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The first 5 things I noticed about the iPad

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  macslocum's Photo
Posted Apr 03 2010 05:00 PM

My 16GB iPad arrived late this afternoon. I've been fiddling for a couple hours now, so I thought I'd weigh in with a few initial observations. Your mileage -- and opinion -- can and will vary.

iPad CoverageWeight: A little heavy

The iPad is heavier than I expected. It's going to take a while for me to develop the dexterity (or the hand strength) to really find my optimal comfort/work zone. Frankly, I'm surprised it's not easier to cradle in one hand.

Update, 4/7/10: As Damien Stolarz noted during our recent panel discussion, the iPad really should come with a case. I spent my first two days without one, often fumbling for the best position. The device becomes much easier to handle when it's tucked into a protective sleeve.

Keyboard: Way better than I thought

Joggers get runner's high. I get "typist's high." I actually experience joy zipping my fingers over a keyboard. That's why I've got zero patience for mobile keyboards, virtual or otherwise.

I thought the iPad's keyboard would be on par with a kiosk or an ATM touchscreen; a grueling mechanism that's only useful when input needs are minimal. But that's not the case at all. I'll never achieve desktop/laptop speeds on the iPad, but it's at least 50 percent better than the iPhone's keyboard. It'll certainly suffice for writing email and moderate editing. I might be able to write full blog posts once I figure out the quirks. (Related: It's time for Google Docs to activate full editing capabilities in the iPhone/iPad interface.)

Sound: Built-in speaker is aces all around

I rarely use headphones with my iPod Touch because 90 percent of my time with the device is spent reading; tweets, Facebook, email, RSS, that kind of thing. But on those occasions when I want to watch a video clip or tune into a ballgame via the Slingbox app, I have to interrupt my flow to go dig up earbuds (I know, tough life). That's why the iPad's speaker is a godsend. I needed a built-in solution with audio quality that's good enough for those one-off moments -- not great, but reasonable -- and that's exactly what the iPad offers. I might even use it as a radio of sorts.

Screen: A beautiful thing

The screen is gorgeous. Images pop. It reminds me of the first time I saw a 1080p video feed. Interestingly, I think the resolution will also serve as a wake-up call for laggard app developers. The low-res icons attached to unoptimized apps are scarlet letters. Fuzzy = bad.

iPad Screenshot
This screenshot is a feeble representation
of the iPad's resolution.

Horsepower: Way, way better than a smartphone

I often use VNC to log in to different computers in my house. I have a VNC app installed on my iPod Touch, but that device lacks the horsepower to do anything substantial. I was pleasantly surprised to find the iPad has more than enough juice to handle VNC. Response rate over my home network is great, and I can move windows and interact with programs easily. I'll be using this all the time.

What's your take? Did the iPad meet your expectations? Anything surprise you? Any disappointments? Please chime in through the comments.

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2 Replies

 : Apr 04 2010 12:34 AM
I have no experience with the Kindle, but the first thing I said when I picked it up was , "Hmm, heavier than I thought it would be." I don't think its a problem, any long term use would probably be accompanied by propping it up regardless.

I spent most of the day shooting or editing video of the new toy... umm... work device, so I haven't had time to make a firm decision on the keyboard. I've written a couple emails with some pretty good success. There are 2 things that stand out to me. 1) I like to rest my fingers on keyboards while typing and that obviously isn't going to happen here. 2) No matter how fast I found myself typing, I spent the time saved by speed typing reviewing my type to make sure I didn't call my boss some unthinkable name. One little slip could spell trouble.

espn.com gets my vote for best Day 1 web experience. Featured video on the front page. Fully functional, high level website. Kudos to those guys.

NPR gets my vote for best app... of all time. Browse stories, listen to music within the app, see related stories, all while reading a story of Steve Martin and his love of playing the banjo. Great app that I can't wait to spend some time with.

Very disappointed with ABC's player. Crashed 10 times in a row. No lie. TweetDeck needs help. Finally some Netflix support, but disappointed its basically just a port of their website.

Oh, and the App store is a pain to deal with. Can't stand that it exits every time you buy an app.
Mark Reese
reese@oreilly.com
@@oreillyvideo
@@m_reese
 : Apr 06 2010 10:38 AM
I have no current plans to buy. I went by on Monday and viewed one at my local Apple Store.

Zooming in/out of Safari through the touch interface was stunning. The speaker was virtually useless in the noisy store; I could only feel the sound through vibrations through the unit's case.

Biggest disappointment was the lack of third-party HD apps. The demo machines had a tiny number of HD apps and many iPhone apps. I'm expecting that to flip when they get a new load of software for their machines.

I wish that Apple would allow download of any app on demo machines in their store to allow preview of apps. That would be nice -- especially for expensive apps. OmniGraffle is $50 for that platform; it sure would be nice to see that before buying.