Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why iLike my new iPad

It has been a long time since my last post so just as a refresher on myself my day job consists of working for a leading Linux distribution and in my after-hours I write for an Android site. So I am not the typical Apple user much less a customer of a Version 1.0 device that obviously has little to no value, right? Please read on….

I will spare you countless user videos and multi-angle pictures since Google can find those for your viewing pleasure and just give an honest hands on review of my iPad after five days of use. From the moment I finally decided to get myself the iPad I had multiple conversations with myself about what I would do with such a middling device. I finally succumbed because I figured the worst I could do is end up returning it, pay the restocking fee, and get it out of my system and not look back. I showed up at the Apple store on a Friday afternoon and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, received an arrival email Saturday morning (funny how something you never wanted or needed before suddenly becomes a must-have object of desire).

True to Apple’s process of putting you in a line to wait for your name to be called to be in another line, I was swept away by a very bubbly Apple rep and after going through the extended warranty pitch got my hands on my iPad. Again, true to Apple form, since this is not a “real” PC but an Apple peripheral device I did not even take it out of the box as it has to be activated by an iTunes account. Fine, I did that and powered it up for the first time.

What greeted me was little changed from my 2G iPhone and my bought-and-sold iPod Touch’s BUT the iPad is simply stunning because of its screen. It is much more touch sensitive than either of the former devices yet not excessive, it just goes when you go and moves when you move. The swiping between screens is not just fast but FAST. This thing moves. I see the genius of Apple not letting their “iP-X” devices run multiple processes, because if they did they would get bogged down by threads, apps that access old data over and over, and what’s more – the dreaded battery live. As an Android guy I don’t completely agree, but I do understand it. iBooks is nice to show off but I am still testing to see if it is a real viable option to a physical book. I suspect this is the future of print and I need to just quit resisting. Also, my introduction to the device cannot be discussed if the battery life is left out. I did not charge the device initially and it lasted the advertised ten hours at least, so Apple has definitely cracked the code for an “all day” device.

I proceeded to download my standard apps: TweetDeck, Netflix, ABC player, various radio apps, Skype, an HD KJV Bible and they all work just like on my iPhone. The TweetDeck, Netflix, Bible, and ABC apps are optimized for the iPad, whereas the other ones are still iPhone ready. Which means they take up the same screen real estate as an actual iPhone. No real problem here as they will be come iPad-ized soon but the 2x function leaves them highly pixelated and unsightly, but functional. The only real problem I have had so far is a stuck pixel to the left of center but I’m going to have Apple look at it this week so we’ll see. This past week I have taken my iPad everywhere. After a hard reset the fist day, I finally got my Gmail and work e-mail working and it’s very useful to use out and about as I have a portable WiFi device with unlimted 3G, so no ATT 3G version needed.

I downloaded several movies onto it and they look very good, in fact, they look better on the iPad than my full size PC’s and is my primary reason for purchase. The Netflix app is essentially a mobile Safari browser plug-in and not native but it plays movies over WiFi very well and over 3G just okay. So I agree whole-heartedly that the iPad is not a device for creativity but for consumption. And if this is kept in mind by the user then it does actually what it’s made for and then some. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Apple iPad case. As you can see by the images above it is very slim and it folds back on itself to give a decent angle when typing on a table top and/or your lap, and it can double as a stand, but only on very flat and stable surfaces or else it will topple over as it’s top heavy.

All in all, I am very happy and surprised that I have come to use the iPad almost as a primary device. It has taken the place of one HP Tablet PC 1100, Dell Mini 9 and 10 netbooks, Asus Eee PC 900, Acer dual-boot netbook, Lenovo Thinkpad, built home desktop, you get the idea. I am doing 90% of my computing now from the Ipad and my Motorola Droid so my actions have spoken louder than my words.

(I purposely left out the argument against Apple’s walled garden approach to developing software as 99% of iPad customers will not care or know how they get their software, only that they do).

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