After spending weeks pouring over product pages, watching guided tours, and reading articles predicting doom, I finally got my hands on my very own iPad (with 3G) last Friday. And after my first week with Apple's latest and greatest "magical and revolutionary" wunderkind, I'm not bashful in saying that I'm totally smitten. The iPad is an incredible device which, every time I slide to unlock, gives this existential, I can't believe this is real kind of feeling. So, after my week's time with the tablet, I wanted to share my impressions of it -- good and not-so good. Let's start with the good...
- Hardware. As is the case with most Apple products, the iPad is drop-dead gorgeous. The aluminum-and-glass enclosure is beautiful and I love how thin and light it is. The 3G models are a tenth of a pound heavier than their WiFi-only brothers because of the cellular radio, but the difference is negligible. The display rocks, too. The LED backlight and the IPS technology make for vivid colors and crisp images and text. Pixel density is lower than on the iPhone (132ppi versus 163ppi), but still, the iPad's screen is a sight to behold, especially when you have the brightness cranked all the way up. The Multi-Touch user interface is even better than on the iPhone. It's more responsive and I can actually see what I'm pinching or swiping or flicking.
- Performance. The iPad is wicked fast, thanks to Apple's custom A4 chip. Web pages load quickly, apps launch fast, and I haven't yet -- knock on wood -- had anything crash or freeze. Also, the battery is phenomenal. Apple claims up to 10 hours, but I've gotten upwards to 12 and still had 10-15% power left. Recharging seems to be pretty fast as well.
- Apps. Thanks to the 9.7" display, developers have more screen real estate in which to play with when designing their apps. The bundled apps that Apple designed are absolutely gorgeous from an aesthetic standpoint, but they're also infinitely more usable. Surfing the Web is much easier on the eyes on the large display and I love the split-screen view of my inbox and messages in Mail. The iTunes and App Stores are easier to navigate and have an interface that's closer in resemblance to their desktop versions. And, finally, the iBooks app is really great for reading. Love the bookshelf idea. And the iWork suite is really an impressive feat of design. Good looking, easy to use, and amazingly full-featured.
- iPhone OS 4. Due sometime this Fall, the iPad will gain a ll the new features of the update: multitasking, app folders, more enterprise-friendly stuff, and more. I'm especially anxious to see how Apple designs these features for the iPad. Hopefully they employ an Expose-like UI for multitasking. That would be cool. And I hope they being back the widgets!
Then there are little things that impress me. The speakers are really loud and don't sound tinny. The animations of curling back the map in Maps or turning a page in iBooks or selecting messages to move or delete in Mail are all very slick. And I love the screen rotation lock switch that tells the accelerometer to stop working. Typing on the landscape keyboard is awesome. Video looks amazing. Even the Settings app is a pleasure to navigate. And you can even add more icons to the Dock too. ... That was the good stuff. Now let me harp on the stuff that's not so good or, at worst, annoying...
- Wasted Space. The iPad's screen seems to have a lot of empty space, especially the lock screen. Showing just the date and time isn't enough. Why not use that space for widgets or notes or notifications? Plus, the iPhone-esque dialog boxes for messages look awkward on the large screen. I'd like to see Apple make it possible to customize these things. And while they're at it, they could also put an AM/PM designation next to the time. Just seems incomplete without it.
- Cover Flow. The iPad's display was made for Cover Flow, so it baffles me why Apple ddin't include it in the iPod. They have it in the App Store, making it quick to flick through the top apps, but I want to admire my album art, dammit! Here's hoping they add the feature in a software update.
- Browsing. While surfing the Web is great, I think the multiple page UI is getting old. I'd like to see tabbed browsing like you can in Safari or Firefox on the desktop. Still, I find myself using the iPad for surfing more since I got it. Easier and more accessible.
- Document Sharing. I still wish the iPad would have a Finder app so you could store your documents. And wireless syncing between computers would be nice. I know stuff is saved on the iPad, but it's a real hassle to have to use iTunes to get your work back onto your main computer. iWork.com is a nice option for cloud storage, but it's not for everybody.
- The iPad Case. I received Apple's official iPad Case in the mail Thursday and like it a lot. Except for the fact that it's a total lint magnet. I've only had it two days and already it looks like it's been through a war zone or something.
So, yes, despite the fact I'm in love with my newest toy, I can still see through the rosy-colored glasses. The iPad is awesome but it's not without its flaws. I really believe this thing is a game-changer and Apple's taken us into the future of computing, particularly in the mobile space. If you're one of those close-minded fucks who brush off the iPad as "just a big iPod touch", you're missing the big (no pun intended) picture. It's more than that. The iPad is not your typical first-generation device. It showcases the maturation of a superb mobile OS in a futuristic form factor. It captures the very essence of Apple's vision of ease of use and breakthrough technology. It's a gadget that I fall in love with more and more every second I use it.