I have owned an iPad now for a week (16 GB, WiFi only), so I thought it was time to give a little report. Everything you have read is true, both the good and the bad. It is a large iPod Touch, but with several spectacular differences: the screen is very bright and with such high resolution that it seems larger than it is. It is much clearer than my HP Netbook. The other obvious difference is the virtual keyboard. I am touch typing this post on it while seated at a table with the iPad in its Apple case propped at a slight incline. I have rather thin fingers, and I am quite a good touch typist, but it hasn’t taken me long to get used to the keyboard. (One complaint–the apostrophe is on the symbols page of the keyboard, so it makes typing contractions a pain.) In reality the virtual keyboard is not much smaller than that of many netbooks that i have tried. There is a built in dictionary that offers to complete some words as you type, but i can’t figure out how the words are chosen, because some of the offerings are really off the wall, but some very common words do not show up. I am planning to take only the iPad with me to a business conference this week, so that will be a good test. No, it doesn’t play Flash video. My online life has not come to a halt. Yours probably won’t either.
The battery life is unusually long for a portable device such as this. I have easily gotten as much as ten hours of active use (e.g. Playing music while reading an ebook, then watching a Netflix streaming movie.)
The apps that have been ramped up to be “universal” for both the iPad and iPhone, iTouch are great on large screen. The WordPress client that I am using at the moment is spacious and easy to navigate. Apple Pages is quite full-featured and could be used to write fairly lengthy documents.
Two apps sold me on getting the iPad: the Kindle book reader app and the Netflix app. I have read many books on the iPhone Kindle app with satisfaction. It is quite an immersive experience, superior to the Kindle device itself. The iPad version wipes the Kindle off the map. In it’s current incarnation, I don’t know why anyone would choose the Kindle over the iPad as an ebook reading device.
The Netflix app is truly amazing. If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can stream movies from your “play now” queue directly to your iPad. I was doubtful, but it Just Works. No more being tied to a laptop or your TV. ABC has a similar app for streaming selected episodes of ABC shows, but it is not as sophisticated.
I am not a gamer, so I cannot report on the device as a gaming machine. There do seem to be a fair number of famed in the App Store.
All the usual iPhone buIlt-in apps have been rethought with gorgeous new user interfaces (mail, contacts, calendar, iPod) Syncing is through iTunes. The non-iPad iPhone apps all still work oxo, either at their native iPhone screen size or magnified two times. They can be a bit pixellated, but are still perfectly usable. Apps are being updated every day. I have had at least one app update per day for the past week.
I think we are seeing only the infancy of the iPad’s potential. We will see an explosion of new apps and new KINDS of apps in the next few months. I think the iPad has the potential to be a great educational tool, with the development of “learning apps” that could be assembled in various ways.
The rule of thumb is to never by generation 1 of a new device, but I think that the first generation iPad offers enough new and intriguing features and inspired rethinking of existing apps that I can recommend it. If you need a laptop, get a laptop, but for the majority of day to day use, and above all for consuming digital content, the iPad is in a class apart at the moment.