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.
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.
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.