Years ago, when I was at Echelon, we worked with several PC manufacturers who had an acronym for the experience that the user had when setting up a computer for the first time: OOBE, pronounced to rhyme with “scoobie” (or, if you are an aging hippie, “doobie”). It stood for Out Of Box Experience. I thought it was weird, and it stuck with me.
I received an iPad in the mail today, and I thought that some of you might be interested in the OOBE.
The packaging is, as you would expect from Apple, elegant. The documentation is, well, minimal; it basically says to plug it into a computer running iTunes and follow the on-screen instructions. I did just that. iTunes came up and presented me with small window with a progress bar and the text “Updating iTunes library…” I watched the progress bar for several minutes, hoping it wasn’t trying to cram the 48 GB of music that I had loaded into my iPod Touch into my new iPad, which only has 16 GB of flash. There was nothing on the iPad screen to indicate what was going on; in fact, the screen was dead black. I had set iTunes up for manual synching of my iPod Touch, so this behavior was a surprise. I tried to get to the edit> preferences screen, but it wouldn’t let me do anything while the updating was going on. There was no cancel option.
After half an hour, the progress bar went away, and iTunes gave me a screen labeled “Welcome to your new iPad”. I agreed to the software license agreement, it flashed a screen up too fast for me to read, and then presented me with my iTunes library. I found the iPad in the devices part of the bar on the left hand side of the screen, and clicked on it. I entered my Apple ID name and password and filled out a few entries in the registration form. iTunes next gave me an invitation to try Mobile Me for free. Being an Exchange user, I turned it down.
Next was a screen labeled “Set up your iPad”. There were two options: set the iPad up as a new device or restore from the backup of my old iPod. I chose the new device option. I got a screen asking what I wanted to synch automatically. The options were: songs, photos, and applications. I chose none of the above. Then a screen flashed too fast to read, and I was looking at my iTunes library again. I clicked on my iPad on the left hand side of the iTunes screen and saw the summary screen for the iPad. At the bottom of the screen was a thermometer display indicating that I had used hardly any memory. I don’t know what iTunes was doing for half an hour when I first plugged the iPad in, but at least it wasn’t trying to load music into it. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I clicked the info tab and got a screen that offered to let me select with what to synch calendar items, contacts, and e-mail. Exchange was not an option, so I left all the boxes unchecked.
I unplugged the iPad, and it displayed quite a pretty login screen with a photograph of a sunset with some star trails. I first thought the star trails were scratches on the screen, which diminished the beauty of it all until I figured it out.
I went to settings, set up a Wi-Fi connection with no trouble, and then tried to load apps. The app store asked for my password three times, and then demanded acceptance of a 58 page terms and conditions document. Finally, it let me download the Kindle reader.
I give the OOBE a B. Maybe a B+ if you care about the beautiful packaging. It was a little rocky, but everything worked, and I didn’t have to poke around the web for a solution to any difficulty, nor did I have to call tech support.
The product itself? Well, it’s early days, but I’m impressed. The screen, which I was afraid would be a tad low in resolution, looks great. The Wall Street Journal app is better that reading the paper on the web.
The Kindle app is quite nice. The new splash screen with the kid reading the book under a tree has an animation in which the book glows softly, lighting up the kid’s face. Reading in bed is not bad. The iPad is too heavy to hold comfortably, but you can rest it on your chest.
The Apple productivity suite — Keynote, Pages, and Numbers — is a treat to the eye. I don’t yet know how well the apps actually work, but the graphics are boffo.
The mail and calendaring apps make good use of the increased space available.
Where does the iPad fit in? I don’t know yet. It’s too big to have with you all the time. It’s not capable enough for me to travel with. It’s potentially a great book and periodical reader and a casual household computer/web browser. I’ll know more after I’ve spent some time with it.