Customer Reviews: Apple iPad (first generation) MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)
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Showing 1-10 of 209 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on April 16, 2010
Having spent some serious time with Apple's iPad since its release, it's easy to see how the device can stir up so much excitement and so much disappointment from all different angles with much less middle-ground. People tend to either love it or hate it. I hope I can shed some light on the details of real-world iPad usage, not just blind claims like several non-iPad users seem to be screaming. I'll detail all the benefits and the caveats of owning the device I've found so far, with hopes that you'll get a clear picture of whether or not the iPad really is for you.

For those interested, I've also compiled two iPad listmania lists:

Must-Have iPad Accessories:

iPad vs. Other Tablets:

===== Background and Initial Reaction =====

I'm a mobile app developer who's created apps and games for the iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad. Leading up to the announcement of the iPad, several rumors surfaced about Apple's new tablet device within iPhone development circles. The big rumor was that it would likely be based on the iPhone OS (the operating system built for the iPhone/iPod Touch). I had a lot of mixed feelings about that though. Part of me wanted the iPad to be able to run standard Mac apps (which the iPhone OS simply cannot do), while the other part of me saw the potential for app developers to take full advantage of the iPad's bigger screen and multi-touch interface on a whole new level, as iPhone/iPad apps generally aren't available for the Mac or PC specifically. What this meant for future iPad users was the potential to do more with the iPad than you would be able to do with an ordinary Mac or PC, though there would be some compromise therein until Apple or other developers could create an app that would fill any gaps in functionality.

When announced, I was fairly critical about how similar the iPad was to the iPod Touch. Indeed it does seem like an oversized iPod Touch, especially with the overly huge icons (and excessive spacing between them) on the home screen. Only 4 additional apps per-screen are permitted on the iPad (24 total) than the iPod Touch (20 total). But while iPad isn't without flaw, nor is it a complete laptop or desktop replacement by any means, it's still certainly more than just a glorified iPod Touch. After spending some time with it, the differences quickly become evident.

Neither is it a "Kindle killer" though it is certainly a great e-reader that will have a lasting effect on the future of digital books and publications. Moreover, there is a definite potential for the device to be useful beyond everything it is currently being touted as by Apple. Consider what the iPhone can do now compared to its first version with nothing but Apple's standard iPhone apps (before the app store was created).

===== First Impression =====

Taking the iPad out of the box for the first time, you'll come to realize just how touch-worthy the device really is. The slick screen reflects your glossy-eyed likeness as you gaze upon it and inhale in that one-of-a-kind scent synonymous with brand-new electronic gadgetry. Wrapping your hand around your new baby to embrace it for the first time, you find new meaning to the term "baby" because the back feels smooth like a baby's butt. And there's no doubt that this is exactly how Apple wants you to feel when unboxing the iPad for the first time.

Right away, you'll probably notice that it's heavier than you might expect for such a slim device. For a real-world reference, the weight is comparable to that of two 200-page magazines (or 400 pages). Why so heavy? This thing's got two massive batteries which give it that touted 10 full-hours of life with wifi, though I got eight full hours out of constant Netflix streaming. Either way though, such a great battery life is something the iPhone/iPod Touch can't, uh... touch! Another contributor is Apple's signature glass touch-screen. However, the glass screen is phenominal at preventing scratches and ensures the display will always be crystal clear... at least until you lay your greasy mitts all over it.

Smudging of finger oils is an issue with just about any touch screen device, but the iPad is special. It has an "oleophobic" coating that should repel the greasy smears, streaks and fingerprints. After using it a majority of the first day, it became evident that the coating doesn't work 100%. It resisted much better than the iPod Touch, which has no such coating, but you can expect there will still be some traces of oil residue from the skin contacting the screen. Washing your hands frequently helps reduce this, but you'll really only notice it if you try to notice it (by either reflecting light off the screen, or turning the screen off). So ultimately your experience interacting with the iPad will hardly be affected by such smearing--there won't be any blurriness or ill effects. However, do note that oleophobic coatings usually start deteriorating after a few months, so expect it to degrade over time, and eventually wear off completely, resulting in more pronounced smearing.

