Like any self proclaimed Apple fanboy, I reserved a 32GB iPad the day pre orders were available and this past Saturday, woke up early to pick it up at my local Apple Store. After using it pretty much nonstop since I opened it, here are my thoughts on it. This is in no way a thorough review, there are a number of in depth reviews that you can read, these are just a couple things I like, don’t like and my general thoughts about the iPad.
After unboxing the iPad (photos here) the first thing you notice is how heavy it is. You’ve heard the specs; 0.5″ thin and 1.5 pounds but when you look at it in person, it sure doesn’t feel like something this small and thin could be this heavy. If you’ve set up an iPhone before, syncing an iPad is very familiar. Once I set up my iPad, I was ready to go. The first thing you notice is the speed. No one is lying when they say this thing is fast. Imagine the feeling when you went from the original iPhone/iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS. That’s how I felt using the iPad. There’s no lag switching from app to app. Pages load in Safari on my iPad faster than my MacBook Pro. It never stops or lags or has to “think”. I have a feeling we’re going to expect this type of speed from now on.
The battery life is advertised at 10 hours. That usually means at the lowest brightness level and doing absolutely nothing. But in my quick 2 days of use, the iPad EASILY lasts a whole day. I’ve used this thing as I normally would. I didn’t watch a loop of videos to see how fast I could drain the battery. I surfed the Internet. Checked Twitter. I posted to Twitter during that 7.2 earthquake. Watched video I loaded and streamed through Netflix. I can tell you that I started using my iPad this Sunday morning at around 9 am and through normal use I still have 44% battery left (11:30pm). Amazing. If only the iPhone could have this type of battery life.
The iPad ships with 13 default apps but we all know the real fun is with all the 3rd party apps you can install from the App Store. I downloaded a few and there were a few that stood out. If you have a Netflix subscription, the Netflix app is a no brainer. I’ve been a fan of the online streaming feature for awhile. The app launches and takes you to the same web page that lets you manage your queue. Once you tap on a movie, it just starts playing. ABC also has an app that lets you stream the latest episodes of their shows. CBS also has plans to release an app and NBC is working on setting up their website to stream shows. The one site that would make the iPad a no brainer for TV show consumption is Hulu. Currently, Hulu streams shows via Flash which the iPad does not support. For me, the other killer app is Safari. When Apple says it’s a totally different experience to have the Internet in your hands, it may sound cheesy but it’s true. It’s a total “I’m living in the future” moment when you’re on your couch, you pick up the iPad, bring up the New York Times website and just start reading. Check out the screen shots below. Websites in Safari show up like they do when you surf from a laptop/desktop but when you zoom in so that the article fills up the screen, that’s when the website disappears and it’s just you and the content.
You don’t have to wait for iPad specific apps to be developed, you can already use most of the existing 150,000 apps already available for the iPhone. They show up in a small square in the middle of the iPad screen at their native resolution. Or you can double the size so it fits the entire screen. Though while completely usable, the apps look like garbage scaled up.
The new iBookstore looks interesting. I’ve always said I should read more and I have a feeling this will push me to read since the iPad makes a great eReader. The Calendar, Contacts and Mail apps are way better than the desktop versions. It feels like you’re back to using a real physical day planner. The Maps app never gets old. With the bigger screen and Google Maps integration, this is the first thing I turn to if I need to find the number of a location. Games are also a big attraction for those looking at an iPad. I didn’t buy it strictly to play games but I did play some Labyrinth 2 (iTunes link) with my brother on our two iPads connected over a wireless network. I can see how it can be very entertaining.
Before the iPad came out, a lot of people asked me why would one need a third device in between a laptop and a smartphone. After using an iPad for a weekend, I see it as a consumption device. You read email on it. You check your Twitter feeds. You surf the Internet. You buy eBooks and read them on it. You watch TV shows and movies on it. The iPad becomes your recreation device while your laptop/desktop becomes your “I need to get shit done” device. I’m hesitant to call the iPad an appliance because an appliance does only one thing well. The iPad does a lot of things well. Do you need one? Probably not. But if you’re like me and your main source of information/entertainment consumption is the Internet, you probably also don’t need it but it’ll definitely change the way you use your computer and your smartphone. This won’t change the way you use your computer today, but this may be the first step in that direction.