Three days ago I made my first foray in the world of Apple products by purchasing an iPad. After two intensive days of jubilation mixed with frustration, i feel that I am to a point being able to give an evaluation of the products. Before going any further, let me give full disclosure about myself. As I mentioned I am totally new to the Mac or any other Apple product since the IIe. I am reasonably savvy with computers and software and such, but I am definitely out of touch with the latest and greatest.
I purchased a 32 Gig, WiFi only model. The starting point for an ipad is $500 for 16 Gig. with a memory doubling for every $100 spent, up to 64 gigs. There was no hard logic used to determine the size I chose, only the typical “middle of the road” reasoning. I suppose if you are planning to heavily use media, or at least store it on the iPad then the bigger the better. I planned mostly to store documents and maybe I could have been fine with the 16 gig, but for an extra $100, I figured that it was safer since I did not want to run out of space.
I did not want the 3G connection since most of my usage will take place in the presence of WiFi. To spend $30/month for a data package just isn’t worth it to me, ESPECIALLY since they put a max to the amount you can download in any given month.
The iPad comes with a USB adaptor and a 110v adaptor so that you can charge your iPad, which is a good thing because, more likely than not, your computer will NOT be able to charge the iPad while it is running. I was confused as to why the iPad kept giving me a “NOT CHARGING” message while it was plugged into my pc. I looked online and apparently most USB ports to not provide enough electricity to sufficiently charge a running iPad, but the good news is that if you leave it plugged in to your PC it will reduce, or even remove the amount of electricity the iPad pulls from its battery.
The first “startling” thing is that before the iPad would even “boot”, it required a connection to iTunes. That means that you CANNOT run the iPad without having an iTunes account, which requires a CREDIT CARD. In the grand scheme of things it makes sense, but it seems very heavy-handed to force this on its users. While I would have given them my credit card anyway to buy applications, I found this rather irksome.
To continue on the bad note, the iTunes store the main means for managing your iPad. This means not only your music and apps, but documents, pictures and various ways the iPad syncs with you applications (like email, calendar, etc.) With two different computers I was afraid that I could only sync my iPad with just that PC but fortunately that is not the case. If you are not PC savvy, i recommend having a friend help you through this. For producers of such a user-friendly devices, their iTunes store does stink.
Since I cannot bash the iTunes store enough, I will add that browsing for apps is a pain. The popular stuff rises to the top and they do have searches and categories, but no other real way of doing intelligent sorting other than that (yes, there are a couple exemptions, but this is the general case.
On a positive note, it is VERY easy to purchase and download apps. Given that most apps are well under $10, and they have your credit card, within seconds you will have the app or book you purchase.
So now for the good…..
My main for buying this device was to free me from the basement where my PC resides. I do a fair amount of reading, from emails to blog posts to user groups to web sites to PDFs and none of these require heavy processing power. I wanted portability and a device that could be used to display by picture portfolio and this fits the bill. I am not sure the specs on this device, but it is fairly light, lighter than a laptop thus making it very portable. While there is some weight, there is no bulk.
Reading is a great experience on this device. The device is the size of a book, and the technology used to bring the page to the screen is quite amazing. The software engineers made this reading experience equal to or perhaps even superior to that of traditional paper books. Some applications, like iBooks, even translate the aesthetic by simulating the curling and turning of the electronic page as your fingers swipes the page.
Since books don’t take up any physical space in virtual library it keeps the house from getting cluttered. This is a biggie for us since our house is filled with books that take enormous amounts of space. But not only is the iPad an answer to tradition books, but it is also a great for reading magazines. In fact, some companies allow you to subscribe to electronic issues, pushing magazines directly to your iPad once they are released. How cool is that?
Using the internet is a breeze as well. Browsing is a very natural exercise that, in many ways, beats the tradition PC. One of the things I enjoy most is being able to lay down on the couch, hold this book-sized item and doing my internet reading. It also gives me a great deal of freedom to read PDFs that I did not have heretofore.
The battery life on this device is amazing. They state ten hours of usage is standard, and extrapolating from my experience, I think they are stating the truth. Ten hours is full usage, not including the “sleep mode”. This is quite amazing.
I bought a wireless keyboard, which was a wise purchase. This simple device makes the iPad a laptop replacement. As an input for web browsing to typing iPad reviews all this device combo is quite killer. While there is a simple notepad app that comes standard, there are a number of other more serious apps at the iTunes store. Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations are all available. While I would not want to spend a day using my iPad for these purposes, it is very doable for hours at a time.
Initially, I was going to wait on pulling the trigger to buy until multi-tasking was added, but when then next OS release is pushed in November, all iPads will have multi-taking. At first I thought the lack of multi-tasking would be a detriment in how I use the iPad, but I found that it has little effect. The applications close and load very quickly and when an application is opened it quickly goes to the last spot you were. Thus popping in and out of applications is so efficient I ALMOST don’t miss true multi-tasking. But there is one area where multi-tasking is missed – streaming audio. You can always play iTunes in the background but you cannot play streaming audio in the background until the new OS release, thus no Pandora while surfing the web until November.
So…what is worth it for me and is it worth it for you? For myself, yes, it is well worth the money. After careful research I was rewarded with a device that exceeded my expectation. I look forward to what the future holds in store.
This device is great for students, for a “second” home computer and for those on the go. This is so much lighter and more portable than any laptop or net book. The drawback is that it is more limited. A smaller screen, lack of raw processing power make it not practical for heavy applications like Photoshop. This device was never intended to replace the workstations but rather to be a great companion.