Review: Even With Its Flaws, The iPad Is Still Impressive

Apple iPad Arrives In Stores i

Apple customers look at the new iPad at an Apple store April 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Hundreds of people lined up hours before the Apple store opened to purchase the new iPad, which debuted today. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Apple iPad Arrives In Stores

Apple customers look at the new iPad at an Apple store April 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Hundreds of people lined up hours before the Apple store opened to purchase the new iPad, which debuted today.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In Short

iPad Pros:

*Simplicity, using one app at a time is just fine

*Lots of apps to chose from and apps are essential to relevancy

*Gaming is going to be HUGE

*Reading books and especially magazines is a delightful and rich-reading experience

*Beautiful screen and resolution is great

iPad Cons:

*Wi-Fi only right now, 3G available in late April

*No camera – video conferencing would be so cool on this

*Virtual keyboard - a physical keyboard should have been included

* Relevance – people may need time to see where this fits into their lives

I feel like the iPad in many ways has been very similar to March Madness: lots of buzz very early, full of hype when it was kicked off, some awesome moments and some big upsets.

Lately, we've all been so bombarded with #iPad coverage — yes the "#" was intentional (the twitterati will get it) — that I really want to just yell out "Stop the iMadness" and yes I know, iMadness is corny but you get my point! The day is still buzzing and just before typing this post I noticed online that many stores still had long lines. People, like popular tech entrepreneur Kevin Rose, tweeted from line, "Waiting in line for the ipad, line is around 300 deep now, insane."

Yep, it has been insane. As we all have witnessed with the iPhone launch, Apple knows how to gain consumers attention. So for this post, I left the home office and went out with an iPad to observe reactions and find out what people like and dislike about the new device. It was an interesting day. I should have taken some video of the reactions, which ranged from drooling to utter irritation that I was bothering them on a Saturday afternoon for their opinions. 

One of the first things I noticed after the beautiful screen, was that the iPad was heavier than expected. I'm used to carrying my Kindle and Sony e-reader everywhere, the Kindle only weighs 10.2 ounces, the iPad weighs 1.5 pounds. The device is only a half-inch thick, which makes it easy to grip in one hand. For those of you with an iPhone, the iPad screen is about three times the size at 9.7 inches. And just like the iPhone, this device has an on-screen keyboard and an accelerometer, which enables the iPad to respond to tilting –- which is a "geek-out" moment when you try it!

But I wanted other people to try it, so I headed out to a mall parking lot in Maryland.

iPad Costs:

Wi-Fi only version:

$499 = 16 GB

$599 = 32 GB

$699 = 64 GB

Wi-Fi + 3G version:

$629 = 16 GB

$729 = 32 GB

$829 = 64 GB

There I let several people try the keyboard and found that while some struggled others learned quickly. This alone makes me want to recommend that you shouldn't buy this device until you had a chance to try the keyboard. Now, many people might disagree, but did you hang out in the sun for hours observing keyboard reactions? And yes, you are right, the on-screen keyboard isn't the only way to type, there will be an iPad keyboard dock made available in late April.

While at the parking lot, many people asked about the lack of Flash video and if that was a deal-breaker. My reply, absolutely not, maybe some folks need to consider it but technically there are workarounds for the flash limitations. 

Another limitation consistently mentioned was the lack of multi-tasking. My reply to those that want or need multi-tasking, let it go, the iPad isn't for you. You should invest in a laptop or netbook. The iPad is about media consumption and in my opinion not targeted at replacing your existing laptop.

If you are on the fence about obtaining an iPad, my recommendation is to hold off and wait out the early-adopters. If iPhone history taught us anything, it's to wait for the next version, which may be a lower cost and/or have additional features that should have been included in the initial version. For road-warriors and frequent travelers the 3G broadband version will not be out until later in April, until then you would have to purchase the Wi-Fi only version.

Bottom line: The iPad is really great for consuming media, not creating it. The design is very beautiful as you would expect and its interface is incredibly simplistic. The limitations about the lack of cameras, USB ports and multi-tasking are all problems that could be addressed in later versions.

At the end of the day, I think some techies will love this and others will not but people who don't like computers or struggle dealing with them will appreciate this design, ease of use and will probably love it! This isn't my opinion, it's a fact, I had family members that typically struggle with a computer fighting for their personal iPad time. These techno-phobes were able to figure the iPad out really fast and without many questions, which made me ecstatic. Why? Well, because this meant that the iPad would effectively cut down the amount of family "help-desk" tickets I need to close out and that would be awesome!



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