I received my 16gb iPad from the US around a week ago, after deciding that I couldn’t wait till July till Singapore got their first shipment in, and knowing my luck, I would have missed the first couple of batches and would be sitting here in September thinking if it was worth all the hassle and that I should possibly wait for the iPad v2. Thankfully it all worked out and I received my package last week, and so far it’s been a nifty little device which has changed a few ways that I do things in both work and play. I’ve taken some time to write a mini review on my first thoughts on the iPad.
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how small it actually is, I had seen enough photos of the device both on apples website and on some gadget blogs to have a fair idea, but I had first pictured the device to be a little different in my head, that said, I was pleasantly surprised with how it felt in the hands, nice and sturdy and well built.
You will need to connect your iPad to a computer to authorise it through iTunes so I plugged it into a spare USB slot at the front of my Mac Pro and iTunes did it’s thing and asked me if I wanted to restore my last iphone backup or if I wanted to set up the device as new, I chose the latter and went through the typical iTunes setup, checking which material and apps I wanted synced onto the iPad, I threw on a little bit of everything, a few gigs of music, a couple of movies (converted with EvoM), some podcasts (Joe Cartoon) and synced it with some iPhoto albums, pretty standard stuff really. It didn’t take too long, but I did notice that when the iPad is plugged into your system, it won’t charge, it seems that it needs direct power from the adapter to fully charge, although Roy (chazrt) let me know that if left overnight with the screen off, it will take some charge, just slowly.
The first thing you notice is how nice the screen is, and after a week or so I’ve found it a little hard to go back to the screen size of the iPhone to do anything other than text messaging and making phone calls, typical phone stuff! I customised my home screen and lock screens with individual wallpaper which is a nice added feature, coming to iPhone os4 soon, and although I thought the icon spacing looked a little funky at first, I really like the space that the iPad has around each icon, it makes the iPhone feel really squashed.
I sorted out all my Google Apps email accounts in the settings app and they were all added flawlessly to Mail. Mail however does have a little shortfall when it comes to working with multiple accounts, it takes around 4 or 5 taps to change between any of your mail accounts, which is a bit of a pain but that should get sorted out with the OS4 upgrade coming soon which brings a unified inbox much like Mail.app on Snow Leopard.
The keyboard is pretty good and much easier to use than the iPhone’s, mainly due to the size, and I find it works well in both portrait and landscape modes, but I spent the extra and got a wireless bluetooth apple keyboard so when my dock arrives I can use it for more heavy duty writing. The default apps are all pretty awesome, so here is a few screenshots and a little review of some of my faves.
Contacts is a much better implementation and acts more like an address book, you can view it in landscape with contacts on the left and details on the right, it has some pretty powerful tools for organising contacts into groups, editing details and sharing via email.
Calendar is one of my favourite tools on the iPad, synced with my Google Apps accounts, it allows me to see all of my accounts and appointments in a variety of ways, the daily, weekly or monthly schedules, as well as my favourite list view. It also has a pretty good search field which I use for looking up future appointments.
Maps is pretty much the same application that is on the iPhone, but it just works that much better with the larger screen, street view is awesome and has helped me find a few places around Singapore already, you can flip the page in the bottom right to toggle classic, satellite, traffic, terrain, and hybrid modes.
App Store has just launched around the globe and i’ve managed to get a few apps though the US store also, just currently waiting for Pages, Numbers & Keynote to be available for Australia and I can spend a bit of time writing some proposals down at the pool tomorrow. The App Store design isn’t actually that easy to use which is quite disappointing.
iBooks has been getting quite a bit of usage so far, I’ve purchased a book ‘Under The Dome’ by Stephen King which I’m currently reading, its really easy to change the brightness, font, size and is much easier to read on that I first thought, and it doesn’t keep Anita up at night as the brightness can come down pretty low. The page turning effects are neato, and the library has a pretty decent catalogue so far, a little pricey but hopefully that will come down with more incentives like itunes has evolved through the years. I’ve grabbed the Kindle app as well which is pretty nice but doesn’t have some of the polishes that iBooks has, so its a winner in my opinion.
Safari looks great on the large screen and the iPad is so much easier to browse on than the small screen on the iPhone, the scrolling is really smooth and it’s a totally enjoyable experience. I’ve not really had too many issues with flash not being part of the iPad, as a lot of the sites i visit are or already have made the switch to HTML5 video.
Video is great and with an awesome little app (AirVideo) I can now view any of the videos stored on my Mac Pro via my iPad, great having instant access to my large catalogue and without having to spend the time converting and syncing them, its really a big plus for me. I’m currently watching the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter on it late at night and I don’t have to worry about keeping Anita up or worrying about my Macbook Pro battery crapping out 1/2 way though watching a show or a movie. I’ve also synced the last season of SouthPark just for shits and giggles.
The other app which I probably couldn’t do without is GoodReader, which allows me to read and sync all my PDF files so I have them on the go at all times. At the moment i’ve synced a library of CSS, HTML, Web Design, & Photography books as well as a few magazines to pass the time while im riding on public transport or waiting for a client meeting, it’s a really great app.
So far i’ve only gotten a couple of games from the store, PinballHD and Plants vs. Zombies, both are great and the graphics and gameplay are really addictive…
So that’s my basic review of the iPad, i’m really stoked on how well it’s worked for me and for ChillyBin, as clients have been impressed and it makes meetings really easy, as all I have to take now is my iPhone and iPad and I have instant 3G internet access (check out jailbroken iPhone app MyWi) so I can access client sites and utilities when I am out and about away from the office. So the wait now is on the developers to get the applications developed and updated for the iPad as there are still a few of my favourite iPhone applications that are not yet optimised for the larger screen size, and im not a total fan of the 2x pixel doubler.