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My iPad – Initial impressions

I have now had my iPad for a little under 20 hours and I spent a few of those hours asleep. It’s been long enough that the new virgin smell has worn off and the reality has started to sink in. (I am going to lay off on the menstrual jokes because this IS a family blog!). Here is my writeup of my first 24 hours or so with le pad de Jesus. (that’s actually what I named my iPad in iTunes)

I’ve posted the obligatory unboxing pics but they aren’t very good and I would suggest skipping over them just because every other gadget blog on the Interwebs have posted much better ones (though I did include unboxing pics of the Apple case just to be different).

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I’m actually writing this post on my couch using my iPad. I’m using our standard WordPress blogging interface but via the HTML interface rather than the visual one. For some reason the visual interface doesn’t seem to like the iPad. I cannot stress how absolutely GORGEOUS this screen is. I haven’t changed any of the default brightness settings yet the colors and visuals just scream off the page. While the screen is on, you can’t see any of the fingerprints. It’s a totally different story when you turn the screen off however. It’s actually kind of cute – you can see where the keyboard keys are by the pattern of fingerprints. Surprisingly, you can almost touch type on the keyboard, especially in widescreen mode. In portrait, I pert much two-finger it but in landscape mode I can build up a pretty good head of steam. Combine the wider keys with the amazing Apple word recognition and auto-correction and I’m able to pound out probably 40+ words per minute.

The video quality is also incredible. Stuff that looks good on the iPhone look blocky and pixelated. But stuff I converted over to the ipad’s dimensions look amazing. I downloaded a few HD podcasts and the picture quality is crystal clear. Screen dimensions aside, this thing was MADE for video.

Response time is also lightning quick, especially compared to my antique of an iPhone 3G. Apps load quick, you can’t really overwhelm the keyboard or the screen with input, and pages load at computer speeds. In short, the thing screams. I love that aspect of it. Overall, I’m getting more content that I made the right choice in terms of buying an iPad and I’m getting more comfortable with having the non-3G version. The last thing I want is another monthly bill and I could easily see myself activating the 3G and never turning it off. This thing is horribly addicting in that sense. Apple does a great job of making their tech ubiquitous – once you buy it and star using it, you soon wonder how you got along without it. (Though damn this thing would bed an amazing GPS when mounted properly in the car…..)

The GoodReader app I purchased to read PDFs is incredible on the iPad.  This app makes the device about a thousand times more useful to me because it means I’ll be able to keep technical documentation close at hand instead of on a bookshelf.  Awesome.

And 64GB is a LOT of space.  I’m trying desperately to fill it up and I’m maybe halfway there.  And that’s only because I’m including a ton of music.  I am still planning on using the iPad to play music and video, but once the new iPhone HD comes out, I will probably switch the iPad to primarily videos and the iPhone to primarily music.

So because I’m a half-empty kind of guy, let’s get together the list of things about the iPad that have already started to annoy me.

  • The biggest issue so far is that the iPad is not an iPod in the same way that the iPhone is not an iPod.  On the iPhone there is no differentiation between the videos and the music when you are using the iPod app. On the iPad, there are two distinct apps – the iPod app and the Video app. While you can get to videos via the iPod app, you can’t go back to the iPod via the Video app, at least not as far as I can tell. This makes it really annoying to switch between the two media kinds. It also means that video playlists don’t work on the iPad. You play one video and then it returns you to the main video screen. And there is only one view of the videos available. You get a screenshot of the videos and the title. You can’t sort it differently and you can’t group them in any way. It’s not how I organize my stuff and I don’t really like it. I mostly play podcasts and tv shows. I also play a lot of ripped video files that I use for learning my group exercise class and they have to be played in a particular order. The iPad doesn’t let me do that.
  • Another problem is that the bookmark manager is not the easiest thing in the world to use. But that’s a problem with the iPhone OS overall. I just didn’t really notice it until I started using it on the larger screen.
  • I’d love if Safari could be split screened so that I could get two pages on the screen at once.  I actually purchased on iPhone app that did this – I’m guessing they’ll be releasing a version for the iPad as well.
  • A Google Calendar issue where only the primary calendar syncs to the iPad.
  • It is heavy and the typing angles are tough to get used to. I tend to put the iPad on a flat surface rather than on my lap if I have to type for extended periods.
  • The iPad does not fit into the dock when it’s in the case. Very very annoying especially when this thing cost so much.  I want to keep it in its case as much as possible.  I would not recommend the dock – there are other versions that will allow you to keep the iPad in its case while still allowing you to plug it into the charger.
  • The iBook app does not seem to be as responsive as the Kindle app.
  • The apps are a lot more pricey than the iPhone equivalents.
  • Don’t buy the Numbers app if you are planning to use it with Excel.  As far as I can tell, many basic Excel functions and features don’t convert over to Numbers very well.  Numbers does seem like a pretty full-function spreadsheet and I’m planning to try it out in greater depth.  But as a guy who lives on Excel, I’m probably going to have to wait for Microsoft to do something for the iPad.

So am I happy with my iPad?  Yes, but not because I’m in love with the device.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible piece of tech.  But I think that its utility right now is way underrealized.  The iPad’s already been jailbroken so the thought of combining the raw power of an iPad with a legion of clever hackers and developers means that people will start pushing its capabilities sooner rather than later.  The preliminary rush of apps is a poor representation of what the future of iPad development will be like, and I’m hopeful that a slew of new and interesting apps will make their way onto the device either officially or non.

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