There are plenty of reviews that go over the pros and cons of Apple’s new “magical and revolutionary” product. In fact, two of my favorites reviews are by John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Ars Technica. There is no shortage of iPad musing on the blogosphere. But this won’t deter me from expressing my own quick thoughts on the device. Including my personal top 5 favorite iPad apps. And really, who’s reading this blog anyway?
Just like every other early adopter of Apple technology, I received my iPad (16GB) on the day it officially released. When I placed my order with the Apple Online Store, I didn’t realize that the release date for the iPad was Saturday, April 3rd. I normally have all my packages, especially new gadgets, shipped to the office. And like any other hardcore geek, I spent all of Saturday morning and part of the afternoon at the office waiting for my iPad to be delivered. As sad as it may seem, I didn’t mind waiting at the office for the chance to get my hands on the most over-hyped computer ever known in our industry.
The iPad is slim but unexpectedly heavy. I have to agree with other reviewers when they say that it’s difficult to hold with one hand. I own a Amazon Kindle and 10.2 ounces is easier to handle with one hand than the iPad’s 1.5 pounds. The Kindle feels like it was made for reading because it’s so easy to handle. The iPad makes leisure reading awkward. I have to use both hands when reading a book or just lay the device on a flat table or surface. Already it feels a little constrained. The ease of handling the Kindle has spoiled me.
I consume my fair share of blogs, tweets,and articles when browsing the internet. The iPad was created for consumers like me. What it does best is allow me to focus on one thing at a time when consuming media. Whether it’s browsing the web with Safari, watching Movies or reading a book, I can focus on the task at hand. That’s what I love most about the iPad. It blocks outside distraction from other apps. I would also like to mention that the glossy LED-Backlit IPS display is fantastic. I have alway been a fan of glossy screens. So I have a bias towards this type of screen. I think the resolution is just about perfect for reading. And I can’t get over just how great photos look on this device. Case in point is the new New York Times app “Editor’s Choice”. When that particular app is loaded, you can’t help but notice how crisp the photos look on their pages.
One of the biggest complaints made against the iPad is how difficult it is to create content. This includes creating documents, spreadsheets, email and notes. My experience with the virtual keyboard has been clumsy, even when in landscape mode. I don’t have very big fingers. It’s really easy to hit other keys on the virtual keyboard due to it’s sensitivity. Sometimes it feels like I am not even touching the screen and a letter will pop out of nowhere. I like to rest my finger tips on the actual keys and you can’t do that with the iPad’s keyboard. This has caused me to look down at the keyboard while typing. This alone cuts my typing speed from 60 wpm to 25 wpm. Also, syncing files to your Pages, Numbers, and Keynote applications is a multi-step process that includes iTunes. It’s not difficult to get documents on your iPad, but I feel there is a lot of room for improvement in this area. At least allow the iWork suite to sync to my MobileMe disk and discover my documents.
Overall, the iPad will do a decent job of allowing you to edit forms on web pages, compose email, and edit existing documents. If you need to type a 10 page proposal for work, the virtual keyboard won’t cut it. You need to break out your bluetooth physical keyboard.
Right at launch, there were already over a 1,000 iPad specific apps available. The majority of those apps didn’t even have a physical device for testing. But most of those apps I downloaded function pretty well. Some of the apps I purchased did have some bugs. Hopefully most of the kinks will eventually get ironed out in future releases. I reminded myself that developers only had 60 days to complete and submit their apps. No small task. There was a headliner app for each of the major categories. For example, the news category had some stellar apps that include, New York Times, Instapaper, NPR and USA Today. For a news junkie like myself, this was total bliss. Each of those apps are well done and provided a reading experience I never encountered before. NPR’s iPad app totally blows away it’s own website. I am actually surprised at the quality and design of the app. Then under the Books category there were two gems, “The Elements” and “Kindle”. The Elements app is by far my favorite app. The experience is something out of a Harry Potter book with small animations that demonstrate’s each element on the periodic table. I imagined this is how future text books will look like if they used the iPad as teaching tool. I was also pleasantly surprised to see 1Password available. 1Password had become one of my most used and valuable tools on both my Mac and iPhone. There was no shortage of selection of quality apps for the iPad launch. I never once considered installing any of my iPhone apps to my iPad.
Favorite iPad Apps (So far...)
- NetNewsWire (Easy choice since I am always reading blogs)
- The Elements
- GoodReader (PDF Viewer)
- Kindle (Too much invested in the Kindle eco-system)
- NPR (Great source for news. Waiting for the release of ‘This American Life’ App.)
The iPad hasn’t changed my lifestyle. I am not a road warrior or in need of a portable computer for my daily computer needs. My 15’ Macbook Pro handles all my computational tasks very well. My iPad serves nothing more than a convenient portable computer when sitting on my couch, front porch or bed. It will serve me well when reading books, browsing the web, watching television shows and writing email. When I do travel, I don’t plan on taking my laptop. The iPad will be the only portable computer accompanying me.