Monday, April 05, 2010

(the inevitable) iPad Review

I received my iPad (though not my iPad case, which is still in delivery) on Saturday afternoon -- no standing in line with all the rest of the folks. As with most Apple products, it came 99% charged, making it somewhat usable directly out of the box, except that I had to connect it to my computer to complete the activation/registration process (i.e., you can't just turn it on, it gives you that little connect to iTunes graphic).

Once I had completed the registration, I configured it for manual sync, moved everything over and started get errors. Lots of errors. All of which were generated by the applications. Not good. Apple's online help suggested a number of things, including deleting the applications from the computer and re-downloading and deleting them from the iPad and downloading them over wifi -- didn't feel like doing either of those.

In order to start with the simplest solution first, I unplugged the iPad, plugged it back in, and wound up at the registration process again. I had thought that the whole thing got nuked, but all of the music I put on was still there and the applications just re-installed.

Once I had it up and running correctly, I was pretty impressed -- the screen is gorgeous, the speed over my wifi is quick, and the processor seems to render things quite quickly. First app I launched was the Kindle App because I wanted to know if I could lose a device and charger out of my bag -- Kindle displays beautifully on the iPad, works great, and allows me to access my sizable Amazon investment, which is great (so, someone downstream in the family is going to wind up with a new Kindle). After verifying the Kindle app, I played around with the music and must say that the speakers have decent sound and good volume range; I also played around with the microphone and it seems to work pretty well. As I tweeted about before, Sketchnotes is going to be (for now) my go-to note-taking application -- being able to take regular notes and scribble drawings and notes with my finger is perfect for me.

Let me also note that I have had this thing running since Saturday around 2PM MST with the wifi on and the battery's only at 90% -- battery endurance is pretty amazing and I hope that the next gen iPhone learns some battery lessons from its bigger sibling. Some have complained about the lack of a camera on the iPad, but I have to be honest that trying to take a picture with this thing would be like mounting a camera on an awkwardly-shaped dinner plate and trying to take a nice still photo; I would agree that it probably would have done well with a front-facing camera in the bezel for video conferencing, but that probably would have driven the cost up higher than the price points that would have wanted to sell at for generation 1.

The shape of the iPad is quite awkward to hold and I look forward to receiving the case. While the screen is much easier to read on (and backlit) than the Kindle 2, the Kindle 2 is much easier to hold in your hand -- my hope is that the case will fix that issue. It almost seems as though there should be a stylus that you can use for drawing on the screen because of the size of the screen real estate -- I went ahead and ordered a Pogo stylus just to see how it works with the iPad (seemed like it was overkill for an iPod Touch or iPhone screen).

One of the disappointing things about the applications on the iPad is that the ones that are not made for it (or have not been upgraded to use all the screen real estate) are not fun to use; the iPhone apps don't scale up very well in the 2X mode and are just awkward to use in the normal iPhone screen size in the middle of the iPad. One of the interesting experiences was deciding which apps I would actually use on the iPad vs. the apps that were really only useful on the iPhone -- when it came down to it, I did not install all of the apps that are on my iPhone on the iPad.

Overall I'm happy with the iPad and will be even happier when the case arrives.

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