One of my bigger grievances with the iPad is the utter waste of screen real-estate. I'm specifically talking about the excessive 1" black margin around the sides. What is the deal with that? Surely Apple could have thinned that out and either made the actual screen slightly bigger, or made the iPad itself slightly smaller. It really disheartens me for Apple to have squandered such valuable space on rubbish like that. The margin should have been the size of the margin used for the 13" or 15" MacBook Pro or the iPhone/iPod Touch--about half an inch.

While on the subject of wasted space, I'm also equally disappointed with the excessive spacing (padding) between the app icons on the home screen. Just like the much-smaller iPod Touch, you can only have four apps per row (i.e. four columns) when in portrait mode (orientation in the upright position), though an additional row has been added. On the other hand, flipping the iPad to landscape mode (on its side) enables you to have one additional column of apps, though you lose the additional row that you get with the iPad's orientation set to portrait mode. Meanwhile, the iPhone/iPod Touch cannot show apps in any orientation other than portrait/upright.

Either way, in both iPad orentations, it seems like Apple could have fit an additional column of app icons between each other, though five or six columns in portait mode (and six or seven columns in lamdscape mode) would satisfy my preferences. In any case, at least the iPhone OS 4.0 update (scheduled for the iPad this fall) will bring "folders" to the iPad, a feature that allows you to better-organize apps on the home screen by grouping them into a single icon whose app collection is revealed in a popup region.

===== So What Can This Thing Do? =====

When Apple first announced the iPad they didn't tout it so much as an ebook reader as they did a "netbook killer" (due to its ability to surf the web, check e-mail, watch videos, listen to music, and do a lot of the simpler tasks that netbooks were originally designed to do. Thus Apple had put less weight on the iPad as an e-reader in their announcement, which is still very apparent now that the iPad has been released.

Despite the fact that it has begun to spark a revolution in the publication and delivery of full-color magazines and news, in addition to its support for reading e-books, Apple has taken a low-lying strategy with their iPad as an e-reader or "Kindle killer" as some iPad users have touted. When you go to Apple's website, and browse the guided tours that Apple has made for the iPad, you'll see that the guided tour for Apple's e-book reader app "iBooks" is near the bottom of the list. (Just below it is Apple's guided tour for its iPad productivity suite "iWork" which lets you edit Microsoft office documents such as Word files, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations). What they don't exactly tell you outright is that iBooks (or iWork) is not included on the iPad out-of-the-box. They're extra applications that you have to download from Apple's iPad app store.

Having not bundled the iBooks app with the iPad, Apple seems to be positioning the iPad as more than just an e-book reader. Despite the fact that you have to download iBooks, the app itself is indeed free, though the books themselves aren't (of course). As a courtesy though, and as a sort of demonstration, Apple decided to throw in a Winnie the Pooh book for free. What a nice gesture, Apple!

On the other hand, to use the iPad for editing office documents, you'll need to download Apple's productivity suite iWork, a trilogy of apps which consists of: Pages, for word processing; Each of the three apps can be downloaded separately for $9.99 each. Completely reworked for the iPad, the complete iWork suite will set you back a whole thirty bucks. So be aware of that before you go ahead and grab the iPad for use with work-related document editing, and so forth.

Also note that if you do intend to use the iPad for heavy writing or word-processing purposes, you'll find that your ability to type quickly will be greatly inhibited by the virtual keyboard. Thus, you should snag the external keyboard as well (Note: I'll also explain some typing techniques below). Either way, be prepared to pay more than merely the price for the iPad alone. There's clearly more than meets the eye if you intend to transform the iPad into something a little more productive than it might be for you out of the box.

===== Interaction Experience =====

The iPad is fast and responsive, and touch interface is phenomenal on the same level that all of Apple's other touch-screen devices have been to date. With the iPad, Apple brings a whole new meaning to the term "multi-touch". The iPad touch-screen supports up to ten simultaneous touches, assuming there is ever a need for that, and given that the developer of whatever app needs that many touches has integrated support for that many touches. For example, the most common app supporting ten simultaneous touches is the piano app.

