apple iPad review.

16 Apr

connected marketer iPad review.

it’s here! i’ve spent just about 2 weeks with my new apple iPad wifi model and wanted to give my in-depth review. let me start off by saying: it’s amazing! it’s one of those few devices that people actually stand in line for and can’t wait to get. i heard a story from a friend that was waiting at his office on launch day for his iPad to be delivered. when the UPS guy got there they started talking and the UPS guy told him how people had been following his truck in their cars and begging him to give them their iPads early. i can’t think of too many products that cause this kind of frenzy. see my standing in line and unboxing photos here (it’s rather boring in comparison to other iPad unboxing photos you’ve seen).

honestly, i was rather skeptical of this “tablet” or “slate” or “whatever you want to call it” device when it was first announced in january. it looked to have many limitations and cons. but, after making the jump and spending two weeks with it as my primary computing device i’m ready to share my thoughts on it.

on to the review – keep in mind that i’ve only had the iPad for two weeks, so i haven’t used every single feature in-depth yet, but here’s what i’ve seen and enjoyed so far…

iPad review
there so much more to the apple iPad than just it’s technical specifications

the hardware.

the ipad is an example of apple‘s attention to detail. everything from the packaging to the design of the device is amazing. there are just a handful of physical buttons: the home button is present just like on the iphone and ipod touch, buttons on the side for volume control and screen/rotation lock, a on/off switch on top. a built-in speaker is on the bottom and a headphone jack is on the top.

my very first impression when i pulled it up out of the box was “it feels heavy” even though it only weighs 1.5 lbs. i was looking at it from the iPhone “hold it with one hand while reading” perspective. however, as a laptop replacement holding it with two hands won’t be an issue and holding it with one hand as long as you have your knee or a table to rest on should is fine.

the ipad comes with a usb sync/charging cable and a special 10W wall charger. 

  • it’s fast – the iPad is super responsive. i’m used to my iPhone 3G sometimes taking a few seconds, but with the iPad i haven’t seen any lags at all. all apps i’ve tested so far including photos and videos have been very speedy and responsive with zero lag
  • battery life – unbelievable so far. it easily goes for 10 hours straight without charging. in total i’ve probably only charged it 3-4 times so far. under normal conditions it easily gives you several days of battery and should keep you busy on those long overseas flights. so, unlike the iPhone that needs to be charged every night, you don’t have to worry about finding a power outlet before that flight or at a restaurant.
  • wi-fi – the iPad takes advantage of the fastest available wi-fi: 802.11n. so both range and network speed are great. i have noticed some speed and signal strength fluctuations while connected to a network, but i’m never completely lost a signal. read about apple’s official workaround on their support site
  • screen – the iPad’s screen is gorgeous. the 1024×768 resolution is truly a pleasure to look at. the longer i look at the screen and use it the more i enjoy it. movies and netflix streaming videos look amazing. sure, it’s not 16:9 widescreen for movies, but you don;t really notice that once you start watching. plus who wants to work on a tablet shaped like a widescreen tv?  the 3:4 ratio is much more conducive to everyday working.

 

the built-in apps.

iPad review photos

they are amazing. 
apple has completely reworked all of the built-in apps. contacts, calendar, photos, mail, etc. not only take advantage of the new larger screen size, but they are both gorgeous and reworked so you can do more with the iPad’s bigger screen size and faster processor. there are new features in almost all built-in apps. for example, calendar is now much more like in ical on the mac and itunes on the iPad now virtually looks like itunes on desktop computers.

the photos app’s functionally is truly amazing. a new feature included is the ability to play music during slideshows. now you can choose a song from your ipad and have it play while your slideshow plays. 

little things.
 
there are so many little things that i’ve discovered every time i pick it up. for example, you can have two background images. one will is displayed while the ipad is locked (lock screen) and the other is displayed in the background of your apps (home screen). this is handy for creating a picture that displays your name and contact info (in case someone finds it) while it’s locked.

 

surfing the web.

iPad safari reviewsteve jobs referred to the ipad as “the best browsing experience you’ve ever had! way better than a laptop, way better than a smartphone.” that’s a tall order and while surfing on the ipad is very nice, it’s not the best web browsing experience ever. frankly, you can’t call something that doesn’t display a large number of sites the best web experience ever. while it’s really awesome, you can say “the future is html 5 and the iPad is ready”, but without adobe flash support, today the iPad really can’t deliver a 100% complete browsing experience. i understand what’s happening when i go to a site and the content doesn’t display because the iPad doesn’t have flash support. however, the average person are going to become quickly frustrated when they go to their favorite sites and content is either missing or they can’t even access the site at all. to hide this from the user in safari the ipad now just displays a big empty white box where the flash content would be. i’m not here to defend flash – i’ve never been a big fan of it in the first place – flash is by no means perfect. however, it is established on the web anno 2010 and if the cheapest netbook on the planet can see all of the flash sites and the ipad can’t, then the iPad is not the best web browsing experience. see my cons section below on more of my thoughts on flash and the ipad. let’s move on, the safari experience is awesome for the sites it does display. similar to itunes which now looks like it does on a desktop, safari is very fast and gives me my same bookmarks bar that i have in desktop safari.

web surfing bonus.
when i went to facebook.com from my iPad i was pleased when the regular facebook page came up in safari on the iPad and not the mobile version. it’s leaps and bounds above the mediocre experience of the native iPhone facebook app. this illustrates the biggest pro of web surfing on the iPad: it offers a full-fledged web browsing experience from a relatively small and handy device. it’s not simply an over-sized iPhone or iPod touch.

