What About that iPad?

The iPad has arrived. For me, this was an especially exciting statement when I received a note from UPS on my door one recent afternoon. I won Apple’s latest innovation at SXSW in March and to say I was like a kid on Christmas morning when it was finally in my hands is an understatement.

The iPad itself is very impressive. The durability of its aluminum shell means life’s bumps and bruises won’t affect operation. Users of the iPhone and iPod touch will definitely note the similarities where the key switches and buttons are placed, not to mention the ease of use, and the accompanying cable and power adapter can also be used to sync and charge other Apple devices.

ipad1The battery power is vastly superior to any other mobile device I have owned, as it has appeared to live up to its billing of about 10-12 hours of life while being used for reading and watching videos. Recharging has been problematic at times, however, as I’ve noticed it doesn’t always readily charge when connected to other computers.

The iPad is clearly a consumption device, not a production device. While apps like Pages and Keynote are ok, creating documents and e-mails longer than a paragraph or two can be incredibly tedious. Apps like USA Today, The Weather Channel, and Amazon’s Kindle make reading and consuming the latest news and books incredibly easy and aesthetically pleasing. I was blown away at how well USA Today was laid out, and thrilled that the iPad could download all of its news articles prior to a plane ride and flip through 25+ stories while offline.

The Maps app is also highly detailed and its design has made Maps for iPhone and iPod touch seem subpar. Apps that are designed for the iPhone can also be used on the iPad, and the 2x zoom feature works well for some apps (like Facebook) but not so well for others, such as games that require more enhanced graphics. Overall, I’ve personally found more apps worth buying in the social media and news/information category than I have in gaming, although Let’s Golf HD and Words with Friends HD have also impressed me with their graphics and playability. The Netflix app, with its key feature of offering instant streaming, has the right idea, but the fact that it crashes when being turned from the position it loaded in is immensely frustrating.

The iPad is very fast and hopping from app to app is a breeze. Safari allows for video playback on sites coded in HTML5, and I’m not one who believes its lack of Flash integration will limit my use of it in any significant way. I am one who thinks it needs multi-tasking, however, which is believed to be on the way this summer, as I’ll be looking forward to surfing on Safari while listening to baseball via MLB At Bat.

Overall, I give the iPad 8 out of 10 stars. The absence of a USB port is a drawback, and I think the virtual keyboard definitely could be improved. However, the iPad comes in handy when consuming information I previously used to get while on the go or kicking back on the couch with the iPhone. While it will never replace a laptop, I do believe it will revolutionize the way we consume news, and especially the manner in which newspapers and magazines disseminate information. Its applications will undoubtedly become much more advanced and the selection in the app store will improve immensely. While many don’t believe in investing in a “Gen A” Apple product (iPhone 2G users raise your hands), I can’t complain. After all, a win is a win, and to me, the iPad is definitely a winner!

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