First hands on iPad impressions

by: Chuck -
This is the text conversation I had with John Saturday night:

Me: iCaved
John: iNotSurprised

For those of you keeping score at home the iPad lasted about three hours in the box before I finally opened it. I spent a good chunk of Saturday afternoon and part of Sunday playing with the device and while I'm not ready to pass final judgment on the device here are a few impressions:
  • The device itself is insanely cool and there's an intense sci-fi feeling to holding the device in your hand that has this good of a screen in such a small form factor.
  • Those calling the device a giant iPhone are dead on. That's not a bad thing though as it opens a lot of new ways to interact with the device. You couldn't do something like iMockup on a touch as the device is just too small to be practical.
  • Performance is very zippy.
  • The large spacing between the icons annoys me in some way that I can't quantify. It's silly but I'm not a fan of all that wasted real estate.
  • Most of my old iPod touch apps work perfectly (Droplitz starts then fails back to the main screen). The upscaled graphics look like crap though. You're given the choice of playing the game in an iPhone/iPod touch sized windows in the middle of the screen or zoomed up to use the full screen so pick your poison. I found TweetDefense to be a bit more enjoyable on the touch as it was easier to place items on the screen. I also checked out Bookworm which was also a bit easier to play on the iPad.
  • The device is blazingly fast and the tilt sensor seems a lot better than the one in my Touch as the device seemed to pick up orientation changes much better than my Touch.
  • The iPad was the device that finally got me to sign up to Netflix. I can easily see myself sitting on my deck and watching movies on this although I could easily do the same thing with my laptop (although it's not as cool). The Netflix app is solid but I need to spend a bit more time with it.
  • Absolutely love the USA Today application. If you want a perfect example of the platform this is the app to choose as it gives you a nice, easy to read version of the paper that's optimized for the device. I just wish the content was a bit better.
  • The new e-mail application is pretty kick ass as well. Best used in horizontal mode it gives you a list of e-mails on the left with the contents of a selected e-mail on the right
  • The keyboard is OK but not something I would want to compose more than a basic e-mail with. I'm sure I'll get better once I get used to it but you have to set the iPad flat to use it which kills the usefulness a bit. This is not a netbook/laptop replacement and there's a reason why Apple is going to be releasing a keyboard for the device later this year.
  • 1.5 pounds doesn't sound like a lot but it's a bit on the heavy side after prolonged use. Holding it for more than 15 minutes was enough to trigger the early twinges of the tendinitis in my left wrist. I'm unique in that regard but I'm seeing other people complaining about the weight as well.
  • The screen is really good. Very bright and crisp which makes reading text very pleasant.
  • iTunes continues to be a critical weakness of the line. Not only are you locked into the draconian DRM solution, the software is still buggy and unreliable. If iTunes was written by Microsoft there would be a significantly more grousing about the topic. The app store is flooded with so many crap applications that it makes the Wii's library of mini-games look like a AAA line up. This isn't anything new though.
  • Not sure I really missed multi-tasking that much as I didn't have it on the Touch so kind of used to it. This will probably drive John nuts though.
It's funny to note that tablet PC's have been around for years but like the smartphone market it's not an important segment until Apple decides to enter it. After two days with the device I'm impressed with what it can do but I'm having a hard time justifying the $499 price tag. Of course I haven't tried a lot of iPad specific applications but it's going to take a lot to justify a device that costs as much as buying both a PS3 and an Xbox 360. If you have questions about specifics or want me to try things out leave me a note in the comments.
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