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iPad review: cool, meh, slippery and sleek

There are tons of reviews on the device – some from people who have had longer time with than I have so far. But here’s my impressions after taking my company’s iPad home last night.

First the negatives.

It’s smaller than I had envisioned (not necessarily a bad thing) and it’s a bit heavy for one hand to hold for long periods of time. The finger print smudges on the screen bugged the living “H” out of me. I’m known in the office as the “don’t touch his screen” guy. If I wanted to spend my day looking at fingerprints, I would have become a CSI. If it was my device, I’d have it quickly embalmed in Zagg’s InvisibleShield.

The device is slick. Really, it’s slippery. I tried to lay on the couch and prop my feet up and lay it on my lap, but it kept sliding into my stomach. Typing comes at a stand still when the device is half lodged in the belly button and cranking one’s neck to watching a video in that position can only be recommended by a chiropractor with several children in college. It needs some of those no-slip tub grips on the back. If your quick, maybe you can corner the market on cute little sticky grips for the back in the shape of your comic characters. I won’t require royalties for that idea, but a sizable donation on my annual fund-raiser would be appreciated :).

Typing was a mixed bag. In portrait mode, typing thumb was “peckingly” slow. In landscape mode, I could type quickly, but I kept resting non typing fingers on the screen (I know, my 7th grade typing teacher is muttering, “tsk, tsk, tsk”) creating lots of typos. The keyboard layout is different. The QWERTY keys are all in the right place, but other keys are in different places as a normal QWERTY keyboard – which you’d expect with the device size limitations. When typing like I was using a normal keyboard, not having keys where I expect them was frustrating. You can use external keyboards (via Bluetooth), which if I get serious about such the iPad, I’ll end up doing.

Now the positives.

It’s sleek. I can’t begin to tell you how natural it feels to touch and manipulate things on the screen with your fingers. Sure I’ve been doing that for two years with my iPhone, but with the enlarged screen, it finally feels “right.” Turning pages, selecting items, moving things around – it was so smooth and graceful. First there was the prompt command, then the mouse. I’ll parrot the mantra that the future is touch. It feels too “right” to be a fad.

It’s fast. I HATE the non-multitasking abilities of the iPhone OS. Yes I know it can play music and let you surf the web, but in terms of real multitasking, iPhone OS doesn’t. That said, I didn’t notice the lack of multi-tasking. It was so snappy in launching apps that it didn’t feel like I was shutting down apps and opening up another. It was more like a slightly prolonged app switching. I was surprised that I wasn’t frustrated.

With iPhone Safari, if I am filing out a form, but need to switch to my address book and then back to Safari, more times than not, the browser will reload the page and I’ll lose any data I entered. I didn’t run into any of that. All my form values persisted which would be very important if I were to use this device as my blogging device. I did posted three stories to the blog last night and while it took me longer, much of that can be chalked up to unfamiliarity with the device. I still need some text manipulation features (which can be had in 3rd party apps) that might make this worth pursuing for me.

I did take a moment to load up Marvel Comic’s app. I loved the crisp color and reading a comic in a true comic book layout was wonderful. The story flow was so much closer to the print experience. The only comics I keep and use on my iPhone are traditional single panels. Strips or graphic novels chop up the layout making the experience a net negative. If you’re into comic books, the iPad is for you. Just get over the fun of zip and seal your mags after you’ve read them for eternal preservation.

Overall, I’m slightly positive for the device. I’d be WAAYY more ecstatic if it had serious media production abilities instead of just media consumption. I usually don’t have enough time to sit around and consume media. When I do, I’m usually near better devices for what I want to consume (big screen for movies, TV; “analog” books for reading, a laptop for blogs and web surfing). I really like the device, I just haven’t found that I need that middle size device in my life yet.

Community Comments

#1 Brian Powers
April/6/2010
@ 11:43 am

Hey Alan, what is like to try to sketch on it. I think that there was some type of drawing program on it. I also saw that Sketchbook-pro and a vector program called Ideas from Adobe is available.

http://appshopper.com/entertainment/sketchbook-pro

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adobe-ideas-1-0-for-ipad/id364617858?mt=8

#2 Randy Glasbergen
April/6/2010
@ 12:05 pm

Love my iPad!

Newspapers are criticized for selling “yesterday’s news”. On the iPad, Wall St. Journal updates several times a day—-a newspaper with TODAY’S news! (Plus video clips!)

The most impressive thing I’ve seen on the iPad: something called a “Vook” from vook.com A vook is an interactive book with videos, hypertext links and text, instead of page after page of text. You can check it out on vook.com

I saw a blogger describe the iPad as a “couch computer”. I think that’s pretty accurate.

Randy G

#3 Dan Reynolds
April/6/2010
@ 1:11 pm

Alan,
What I’d like to know is 1. can I use adobe photoshop on it and 2. if so, does it come with adobe photoshop?

Does it come with Microsoft Office?

