The iPad - First Impressions
Well firstly it was really frustrating to watch the iPad launch and know it would be months before I could get my hands on one. But with thanks to the generous help of our friends at Negociants , there are now three iPads at Fusion.
Opening the box I was immediately taken back by the size. It was smaller than I expected, however as I picked it up it was much heavier than I anticipated. It was the weight of quality, reassuring money well spent sort of quality. Its form and design is simply stunning. The iPad is an extension of Apple ’s design grammar, a progression on from the iPhone, not a revolutionary shift.
My fingers appreciate the sharper edges on the rear of the device, which provide greater grip. I think the smoother styling of the iPhone/touch have lead to many people dropping and breaking these devices. The sharper lines of the iPad combined with the anodized aluminium finish provide a more positive tactile effect, better for gripping. The width of the border around the screen is appropriate whatever the orientation, so that my thumb doesn’t interfere with the touch sensitive screen when I hold the device with one hand.
The buttons on the iPad are similar to the iPhone, but with one difference. The mute button of the iPhone is replaced with a slide switch to lock the iPad screen from rotations when you swivel the device. I have found this function really useful once I have settled on a favourite orientation for the application I’m using.
The physical appearance of the iPad is a case of simplicity rules. There are no frivolous design details. The focus is on ensuring there is nothing between you and the beautiful touch screen.
Interacting with the touch screen is simply amazing and opening applications is lightening fast. Its responsiveness makes the iPhone seem like a step backwards. The speed of the graphics ensures the touch interaction experience feels truly science fiction. Using a two fingered pinch and zooming into an image occurs in real time, as fast as you can touch it. The iPad keeps up with you.
The colour intensity, sharpness and resolution of the screen renders websites to make them look far superior than my lap top screen. I think the higher ratio of pixels per inch is the key contributor to the iPad’s screen quality.
Apple heavily promoted a 15 hour iPad battery life and they have pulled this off. Gone are the nights with my laptop not tolerating a few hours surfing the web in front of the TV. The iPad just keeps going. The iPad’s battery is persistently around 80% and I have docked and charged it only once daily.
On the internet I have read a lot of banter about what type of computer category the iPad fits into. Is it just a big iPhone or a sadly specked net book? I think it is neither of these. The iPad is in its own category.
The big iPhone criticism is in many ways the iPads genius. This well understood method of touch interaction, installing applications, music and movies with a simple touch removes a massive barrier to entry. Will the mouse become a thing of the past? The iPad’s simplicity is its greatest strength. No manuals are needed. Just turn it on and you are off and running.
My 6 year old was desperate to have a turn and was instantly able to do everything he does on the iPhone. He just loved the scale and was highly excited with the rich screen transitions from typical touch interactions. For him the iPad is for entertainment, games, movies, and ebooks. Then when his grandparents visited he was able to show off the iPad. I have a great photo of him, his little sister and both grandparents all playing with the iPad at the same time. This would not happen with a small screen smart phone or laptop. Would it be fair to say that the iPad is the first truly accessible family computing device? I wonder how many iPads are going to be under the Christmas tree this year.
So how do I use the iPad? I have found that it is the device of choice in the home. The lap top is not getting its regular trips away from work. Typically I use the iPad sitting on the couch while the TV is on in the background. It is the ultimate couch computer. But its portability sees me using it all over the house. At the kitchen bench for breakfast and in the kid’s beds for story time.
Surfing the web is such a slick experience and it’s a far superior tool for twittering than the iPhone. Games, while not my thing, have got the 6 year old completely addicted. The comment has been made, “They are too small on the iPhone.” We now have iPad time limits in our house. Video is also awesome and I predict that the iPad will be making many long haul flights. Good luck to the inventor of shared headphones so two can listen to the iPad at the same time. However typing on screen is not an intuitive experience as you can’t rest your fingers on the screen keys. But a keyboard and dock would solve this.
Being unable to purchase the iLife suite (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) in Australia at the moment along with only a limited number of applications, it is hard to really put the iPad through its paces. I haven’t really made up my mind if its primary role is as a tool for productivity verses consumption. But having witnessed some of the social uses of the iPad I see it has massive potential in consultative selling situations, in showrooms and out in the field. There are huge opportunities for all ranges of service industries where up to date data is required at specific locations. I can imagine the possibilities for healthcare, hospitality, education, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.
While the iPad is a revolutionary product, after a couple of weeks of use, I have found it isn’t perfect. I would like to be able to multitask as I’ve experienced some Twitter and browser hassles. It needs a decent method to manage the number of Apps (which Im sure will be on fixed soon, after previewing the iPhone beta OS). And I think it would really benefit from a multi-person log on, so one device can service the whole family. I have become so accustomed to using my iPhone camera that I feel one is definitively missing from the iPad. I believe there is room in the iPad for one and it was a costing decision to not include it. It will only be a matter of time and I think future versions will see all these wishes come true.
As it is only really early days, there have not been any ground breaking applications released yet. Right now there are amazing opportunities for developers as the uses for the iPad are only limited to the applications created for it. I think we aint seen nothing yet.