Hands on with the iPad

A while back, I blogged my initial thoughts on the unveiling of the iPad. I thought it was a neat piece of kit, but I couldn’t really see where it would fit into my lifestyle. Today, I had my first chance to have a play with an iPad in my local PC World. Bear in mind I am neither an Apple fan-boy, nor a hater. I am a long standing Windows PC user (and probably always will be) but I love my iPhone and wouldn’t be without it.

So first impression were: it’s smaller than I expected. It felt reliably solid in the hand, heavy enough to feel “quality”, but not too much to strain the hands. The design is, of course beautiful. This is Apple’s forté and they know it. I played a video and the sound, even when turned up to maximum, sounded pretty puny. Of course most users would either be using headphones, or would hook up some external speakers if they were watching a clip of any length.

The interface is as slick and smooth as one would expect. It is a refinement of what we know from the iPhone. The way you view photo albums is incredible. The processor is obviously a bit more powerful, everything works without any perceptible delay. I looked at the iBooks app, which looked great and worked very well. It was easy to navigate and as far as an ebook experience, one can’t complain. But I just know don’t if I have bought into ebooks per se as a method of book consumption. It was a decent, pleasant experience. But it wasn’t the killer app.

Browsing the web was like the iPhone experience, but better. The larger screen definitely makes things better, as well as the faster processor making the whole experience smooth like a baby’s derriere. This was as close as I came to finding a use for the iPad that couldn’t be bettered in another way. It certainly makes web browsing fast and easy. But hang on! I thought I’d pop over to Flickr and set up a slideshow of the Lotus F1 Team’s prolific Grand Prix photostream. But it’s not working. Why? You know why! I’m not going to go over the current technological spat between Steve Jobs and Adobe. But flash is still currently so prevalent on so many important websites, that if you are going to use your iPad as a primary web browsing device (rather than a secondary device i.e. the iPhone) it simply is an annoying experience.

Until either Apple about-turn and allow Flash on their machines (hell will freeze over first), or HTML5 takes over all those aforementioned sites (will be a while, at the earliest), the iPad web browsing experience is incomplete.

What else is there on the iPad? Well there is Keynote. But who in their right mind would choose to make presentations on this device? This is for when you have to make/update a presentation, and are caught between offices. Oh, and if you are a Powerpoint user in the office, I believe you are out of luck. There was a port of the old Sega 8-bit classic Sonic The Hedgehog. It was a disappointing experience. Virtual direction pad and buttons are not for me. I know there will be many many more games which will be more suited to the platform, but although I wouldn’t mind playing the odd game on the iPad, I can’t see it as a gaming platform of choice, and certainly not enough to make me buy one.

In summary then, the iPad was slick and smooth to use. Apps in order of usefulness for me were: web broswing, iBooks, photo viewer, everything else superfluous. Currently not enough to tempt me. And interestingly it was not because it didn’t do those things well. They did them brilliantly (except the lack of Flash). It’s just that I don’t know if I want to spend £500 to do those things on a slick separate device like the iPad.

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One Response to “Hands on with the iPad”

  1. I think you’ve hit the main issue which is cost and usage. £500 is not a small amount of money, and if you have smart phone and a laptop then it won’t do anything your existing devices can’t do already. If you are in the market to change either, then consider it as another option. I financed mine by not upgrading my 2 yr old 3g iPhone and rediverting the funds. The main killer feature for me is it is a good reading device. All those minutes for meetings, guidelines, protocols, journals, instruction manuals, important emails, reference material including 100 page PDFs. Are all quickly available and easily readable with my instant on, touch UI, all day battery life iPad. No more printing off sheets, carrying paper or firing up and bringing in a laptop to places.
    I watch with interest to see if Android can bring the form factor with Flash and still maintain the speed and battery life that makes the iPad something I use, rather than something I have.

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