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ipad: 2 weeks on

Posted at 21:50 on Tue, 15th June 2010 in gadgets.

Review of the IPad, after 2 weeks of usage

It's been just over 2 weeks now since the release of the IPad in Australia, so as (to use Steve Job's words) an "early adopter", I thought I'd share my experiences for others considering the purchase.

First impressions of the exterior were: screen was smaller then I imagined, and it was a little heavier then I expected too. Also, annoyingly (although not a surprise), before you can start using it, you need a computer with itunes installed to activate the device before it lets you do anything else. When you're all activated you can begin playing:

The screen, whilst its a lot smaller than a standard laptop screen, when you start reading and/or watching video/viewing photos, you find its a completely perfect size. The clarity, brightness, and great colours it produces is second to nothing I've seen before. The touch screen is also very responsive, and is extremely smooth with navigating and dragging things around the panels, menus, etc.

The device is light enough to hold in one hand and type with the other, or alternatively rest it on your lap and touch type in landscape mode without it burning a hole through your flesh (unlike a laptop). The other really neat thing is the battery life - you'll get a good 10 hours doing high intensive tasks like video or 3G web browsing, or an hour or so longer if simply reading a document on ibooks.

After recovering from the initial awe, I tried installing a few apps, and then considered how this device would fit into my lifestyle of usually being around computers anyway. This is probably something I should have considered before purchasing the $928 device (3G 32GB model), but how was I to know?

I commute to/from work each day. The particular route is, suffice to say, a little dodgy at times, so  I'm probably not ready to casually use it in that environment just yet - perhaps in 6 months or a year, when other commuters are also using them, it might be ok..

So when else have I been using it: its pretty handy when you're watching tv (sorta gives a new meaning to 'couch surfing'). It has also been useful to check mail and things before bed, in the morning while eating breakfast, or for testing websites and things at work. I'm not sure yet, whether having the convenience during all of those activities was worth the nine hundred odd dollars though - maybe I'll realise this as more native ipad apps are released.

Speaking of apps, below are a few I've been using lately:

  • TweetDesk - great twitter client
  • tvGuide - for checking whats on tv (yes, has all the Australian free to air channels)
  • Weather HD - provides over the top animations and details of the weather forecasts in the configured areas.
  • Wikipanion - easy to use interface for browsing wikipedia.org
  • Quota - for checking your service usage totals and other statistics. i.e. mobile phone call totals, internet quota, 3g usage, google analytics stats, traffic camers and lots more.
  • IMDb - easy to use interface for browseing imdb.com - great if your on the couch watching a new movie and you want to check what an actor/actress's name is, and what other films they've been in.
  • Habor Master - great fun but very addictive game about scheduling boats into a harbor.
  • Good Reader - lets you read all your docs and pdfs via google apps and other services.

Unlike most apps on the itunes store, all the above, are purpose built for the IPad. Ok, so a few downsides to the IPad:

  • turning it off and on is a pain. If you use the pass code lock you have to enter it each time you want to turn it off. Obviously you can put the ipad to sleep without entering the pass code, but sleep uses battery that you don't need it to waste.
  • as you probably already know, websites or website components that use flash won't display in Safari (or other browsers). Whilst I'm use to this sort of thing with the flashblocker addon in Firefox, it's not something normal people (at least not until html5 is standardised, but that's another discussion) would tolerate. Note: youtube has already html5-ised their website so that its compatible with IPad and other devices so don't worry there, but youtube isn't the only website using flash.
  • the rich text editor in Wordpress's admin area doesn't work. I know there's a wordpress app to cater for this, but it doesn't actually have a rich text editor itself, so writing posts like this one takes a lot longer then normal (even for a web developer!).
  • IPhone apps are designed to run on the IPhone, but the IPad lets you install them on the IPad anyway. This is where the '200,000 apps and counting' marketing pitch comes from in the IPad ads. If you try installing an iphone app though, to put it lightly, sucks! It uses a small part of the screen, or theres an option to enlarge it, but then it looks incredibly pixelated. The truth is (as of writing) there's upwards of about 5000 native IPad apps.

As you can see, there are plenty of good and bad things about the IPad. If you're still sitting on the fence about whether to buy one or not, I recommend finding a friend who has one, and asking them to let you try it out, or if you don't have any ipad friends, just go down to your local retailer and try out one of the devices they have on display.

I hope my notes above have provided an unbiased opinion, and will help you to make the right decision about whether to buy an IPad or not! Good luck.