NOTE: This is being typed on my iPad 3G, via the wordpress iPad app.
If you want the iPad, I’ll save you some reading time – go get one. If you’re on the fence or have some questions/concerns or actually read my blog – read on…
Believe it or not, I was not initially going to pre-order the iPad at all. I had seen the keynote and had convinced myself that I’d wait till the wifi was released, play with it hands-on and make a decision from there…I’m usually a big proponent of Apple products and although this seemed “magical and revolutionary”, for once I was playing it level headed and was determined to try it first and then decide to buy…
That sensible patience changed (FAST) on pre-order day.
My brother (which is probably where I get most of my toy and car traits) hits me up at 6AM.
“Dude, you gonna pre-order?”
“Eh, I dunno…I’m on the fence”
“You don’t want to miss out, you can always pre-order then cancel if you get cold feet”
“GAH!! I’ll call you back”
5 minutes later, I had my order in for a 32GB 3G Version.
So $840 something dollars later (also ordered the OEM Carry Case) I sat there thinking…what the heck am I going to do with this thing? I’m a POWER Macbook Pro user. I check email, photoshop, surf the web, tweet deck, Facebook, FTP, build websites, handle post production for my images etc…this is a giant iPhone and I already have an iPhone!
As the days went on I tried to justify it.
I’ll just sell my trusty Macbook Pro and use this instead. It’s more portable, has better battery life – I’m tech savvy, I’ll find a way to do everything I need on it. I’ll actually SAVE money by getting this and selling my Macbook Pro (those that know me know I’m so notorious for justifying things this way) Hell, my process of thinking goes in that if you’re tires are worn, you might as well buy rims. If you have maintenance, registration due at the same time, you may want to see what other car options you have…thus is the reasoning of Albert Roxas. (Why fix when you can upgrade? LOL)
As the wifi’s started to hit the public and I did more research, I realized I might not be able to do “everything” I need my Macbook Pro for. People were comparing the iPad to a Netbook – something only good for basic word processing and surfing in a small form factor. Reviews said “$499 for a netbook? no way!”. Was it really just a giant iPhone? I guess I’ll find out when I get it.
Expected ship date was “late April”, gotta love Apple for being so specific. Everyone had been anticipating this release as much as the original wifi release – especially me, seeing as how I worked from home that day to ensure I didn’t miss the FedEx guy. The FedEx (Girl) came to the door and mentioned she had delivered 27 already (this was at 1PM) and she was shocked how many people were available to sign LOL. Apparently I wasn’t the only giddy one waiting for my new toy.
First things first – I had to skin the front. Because it’s a touchscreen (and I’m a bit of a germa-phobe) I needed some type of protection for the front. I went with the usual clear bra (front only) installed by Fusion of Ideas at the Irvine Spectrum. They skinned all my previous iPhones (front and back) and although they are pricey, they do good work and stand behind their product. $45 to cover the front screen only with installation, talk about making a killing.
NOTE: Fusion of Ideas is right across from the Apple store. When I arrived to get my iPad 3G (about 4PM on launch day) the line for the Apple store was easily 120 people deep.
Once skinned, I went home and plugged it into my macbook pro to start the setup.
Concern #1 – what if this is your only device for computing? What if you don’t own a PC / Mac, how do you get this thing going? I’m willing to bet the Apple Store would allow you to connect up after purchase to setup an iTunes account and get the thing going, but it’s a legitimate concern for “first time buyers” that have no other computing device.
The iPad syncs to iTunes just like an iPhone. iTunes recognizes it, it takes a minute or so for “activation” and you’re golden. During the sync it asks if you want to sync your songs, photos, iPhone apps, etc – I selected my iTunes library and thats it. Sync was quick and painless, with no issues.
If you’ve used an iPhone, you’ll be very very familiar with the UI (user interface) of the iPad / they share the same OS. Slide to unlock and you’re in. I immediately set a passcode (for those of you who don’t have this setup on your iPhone, seriously consider it) and took a look around.
Very basic homepage apps – Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store and Settings. On the homepage dock are Safari, Mail, Photos and iPod. This pales in comparison to the clutter of my iPhone screen (smaller real estate understandably) and the iPad felt a little empty at first glance.
The new Calendar is slick. Very “dayrunner” style (only digital) and is much easier on the eyes than iCal. The only other subtle change is in mail, where there is a nice preview pane and the visual look of deleting emails is more slick (it piles multiple emails like paper prior to deletion).
