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iPad Get! So How Is It, Really? (review)

Gneech and his iPad! Let's hope they'll be happy together...

I thought about doing a spoof video of myself geekgasming as I opened the box a la Stephen Fry, I really did. But in the end, I was thwarted by the fact that Mrs. Gneech wasn’t here to operate the video camera, and that I was too bouncy to wait.

So, how is it really? Is it like a laptop? Or just an iPod? What’s the verdict?

Granted, I haven’t exactly been running the thing through its paces, but I did buy the limited 30 days of 3G access and took the thing with me on some errands, I played the first few minutes of “Sam and Max: The Penal Zone,” and now I’ve got it on the keyboard and I’m posting to my blog. So it’s not a bad little test. I haven’t tried the funkadelic “Periodic Table App” or keyboard toy — I’m looking for a gadget I will actually use, particularly when I’m at conventions. Really, that’s what I wanted it for, to replace my Old and Busted laptop with some New Hotness.

Overall, I like it. While it is heavier than it looks, it’s not so heavy as to be unmanageable. The interface takes a little getting used to, (although people with an iPod/iPhone/iWhatever already will have a much easier time) and the apps need a little more baking. On the other hand, sliding, swiping, and touching the screen quickly become second nature and it won’t be long before you’ll wonder how you managed so long struggling with a mouse.

Regarding the apps, most of the ones ready out of the gate are just iPhone apps with either a big black margin, or blown up to double size and fuzzy as all get out, so they will take some time to catch up. Stanza particularly suffers here, because if you double the size of the app, and then shrink the font down in order to get more words on the screen, they’re still fuzzy from being blown up. Guh. That would quickly give me a headache. The iBook and Kindle apps are much nicer in this regard. iPad native apps that make better use of the larger screen real estate are much better, and by this time next year there will be a lot of awesomeness in that department. (I haven’t tried out the native word processor yet; I’m not sure if I want to go that route or just write to the cloud with Google docs or something. I have yet to see how much writing on the road I’ll actually want to do.)

I will say, the shiny shiny screen can be a turnoff, especially once it’s covered in thumbprints. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is just a tad annoying.

Still, the iPad is exactly what I expected it to be — the first generation of a new and all together different type of computer. This is going to be the “pushbutton easy” machine that will start showing up everywhere — in the doctor’s office to call up patient records, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office in place of a magazine or portable game, in the kitchen looking up recipes, lying in bed and watching that episode of Doctor Who you missed last week, sitting on the tray in front of you on the plane and showing a movie you actually want to see. It’s the internet from your comfy chair. It’s your e-mail while you’re riding the bus. It’s gonna be big.

That said, I don’t necessarily recommend running out and buying one now, unless you particularly want one right now. For me, the iPad came at just about the perfect time, as I was looking to replace my laptop anyway and had the money allocated to spend. Certainly, the apps could use some time to cook, and no doubt next year’s model will have a camera and better multitasking (i.e., any at all).

But if you find yourself gazing longingly at one and you’ve got the money to spend, I say go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)

Sounds like you're having fun! And Deja Vu from that picture :)

Was your old laptop an Apple? I sense a conspiracy... they make the laptop die just in time to bring out a new shiny :)
May. 1st, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
Nope, 'tWas a Dell. :)

-The Gneech
May. 1st, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
Nope, 'twas a Lenovo.
May. 1st, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I meant. The Dell is my dying work laptop; the Lenovo is my dying home laptop.

-The Gneech
May. 1st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
Yay for another iPad user :3
May. 1st, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
A couple nerdy things to look at for your iPad whose coolness isn't necessarily obvious at first glance:

- Simplenote is pretty much what it claims to be, i.e., a simple note-taking program, except "notes" can be nearly any length and it doesn't use Marker Felt as the font. More usefully, though, Simplenote syncs automatically with a web app, so it's sort of like Google Docs lite. And there are desktop apps that sync with Simplenote as well. The iPad's one big flaw so far for me is that getting document type files, as opposed to media files, on and off it isn't as easy as it should be; Simplenote documents just seem to stay in sync magically.

- Instapaper is another reading app, but it's designed for articles rather than books. It's specifically designed to work with a "bookmarklet" you can install in your desktop browser which marks whatever page you're on for reading later. In addition to that, there's also an "Editor's Picks" folder for the iPad version which you can subscribe to, which is sort of like an odd general interest magazine. Occasionally I run across programs which make no sense to me for a while until something clicks and then it's the Best Thing Ever. Instapaper is one of those apps for me.

It's worth noting that the current iPad should be able to do multitasking by the end of this year -- that's a software upgrade we know is coming. (The lack of multitasking usually isn't as annoying as people assume it will be, but that doesn't mean it won't be nice to have when it gets here.)
May. 1st, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
I've heard a little about Instapaper, I expect I'll check it out sooner or later. :)

re: multitasking, I agree that it's not so bad to live without, but I will be glad it's there, if only so I can keep listening to Pandora while I do my websurfing. :)

-The Gneech
May. 1st, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
It's worth noting the iPad is not intended to be a stand-alone computer, though. No USB ports, no ability to print directly from it without external applications (And usually a wireless print server) and I'm fairly sure you've gotta connect to iTunes to update the firmware or keep it running smoothly down the line. Still, I'm glad you're enjoying it!
>.> You don't plan to draw on it, do you?
May. 1st, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
True, it's a "between" device that fills the gap between desktop and phone.

I don't plan to draw on it at the moment -- its native resolution is 72 dpi. I'll wait for the monitor-sized touchpad to become affordable. ;)

May. 1st, 2010 08:32 am (UTC)
Yep.. I wonder when the tide will turn and matte finish no-reflect screens will return, at least as an option..
May. 1st, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
Hmm, can you actually play downloaded TV episodes (Of Doctor Who, say, which isn't available on itunes) on the ipad/
May. 1st, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Well, there are some eps of Doctor Who on iTunes, I seen 'em with my own eyes. :) They're doing the current season at the very least. But as for non-iTunes ones, I haven't tried. Stuff available through Netflix is viewable, anything viewable on the web (not in a Flash player), and anything that would work on the iPhone will work on the iPad, so there are a variety of options to try.

I believe the iPod player will do .avi files, and .mov is Apple's own format of course, so I expect that would work as well. But like I say, I haven't actually tried.

-The Gneech
May. 1st, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
I just dropped money to put together a new desktop but, I figure next year I'll be able to afford an iPad (and by then most of the bugs should be worked out). I'd love to replace my netbook with an iPad for reading gaming PDFs and general web browsing.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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