iPad – My Review

Maybe I am a lemming, maybe not.  At any rate, I did go out yesterday with a plan to purchase an iPad.  I will start by saying that I loved my iPhone, the only reason I gave it up was AT&T.  Had the iPhone been on Verizon, I would have kept it.  I see a lot of potential with the iPad, as well as the other tablets, I also see a lot of gaps.  I decided to write about my initial experience, before it faded into fanboi bliss.

The act of getting an iPad would seem to be the easy part, but it wasn’t.  The nearest Apple Store is not as close as a BestBuy with an Apple Kiosk.  So I went online to BestBuy.com and made sure they had the model I want in stock.  I fiddled around for another hour or two, called Rich to partake in the “experience”, and then headed on over to pick one up.  When I got there, I was told that they did not have it in stock; naturally I commented on the error on their website.  I was then told they do have them in stock but Apple won’t let them sell until Sunday.  All because an advertisement is coming out on Sunday and they need them in stock for that.  As Rich and I were leaving the store, a manager overheard us talking and asked us about it.  To BestBuy’s credit, the manager  (I wish I had remembered her name) did everything she could to see if one could be released.  No luck there, so it’s off to the Apple Store.

The Apple Store was a zoo!  I don’t remember ever seeing so many people there.  Despite all that, Apple has the sales process down and we were in and out within 20 minutes.  Now I have an iPad, go ahead and call me a lemming;  you know you want one too.  🙂

So after powering on my Windows virtual machine and loading iTunes, I proceeded to activate my iPad.  The process was pretty striaghforward, just like an iPod or iPhone. Now the fun starts.

After an hour of syncing music and movies I started check out the interface and applications.  My first thought was, it really is a giant iPod.  The main reason I wanted it was for the books, so let’s go there first.  I downloaded the iBook App (free) and received a complementary Winnie the Pooh book as well.  I then hopped over to the Apple Bookstore and started looking around.  At first I was not impressed, it looked as though there were only a few hundred books and the categories were so general that I couldn’t use them to find what I wanted.  About an hour later, I decided to search on authors and books I liked, and found that there was much more too the book store.  The ability to pull up author pages, and other books was very helpful.  I did buy one book, Foundation’s Fear by Gregory Benford.   At this point my son, who is an avid reader, came over and asked to look at the iPad.  I think he fell in love immediately!

After the kids were in bed, I started putting this magical* and revolutionary device through it’s paces.

Music, Movies, Email, Notes, etc…

If you have an iPod or iPhone, it’s not very different.  Not much to talk about here; the only major item of notice is the email application used the screen rotation and size to let you see more features all at once.

iBook

The bookshelf is nice but it forces you to fill one shelf at a time.  I’d prefer to organize my books across multiple shelves.  As I stated above, the bookstore seemed a little limited when I first tried it out.  It wasn’t until I started using the search that I found books of interest.  It would be nice if the categories were a little more granular into the genre of books.

The book reader was a nice experience.  You can adjust brightness on the fly and turn pages with a flick of your finger.  Page numbering changes depending on landscape or portrait reading (a 692 page book became 1400+ in landscape).  You can adjust the font size as well.

App Store

The App Store has had a complete redesign to use the full size of the iPad screen.  It’s nice but, like the bookstore, seemed to work better using the search as a first point.  There is a category organization that is the same as iPhone/iPod.  When you are looking for apps, the store tells you if it’s an iPad or iPhone/iPod app; they all work on the iPad but the differentiation is nice.

iTunes Store

Same as above, it’s a complete redesign and takes some getting used to.

iWork

This part of the iPad was a disappointment.  I mistakenly thought that the iPad included iWork, it does not.  Word, Numbers and Keynote are each separate and $9.99 each.  Having gotten over the purchase price, they are nice little apps, with a great interface.

They also integrate into iWork.com which, quite frankly, gave me a headache setting up.  I have an AppleID, I use it to purchase in the App Store and iTunes as well as navigate the developer sections of Apple.com.  So, when I went to log into iWork, I was dismayed that my AppleID didn’t work.  Searching Apple Support, this was a common issue going back further than October 2009.  In the end, I had to go to the Apple Store (on my computer) and update my profile, then log into the Apple Support site and update my profile to match.  Once that was done, on the iPad I had to publish a document from each app and logging in separately for each app.  The first app I published from also required me to verify my email address with iWork.com.  It seemed like a lot of hurdles to jump through.

So after publishing a document, I decided to share it with myself and see what I could do.  Sharing simply gives you a Safari instance that let’s you see the doc – I could not import it back into the iWork app to edit or edit on Safari.

The iWork suite might get better, but I found an app for $4 that let’s me use my Google Docs online and offline.  I will be calling Apple today and requesting a refund for iWork.

Everything Else

If you have an iPhone or iPod, you’ve seen the rest.

Once more thing…

As I was sitting on my couch reading, I did start to notice that the iPad is heavy.  I’m sure sitting differently would help with the weight, but it’s worth noting.

What is it missing?

Two things I have been hunting for this morning…

Google Calendar and Tasks integration – STILL – This is something I use heavily, I see a lot of people request it, but Apple has not included any Calendar sync beyond Exchange and MobileMe.
Exchange Tasks & Notes Integration – STILL – This seems like a stumbling block for many mobile devices, my Droid can’t do it either.

I’m sure there are other things I’ll need as I start using my iPad, but as I said – this is my initial experience.

In conclusion…

In my opinion, iPad isn’t really that magical*.  Is it revolutionary?  Maybe.   I still look at it and think, dang that’s a big iPod.  But I like it, and time will truly tell if the revolution is here.

*Call your local Apple Store, before you get a menu they talk about the Magical and Revolutionary device.  I got a good laugh out of it, hardly magical…

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