 

3rd party apps are the key.

iPad review app store

i have gotten lots of questions from people about 3rd party apps. there is lots of confusion out there. first of all, if your app worked on an iPhone or iPod touch, then it will work on your iPad. netflix (one of my favorite apps so far) didn’t have a native iPhone app, however they chose the iPad to debut their app on. you can stream videos from the site just like you can to your xbox 360, playstation 3, or wii and mange your queue. 

 

how do existing apps look?
there are two choices. you can either run your existing apps as is in their native iPhone / iPod touch screen size which will be a small window in the middle of the iPad or you can tap the 2x button to double the app up to fill the screen. the 2x may not be desirable just like resizing a photo up makes it look less sharp and pixelated.

here’s the CNN app running at it’s native size on the iPad.

here’s the CNN app running at the 2x size on the iPad.

 

10 must have iPad apps.

iPad MLB app review

i’ve selected 10 iPad apps that you’re definitely going to want to check out. See my picks here.

for more on iPad and iPhone apps head over to Best App Site where terry white does a great job of reviewing iPad apps.

 

what about iBooks.

iPad iBooks review

i think amazon’s kindle is a great ebook reader. however, if i worked for amazon in the kindle hardware division i’d be updating my resumé. iBooks on the iPad are gorgeous. however, at the end of the day they are standard epub documents. apple just puts a very nice wrapper around them and they do something that you can’t do in the kindle app for iPhone / iPad: keyword search. you can do this on an actual kindle device, but amazon hasn’t brought this function over to the kindle app. amazon did update their kindle app once the iPad launched: it looks great and lets you bring over your kindle book investment over to the iPad.

making your own iBooks.
since the iPad uses the epub standard, you can create your own books for the iPad and load them right in. this is a great feature. there’s a great tie between adobe indesign and the ipad. adobe indesign can export to the epub format. simply export an epub document from indesign and dropit right into itunes. it shows up in the books area of the itunes library and when the iPad is synced the books will be placed in the iBooks app on the iPad. 

 

watching videos.

this is an image taken from apple.com. notice how there are no black bars above and below the movie? that’s because they zoomed into the movie.

watching video content comes natural to the iPad. you can load your own movies as well as videos you download from itunes. the whole interface and playback works great, the only thing that may bug people is the ipad’s native resolution of 1024×768. as previously mentioned it is 4:3 and not 16:9. so you’ll see black bars at the top and bottom of your videos or you have to zoom them up to fill the screen as seen above. this means you’re missing content on the sides. it’s not the end of the world, but noticeable. however, the gorgeous display and resolution make up for this inconvenience and is really not noticeable once you get used to it.

 

professional use.

iPad review - Keynote

as a professional that is using the iPad to replace a laptop there very high hopes of fitting the iPad into my workflow. the first obvious use for the iPad is email. the iPad clearly excels at this – juts like the iPhone it integrates into my company’s outlook database without any issues. moreover, using it as a text editor and presentation device is also no problem. after downloading pages and keynote for $9.99 a piece from the app store i was in business.both apps have limitations in comparison to their desktop counterparts and they are not microsoft word or powerpoint by any stretch of the imagination. however, they are fun to use and once you hook up a wireless keyboard very efficient. the key word here is “fun” – in comparison to working on a desktop or laptop  at a desk sitting on the couch and typing away on a report from your wireless keyboard is fun. keep in mind that this is after two weeks of use, so perhaps the novelty and fun factor will wear off with sustained use.

the display size and quality of the screen let you show images, presentations or anything else to clients very easily. couple that with the support to hook into a projector with the optional vga adapter for keynote presentations and you have a real winner from a presentation standpoint. i’ve successfully used it to run presentations to my students. the major downside that keynote for the iPad does not support presenter notes and does not show the slides on the screen. so, you have to look at the presentation instead of the screen – something i really dislike.  


miscellaneous enhancements.

  • home screen landscape mode – on the iPhone the home screen can only be in portrait orientation. on the iPad it rotates just like all your other apps – very cool.
  • picture frame mode – you can hit a button on the lock screen and have the iPad work as a picture frame. it will play a slideshow of selected photos. there is even an option to have it automatically zoom in on on faces.
  • safari – can now play embedded youtube videos right on the page without being taken to the youtube app.

