This is a fascinating product. It’s probably the harbinger of a new highly useful class of devices between palmtops and notepads. Still, it is clearly a first generation gadget, with some annoying deficiencies.
It is already the best way to read books and periodicals. The Kindle iPad app is a nice piece of work, and gives you access to the largest collection of eBooks around. Apple’s own reader app is stylish and functional, even if the library is smaller. The New York Times app is pretty and easy to work with, but doesn’t offer as much content as either the iPhone app or the New York Times on the web. The Wall Street Journal application is well designed and offers plenty of content, but suffers from an operating system flaw that I’ll get to later. Zinio is a real pain to use on the iPhone, but OK of the iPad, even though the magazine selection is limited at best. If you want to read outdoors, use a Kindle.
The resolution is fine for photographs and graphics, and the colors are rich and saturated. However, the resolution leaves a little to be desired when looking at print. It’s not a deal killer by any means, but the number pixels per inch is substantially less than on either the iPhone, the iPad Touch, or the Kindle.
At a pound and a half, the iPad is substantially lighter than most notebooks. However, it would be a lot easier to hold in one hand for an extended period of time if it weighed a pound.
The device fills solid and rugged. Battery life is good, at about 10 hours. The user interface is essentially the same as the iPhone: involving, intuitive, and fun to use. The size of the keyboard makes it much more practical and less mistake prone than the keyboard on the iPhone, but it’s not something you’d use to compose a long e-mail message.
The biggest problem is the lack of multitasking for non-Apple apps. When you open up the Wall Street Journal application, it takes about 3 minutes on a fast Internet connection to download the day’s newspaper. During that time, you can’t navigate away from the app. It would be so much nicer if it could download the newspaper in the background while you were doing something else. Apple has announced that they’re going to fix this in the next revision of the operating system. I can hardly wait.
If they could fix the e-mail application problems that I mentioned in an earlier post, and had multitasking, I might use the iPad for some types of travel. On other kinds of trips, I’d need a computer with a real keyboard (bringing a dockable or Bluetooth keyboard along reduces the iPad’s advantage in travel weight), and heavy duty versions of office applications. On photographic trips, I’d want to run Lightroom, which is well out of the range of applications that a lightweight touchscreen computer like the iPad is aimed at.
Too big to fit your pocket, not powerful enough for real office work, but a good compromise in some situations, and, I’m told, a great game machine. I think there’s a future for the iPad and its successors.