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Apple iPad: If you call it a big iPod touch, you don’t get it. (Full Review)

April 3, 2010
tags: , ,

The iPad and its six-app dock

One of the things I’ve read the most during my few days with the iPad is random bloggers and tech writers calling the iPad a “big iPod touch.” After spending almost a week with the iPad I can tell you one thing: Those people clearly don’t know what they are talking about.

The iPad has as much in common with the iPhone as a swimming pool has a bathtub. Just because they both have water doesn’t mean you’d use them for the same thing. With the iPad, Apple has finally created a market for tablet devices. At the same time, they’ve once again highlighted the ineptitude of Microsoft, who for a decade has peddled clunky tablets using styluses and running the Windows OS with absolutely no success.

The iPad lives up to its “magical” moniker.  Things happen almost instantly on an iPad, making it feel surreal when you enter an app or browse a webpage. Especially when you’re on a fast WiFi network.

Apple said the iPad would be better at doing some things than a laptop, and they were right. I’ve never enjoyed my photos so much. Being able to hold your pics in your hands with such a large display absolutely beats a laptop. Surfing the internet curled up on the couch and with the 9.7 inch display in your hands is by far the most fun I’ve ever had checking out my favourite sites.

The virtual keyboard is extremely accurate, by far the best I’ve ever created for a mass-market device. Apple has clearly made some improvements to the auto-correct keyboard. It can now detect when you miss a letter and offer you a correction. The new 3.2 OS also underlines errors which you can then tap and correct, and you can now select words and choose to replace them.

Hardware

The screen is a magnificent, bright and huge beast. Having said that, it’s still no match for the Sun. while the iPad performs gloriously indoors, under shade, & under cloud, it becomes washed out in direct sunlight. The super glossy screen that gets greasy after prolonged use makes sunny outdoor viewing even more difficult.

The iPad feels good in your hands. It is solid and well-built. It’s a stunning device that will get people want to hold and touch. The aluminum shell is sleek and somewhat slippery, but I still haven’t put mine in a case, I like how it looks naked just too much.

The speakers provide decent sound and a satisfying rumble when you hold it in your hands. However you will wish you had a louder speaker when playing back some YouTube content that has low audio to begin with.

Battery life is impressive, besting Apple’s stated 10-hour runtime by at least an hour in my tests. Tear-downs of the iPad on other websites show that the machine is packed with two huge batteries, and these long-lasting batteries give Apple a huge hardware advantage over current and future tablet competitors. The two other tablets currently making waves in the tech world, the JooJoo and HP Slate, are rated at just 2.5 and 5 hours or battery life, respectively.

Software

iTunes completely stands out on the iPad. While it’s missing the visually cool Cover Flow, it’s is by far the best and easiest to use version of Apple’s iconic software. Editing playlists has never been easier.

As much as the lack of flash is talked about by bloggers, it’s a non-issue. YouTube, Vimeo, FunnyorDie, ESPN, CNN, Gawker and every other website I care about has already jumped on the HTML 5 bandwagon and made their sites ready to go. Watching the crisp H.264 embedded video on these sites or others like NHL.com loading quickly and with no hiccups validates Apple’s choice to continue to give Adobe’s Flash the finger. Oh and no stupid flashing banner ads!

There are some bugs in the release software, but nothing to spoil the experience. Third party apps, like the WordPress app I used to type most of this (but not this sentence!) take full advantage of the big screen. This is what makes you realize that you’re not simply using a big iPod touch. Most of things on the iPad couldn’t be done well (if at all) on Apple’s smaller touchscreen devices.

Marvel Comics, Amazon’s Kindle, Major League Baseball and a slew of others have already jumped on the iPad bandwagon. So while there’s not 150,00 apps for it like the iPhone just yet, it’s clear already that there won’t be a lack of apps on the new platform.

Using old iPhone apps on the device isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but all of them that I tried still work. Some games actually translated quite well despite being blown up on the iPad’s screen.

One disappointment: Apple hasn’t included a Voice Memos, Calculator, or Weather app on the iPad, despite all of those being standard on the iPhone and iPod touch. You’ll have to buy third-party apps and spend extra money to get these basic functions as it stands.

Other points in point form:

– Powering down the machine takes a few seconds. Turning on the machine takes 18 seconds.

– The wallpaper that comes loaded with the iPad shows a meteor shower. Which kinda looks like huge scratches across the screen. You’d think Steve Jobs off all people would have caught that.

– The App Store won’t work on the iPad in Canada yet, but downloading apps on iTunes on your Mac/PC and syncing totally gets around that issue. Some things, like Scrabble for iPad and the iBooks app, aren’t available for Canadians just yet.

– Makes sure you have high-res artwork in that library of yours! The iPad blows up cover art to almost fill the entire screen, making low-res art look bad.

– A perfect example of the iPad’s intuitiveness is the user manual, if you can even call it that. It’s a simple double-sided card with one big picture of the iPad and 11 words on one side and a few paragraphs on the other. If this device was made by Sony, you’d have a 300-page user manual printed in black & white on recycled paper.

– The most difficult thing about the iPad is finding a comfortable position to use it. Once you do, you’ll be a happy camper. For me, it’s at a desk with the iPad laying flat, or on the couch with the iPad resting on my stomach.

iPad user manual

Apple hasn’t released a firm date or even pricing for the Canadian market, and it will be interesting to see if Apple matches U.S. pricing now that the Canadian dollar is almost at parity. I expect  for Apple to price the iPad at $549/$649/$749 when it comes north of the border for the 16, 32, and 64 GB models.

Unlike Amazon’s Kindle and the other e-Readers out there, the iPad is not a niche device. It’s a product for everybody, and anyone could pick up an iPad and find some reason to love it. The device is meant for consuming, and whether it be books, magazines, comics, games, or even live baseball, the iPad is in a terrific position to become the primary device for consuming media for a lot of people.

Most of this review was written on an iPad. Formatting and the addition of photos was done using my desktop.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2010 2:42 PM

    Elias,

    comprehensive review. Saw the one on CTV as well.
    Can’t imagine this isn’t the way we’ll all be going …

Trackbacks

  1. The insanity of people complaining about Canadian iPad pricing « OK mobile computer.

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