I picked up a WiFi-only iPad on April 3rd – the morning it was introduced. That iPad has been scarfed by my wife, so now I’m using a brand new 3G-enabled iPad. I have therefore been heavily using one iPad or another for the last five weeks. Here’s a report.
The Good News
- Size and Weight – 1.5 pounds with a tiny AC adapter. Smaller and lighter than a laptop or netbook. Carry the iPad around all day long with no problem. Bring your phone (or use Skype on the iPad over WiFi), and you’re good to go. My travel gear is shown above (cameras not included).
- Screen Rotation – use landscape mode to review emails, watch movies, review your calendar, etc. Use portrait mode to surf the web, read books, take notes, etc. Your display becomes much more useful when you can rotate it.
- Fun – the iPad is the most fun gadget I ever bought. I use it every chance I get, even when sitting in front of my MacBook Pro. It is the future of computing.
- Trips – the best device ever for long trips. An actual 10 hours of battery life for watching movies, reading books, playing games, or even working. Beautiful screen for watching movies. The Kindle app is great for reading books (even books bought for reading on an actual Kindle).
- Photos – the built-in Photos app is fine for displaying your portfolio. Use iTunes to import photos, and then hand the iPad to a customer and have them flick through your images, with each photo looking beautiful – great colors on a big crisp, high-contrast display. People love looking at photos on the iPad, and they are always very impressed with the photos.
- Presentations – connect an external monitor or projector to the iPad using one of Apple’s $30 adapters, and you’re in business. You can present a slideshow from your photo album, create a presentation in Apple’s Keynote app for iPad ($9.99), or import a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation from your computer. Just touch the iPad screen to advance to the next slide. You cannot, however, display individual photos on the external monitor – only photo slide shows from a selected album. Not all apps make use of an external monitor – only ones that have been specially built to drive an external monitor will work, including Photos, Keynote, the video player, etc.
- Photo Import – connect Apple’s tiny $30 Camera Connection Kit adapter to the iPad’s 30-pin dock connector, and the Photos app will suck in your new photos and put them in a separate library called “Last Imported”. You can then review your photos, rotate them, and delete ones you don’t want. The Kit has one adapter for a USB camera cable, and another for an SD card. It could not be easier, as shown below.
- Photo Editing – we don’t have the power of Photoshop, but I’ve been using a nice $3.99 iPad app called PixelMagic. You can crop, rotate, apply various effects, apply many types of corrections, even adjust levels.
- Use your iPhone camera – there’s an app called Camera for iPad that connects your iPhone wirelessly to your iPad, and lets you take a photo on the iPad using the camera on the iPhone. Pretty cool.
- Some great apps – the ABC app lets you watch any ABC TV series (free). MLB At Bat 2010 lets you track any baseball game ($15.00/season). Pinball HD ($2.99) lets you play three great pinball games. Editor’s Choice (free) lets you read in-depth articles from the NY Times. And thousands more, optimized for iPad.
- Very fast – apps typically launch is a second or two. App performance is great – the iPad is very fast.
- Email – great for reading emails. Scrolling with your finger is addictive – much better than using a mouse. Answering emails is a bit tougher because most people make more mistakes with the on-screen virtual keyboard than with a real keyboard. You can use Apple’s small Bluetooth keyboard to compose a novel.
- Browser – great way to navigate web pages – especially compared to using a tiny iPhone screen. Safari on iPad doesn’t have tabbed web pages, however, so it’s not as convenient to go from one web page to another.
- Work – clients routinely mail 150-page Microsoft Word or PDF files to me for review. I can open them and read them in Mail, or the GoodReader, Air Sharing, or Pages apps that I bought from the App Store. No problem reading documents. Editing is more of a problem because only Pages can edit Word documents, but it screws up some of the formatting, so I can’t send it back to the clients correctly formatted.
- Battery Life – WiFi-only iPads get 10 hours or more on a single charge, which is awesome. The 3G iPad only (!) gets about 8.5 hours, because the 3G radio uses power. On the other hand, the 3G models have full GPS, which is great for Google Maps. Both models actually have a built-in compass, by the way.
- Rick Sammon’s 24/7 Photo Buffet – Rick’s and my photo app is not yet ready for the iPad. I hope to get it ready very soon.
Should You Wait?
The iPad does everything it’s supposed to, but there are reasons a person could wait for the next version:
- Internal Memory – the current iPad has 256 MB of internal RAM. This is only a problem when surfing the web, because the iPad can’t keep a bunch of web pages in memory at the same time. The next model might get more RAM, which might enable a tabbed browser. Just guessing here.
- Camera – future models may have a built-in camera or two. I don’t really care, but you might.
- Flash Web Sites – there will never be a Flash player on the iPad, which means that some websites (such as ESPN3.com) don’t work properly. Yet. They will likely all eventually offer non-Flash video – unless they don’t care about 100 million iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users – consumers who clearly like to spend money.
- Luddite – a typewriter is just fine, thank you. As is film.
You will buy a tablet computer in the next couple of years – resistance is futile. It might be an iPad this year, or it might be an H-P WebOS tablet or a Google Android tablet next year. Wander down to your local Apple Store and check out the iPad, but, to be safe, leave your credit card at home.