Being touted more as a Web browser and email device than an e-book reader, plus with the added potential that you'll be using the iPad to edit office documents, typing on the device can quickly become a concern. First off, realize that the iPad is not a laptop in the sense that you aren't going to be typing at a speed that I would consider fast enough to be conducive for heavy usage like writing a book, posting articles on blogs or typing lengthy emails. With that in mind, there are a couple approaches you can try to determine what' typing method is right for you. The ideal method might also change depending on where you are and how the iPad is oriented when using it.

Typing Method #1:
The most common and most flexible approach is to type with your thumbs, which can be done whether sitting or standing. To do this effectively, the iPad should ideally be in portrait mode--I'll explain why in a bit. Grasp the bottom of your iPad with your palms facing each other, and your pinky fingers towards you for the iPad to rest on. To stabilize the iPad and prevent it from flopping over and falling out of your hands, stretch both of your index fingers upwards towards the top of the iPad as much as is comfortable. Proceed with using your thumbs hunt and peck the keys on the virtual keyboard to your heart's content.

This typing method works best with the iPad in portrait orientation (tall/upright position). It can also be used like this in landscape orientation (wide/sideways position), though I find it much harder to reach the central keyboard keys with my thumbs without the edge of the iPad interfering (constantly hitting the web of skin between the thumb and index finger).

Typing Method #2:
I've found this next method to be even more useful, though it requires you to be is best used while seated, with the iPad in resting in your lap, or on something soft, preferably with the iPad in landscape mode. With the iPad situated securely on your legs, you'll find it becomes easier to type with your full range of digits (fingers), like you would on a full sized physical keyboard.

I found it slightly awkward, though, to hit the spacebar frequently with the side of my thumbs as you typically would on a physical keyboard. Still, whether you use your thumbs for the spacebar, or decide to use your fingers instead, you'll still find yourself typing slightly faster than with the thumbs-only hunt-and-peck method.

Also, this typing method doesn't work well with the iPad resting any anything hard and flat like a desk or table, as the rounded backside of the iPad causes it to wobble uncontrollably while trying to type. However, if placement on a hard surface is a must, you might try putting something soft under the iPad to stabilize it.

Other methods of typing on the iPad include the aforementioned external keyboard, as well as speech-to-text transcription apps. The latter includes the Dragon Notes app from Nuance, but I've found its quality in transcription to be laughable at best.

===== Web Browsing =====

Alongside email, and spending money in the app store, Web browsing is one of Apple's biggest suggestions for using the device. The iPad was born to surf the Web, and its screen resolution of 1024x768 tends to concur, especially in landscape mode. Most websites are around 800-1000 pixels wide, so when the iPad is in landscape orientation, Apple's Safari Web browser will render any sites that are less than 1024 pixels wide at their intended original size, meaning you see them at their true size, rather than seeing a smaller, more compressed version of the site.

In general though, I tend to prefer browsing the Web in portrait mode, since web pages are almost always taller than they are wide. Still, even in portrait mode, the iPad allows you to see more content at a decent size, Of course, even in portrait orientation, the compressed pages rendered are still easily readable without squinting your eyes, which isn't often the case for Web browsing on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Plus, you can always zoom into any section by double tapping any region of the active page. Even zoomed-in regions are displayed with crisp clarity, and working within the Safari browser interface is swift and responsive.

However, not all your sites will work desirably on the iPad. Apple is closed-mindedly refusing to support Adobe Flash on the iPad (as it has with the iPhone/iPod Touch). Regardless of whether you like it or not, Flash is being used around the Web, not only for advertising and video but for many other uses from graphs to product comparisons. The same lack of support is true of Java, AIR, Silverlight and others. So expect some of your sites to only be supported to a certain degree, if not entirely in rare cases. This can be a bit of a bummer until Flash starts being replaced with other technologies like HTML5's canvas technology, which is poised to take on some of Flash's most familiar capabilities.

===== Email =====
Email on the iPad's Mail app is best viewed in landscape mode, as it allows you to see both your list of messages on the left as well as the selected message itself on the right. It also makes managing emails easier, such as moving messages to other folders (or to the trash). Another reason for landscape mode is to make typing those lengthy emails easier (using typing-method #2 mentioned above).

You can have multiple email accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, MobileMe, Microsoft Exchange and other custom POP3 and IMAP accounts.