 

accessories.

ipad case review

apple’s iPad case is truly a mixed bag. overall, i like it a lot, but it could have been so much better. the soft microfiber interior and reinforced panels to provide structure let you carry around your iPad in a relatively safe fashion. in addition, it folds to act as a stand that holds iPad at an angle for watching videos and slideshows or for typing on the onscreen keyboard. however, the edges are not smooth and overall it seems rather flimsy and not worthy of the large apple logo on the front.

 

pros.

price – i was in the market for a new laptop. but then i sat down and thought about what i really do on a laptop and realized that the iPad does every one of those things at half the price. having iwork on it (pages & keynote) really sealed the deal for me. 

built-in apps – every single one of  the built-in apps are phenomenal – they make the iPhone apps look old and outdated. you can tell that apple truly put a lot of thought and effort into every single app.

experience – i won’t go as far as and call it “magical” as steve jobs does. however, i would say that it has exceeded all of my expectations. the user experience is truly something you can’t put into words. i heard someone on twitter say that they are not excited about the iPad because they don’t know where it would fit in their lives. someone replied back “if you held one for 5 minutes you would change your mind.” i agree. the iPhone revolutionized smartphones and the competition is just now starting to catch up. the iPad will do the same. were there touchscreen tablets before the iPad? sure. but, there will be many more after it that will try and copy it.

display – the screen is mazing and bright. it sounds weird, but i could truly stare at this display all day long.

3rd party apps – while i could go on about a lot of little things here, at the end of the day what makes this device really stand out are the impressive 3rd party apps that have been reworked or released for the iPad.

ease of use – it’s intuitive and easy to use. just like when the iPhone first came out you will know what to do as soon as you pick it up.

it does what i need – email, web surfing, photos, videos, youtube, ipod, maps, calendar, contacts, ebooks, presentation software, word processing, newspapers, games, netflix, wikipedia. that covers my daily needs on a computer – the iPad does them all and more.

 

cons.

no multitasking – in my mind the biggest con. just like the iPhone there is no ability to run any 3rd party applications in the background. multitasking is something you’d expect out of the box on a tablet device. on the one hand, some of apple’s apps can run in the background: for example, you can start the ipod and then run other apps while the music continues. UPDATE: apple announced iPhone OS 4.0 that will bring multitasking to the iPad by the fall. that is still a long ways away but at least there is hope in sight.

missing apps – well documented by now. there’s no calculator, weather, clock or stocks app. the biggest issue is that there is no native calculator on the ipad (something apple has included on their hardware since 1984) . there are numerous 3rd party apps that have stepped up and offer the same functionality for free. however, i’m still stunned that these seemingly basic apps are not pre-installed. the clock app is the hardest to replace. since it is a native apple app it can run in the background. that means there is no alarm clock on the iPad.

no multi-user support – the ipad seems like a no-brainer for family sharing. however, there is no multi-user support and there is no easy way to have different users with their own logins, email accounts, calendars, etc. this means that that owners will not easily hand it over to friends or family member who would then have instant access to email, notes and any other potentially sensitive info on the device.

no camera – taking pictures with the iPad really makes no sense. however, there would definitely be a benefits of having a front facing camera for video chats.

no native printing support – this is currently keeping is from being a full laptop replacement device.no one expects to be able to print from their iPhone. however, the ipad is different – you can “create” content on it (just look at the iwork applications for it). so being able to print on it  really isn’t too much to expect.

no adobe flash support – steve jobs hates flash. that’s how simple it is. i can somewhat understand not supporting flash on the iPhone, but the the iPad features a bigger display, more memory and a faster processor. in addition, droid and the palm pre support it. from a technical standpoint there is no reason that the iPad couldn’t run flash. however, keep in mind that flash does tend to crash a lot. i think that apple in its pursuit of the best user experience has realized this and discovered html 5 as the replacement. apple believes that html 5 is the future and i can understand why, but we’re not in the future yet and in 2010 flash is still the standard. 75% of all videos on the web use flash. 


the bottom line.

i believe the iPad is a device that by all accounts is amazing. personally, i don’t regret purchasing it for one minute. however, i can see both sides of the debate. is the iPad a 3rd device that fits in-between your smartphone and full computer? For some users yes. Can it replace your laptop? For some users yes. the big questions that need to be answered are: do i really need a 3rd device? does the iPad really do everything that you need it to? 

trust me, once you spend 5 minutes with one you will want one. it’s what computing should be. the ironic thing is that computers fueled the revolution of content creation by bringing it to the masses. all of sudden all you need was a computer and you could record and produce your own music, write and publish your own books, and you create beautiful masterpieces with Photoshop. however, the iPad relegates us to content consumers not producers.so keep this in mind when you think about the iPad; its primary purpose is content consumption not content creation.

for me the iPad serves as a laptop replacement and then some. it makes my computer use simpler and more convenient. i realize that this won’t work for everyone, but it worked for me. i don;t need to print a lot of things and if i happen to do i simply email it to my desktop and print from there.

this clearly illustrates that you still need a computer to dock with in order to sync any files onto the iPad. keep this in mind when considering it as a replacement device. however, keep in mind that buying an iPad and an iMac is still cheaper than buying a decent MacBook.

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