Apr 3 2010

The Apple iPad, Apple’s latest brain child is touted as their most revolutionary product, and we pre-ordered one. Not because of the hype, but because we like the iPhone, which does seem undersized for use at home.

With the announcment of the iPad it also became obvious why Apple never produced an ultra-mobile PC / netbook class machine, and likely never will, so one might as well get an iPad then.

If you are familiar with the iPhone or iPod Touch, the iPad will be most familiar, if not, it is very intuitive.

Unboxing. There is not much in the box: iPad, cable, charger and a tiny pamflet. No headphones, stand, dock, … which was known at the time of ordering but I think a basic dock should have been included.

inside the iPad box

It is very glossy: iMac glossy, but now in a portable version that will be angled towards the ceiling and user. Even with the brightness all the way up you get reflections abound. Part of me wants to call this the iMirror.
(photo below is with screen off)

iPad or iMirror

Fit and finish is not 100% and I dare to say that Apple rushed these out the door. Our iPad screen and case are not entirely flush all the way around the device. See the black line appear and disappear outside of the aluminum frame.

iPad rough around the edges

The first start is a let down because you have to activate it with iTunes and need to get the latest iTunes update as well, so you’re just sitting around twiddling your thumbs for 20 minutes till iTunes is updated before you can really turn the thing on. Then it wants so sync apps, music etc. Another delay in gratification.

Finally you get to the home screen.

iPad home screen

The iPad is bigger than you think and heavier than I thought. In size it compares directly to a 10″ netbook screen and the weight is probably the same as a netbook without battery.

iPad on top of MSI Wind 10"

It has a curved back, meaning that it doesn’t lay flat in a stable way. It wobbles a bit when you type on it. Typing is very doable. Easier than I thought.

You will need a dock or some kind of stand. You can hold it in your left hand and tap around with your right hand, but you’re not going to do that for anything but brief periods of time.

iPad browsing

If you put  a lower edge on the table, so you’re not lifting it anymore, it still wants to scoot around.

iPad resting and holding

Propped up against the MSI Wind for a stand, since the dock and other accessories are still days and weeks away.

iPad resting against MSI Wind

The machine is fast. The user interface is very responsive.

Connecting to WiFi was no issue. It detected our home WiFi network and upon selection it requested the password. Done.

Safari is fast. I have managed to crash iPad Safari three times trying to log in to MacWorld. Otherwise it has been stable. Most sites work and load fast.

The elephant in the room is of course that there is no Flash and no Silverlight, meaning you will not see video content from a whole range of sites, for the time being.

No video news at:

ABC News

ABC new flash problem

VTM.be – iWatch.be

vtm.be - iwatch requires silverlight

NOS.nl

Flash needed for NOS.nl

No videos at hulu.tv

No hulu.tv video

No streaming of local radio stations like 94.9 WHOM that use Flash

94.9 WHOM  on iPad

Flash required pop-up on iPad

I just hope that we won’t need multiple news/video/radio apps to the tune of one for every single TV and radio station that will stick it out with Flash.

Propping it up in your lap is not the greatest. You need to hold it with one hand or prop it up against a bent knee. It has a tendency to sit really low in one’s lap, hiding the home button under a t-shirt or whatever clothing.

iPad browsing in recliner

iPad couch surfing requires knee or hand

Did I mention this thing is a finger print magnet? Clean hands on a warm 70+F spring day.

iPad fingerprint magnet

Readability of the screen: very high. The IPS screen is great. I do wonder if they couldn’t have made an iPad nano. Same screen resolution, but the whole device fitting inside the area within the bezel. I’d forego some battery life etc for a bit smaller size and lighter device.

It feels sturdy.

I’ve clicked around in most apps.  I am sure there are other sites that will cover the variety of apps in great detail and point out the various shortcomings.

Niggles & negatives:

I have very mixed feelings about tethering it to iTunes to bring documents and files in an out of the iPad. I will have to increase my cloud computing.

No USB, SD … file access.

I am really missing a USB or SD card reader slot, so I can just pop in several GB of data without having to sync or push and pull things through a cloud, email myself, … Ugh.

No printing. I don’t expect to have direct printer support on the iPad … but can’t we get a conduit to send anything via PDF to a networked mac and have it push things to the printer?

No tethering. I know there are a couple reasons why we can’t tether to the iPhone (don’t overtax AT&T, pay extra for iPad 3G, pay for AT&T iPad 3G account) but it shouldn’t have to be that way. As an individual you can only use the iPad or the iPhone at the same time.  If you share your iPad with a family member on the road, so be it.

Single user only.  C and I have different internet habits and needs, use different apps, …  it would be nice to have the ability to setup two users.  Even a guest user account would be handy.

Keyboard.  On a screen this size, why couldn’t they put the number row up on the virtual keyboard? So you don’t have to keep swapping keyboard styles to put some numbers for passwords.  Typing in PASS123word456 is more cumbersome than it should be. I guess you should only do it once and have it save the password. Nonetheless, that row of # would be handy throughout all  apps.

While using the bluetooth keyboard, I kept wanting to use a mouse; but instead had to move my hand up and touch the screen.  I have to get the bluetooth mouse out of the office and see if works, for the heck of it.

Home screen. Why couldn’t they fit more buttons on a single page? There is a a lot of wasted space.

App button management. The iPad received all 100+ apps from the iPhone … in alphabetical order.  This is the third time all iApps are scrambled into alphabetical order … grumble … can we finally have some fixed categories or sorting options, please!

As with all things Apple, be it the iPods, iPod Touch and iPhone … you have to live within Apple’s limited mobile OS and general Apple structure of one or two ways of doing things, the Apple way (iTunes, iPhoto, …)

I’m really hoping a ton of people will send feedback Apple’s way to take this mobile  OS to the next level, just like with the iPhone.

If you have questions,  feel free to post in the comments and I will answer to the best of my abilities & time. I am also more than happy to do brief visits to your website with the iPad and comment if it all works fine.