It’s been just a couple of days since we got our mitts on the holy iPad, and I am yet to decide if I would keep this device or sell it off at whatever premium eBay offers. Residing back here in India we might not be the blessed ones to have the iPad on sale locally, but then the effort to bring it down all the way from the US doesn’t go waste for any one. The grey market here in the Asian countries are known to sell any new gadget at a good premium (specially if the company making them sounds like a fruit.) coming back to the iPad, I have had a dozen friends already who have check out the device and left us with their opinions. While I haven’t tried out too many apps on this the WSJ app shows the potential for newspapers and magazines to capitalize on the powers of the iPad and the first free game that I handled (Harbor Master) was addictive enough to keep me busy.
The form factor?
I had my doubts on the form factor of an iPad and specially concerns about typing. Quite to my surprise the onscreen keyboard is pretty neat, and I am actually typing this lengthy post on the device itself. Holding the iPad in portrait mode both thumbs are good enough to type out some small notes and in landscape mode the onscreen keyboard is fantastic. If only you can find a way to be comfortable with the little awkward / unergonomic setup, typing long pages aren’t really a pain (the dock does help make things v comfortable.) Apart from typing, holding the device for the first time you will feel that its heavy. IMO this feeling comes partly because of the fact that we tend to feel it as an iPhone than a notebook or a laptop and of-course the device Isn’t really feather weight. Comparing the structure to a notebook or a net book I realized during a bumpy auto rickshaw ride that this thing is much more usable than a standard computer in such situations. Primarily because you hold the interface right in your hands and input straight on the screen.
Given the metal back and slate shape, handling / carrying the device isn’t the easiest of job. If I ain’t carrying a backpack, I just can’t think of having the iPad with me. Its no mobile that would slip into a pocket. The gorgeous screen makes the iPad look fragile. I wont really feel comfortable going out with this without a screen protector and a case. I am hoping that the screen protector would help reduce the smudge caused by the fingerprints. While the iPad screen catches those marks very easily ,they just don’t appear to you when you are working on the device indoors. But once outdoor you will starts noticing the marks on the screen and a greater concern at times is the glare. Not a deal breaker but irritating at times.
For anyone else making a tablet the challenge would certainly be to beat Apple’s onscreen keyboard. iPhone users were able to use it perfectly at first go! Surfing the web on a close to 10? multitouch display is a delight. Apart from those little areas which can’t work without Adobe Flash, the rest is amazing. I am yet to come to a service where I missed the Flash add-on (note: given my usage of the device on the go and after office hours at home.) I did Paypal transactions on this and even used email services like in.com and rediffmail and it all worked flawlessly. More than the Flash I am disappointed at the lack of multitasking here. Having seen how the iPhone 4.0 multitasking works, we already know how much better it can be implemented on the iPad. Again not a deal breaker but irritating at times (having used the iPhone helps here). If you were fine with the iPhone or iPod touch, this is just an iTouch pro for you.
Except for the safari crashing a couple of times the whole interface is butter smooth (I haven’t tried any heavy 3D game yet.) I am also somewhat skeptical about the book reading a bit on the bright iPad display. A few minutes of rss reading and net surfing had my eyes somewhat strained (may be because its late in the night and I am sleepy) but I am now starting to doubt if this thing can really serve long reading hours.
So where does the iPad really fit in?
I really don’t see myself using this at all when at work (except for reviewing some new apps, which incidentally is a part of my work) but definitely for some surfing and gaming once back home. As a biker I don’t see any utility for this gadget while traveling but as soon as my cousin got his hands on the WSJ and iBooks app he had no doubt in his mind that he won’t carry a bulky laptop back home everyday, but rely on the iPad for reading and web surfing on the go or at home. I really wonder why Apple made the non 3G version of this thing at all? Apart from being an ereader the best thing this does is web! With no USB port to plugin a data card, I am left to lookup hacks to tether this thing with my phone (and I actually did that!)
Taking a little different view and having seen the Microsoft courier concept video, perhaps the iPad fills the need of a diary in the digital world. Seeing what gmail has done with its iPad version and the rich experience the device gives for surfing the web this thing does make a case for a netbook killer but only if you took a netbook as NETbook. But no matter what, this isn’t a gadget for everyone, it just cant be. I had a variety of comments coming to me as I went around the town showing this to family, friends and strangers. Some say that they would love to have this while on the move but only if the locals in Mumbai weren’t that jam packed while others believed that this only something to be liked by the Mac fanatics. The iPad works for me as a mobile computer that does more and better than my iPhone (netbook?) for my dad this is an ebook reader and my mom calls it a photo frame. Add a little gaming the mix and you have to figure out if at all, where does the iPad fit for you? Or shall I ask are you made for the iPad?
PS: Apologies for the poor pictures, had a tough time adjusting the lighting at our new office.
And did we mention the awesome @vivekk from ROOMNO368 got the iPad for us?