#4 Randy Glasbergen
April/6/2010
@ 1:30 pm

Dan, the iPad isn’t really meant for that. If you want to do Photoshop or edit a video, use your desktop computer. If you want to plop down on the sofa to check in with friends on Facebook or read a book, get an iPad.

No MS Office on iPad, but it does have iWork (Mac’s version of MS Office)

#5 Steve Skelton
April/6/2010
@ 2:00 pm

Like the iphone, it doesn’t support Flash or Photoshop??……
Isn’t it a just a big iphone without the phone? …Seems to me like the HP slate tablet would be a better choice. Steve Jobs wants to control the market, but it seems he is putting himself in a corner with his OCD. And I am a big Apple fan. Hopefully, he will learn his lesson on this one.

#6 Bearman Cartoons
April/6/2010
@ 4:48 pm

Brian, I heard that Ten One Design is going to make a iPad app as well.

http://tenonedesign.com/products.php?application=iPad

#7 Dan Reynolds
April/6/2010
@ 9:33 pm

Randy
Someone told me (they me be wrong) that the iPad has Adobe photoshop. I wouldn’t mind sitting on the couch and using Adobe photoshop. I don’t do video stuff. When I saw the iPad on tv ,while I had my laptop on my lap, all of the sudden, my laptop got VERY heavy. Instantly, my laptop seemed like an old maid and I began lusting for the slick and quick new schtick that is the iPad.
Does it have Adobe photoshop? Even if it’s uncool or dumb to use Adobe photoshop on an iPad, I’d be willing to risk my reputation by being seen using the iPad with Adobe Photoshop. Yeah, real risky behavior, I know.

I’m just hoping that I can do everything on an iPad that I can do on my laptop.

#8 John Lotshaw
April/6/2010
@ 10:35 pm

The iPad does not have Photoshop. It’s not designed to do that kind of work, and given Apple’s current row with Adobe, I think certain warm places will freeze over before you see ANY Adobe product on the iPhone/iPad OS.

#9 Dave Stephens
April/7/2010
@ 4:20 am

You can draw and paint on the iPad with, I dunno, about a dozen different apps. And of course it’s even slipperier than the iPhone, owing to size, weight, etc., so the iPad, more than the iPhone, REQUIRES a case, the rubbery kind that’s easy to grip. I’m guessing that, in time, maybe a year or two, that Adobe will make a limited but functional version of Photoshop for the iPad. Row or no row, why wouldn’t they want to make money?

#10 Randy Glasbergen
April/7/2010
@ 5:58 am

What can the iPad do? The answer will change every week as new apps are developed and sold. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE APPS! Can iPad do photoshop—-YES, if Adobe made an app for that. Can the iPad train your dog—-YES, if The Dog Whisperer makes an app for that. Can the iPad operate your iMac by remote control—YES, I did that just last night and it was very cool!

#11 Phil Wohlrab
April/7/2010
@ 6:00 am

I think the ipad is junk as far as Photoshop is concerned. You’d want a modbook which for some reason has received little to no hype. perhaps because it was put out through axitron? I don’t know.

http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbook

#12 Jeff Stanson
April/7/2010
@ 6:28 am

Hey Allan, slippery in your hands AND has fingerprint smudges all over it? Have you thought about washing your hands before using it?

#13 Jeff Stanson
April/7/2010
@ 6:32 am

Sorry Alan, the smiley didn’t show up after that last comment. Should have been one.

#14 Mark_Tatulli
April/7/2010
@ 8:03 am

What it needs is a “get-off-the-couch-and-go-excercise-and-stop-thinking-about-sedentary-inducing-gadgets” app

#15 Dan Reynolds
April/7/2010
@ 9:37 am

okay, no Adobe photoshop, no iPad for me. Back to the laptop.
Here boy! Here boy!

#16 Steve Skelton
April/7/2010
@ 9:55 am

Okay, someone help me out here. why spend this kind of money for hardware that lacks a full OS? Why not just get the Viliv or HP? The ipad really just seems like a little kid’s toy. Sad release for Apple, and I love my mac.

#17 John Lotshaw
April/7/2010
@ 11:54 am

What you’ve got to understand about the iPad is this: IT IS NOT A COMPUTER. Sure, it’s got a computer in there, but so does your microwave. You wouldn’t wanna try to run Photoshop on your microwave, would ya?

The iPad is an “information appliance”, the arrival of which has been predicted for decades. It’s a consumption device, just like a television. It’s one-way: producer (them) to consumer (you). You buy movies on it, you watch movies on it, you buy TV shows on it, you watch TV shows on it, you buy games on it, you play… do you see a pattern here?

The iPad is all about consumption. There’s nothing wrong with that… As producers of content, we should welcome new markets and new opportunities to sell our stuff. But this machine is not for creating what’s going to be sold on them. Never was, never will be. That’s what the MacOS and Windows (and to a smaller extent, Linux) boxes are for.

#18 Steve Skelton
April/7/2010
@ 12:23 pm

Thanks, John. I am still not sure why I would want an information appliance when I can get a computer with a full OS with the same “information appliance” capabilities for the same (or even less) price. Did anyone tell Mr. Jobs that you can search the internet and watch a movie on an HP laptop? Not the best time to own Apple stock…….

