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Apr
15

Yet Another iPad Review

Here at 2-Speed labs, I made an executive decision to forgo an acquisition of Apple’s latest uber-gadget, the iPad. The decision was made because of the product’s strange and questionable position in the computing spectrum between a phone and a laptop and because I always question whether an acquisition of yet another closed product from Apple is good for me or the world. Like I have any influence . . .

The argument on both counts was removed when I was given an iPad by the cool folks at AccuRev as a parting gift – I’m leaving the board there after five years. Thanks AccuRev, it was a very thoughtful gesture.

Like any gadget guy worth his salt, I have been playing with the device constantly since I got it 48 hours ago. While it’s position among the array of computing devices I have is still in question, the massive array of apps available out of the chute in combination with a slick piece of hardware make it, at the very least, a functional and cool toy. But I’m thinking that it’s more than that. Here’s the summary.

Cons:

  • It’s heavier than I would have expected, I can’t imagine reading a book on it. It would be uncomfortable to hold aloft very long. Additionally, the back is sorta slippery and the iPad easily slips from one’s grip if not held tightly.
  • Many (most) apps available are formatted for the smaller screen of the iPhone/iPod Touch. This is not an issue for some, but others don’t work well on the larger screen. The apps can pixel-replicated to the larger size, but they don’t look good. This should be resolved over time.
  • The keyboard layout is less than ideal. This is, of course, a preference thing, but like all things Apple, you get it with their preferences not yours. The apostrophe, for example is not on the main QWERTY keyboard page. That’s OK for texting, but not OK when entering longer text. I am typing this post on the iPad and it’s a bit painful.
  • The battery isn’t replaceable and there’s no Flash support. Duh, it’s an Apple product.
  • The glossy display makes reading text somewhat of a challenge in some lighting situations. The Kindle and Nook get this right – a matte screen is better for reading text.
  • Pros:

  • I’m surprised this isn’t mentioned more often – the battery life on this thing is simply amazing. I watched 3 hour long videos and did some web browsing and email and only used 10% of the battery (as reported by the device). Subsequent usage indicates that this level of consumption remains consistent.
  • The screen is 3 bears size. Not too large and not too small. Just right. Big enough to get a great view of media and small enough to be a reasonable size for convenience.
  • Most apps made for the iPad do a great job using the additional screen space (over what the iPhone offers). Many compromises made for size are abandoned leaving smartly laid out and functional applications.
  • Photos and video on the device are fantastic. Good screen size, lots of storage and a high resolution and glossy display make the visual experience a winner.
  • I think that the iPad is going to fill two roles for me. The first is as a way to show off my photos and to view videos when traveling and such – the media role. The second will be as a convenient device for reading email, checking blogs, perusing feeds and web browsing – the time vampire role. I can see using it when watching TV or just hanging around away from my desk. Is it necessary? Totally not. A laptop can do all that stuff. Would I buy one now knowing what I now know? Nope. It’s still not differentiated enough from a small laptop to make it worth the money. Since I already have one though, the combination of it’s convenience and it’s virtually infinite battery life make it pretty fun to use untethered and I’m gonna keep playing. Another Apple victim.

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     April 15th, 2010  
     Will  
     Gadgets  
       
     4 Comments

    4 Responses to Yet Another iPad Review

    1. The question is – would you take it over your laptop on any trip more than a day? I just can't understand what purpose this device serves that a standard smartphone doesn't in lieu of a true laptop. And given the weight/size, there's no benefit in terms of not bringing your laptop on a trip.

      That and shared E.Coli worries aside, how much and how easy to crack a screen?

    2. Glad you like it Will! A couple of thoughts…

      I bought the apple case for it. It makes it very easy to carry around and makes it easier to set on one's legs when hanging out on the couch. Also, it can be used as a wedge to read at a convenient angle. I highly recommend it.

      As for reading, I've found it very easy to read as a book, but not by holding it up. Got to have the case!

      Here's a “day in the life” for me, putting together several recent experiences:

      Driving home on a Friday, using the NPR app plugged into the car to listen to NPR the way I want it.
      Arrive home, catch up on Lost on the awesome ABC player.
      Later, read “Flat Stanley” to the kid before bed.
      After son is asleep, play some Flight Control HD or one of many other great games. Catch up on V on the awesome ABC player.
      Next day, read the new book “Containment” by Christian Cantrell who is a product manager over at Adobe (ironic). Great SF book by the way!
      Monday morning, listen to NPR on the way to the airport. In airport, do e-mailing catch-up.
      On flight, watch movies *very* comfortably compared to using laptop. Also catch up on e-mail some (while listening to tunes) more and play some games.
      At customer, give roadmap presentation using Keynote, then take notes using Evernote.
      Between customer visits, catch up on e-mail (somebody else driving). Much harder to do with laptop.
      Go to Agile event. During session, take pictures using iPhone, transfer to iPad using “Camera” app. Upload with TwitPic and blog using TweetDeck (much easier than with iPhone). After session, when talking to folks, refer to pertinent material on iPad that comes up during discussions. Pretty impossible to do effectively with either iPhone or Laptop, but very natural using iPad.

      I still use my laptop for composing powerpoints and doing most stuff at work during the day, but when not at my desk I always prefer the iPad.

      One thing that is great but took me a while to realize is how wonderful it is to have an always-on device. I never have to wait for it to boot, it is always ready.

      Cheers!

      Damon

    3. Hey Damon,

      Thanks for the day in the life with Damon and his best buddy, iPad 🙂

      I agree, as a media consumption device, it's hard to beat. I just
      spent a week in Colorado at a board meeting (long one) and I brought
      the iPad instead of the laptop. It did *almost* everything I wanted.
      When it came to creating materials, it falls short though –
      combination of lack of apps, closed interfaces, no mouse and
      compromised keyboard.

      Questions for you:

      1. Have you found a decent blogging editor (not micro-blogging) for
      the iPad. The WordPress app is great as long as you write in HTML.

      2. You comment makes it sound like you presented to a group using
      Keynote. What did you use to project your presentation from the iPad?

      I hadn't seen the Camera app. Since I think the iPhone camera totally
      sucks, I probably won't use it, but it's good to know it's there. It's
      also really cool 🙂

    4. Will,

      There is a VGA dongle that allows keynote to use external video, as with a projector.

      By the way, the ppt import is pretty good, but doesn't handle fancy animation very well yet. Import is via iTunes. The ui is clumsy, but it works.

      Been off blogging for a while, so no thoughts there at the moment.

      Cheers!