iPad Launch Day Impressions


[Note: This is a re-post from Ploked from 4/5/10]

The biggest news this week (and probably next week and the following weeks) is, of course, the iPad. Apple’s much talked about tablet computer. Back in January, before the iPad was announced, I posed the question of whether or not we have enough room in our technology-filled lives for a tablet device. Between our smartphones that keep getting more features and our laptops where we do the bulk of our work, the answer was an overwhelming “no.”

Steve Jobs revealed the iPad to be what many concluded –  just a large iPod touch. Despite quickly demonstrating three stripped down versions of iWorks, the iPad was abruptly dismissed as a device for productivity. Many found fault with being able to touch-type with the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. No one wanted to have to pay $70 for an iPad keyboard. Our opinions were based solely on those who had actually seen the device and played with. Apple had also been tightly guarding the few iPads they let developers look into.

On Saturday, April 3, 2010, Apple’s revolutionary “magical” iPad started to arrive via UPS to customers who pre-ordered it. I stopped by the Meatpacking District’s Apple Store in NYC to check out the mythical device. Queuing up in line, Apple staff handed out complimentary bottles of Smart Water for waiting so patiently. I got there around 1pm and was in the store in less than five minutes. No long lines, nothing. I imagined that the real buzz was happening at Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store and perhaps even the SoHo store. I got up to the second floor and waited a few minutes before the person in front of me finished playing with the iPad so I could get a nice go at it. Now that I’ve actually held and played with an iPad, I have to say that this device emits “BUY ME” almost immediately. No kidding. Even my friend, a skeptic on it’s capabilities, was immediately in love.

Photo by A Guy With a Tie

Safari is gorgeous. If you’ve used mobile Safari on an iPhone before, you’ll be right at home. Never has browsing the web been so intuitive. Steve Jobs was right when he said that browsing on the iPad is the best experience yet. It really is. The first thing you’ll notice is that the larger screen really helps. Unlike the iPhone, you won’t need to pinch or double tap to zoom in as much. As a Google Reader user, I hardly ever go to a website for new articles or stories. Opening Google Reader up, you get swept into the same mobile optimized version you get on the iPhone. The reading experience was nice, but I’m willing to bet that Google will bring out an iPad version of Google Reader like they have already done with the two-pane version of Gmail for the iPad.

iPhone apps look terrible on the iPad. Don’t expect to get much out of your apps you already bought for your iPhone on your new iPad. They look terrible when blown up to fill the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen.

Apple put a big emphasis on the iPad as being a gaming device. Riding on the success of the iPod touch, Apple says that games will look much better on the iPad’s larger screen. I tried a couple of games, including a racing game, and I’m not impressed. Remember when you were a kid and you held a plate up in front of you, pretending it was your steering wheel for your imaginary car? The iPad is now that plate. It’s a nice try, but unless you have ginormous hands where your thumbs can reach over the large bezels and press the overlaid buttons, gaming is not going to be much fun.

The iPad is only 1.5 pounds (.68 kg), but you start to feel it after a while. Holding the device with one hand, you will eventually put it down – I assure you. Apple’s really built the device to be a polished looking premium gadget, but at the end of the day, the gadget needs to work for you. You shouldn’t have to work for the gadget. The iPad needs an “Air” version.

iBooks was nice and smooth, just like the iPhone app Classics. The Wi-Fi model is the only one available right now, but that didn’t stop people from snatching them up. As far as I could tell, there was plenty in stock in the Apple Store I went to. Unofficial sales numbers are predicting that 600,000 to 700,000 iPads were sold on Saturday alone. Comparatively, the iPhone took a whole weekend to sell one million iPhones. If the numbers are more what are projected, then the iPad is a surefire hit. It has the potential to be bigger than the iPhone, and kill all netbooks in one swoop.

Tech junkies have croaked about the iPad not having USB ports, Flash support, cameras, SD slots, etc. However, you forget all about those things as soon as you actually hold one in your hands. Don’t take my word for it. Go out to an Apple Store and test-drive one yourself.

So, what is my verdict post-iPad launch? My mind’s definitely been changed now. I want an iPad, but I’m still going to hold off. The device can only get better in a few months. Firmware updates and 3G models that don’t require contracts and revisions will only make the iPad more desirable. In the same way the iPod Touch’s body changed to the all stainless steel and included physical volume buttons, the iPad will no doubt get some form of webcam in future models. I’ll wait until then. For now, my trusty MacBook is the only place I can multi-task, because we all know it will get annoying if you need to open and close apps just to copy and paste something.

2 Responses to “iPad Launch Day Impressions”

  1. the ipad is pretty awesome! I’m not a fan of many of its capibilities..but it’s pretty sleek, and nice to use… i hear they’re doing a lot with movie/cameras….using it as a screen. there’s actually an app that connects your iphone camera to the ipad! I can’t wait to get one!

  2. tieguy? shorty. really? i tuned out iPad stuff lately. I don’t want to connect a phone to it to use a camera. I want it to be able to take pictures by itself!

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