iPad – First impressions

4 04 2010

Yesterday morning, I took my visiting family to Niagara Falls which is oh-so-convenient-ly close to the US border, so of course I *had* to pay a visit to the Apple Store at the Walden Gallery Mall and buy the iPad I had reserved “just in case” 🙂 . At least that’s the story I tell myself to justify traveling 400 km just to address this totally illogical gadget lust.

I have not had much time to blog or do much else actually over the last 40 days or so, being busy at both work and personal fronts – had a few folks staying with us and others visiting us too. So, this post is going to be a bit rushed, just collecting my first impressions on the most expected iThing of the year. On top of it, I’m typing this on the iPad itself, using the revamped WordPress app, so pardon the clunkness of this post. So, there you go, in bullet point format:

– Overall, huge thumbs up to Apple for adding a new category in the already crowded portable computing landscape. The person sitting beside me at the mall was completely unaware of what the fuss was about at the Apple Store, thinking they were giving away something. When I opened the box, she gasped: “OMG, that’s a gigantic iPhone”! It definitely looks like that, but after a day using it, I can honestly say that it’s much more than that. As biology has repeatedly shown us, small increments in features can sometimes drive major leaps in innovation – stand-up posture and opposable thumbs being just two recent examples. The iPad is not just a big iPhone or iPod Touch, not a laptop without a keyboard, not a crippled netbook, not a fancier Kindle, nor a Mac version of the Tablet PC. It’s in its own category, and will follow its own evolution branch path. Personal Computing speciation just occurred, and we witnessed it first hand. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that the iPad will succeed in its current incarnation. But it will influence what others will be doing over the next few years.

– The big positives: the device is fast, the screen is crispy, the layout is gorgeous and it feels good in your hands. Battery life is just unbelievably long. Maps, iBooks, Photos, and the various comics/magazines/newspaper/drawing apps all feel brand new in the big screen. That’s just a glimpse of what’s coming. The iPad is the best portable device to consume content that I have ever used.

– The negatives are well published already: the iPad would greatly benefit from a front-facing camera, multitasking, and more flexibility for applications to share context and objects, including files. All these limitations have one thing in common: they are related to content creation, not consumption. From a market perspective, it makes a lot of sense to target content consumers first, as they represent the vast majority of buyers. I also suspect those limitations are all part of overall Apple strategy to keep us buying the latest and greatest every few years or so. The Cupertino-based brain-trust creates products with enough features to make them desirable, but very rarely offers everything that’s technically feasible in any given release. This way, when an iPad with a camera comes next year, they will sell it in loads again. Furthermore, sometimes we waste too much time thinking about what we don’t have, as opposed to what’s there now for us to enjoy. That’s like being in Paris and complaining about not having a good beach to go to.

That’s it for now!

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8 responses

4 04 2010
smartpeopleiknow

Great comments, Aaron. I respect both the pros and cons that people have been stating, but I think that its looks, it’s long lasting battery, and the fact that it shouldn’t crash constantly may make it the go to device for people using the web, reading books, and watching TV. As more people consume media via the computer, the iPad is perfectly positioned. (They just need to tweak that whole multitasking thing, :))

I can’t really justify getting one now, but suspect I will once Apple gets to offering one with a camera.

P.S. I liked the Paris/beach analogy. (That wouldn’t work in Barcelona, since they DO have a beach nearby in Sitges….Barcelona FTW! :))

4 04 2010
Aaron

I was going to use a soccer example (“That’s like being in Paris and complaining about not having a good soccer team to cheer for”), but found it to not be universal enough. That would not work for Barcelona either, as they have a great soccer team! Barcelona is like that person who’s gorgeous, rich and cool all at the same time 🙂

4 04 2010
Aaron

But I’m sure they suck at curling! 😀

4 04 2010
bernie

yeah, I am sure Barcelona has a deficiency, but I didn’t find it when I was there. Perhaps the same can be said about the iPad! 🙂

9 04 2010
Li

I played with an ipad 2 days ago.

Afew months ago, I evaluated HP tablet model for a project I was doing. I decided against using the HP tablet. It was just a windows laptop with a flip screen, too heavy for one handed use. The apps were not touch friendly, definitely not data entry friendly.

The ipad is a different beast all together. At the thickness of a laptop screen, it’s almost as light as I wanted. The biggest attraction is the vibrant color and sound, it’s the device to consume content. I watched a HD youtube, amazing quality.

I am still searching for a mobile data entry device. The ipad has the right form, just needing the right app. Think bedside electronic documentation.

10 04 2010
Aaron

Hey Li,

I use a Lenovo tablet for work, but very rarely use it as a tablet. The potential is somehow there, but nobody figure out yet how to make it really effective. In the latest model, you can swtich between touch and stylus, which is definitely an improvement, but overall it’s not there yet. I don’t see an iPad, in its current format, as a way to replace a work laptop any time soon, as I do lots of (not-so-good) content creation all the time, from emails to technical Word docs, keeping tons of apps open and just alt+tab’ing between them.

I’m looking forward to seeing live sports apps that fully work outside the US. Formula One races, FIFA World Cup games, PGA majors all have so much potential when you add touch + portability + content + social networking + voice over IP + mobile data + location awareness + big screen. I’m salivating while waiting for what’s next.

27 05 2010
Mustafa Öztürk

RE: Hey, are you Mustafa from Akbank?

You’re right, strong memory 🙂

(p.s.: didn’t know where to leave a message, couldn’t dm you on twitter since you dont follow me)

2 06 2010
Karel Vredenburg

Excellent summary, Aaron. I too am writing this on my iPad and agree with all the points you’ve made. The only additional point I would make is that the design of apps on the iPad needs to mature. The early apps were mostly designed, built, and tested without teams actually having access to the real device. I think Apple also rushed some apps through the approval process. I look forward to an improvement in the quality and consistency of design in future iPad apps. Enjoy your new 3G and please share any unique experiences with it too.

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