Note: I wrote this almost a year ago but never published it. I stumbled upon it and thought that it was still pretty relevant and accurate. So here it goes. Then you can re-read the iPad 2 mini-review.
After having spent some quality time with my iPad, I want to share some thoughts about it.
The first thing to clarify is what the iPad is, and I’ll start by saying what it’s not:
- The iPad is not a netbook replacement. A netbook is a tiny and very cheap laptop with specifications that match a four year old laptop, a tiny unusable trackpad, and a cramped screen. It runs a full desktop operating system (usually the 9 year old Windows XP).
- The iPad is not just a big iPod touch. This is very interesting to me, because technically it is just a big iPod touch (a good thing). But in practice, it gets used in very different ways and the user interfaces of applications are completely rethought for the bigger screen. So you really end up using it as a very different, unique device. Confusing?
The iPad is a new kind of thing. It’s not a “something” replacement. It’s a gadget in which you can do a subset of the things you can do on a computer, and you can do them very well: Watching movies or TV shows. Browsing the internet. Quickly checking email or the weather. Playing a game. You pick it up, you use it, you put it down. You check your email on it in the mornings, you take it to the couch, etc. Browsing the internet on it is great. In summary: It’s great for consuming content – even better than your laptop.
However, if you need to write a long email, do some heavy web research, organize your photo library, you will want a computer. For even more complex tasks like programming or working on a website, then you need a computer. The keyboard is OK for typing a couple of paragraphs but not more, or at least I’m not used to it enough. In summary: It’s not great for creating content – although you can do it and there are things to help you do it better (like external keyboard support).
What’s most interesting is that most regular users (myself included) spend a large majority of their time on a computer consuming, not creating, content. That’s what is so appealing about the iPad: for the things you spend most of yourpersonal computer time on, it’s better than your laptop! So very much more convenient. People who read in bed or (yes) in the toilet – where all Tetris records get broken – know how uncomfortably warm laptops can get and how hard it is to balance a laptop on your knee.
The lack of Adobe Flash is annoying. But having Flash is annoying too (I use Click2Flash at work and at my home computer). While I can see why in the short term people want Adobe Flash, I think that Apple is doing the right thing by not allowing it to run on the iPad. They cannot give control over something as central as web browsing to a third party company (Adobe). And yes, if based on my experience with Flash on the Mac, the battery would be gone in minutes. I think that Flash use on websites will decline rapidly anyway and in a couple of years it will be an almost moot point.
It’s impressive. I can go days without charging it. I can watch an hour of TV to see the battery indicator go down only about 10%. Very impressive.
It’s hard to understand how bright and clear and great the screen on this thing is. I know people want to read on their e-ink Kindles… but I am starting to think that this can make a great reading device, and our preconceptions about reading on screens being bad comes from the flickery days of CRTs, not LCD screens, and surely not from an LCD screen of this high quality. But because I haven’t read for extended periods of time on it, I can’t say for sure yet.
The screen is great, but it is odd for video that it is not 16:9 (widescreen). Because you either zoom in your video and lose the sides or you get the dreaded black bars. I’m not sure I’d prefer a 16:9 screen though, as it would make the iPad awkward when held vertically. It’s a toss-up on this one I’d say. I really like watching Netflix or some other video on it though, especially in bed.
This is a really neat little gadget. Not only is the concept cool, but the execution is great. It’s intuitive, fast, and easy to use. In my opinion, the one big omission in a front facing camera, for video conferencing. Hopefully they can get this in for the next version. I can see myself using this more than my laptop (as measured in hours), but there is no way it’s going to completely replace it.
If you own an iPad, I’d love to hear your opinions, please comment!