Review: iPad

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Tech

Yep, I am writing this from my brand new iPad. Well, brand new in that I’ve had it a couple days. Enough time to get familiar with it, hold it, use it, learn it, cuddle it. I’ve done everything I can to put the iPad through its paces the last few days, and I’m here to bring you my full review. Note, I have been accused many times of being an Apple “fanboy” and, while I don’t deny that, I have tried my best to come at this review as objectively as possible.

The first thing you notice about the iPad is how responsive it is. It’s incredibly fast, and it’s the most responsive touch screen I’ve ever used. Rarely do I register bad touches or find that it didn’t pick up my finger. Everything you do on the device feels fast, from switching between applications to launching websites to even the simple act of switching between pages on the home screen.

Typing on it is also surprisingly effective — when held in the portrait (vertical) orientation, my hands are large enough that I am able to use just my thumbs as I would on my iPhone. When used in the landscape (horizontal) orientation, the keyboard is about the same size as the keyboard on a netbook and I am able to type almost as fast as I would on a tactile keyboard — and this is just after a few days. I’m sure with a few months practice I’ll be able to type at a really decent pace.

The built-in applications that come with the iPad are all vast improvements to their iPhone counterparts. The calendar application seems especially more robust. The Safari Web browser is significantly improved to function more like a desktop browser than the iPhone version. Probably my favorite application out of the built-in ones is the Photo app.

As a photography enthusiast, it’s great to be able to have my entire digital photo library on hand, and able to be displayed and viewed whenever I want on a high resolution screen. The best thing about the photos app though is its interface and the gestures within it; The first time you begin pinching and swiping to navigate the photos is the first time you feel like you are holding the future in your hands.

While there are not nearly as many native iPad applications available as there are iPhone apps, there are still over 3,000 available for download, not to mention that the iPad will run most of the iPhone apps. I have already tried out a significant number of iPad applications and, while I won’t go into detail on them individually, on the whole I have been very impressed by them. I can’t wait to see the applications we have available in a few months.

Of course, the device also has its known negatives. It cannot use Adobe’s Flash player, which is used on many Internet sites to stream video, as well as display a lot of games (Farmville). I personally don’t mind the lack of Flash; In fact, I kind of like it. The iPad browser is extremely stable and fast, and I’ve always found Flash buggy. And I’ve found that a lot of the Web sites I normally visit have started using the iPad-compatible HTML5 to display video.

The iPad also doesn’t currently multi-task. However, this is coming with the OS update in the fall, and to be honest the iPad is so fast at switching applications that I have yet to find a situation in which I would need multi-tasking.

In the world of technology, it’s a general rule that you shouldn’t buy the first generation of a new device — they are always buggy, and normally with the second generation all the kinks are worked out. This is not true with the iPad. When it comes down to it, despite its few shortcomings, the iPad is a fantastic device. It doesn’t at all feel like a “first generation” device — the hardware and software are extremely well polished.

At the end of the day though, the question everyone asks is do they need an iPad? Do they need something in addition to their smart phones and computers? If you think there’s a place for the iPad, if you see the role it would play in your day-to-day technological life, then I would highly recommend it. If you don’t see where it would fit into your life, then there’s no reason to get it.

However, I would recommend playing with one regardless. Stop into the store and check out what the fuss is about, because this style of mobile computing is the future of technology — and at some point you will want to be part of it.

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