Tuesday, April 06, 2010

my iPad experience: i promise its not a review edition (1 of 2)

Wow, there sure has been a lot of iPad buzz and reviews the last few days.  It was expected since this is the marketing beast/genius that is Apple and they don't holdout on launching products.  The iPad was released to the general public three days ago (4/3/2010) in the USA; the lines were nothing like the iPhone or even the PS3 or Wii launches.

Its estimated that only about 300k were sold on the first weekend. Not a bad launch or a great one either.  My 16gb iPad arrived nice and early on Saturday around 9am. So I've had it for about three days. I promise/hope not to bore you with YAIR (yet another iPad review) but more of my thoughts on using it as a geek and then a post 2 of impressions others had on it as i let them have free roam and use of it.  Keep reading for the goodies.

Ok, first things first, I am not going to have a gallery of pics of the iPad.  If you want that, head on over to apple for that or stop into a best buy or apple store to get a live demo or talk to the geeky it dude at work (i'm him, hehe).

In this post I am going to give my quick thoughts on using the iPad and impressions and another post on the impressions that others had on using it (age range from 4yrs old to 72yrs old)

My Experience/Impressions:

First things first, I really don't believe it is just a large iPhone/iPod Touch but its just easier to describe it that way to most people.  Its a different device in that it seems like its just another device but bigger.  However, once you start using it you realize its not though; it has its own personality per se.

I initially was not much an iPad believer or fan; I actually mocked it and was in that "can it do flash?" crowd. Vaguely and distinctly I stalked it but not really paying too much attention still was aware of its pre-order day. Finally after finding out that there hadn't been a single piece of evidence that the Microsoft Courier even existed (ie no prototype, all just concept), I justified my pre-order.  Worst case, I sell it back on eBay the same week for almost exactly as much as I paid or I like it and keep it until the Courier comes out (if it does).

Fast forward to a week before launch, my interest is increasing as more demos of it come out.  Finally after realizing what they intended it to be used for, I pre-ordered a 64gb Wifi+3G version.  The 16gb Wifi iPad was definitely just an appetizer before the main course was ready (still late April for Wifi+3g version).

Which leads us up to today, 3 days of owning it.  So far I would say I'm satisfied with my purchase.  For a person like me, its a great device.  Yes, I am a geek but I appreciate the iPad for its in-between form factor and usability. I personally hate Flash; yes I HATE FLASH!!!  I don't play flash games or watch too much flash video (Hulu only exception, but you can't watch Hulu on any device that can't mask its agent string from being a main computer OS i believe). No flash? Thank you! HTML5 FTW!

Moving on...  the ability of picking up the iPad and turning it on, opening Safari and doing a search all within 30 secs is pretty sweet.  no netbook or laptop can come close to that; only phones and dedicated devices (mid/pmp) can really do that. but again the size of the iPad makes these tasks so much easier when your just sitting on the couch or out on the porch.

Typing is pretty good, I usually touch type with my index fingers or 1 finger it.  still better than trying to use Win7's keyboard or any other OS's onscreen keyboard.  the keyboard really messes up my typing on my Nexus One since I'm used to the huge size in comparison.

The screen looks amazing; readable in direct sun but your fingerprints may block the image.  the screen is notorious for fingerprints/smudges but are not noticeable when its on; just when its off or at an angle.  viewing angle on iPad is pretty wide; much better than any laptop or portable DVD player.  also the build quality of the iPad is very solid; almost too heavy for some (i have adjusted and got the case to make it easy to tote around/prop up).

Wifi works pretty good on it, there have been reports of people having issues rejoining wifi networks.  i have not had any of these problems yet. My Verizon MiFi gives me almost a 3g iPad. The combo worked great at my relatives place for Easter dinner (no wifi there). My cousins were easily streaming Youtube clips that looked good and had no stuttering.  Pandora ran on high quality without any stuttering or hiccups.

The App store does not have too many iPad apps but its getting better each day.  You still have to remember that most devs didn't have an actual iPad to test on but only an emulator and sometimes what runs good in emulation may run like a dog on the hardware.