Let’s get into the good stuff – browsing the web.
Safari ALMOST functions as a full browser. I say ALMOST because I still ran into a few sites that detected the browser as “mobile” and forced me to a crippled version of the site (granted most of these sites were a bit obscure). On the other hand, larger sites such as ESPN have an iPad ready site which changes the Flash videos to HTML5 – better yet, some sites such as eBay have an app that is better than the browser version itself! This is where I believe the iPad really shines, it sincerely makes sites look amazing. The glossy screen really makes colors pop – the ease of flicking a finger to scroll, etc, are what make this device somewhat “magical”. Sites load nice and fast (even on 3G) and although I did find some missing functionality here and there, none of it was a dealbreaker. Some little things (like being able to read source) might bother some of you power users, but guess what…there’s an app for that LOL. The browsing experience alone will sell a bundle of these things.
This is a lot easier to use than people think. I probably had at least 6 people try it out over the weekend and each one of them was surprised at how easy it was to type on. A trick that I found was that if you keep your palms from resting on the table, you tend to be a bit more accurate and faster on the Virtual Keyboard. There is no tactile feel obviously so you do need to glance every so often to ensure your fingers haven’t drifted, but I find for average use, the virtual keyboard is definitely usable. When I say average use I mean, emails, blogs, IM’ing etc…I don’t know if i’d want to write an entire paper on one, but it’s definitely do-able. For those that want some extra real estate to surf (the keyboard takes up a little less than half the screen) you can utilize a bluetooth keyboard for lengthy typing.
Quick pic of my Apple BT keyboard in use w/my iPad.
This is what the iPad is all about. The ability to touch, tap, scroll, swipe your way thru the entire interface. It’s crazy intuitive. Even for me, sweaty palms and all – the interface works like a champ. A major pet peeve is definitely the fingerprint marks across the entire screen, especially after a day of everyone wanting to mess with it. Nothing that a good microfiber towel can’t fix, but can get annoying for those of us obsessive compulsive types. Apple surprisingly didn’t include one of these in the packaging, so simple, cheap and usable – they normally include these with their products, but for some reason it’s missing from the iPad.
Along with the fingerprints, the glare from overhead lighting is a bit distracting at times. The OEM case puts a nice angle on the iPad to limit this, but for those without it I could really see this as being an issue.
One of the biggest gripes about the iPhone is that the speakerphone is not loud enough. I had my concerns with the iPad as well, but the speaker is much better and handles sound very well. Another thing missing from the packaging is headphones! It has a headphone jack and yes, I have my headphones from my iPhone, but it’d be nice to get a second set of buds with something this pricey.
Marketed at 9 hours for the 3G (10 hours for the wifi only) – I’d have to say it’s pretty damn close. I used it from 2PM Friday afternoon, all the way until Saturday at 10PM (heavy use showing people videos, browsing etc) before i had to recharge it. That included finding hotspots at restaurants, forgetting to click the “sleep” button while in use and such, so I’m sure I could stretch some extra power out of it if need be. Another thing it should have came with that I purchased is a USB extender, the OE cable is a bit short for me, especially if you plan to use it while plugged in. A $3 cable that would make life much easier if included IMO.
NOTE: It takes a good 3 hours to charge from 0%. I asked the apple geniuses about this and there is no way to get this to charge quicker.
Very easy to setup- a no-brainer to pickup this option ($130 add) IMO. I actually enabled mine in a parking lot of a Japanese restaurant in 4 minutes. Speed on the 3G seemed faster than on my Iphone although I don’t have the bandwidth reports to back it up. I’m guessing processing power may have a little to do with this as well. Don’t forget to cancel you’re contract at the end of the month otherwise it will continue to roll. A calendar reminder does the trick for me.
One of the biggest gripes that i hear about, although ironically – there a bunch of apps available for sharing/storing. In fact, with the camera connection kit and a simple jailbreak, the iPad will happily accept an external hard drive or memory card.
When it comes down to it, the iPad is a spectacular secondary device. It shouldn’t be your only – but for travel, strictly for portability and battery life alone, the iPad kills all. It’s worlds better than any netbook, pricier for sure – but you get what you pay for. I personally use a 27″ iMac at home, a 15″ Macbook Pro for travel and now, my 32GB iPad 3G. My Macbook Pro will hit Craigslist shortly as I haven’t used it since my iPad arrived 🙂
If you have particulars that I didn’t write about, shoot me an email – would be happy to give you some feedback.