Hate Subsided, iPad Pretty Neat

posted in Tech on Apr 4, 2010

Two full months have passed since the announcement of the iPad, Apple’s tablet device that is supposed to fit in between your phone and your computer, and the thing has finally been released. I have been not unvocal regarding my reservations of the unit, which mostly were snap reactions to its announcement in January. I’ve attempted to hold any final judgement until the thing actually saw the light of day. And now that it has, how is it?

Well, I am very surprised to say it, but the damned thing is neat. I don’t really think it being “neat” was never an issue, we all knew it’d be neat, but I don’t know – for me, of course – that it jumps any further from the description of “neat.” Before going any further, I’ll use this sentence as a disclaimer to say that I do not own an iPad (Surprise!), but did get to play with one for a while yesterday.

Form Factor

If you’ve seen any television in the last couple of months, I’m sure you have see what this thing looks like. It’s a big, a little more square iPod Touch.

The unit that I played with was happily encapsulated within one of the cases that I thought were so cool in the pictures.

It worked as designed; it kept the device out of relative harm’s way and allowed you to use the landscape keyboard more efficiently. There really is not a whole lot to say on how it looks; you’ve seen it. It is what it is.


One of the biggest things that needs to happen is for this device to have awesome software. Currently, it has some awesome software, and some that are just alright. Let’s get this out of the way, the Marvel comic book application is freaking amazing. From the things that I have seen, it is the app that defines a new, more awesomer way of doing a thing. It feels good, it looks great; it’s awesome. The way it goes through the panels of the comic really is the way that comics should be read. I also got to play with the Netflix app and it works; nothing amazing if you have had access to various Netflix streaming devices.

Being an avid reader, I, of course, needed to look at the iBooks application. It is a good application, but outside of the “shiny” that it has – pages turn so lifelike! Wowyzowie! – there is less for me to be wholly excited about over, say, my Nook. The book that comes preloaded with the program is Winnie the Pooh, with full color images and such. All I really need is the text, and I still have some reservations on how well the iPad is viewable in direct sunlight – E-Ink kicks ass in this regard. From what I understand, some books have links to multimedia items (say, a video that pertains to the subject matter), but I wasn’t able to see anything like that.

There are tons of applications that are on the device, so there is not really any way for me to get too far into the majority of them. I will say, though, that it is fast as you might have heard. Shit opens and closes with ease and that’s nice. It would still be nice to be able to do maybe two whole things at once, though. But oh well.

And lastly, the battery life that we experienced was pretty awesome. I came in contact with it at 8pm and it was handled consistently until 4am. When I left the get together it was still on, and the owner said he hadn’t charged it at all since taking it from the box earlier that day, so that is impressive.

Social Aspect

I am fairly certain that what we experienced last night will be for some part a measure of the iPad being BRAND EFFING NEW, but everyone did crowd around and want to see what the deal was. It was passed around the table a few times as we all played board games so everyone could have a go at it. I recall when the iPhone came out there was a similar surge of “Oh man I need to LOOK AT THIS” going on that died down once everyone owned one.

The iPad garners similar first impressions. It IS slick looking. Where the difference will be with it versus the iPhone in terms of social usability is the fact that it can actually be used by more than one person at a time. Realistically the number of people actively using it pretty much jumps to two, but even still that helps it find a place among groups of people. In my experience last night, a couple of my friends where playing were playing one game together for quite a while. Since the whole iPad thing is about “oh, look, I can simply point at shit and make it go,” the barriers to entry for people who would otherwise not concern themselves to applications such as that (read: games) may find themselves more apt to check it out, regardless of whether or not they already have an iPhone. For example, I could give two shits about games on my iPhone; I have exactly one (1) game that I play on any regular basis, whereas the iPad could bring more people to the table. I imagine a most amazing Go application being built for it.

Ending Thoughts

I still don’t need one. It still falls back on being simply a neat thing that does what it does well. It’s engaging and fun. For me personally if falls short of being a must own thing at this moment because I still cannot find the gap between my laptop and desktop. For me that’s not there; for others it might be. I can say, though, that if/when my laptop explodes (and it’s four years old so that could be soon), I would not be upset with having just a desktop and an iPad now that I have seen what it does. Outside of a few trips where I would absolutely need a laptop to run a certain program (I’m going on a trip this summer where I will NEED to be able to use Final Cut, for example), I would not mind having one as a replacement. In my eyes, the iPad isn’t the gap between computers and phones, it’s the gap between desktops and phones; the same space that laptops currently reside.

I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with the iPad and maybe someday in the future (when it has a front facing camera maybe?), I could possibly get one. Until then I encourage you to attempt to go find one and play with it. It’s pretty neat.