Noah emailed me the other day, asking what I thought of the iPad so far. I responded with some first impressions, and he said: Post it on PhoneDog. And when your editor-in-chief tells you to do something, you do it! So here you go. Not a full review, but some first impressions after having spent a day and a half with this tablet. (I organized it with subheads for easier perusal.)
The media’s been gushing like schoolgirls with crushes over this thing. I couldn’t wait to see for myself whether this lived up to the hype. Now maybe because I’m an iPhone user, the iPhone editor here and run an iPhone-oriented site, some people think I’m a fangirl who’s pre-programmed to like anything from Apple. That’s almost laughable to me. I’ve spent as much time criticizing Apple and lamenting over missing iPhone features as covering anything positive. (And no one blinks when I wax poetic about WebOS or Android. Well, anyway…)
So you asked about the iPad. Even though I couldn’t wait to check this out, I had reservations about it just being a hackneyed retread, like anyone else. Now that I have it in my hands, I find that I do miss some key stuff here — and yet, I can’t seem to put it down. (When I do, my husband grabs it and won’t give it back!)
As far as pros and cons are concerned, here’s what’s topping my list so far:
I see what the critics are saying, and I don’t disagree. I didn’t expect this to be as powerful as a laptop, but as I use this, I find that I do miss a usb port or a built-in camera. I'd like to vid chat with my girlfriends, like I do on my computer. And in bright sunlight, forget it. The screen's not meant to handle that, so sitting by a window and reading my fav iBook or e-magazine on the iPad isn't going to cut it for me. (I get enough headaches without inducing more.)
I also find that screen's almost too sensitive. Since there's more real estate here, I'm prone to errantly hitting things. But sometimes, it seems to freeze up and not respond to inputs. These things only happen occasionally, but it's enough to annoy me.
And oleophobic coating? That's totally fiction, I think. My finger smudges are shmeared everywhere on this. (I could go on about lack of sd card slot, swappable battery, etc... While these are extremely valid concerns, I wasn’t expecting those things on an Apple mobile device. I think the techie crowd will miss this stuff. But I think most mainstream consumers may not care, notice or think it’s a dealbreaker.)
I would've liked more hard drive storage, though, for the price. Having an easier way to get docs, pics and stuff on my tablet, rather than rely on iTunes, would've been great too. Did I expect it to be any different? Nah. I knew the score. But I still find it a pain in the neck at times.
I’m not that freaked about the lack of multitasking yet. An OS update could change everything, and you know the gossip is that it’s coming. We’ll have to wait and see. [UPDATE: We’ll hopefully know more when Apple's April 8 event starts at 10am PST. Depending on what’s revealed, it could be meaningful for new iPad owners as well as iPhone hopefuls.]
Most of the gripes are about hardware, clearly. (Except for battery life. That's awesome. Hours and hours of play, online and movies.) Software-wise, I have few complaints.
So Apple may have not made a perfect device or a beast of a spec’ed out machine, but I think it made a good product. But I think the credit really belongs more with the developers than with Apple. They are the ones who are taking a good device and making it great. Seriously, some of these apps are simply outrageous on this tablet. And more are coming.
Clearly, the iPhone OS itself hasn’t had a huge makeover, but for the most part, the designated iPad apps that run on this aren’t just iPod Touch/iPhone apps blown up for a larger display. They take advantage of the extra real estate on the screen to put better, more beautiful graphics, aesthetics and forward-thinking usability into the design. Some of these programs almost feel like completely different apps. Development has been incredible, and it's still early. (Netflix, ABC Player, magazine apps like GQ, not to mention the games — these are good on this device. Like ridiculously good. And did you see The Weather Channel app? That is flat-out glorious.)
I can't wait to see what the creative fringe developers will bring to the table.
(I started shooting some vids for TiP comparing iPhone apps and their iPad versions. In some cases, the changes are really remarkable.)
I knew the tablet would be faster than the iPhone as well. Obviously, the 1Ghz A4 chip has something to do with that. Also, I have an 802.11 N router here. My iPhone isn’t compatible with that, but the iPad is. And these things make for a really fast experience.
Once "mainstream" Americans see what it can do, I do think it will be a break-away hit. [UPDATE: Press release this morning confirmed 300,000 units sold on Saturday alone. Read more here.]
So I understand both the criticism and the gushing. Really though, I think what it may boil down to is this: The iPad (mostly) makes several key things easier for people. That's all there is to it, really. Does it make that an amazing device? From a tech standpoint, no. From a usability standpoint, yes.
Convenience and ease-of-use can’t be underestimated. (It’s why some people pay for maid service, buy a dishwasher, take their auto to the car wash, etc... They could do all that themselves, and maybe wind up with better results, but people opt for it because it’s easier.)
It’s been said multiple times: This is not a laptop or even a netbook replacement. This really is a new category of device. (Well, maybe not new, but potentially industry defining.) I think that some of the "haters" aren’t wrapping their heads around that, so they compare this to existing tech. Of course it comes up short, in that regard.
I know some fankids will grab this just because it has the Apple logo on it. And some Apple haters will refuse for exactly the same reason — or perhaps out of some sense of tech snobbery. (Hey, I’m not judging — I’ve been accused of being a gadget snob too, and at times, it’s even true.)
But as for everyone else, i.e., mainstream consumers: I think a lot of them — even those who are still confused over what this is at the moment — will eventually flock to the tablet once they see it in action. Like this guy I met recently.
I was at a diner a couple of days ago, and a middle-aged gentleman overheard me talking about the iPad. He asked me about it, and I asked if he was getting one. He said he really couldn't understand what role it would play in his life. Then he said something interesting: "I think when I see others using it and see what it can do, then I can make a decision. But right now, I just don't get it. And I'm not wasting hundreds of dollars on something I don't get. But it's interesting, and I want to see how real people use this thing."
He represents a bigger audience than the haters or fankids, that's for sure.
I’m a mobile lifestyle editor, right? Well, I think lifestyle has everything to do with this tablet.
There are small things, like being able to sit and physically share something with a friend on the couch — without us uncomfortably leaning into a small smartphone screen or dragging out the laptop and perching it on our laps. This, I think, will appeal to people.
I also see:
So whatever success the tablet has gotten thus far is just the tip of the iceberg, I think. There's a big group of untapped consumers yet, who are sitting on the fence. They want to see firsthand how others are using this before they jump in. But once they do, I believe they'll dive in head first.
And if I were an Android hopeful waiting for my Tegra 250-powered tablet to finally hit the scene, I’d actually be pulling for the success of the iPad. If tablets grab a ton of consumer attention, wouldn’t it prompt others to put their wares out into the field faster too? Just a thought.
Anyway, that’s it for first impressions. Hit me up after I’ve had a solid week with this thing, and I’ll let you know if any of this has changed.
Hey, PhoneDog readers. So those are my first impressions. Anyone else got an iPad? If you want to share your impressions so far, post them below!
[NOTE: Noah's got a review lined up, so for more in-depth analysis, check back to the site soon. He'll have it up today!)
UPDATE: Noah's iPad review is up! Check it out here.
UPDATE2: IntoMobile's reporting that some tablet users are having charging issues. I haven't experienced this myself, but I mention it here as a public service for new iPad owners: If you see the "Not Charging" indicator on your screen when you hook up the cable to your computer, this might be why: The problem comes up when a PC, older Apple computer (pre-unibody, presumably with older USBs), or USB hub is involved. Juicing up via power brick is just fine though. To learn more, hit up the website here.