Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review - Apple iPad

Yes, I was one of those who pre-ordered the iPad the first day it was available for pre-order, and have been really enjoying it for the past few weeks. There have been a lot of good reviews, and many lists of favorite apps, but I'll share what I like about the iPad, and why I think it's a game-changer.

What is the iPad?

It's like an iPod Touch for senior citizens. An iPhone without the phone, but 4x the screen size. It's a touch-tablet internet-media device that runs the iPhone OS instead of Windows. It's slim, portable, and runs all iPhone apps plus a growing number of applications specifically designed for the larger screen. It has a diverse target audience - seniors looking to do email/Facebook for the first time ever, students, sports fanatics, readers, photographers, and geeks.

Why Would You Want an iPad?

Well, besides being very cool, they have a great variety of applications. There's full iPod functionality for music, it can play videos and movies, stream Netflix movies, show Google Maps, provide access to email, calendar, YouTube, weather including animated doppler maps. It's a super photo frame, a game device, a serious notepad, e-book and Kindle book reader. All those features are free, and there are many more excellent apps that cost from 0.99 to a few dollars. The base model comes with WiFi access, and for about $130 more plus $15 or $30 a month for 3G anywhere access. Compared to the cost of a Kindle, iPod, PDA, GPS and electronic photo frame, it's not a bad deal for $499. (That's the model I got, passing on the 3G option since I do have an iPhone, and going for smaller memory as my music collection isn't huge.)

Why an iPad versus a Laptop?

Most reviews that don't like or don't "get" the iPad describe it in terms of what it can't do - no Flash support, no physical keyboard or CD-ROM player, no MS Office apps, too limited in what software you can run, and locked into what Apple will allow in the iTunes store. I wouldn't call it a full-fledge laptop replacement, though it can serve as the all-you-need device for a short business or recreational trip, especially with optional keyboard and VGA adapter for projector presentations.

What am I using it for, and why do I really like it?

The main reason I got it was actually to demo web applications that I write for my clients and prospective clients at work. (They want to see the state of their huge chemical plant or warehouse on a Gantt chart over the web. I show it to them on an iPad and tell them they can even do this while walking the plant. Their eyes light up/)  I use it to read Kindle books, to check email, to listen to music, to have pictures of my family looping at work, to access my calendar and to-do list, for Bible study, and (more than) once in a while play a game. What's great is that the iPad is instant-on (no boot-up or crashing), is extremely intuitive to use, and I can access it comfortably in my recliner. I think of something I need to look up or jot down, I pick it up, do it in a few seconds, and put it back down. My kids love to play games on it (youngest boy still small enough to sit in my lap while playing). The overall user experience is very satisfying for everything but text-intensive purposes. I still prefer a multimonitor desktop for 'serious' work or writing, and I still love my iPhone which does of this and fits in my pocket. But if I have all of those devices around I find myself reaching for the iPad as my new first choice. I think we're going to see some really amazing apps and media-content systems that make great use of the iPad and touch-capability. 

(Analogy for gamers? XBox is to high-end lap-top as Nintendo Wii is to iPad as Nintendo DS portable is to iPhone. They're all good, best for different things. Our family is a Wii family)

If you have any specific questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them!


Dr. Matt J. Carlson said...

Interesting video game platform comparison... The iPhone/iPod Touch is the first real threat to Nintendo's lock on portable video gaming in a long, long time...

Larry Baxter said...

You're right Matt. I just saw this article yesterday: "The iPad Could Mean Big Trouble for Nintendo" where they show a large sales dip surrounding iPad release. http://www.padgadget.com/2010/05/08/the-ipad-could-mean-big-trouble-for-nintendo/

iphonesia said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)