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What’s So Great About the iPad?

Apple iPad

Rating: ★★★★☆

First off let’s talk about the keyboard. I’m typing this review on the iPad using the keyboard in landscape mode – which means the iPad is on it’s side and the whole screen has adjusted itself to be upright.

The keys are are represented on screen in a larger format than expected with plenty of space between the keys. Not all the keys are represented as one would hope, especially the omission of the apostrophe. The ipad software attempts to automatically correct spelling and grammar ,which would be helpful if it was more accurate. At the time of writing this post it has only helped around 50% of the time. This means it’s still not good enough to rely on fully and requires some manual editing later (which I am now doing on a desktop computer).

A minor gripe for an iPhone user might be the location of the shift button located where the delete key is on the smaller phone keyboard, and certainly moving between the iPad and the iPhone is obviously difficult due to the massive downscale of the keyboard on the latter.

These things aside, the more one becomes accustomed to the interface and learns to relax with this device its power and the intuition of the OS really start to shine. The important point is that this is not as intuitive as we may have been told.

Screen

The screen on the iPad is around six times larger than that of the iPhone although the resolution doesn’t appear to be as good as on the iphone4 – the letters on the keyboard show pixilation and images in some of the iPad apps can be a bit blurry especially when ‘pinching and zooming’.

However there is no denying that having this much real-estate available affords better and more user-friendly interfaces within applications. To have columns in the email or Settings applications means it’s a much smoother process to do what you want to do with as few swipes and clicks as necessary.

The swipe action works very well on the iPad and requires less actual movement of the finger, and selecting and loading apps is as easy as it is on the iPhone.

The spacing of the apps icons does feel a bit too far apart for no real purpose, but the forthcoming update to allow folders should mean that you can have all the important bits of software in one place.

The iPad does not function very well outdoors as the screen is very difficult to view in direct sunlight. With this in mind it is worth considering whether it really is worth the price hike to purchase the 3G version at this stage, rather than wait to see what improvements are made in the next version.

Storage

The test model is the 32Gig WiFi version of the iPad. So far with a couple of movies, a few TV shows, some books and a fair few apps installed it has barely scratched the surface of the space available. This again makes me feel that unless you would be planning to use the iPad as you main portable media centre (very possible with the HDMI cable available) you could save yourself further money and reduce the spec down to 16Gig for version 1.

Applications and uses

There’s no doubt the iPad is not just for Christmas. Nor is it a one trick pony.

The beauty and simplicity of the OS is such that by adding modules or applications that suit your needs, you can customise the product from the inside to do exactly the things that suit your individual needs. No two iPads need be the same. This is the same philosophy that applies to the iPhone of course and therefore nothing new.

However, to have a larger screen does tend to skew the usage towards reading, gaming, drawing and media.

That’s everything right? Well yes. Obviously this devise is not a phone, and is too bulky to be a portable VOIP contender, also the iPad doesn’t have a camera although there is a cable available that will connect your digital camera directly to it.

From a hardware point of view the iPad satisfies. But there is room for improvement and this is something that should be good for the industry at large. As we read of some companies ditching their plans for tablet computers, others like ASUS and Google are bringing forth their versions which include higher resolution displays, cameras, multi-tasking, USB ports and dedicated HDMI ports.

These are the things that one can presume and expect to be added to the next version of the iPad next year, by which time – like on the iphone – there will be an ‘app’ for everything.

Currently many applications are being updated to work on the iPad and it is just a waiting game for your favourite app to be re-released to suit the larger screen. But in some cases the applications are being re-made altogether for the larger format (classed in iTunes as an ‘HD’ or ‘iPad version’). In most cases a far higher price is being attributed to the iPad-ready version so factor in some extra cost for upgrading. Sometimes this is justified by extra features not present on the original, but in a fair few cases there may be no extra a functionality at all. Remember: the cost of the iPad hardware is just the beginning!

Overall having spent some time with the devise, I have learned to love it for what it does well and feel just a bit let down when I find it can’t do something I was hoping it could.

The experience of using the iPad is not however a let down by any stretch, and new uses and applications are being revealed daily.

Pros

  • Applications
  • Size
  • Usability
  • Look and feel

Cons

  • Price
  • Portability
  • Screen glare

Verdict

It is  important to remember that the iPad (at this stage) cannot be classed as a full computer replacement device – you still need a computer to sync it with of course – but there is also issues including lack of camera, printing, missing connection ports (USB / screen output) and saving that need to be addressed.

In the short term this is a device that will change and advance the way you acquire and process information – an interactive and customisable tablet computer that can put you in contact with mass media and online culture if not contribute to it too.

In the long term this devise is a forerunner to a revolution of how we interact with tools that talk, and how we build and display the interfaces that provide us with a tactile window out to our communities.


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