This would be my quick list of apps I love for my iPad:

NetFlix - Enough said, its Netflix on your iPad. FREAKING SWEET! works well on wifi and over a MiFi /3g tethered.

TweetDeck - Just superior to most twitter clients IMO. i use the desktop air app and now this one on my iPad.  just wish they'd add Facebook integration in their mobile apps. BTW, its free too.

Pandora - Capt Obvious says if you like music, you need Pandora. Its free.

Marvel Comics - App could really save the comic book genre.  There are a few free ones but most are about $1.99 an issue (not bad when you see how high quality they are). It has a Guided Viewing option, which will pan and zoom into each cell when you tap; pretty cool! App is free but most comics are not.

ABC Player - Wow, a TV Network that finally is moving in the right direction and giving us consumers more of what we want that what we don't.  their player a decent app; it lets you watch episodes of TV shows on ABC (Lost, Extreme Home Makeover, etc) from the current season. Quality is very good to high and commercials are limited to about 5 per 1 hour show and only about 1-1.5 minutes long (why are commercials 5-8 minutes long on TV? and so loud? ARG!).  You other networks, watch and learn from ABC! Also a free app.

PartyPad - Marble Mixer - $4.99 - This is a 4 player marble game.  There are 3 game type and high score tracking.  Very fun with a bunch of people; anyone can play it.

For now that's a pretty basic list; I plan to do a real list in a month or so (after the app store gets more iPad apps).

The apps and interface on the iPad is what really sells it to most people.  This is not OS X or Windows7.  Its a touchscreen based device designed with a OS that was built around touch input rather than be added on after the fact (I'm looking at you Microsoft!).  When a device is built ground up based on touch input, you know its already bested most devices/tablets out there in that area (input/usability).

Will this replace my laptop?

Yes/No. This could replace your netbook but it depends on what you use our netbook for.  Some people want a netbook to be their main laptop/pc; then no this will not replace it if your a power user or student. However, if you already own a desktop or laptop then yes it can easily replace your netbook.

BUT... this could easily be a main device for a ton of people out there.  For those who just want to surf the web, watch videos, listen to music, and play some games; this is their computer.  Everyone who has used the iPad does get a cheesy grin on their face when they first swipe or even pick it up. Its like they've seen their childhood memories of sci-fi in reality. It really kind of does feel like Star Trek just became a reality (ok that was a bit fanboy-ish sounding).

For me as a geek, this totally fit the spot that i thought an ultralight or netbook would fit. i like having easy and FAST access to data and the web.  I can be online and googling in less than 15 seconds on the iPad.  Laptops just don't do that consistently (they can do it or almost but not all the time, consumer device = more fail safe). Its a lot easier to whip out and use in an instant vs opening a laptop on a bus.

The Killer App for the iPad?  Internet everywhere!

Some Shortcomings...

But like any device, the iPad has its gripes and shortcomings.

-No Camera?? Really? Why not?? they are near standard in all laptops/netbooks/phones sold these days.  Would have been nice for the VOIPers, we'll see it in Gen 2. :)

-WiFi only, but we knew what we were getting into when we got it.  Not having internet will cut your iPad experience in half if not more.  You need to have internet to really enjoy this device. If you have a cell phone, turn it into a MiFi using perhaps an app or jailbreaking or rooting.  Otherwise I'd suggest to wait to get the WiFi+3G model or the next gen of iPads.

-No external memory card slots. Sure would be nice to upgrade storage w/o having to buy a new device. but then again, apple doesn't mind this type of thing though ;)

-Can't charge iPad via USB with most computers (ie Apple computers work fine but non usually don't) or USB hubs. Have to use a mac or the power adapter (which is pretty cute and i don't call things cute, hehe).

So all in all, yea, I love my iPad. However I'm going to love my Wifi+3G iPad even more. Remember, I was an iPhone hater too before I actually used one.  Dang Kool-Aid is tasty.

Part 2, non geek impressions and thoughts, coming soon.