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The Apple iPad reviewed
Posted on 20-Apr-2010 16:27 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

The Apple iPad launched to great success in the United States, with confirmed sales of over 300,000 units on its first shipping day. All around the world people are waiting for this mobile device, one that “[iPad] is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” according to Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

Steve Jobs continued “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

Is that so?

I had an Apple iPad here, courtesy of Toshcomputers, a New Zealand retailer of Apple products. Although for a short period of time (two days), I came to appreciate some of the "magic".

The Apple iPad is "consumer" device. I don't think you can create content on it, as much as you can consume content. The content can be your photos, music, emails, websites, electronic books from a virtual bookshelf, or even the apps themselves.

I was surpised the device was actually smaller than I thought. At first it does seem like a supersized Apple iPhone. The app icons on the screen, the single button on the face, they are all familiar - probably more so to actual iPhone users (no, I don't have an iPhone). It did feel a bit heavier than anticipated though, but nothing major - just a tad under 700g.

The screen is bright and responsive to finger actions - swipe, pinch, move are all executed with fluid corresponding movements on screen. Turn the iPad on its side and the screen turns into landscape. Turn it again and it will change to portrait, quickly, no wait. Turn it upside down and it will rotate 180 degrees without a problem. But if you don't like all this fun, use the lock button on the side.

I had it connected to my home wireless LAN in no time. Logged into my Apple iTunes account and was instantly offered the bookshelf app - I am told this is not available to New Zealand iTunes account yet though.

To test the "experience" I went through all things: bought a TV episode, a cheap app that was a great success with Bella, and downloaded a couple of eBooks.

Bella, as I said, had great fun with a drawing app. In no time she mastered the strokes, tool selection, colouring and stamping. She was very careful with the iPad, and that night at bed time we read for her a few chapters of Winnie The Pooh, the freebie eBook that comes with the app.

The next thing was my main application: email. Configuring an Exchange account was easy. As expected emails, contacts and calendar items all started flowing into the iPad.

By then the TV episode had finished downloading. It wasn't the fastest download around, but this was over WiFi and I grant this medium is not the fastest. Usually an iTunes download of similar size would be done in about half of the time on my HTPC desktop - but that is a wired connection.

Interestingly the iPad is not a 16:9 device. If you watch widescreen movie contents you will see bar on top and bottom of the movie. But the image is crisp and with very little to no artifacts. The sound is ok - but I recommend you use headphones for best results. In my case I paired the iPad with a pair of Bluetooth stereo headphones, and the result was very good. Nice and clear sound with no dropouts, which obviously is something related to the quality of both products (you should not expect great sound from a low quality pair of headphones).

Obviously web browsing is one of the most, if not the most, important use case here. The Safari experience is great. "Pinch" the content to zoom in and out, like you'd do on your iPhone. Even at maximum zoom out the fonts show well defined contours and are incredibly easy to read.

Unfortunately it was time to pack it to send back to Toshcomputers. It seems these devices are in hot demand, even here. After two days of full use - including synchronising to my Exchange email service, downloading a few apps, downloading a full TV episode of more than 1.4GB over WiFi, having Bluetooth headphones connected during the episode viewing, Bella playing with the drawing app, bed time reading - the iPad was still showing about 25% battery left.

Verdict? If you are looking for a device to consume media in new ways, this is it for you. If you want a device to quickly read a chapter of your ebook, reply to an email while in the McDonald's queue then you might as well get a smartphone. Or perhaps get both? Whatever you do though, remember the iPad is a companion device, complementing your computing experience. And a very good one at that.

  • Incredibly long battery life
  • Easy to get content from iTunes store
  • Very responsive
  • It runs some iPhone apps although they look small on the bigger screen

  • You will get finger marks on the screen - have a small lint free cloth handy
  • It gets a bit of time to get used getting it out of a folder in public - unless you like too much attention

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