Well, once more I have decided to join the bleeding edge...I have plunked down my hard-earned cash for a 64GB 3G iPad!
So, I'm sure you're just dying to know my opinion. In short, I think it's a typically sleek Apple product that has some fascinating possibilities--and it's freakin' awesome!
In long form:
Once again, Jon Ive and his team knock one out of the park!
- The LCD is superb! Plenty of brightness, and the IPS panel gives it incredible viewing angles
- The weight I find is actually not bad once you get used to it. It's not really that much heavier than a decent sized hard-back book. If you are going to use it for long periods, you are generally going to want to find a place to rest it anyway, though.
- There is a nice sized border around the display which serves a couple purposes in my opinion: 1. To give you a place to grab the thing without touching the active screen area, and; 2. To provide a visual break between the display area and whatever clutter you have behind the iPad.
- The buttons all feel very solid--much more so than the iPhone. I like the addition of the rotation-lock switch, as I find myself rotating the iPad to get an optimum working environment more than I would with the iPhone. Missing, though, would be a mute switch.
- The current iPhone OS runs very nicely on the iPad. I am enthusiastic for the various new features the next iPhone OS will bring, though. This would be the device that you want multi-tasking on for sure!
- I think that there could have been cameras on this thing. But, I understand that, like all great companies, you have to leave some features on the table for the next version. For the moment, I don't miss it.
Well, it may be because the latest Apple touch-device that I have a lot of experience with is the iPhone 3G, but this thing is wicked fast. Whereas the iPhone 3G seems like it's always struggling to do things smoothly and quickly, the iPad almost seems like it's working as fast as you are. Changing the orientation is super fast and the animation snaps almost as fast as you can turn the device. Safari feels nearly as responsive as on my MacBook Pro (faster in some cases, as it's not loading 700 fat flash ads)! And, of course, all the scrolling? Like buttah. All the transitions and eye candy work smoothly and don't feel at all forced.
The iPad-native apps are really great (Twitteriffic and Mail are the standouts thus far). I'm glad that most developers are taking the time to develop an iPad-specific version of their apps to really take advantage of the extra real-estate. On the other hand, it does frustrate me that probably 2/3 of my apps are not available in an iPad version. The 2x button for iPhone/iPod apps is nice, but it's a little fugly.
The iBook store is a bit disappointing, but not surprisingly so. Once again, the publishing/media business with its archaic rules on sectors/markets/whatever they call them, rears its ugly head. I understand that the content will come eventually, but it's still frustrating. I think having the ability to tote a bunch of reading material around with me in one compact device will actually encourage me to read more.
The overall reading experience is quite nice on this thing. I stare at computer screens most of the day and my eyes don't actually get that tired, so adding the iPad into that mix I don't think will be much of a stretch. The IPS display, though, makes it easier. I think if I were seeing major colour shifts as my wrist shifts or moves, I would definitely have second thoughts. As far as the whole E-Ink thing goes, I personally don't like those displays. The anti-aliasing of the text is brutal, and the contrast ratio makes me think my eyes are starting to go (worse than they already are).
The Wired app is a great proof of concept. I have the current issue of Wired in its plastic bag on my desk...I think I'll only open it to see what the differences in layout would be. The magazine thing is very exciting to me. I subscribe to various periodicals (Wired, Digital Photo Pro, Azure, and Car and Driver). I'd be great to tote these things around as well. However, the issue of corporate greed abounds here as well. If Wired thinks that I'll pay full cover cost for a magazine that saves them money on distribution, they are sadly mistaken. I bought the Wired app mostly out of curiosity...but if they are going to charge $5 a month, I've gotta say "keep cutting down those trees, boys!"
The onscreen keyboard is actually very usable. I have medium-sized hands and can pseudo touch-type on the iPad. I am definitely faster on the iPad than the iPhone. I do wish the keyboard had the same popup "tooltips" that the iPhone one does, though, since I am usually concentrating on the keyboard and not the text entry area...a little more feedback would be nice.
That being said, the ability to attach a real keyboard is very nice. I'm typing this rambling piece with my Apple Bluetooth keyboard, in fact. Nice touch. This tome would have definitely taken me much longer if I was just using the onscreen keyboard.
The Camera connection kit will also be an interesting addition. I've got mine on order, but I hear that it can do a few more things than just hook up your camera!
The display adapter sounds cool too. Although, it's a bit disappointing (though not surprising) that it doesn't just output the whole interface.
I work in education, and it's no surprise that quite a few of my principals are anxious to see what this thing can do to enhance the education experience for our students. Judging by the number of fingerprints on the iMacs in my labs, touch is going to be a game changer in education ;) . But seriously, the kids today seem to have a natural propensity for using and figuring out touch-based interfaces (Apple no doubt has some hand in this, but I think it goes beyond that).
The challenges related to the iPad and education are, as I see them:
- Some sort of multi-user capability. I don't expect to have to log into the iPad, necessarily, but since these things are not free, if we are going to deploy these as labs, we need there to be a way for multiple students to use the same device and be able to securely access their files and whatnot. Google Apps and other cloud-based services will go a long way to helping us with this particular issue, but won't solve it completely.
- Ability to allow users to access files on a server on the school network.
- Printing is another sticking point. There are solutions developing, but I believe in order to really make this thing sing, the solution needs to come from Apple. The technical side seems simple in my simpleton mind: Fire a PDF to a service living on the LAN and have that service print the PDF for you. But, what we need is an interface that from whatever app we want, you can choose what printer to print to, how many copies, and perhaps a few other basic settings.
I know some of the other issues (like being able to remote-brick an iPad, locking down of what apps are available, imaging, setting up 802.11x WiFi networks etc.) are already kinda taken care of either in the iPhone Configuration Utility or some other service, so that part doesn't worry me too much.
So, the iPad: awesome device with great potential. So far, I'm lovin' it!