#19 Steve Skelton
April/7/2010
@ 12:31 pm

This is better!

http://gajitz.com/well-rounded-slick-multi-functional-computer-just-for-kids/

#20 Scott Metzger
April/7/2010
@ 12:34 pm

Steve, let’s not forget that the iPad can make great salsa:

http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/04/02/stephen-colbert-makes-ipad-salsa/

#21 Mike McKeenan
April/7/2010
@ 12:54 pm

Umm … Apple’s stock is at an all-time high.

#22 Steve Skelton
April/7/2010
@ 12:59 pm

Okay, my comment about the stock didn’t make sense. Apple stock always goes up upon a release. I am just sayin’ maybe it is a good time to sell. What you have to keep in mind is how the market is beginning to offer many versions of the ipad right now, and once the excitement wears off, consumers will realize that not having a full operating system kinda sucks. I love Apple, though, and I will say no more about this.

#23 Tom Wood
April/7/2010
@ 1:51 pm

No multi-tasking is a deal killer alone. No Flash is another nail. No USB port, bang.

Hello HP Slate!

#24 Anne Hambrock
April/7/2010
@ 3:00 pm

It’s interesting how many things people say they want this to do. I don’t remember any of this being an issue with the ipod and this is basically just a big ipod. Which means that it will change the way we consume print and movies in the same way we changed music consumption when we switched from walkmans to ipods.

I have never had any bugs or glitches with my ipod – can’t address the ipone because I don’t have one – or my Mac computers. I have, however, had countless headaches with my equipment from HP, Canon, Microsoft, Dell…..

That alone makes me more interested in an ipad than the Slate.

#25 John Lotshaw
April/7/2010
@ 3:08 pm

Another misconception about the iPad/iPhone OS is that it doesn’t have multitasking. It does, as does practically every computer operating system on the planet. These machines have to have multitasking… otherwise, they couldn’t play music while you’re surfing the web. Any modern operating system (and by modern, I mean anything that doesn’t run on a Commodore 64) has tons of processes and daemons running all the time. Just because you never access them doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and they aren’t multitasking in the background.

What the iPad/iPhone OS doesn’t have is “application concurrency”, namely, the ability to run more than one third-party app at the same time. The key here is “third-party”, meaning “not from Apple”. Safari, Mail, iTunes–these are all Apple apps and they can all run as multitasking apps on the iPhone/iPad OS. It’s apps that you buy on the App Store that run one at a time, and that’s all due to the security and user model that Apple has adopted for these devices.

When designing the system, Apple decided that the core principles would be ease of use and security. Allowing application concurrency and direct access to the file system opens up many cans-o-worms in the security department. Just look at all the security flaws in Windows, or in Flash. Apple locked down the sandbox to prevent these sorts of exploits from attacking iPhone and iPad users.

For ease of use, the limited size of the screens on mobile devices means that you can’t have the type of windowing paradigm that you have on the desktop on a mobile device. It’s very easy on these other systems to open apps and forget they’re there. If they’re open and running, these forgotten apps will draw system resources, like CPU, memory and–most importantly for a mobile device–power. Apple pre-emptively decided that this was unacceptable, so they locked out third-party app concurrency.

All that being said, things will probably be changing tomorrow, as Apple will be previewing iPhone OS 4.0. According to reports, this new version of the OS will have third-party application concurrency. We’ll see how Apple tackled the issues that initially led them to eliminate that feature.

By the way: I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad. I have a Blackberry, on which I’m always leaving apps open only to discover that suddenly I have no battery life left. When my contract expires in July, I plan to get an iPhone (even if it means switching to AT&T).

#26 Dave Stephens
April/7/2010
@ 3:10 pm

I’m sure the HP Slate will be just as big a hit as all the other Windows-based tablets that have come out in the last 5 years…
;)

Seriously, all those tablets had Windows, had Flash, had multi-tasking, had USB ports and you could watch video and listen to music and NO ONE bought ’em. Of course, they needed a stylus or a mouse. And the mouse was what they were designed to be used with, not the stylus. Until HP creates a unique, touch-designed interface and stops relying on a mouse-based OS to run it’s touch-centric product, they will continue to “think the same” and fail the same…

#27 Dan Reynolds
April/7/2010
@ 7:24 pm

John Lotshaw said “You wouldn’t want to use photoshop on your microwave…”

Actually, I’ve found doing just so enriches the warm colors in my palette.

#28 John Lotshaw
April/7/2010
@ 9:10 pm

Sometimes, I do feel like using my microwave oven on Photoshop…

#29 Dave Stephens
April/8/2010
@ 1:59 pm

NEWSFLASH!!!
Iphone and iPad OS4, now with MULTI-TASKING done right, as usual. And a ton of other improvements!

#30 Dave Stephens
April/9/2010
@ 7:59 pm

Oops. Coming this summer. Not here, yet.

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