you’re disappointed it doesn’t do something else entirely. I’m in the first category. I like having portable video. I love surfing from anywhere, in the house, out. I read a lot of sites, and this makes it easy. I look forward to e-reading. iTunes works just the same as it does anywhere else; I didn’t load most of my music onto the iPad, though, because that’s not something I’d use it for. I have an iPod set up as a stereo in my house, and a dock at work for my iPhone, and I don’t need it on the iPad as well. I did, however, load all 8 GB of my photographs, and I love being able to look through them, and presented so nicely. Multi-tasking? I really only do one thing at a time, anyhow; I never understand why that’s much of an issue. And Flash, pfft, I don’t much care. The camera part is a pain, but I’ll survive, believe me. (serious hint for iPad 2.0, though, Apple. Come on.)
Mostly, for me, it’s the touchscreen that makes it all work, because while you can do pretty much everything I’m talking about on a laptop, I’ve hated laptop navigation for years. The touchpad is awkward and annoying, and hooking up a mouse defeats the purpose of portability, or is at least as awkward. I probably should have gotten a tablet computer ages ago, but they’ve had a tendency to be a tad pricey, and no one’s done it as prettily as Apple has with the iPad.