Overall, The Mail app is fairly simple to use. It's easy and quick to read and answer your emails, but in general it's not very powerful. For example, there is currently no support for a unified inbox, but support for that will be added in the fall with the iPhone OS 4.0 update.

Important Note: With the growing number of portable web connecting devices, there is one concern I want to express on your behalf. When you close the Mail app, it continues running in the background, even after disconnecting from one WiFi hotspot and reconnecting to another. My concern with this is that if haven't set up your e-mail with a secure connection, and you connect to a public WiFi hotspot that a malicious user is monitoring, then the instant your mail app connects to the hotspot to check your e-mail, your e-mail credentials may be suddenly compromised. To avoid this you definitely want to be using some kind of secure connection for your e-mail if at all possible. Web-based email such as Gmail typically support this out of the box, and Gmail accounts are the easiest to setup on the iPad.

===== Media =====

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, it's comforting to know that you audio/video experience will be similar on the iPad. You can watch videos via the YouTube app, which has been updated for the iPad to show YouTube HD videos beautifully. While the 1024x768 resolution of the iPad is a standard 4:3 ratio, not a widescreen 16:9 ratio, the HD videos as well as other video (including downloads from the iTunes store) display just fine.

The Netflix app was also a pleasant and much-welcome surprise, as I'd been waiting over a year for Netflix to put out an app for the iPhone/iPod Touch. While it isn't that, it is indeed just as good. Netflix videos stream quickly and even moving the play position back and forth in the timeline, the movie starts playing very quick without much time rebuffering the video.

===== Photos =====

Two words: No camera!

But thinking seriously about this, would you really want to take pictures/video with this device? You might look kind of awkward. I can't say that I've felt the urge to whoop out my iPad and shoot a photo yet. On the other hand though, logically speaking, Apple should have put the camera up front (as a webcam) instead of on the back, to make the iPad more versatile as a video-chat device for use with apps such as Skype. Ultimately, though, I think Apple couldn't make a decision on exactly where to put a camera. Even on the front, they would have to put it either at the top (optimized for portrait mode) or on the side (optimized for landscape mode). I'll admit, such a decision would be tough, which might explain why Apple decided to nix it all together.

Of course, that left an open market for iPad apps that could help bridge the gap. Now, there are a couple apps that allow you to pair your iPhone to your iPad, take pictures with the iPhone, and then subsequently send them to your iPad. First, download an application called "Camera A" on your iPad. Then on your iPhone and grab the "Camera B" app. One of the apps will be free, the other is 99 cents, but for that 99 cents you will get the ability to take pictures with your iPhone and save them directly to your iPad through the Bluetooth connection.

===== E-Reading =====

Whether it's books, magazines or news, the iPad isn't just making history, it's making an impact on the future of media reading on a whole new level. Apple has been under-emphasizing the e-book and e-publication reading capabilities of the iPad to date, but I feel it's one of the iPad's greatest strengths, regardless of how heavy it is. Fact is, the iPad is still a game-changer. After all, it's lighter than 98% of other laptops with the same sized screen. It is becoming crystal-clear just what the iPad means for the publication industry. This goes far beyond simply reading e-books. Magazine and newspaper publishers have been jumping onboard the iPad bandwagon by creating their own custom apps that take their publications to a whole new level, but interactively and financially.

My experiences interacting with some of these new digital representations of magazines and newspapers have been a breath of fresh air. Being able to read them on a screen simply isn't enough. The ability to still touch them, combined with a rich interactivity on a level that can't be matched by their printed counterparts has really given new life to what I feared was becomming a dying trade. Of course, another big perk for me has been the ability to save space because now I can keep all my magazines around without ever taking up more than the size of a single magazine (since the iPad is comparable in size to a single magazine).

As far as e-books go, you're not losing out by passing up on the Kindle, because you have full access to Kindle books on the iPad via Amazon's Kindle app. That's not to say that the iPad is a Kindle killer by any means, as the two devices are distinctly different, and both offer a very unique experience. If you read a lot of novels, or prefer to read outdoors, and you don't mind reading in shades of gray rather than in full-color, then the Kindle was indeed made for you, as the Kindle is lighter and the display is easier to read in the sunlight. However, that doesn't mean the iPad would serve no purpose to you, even as an e-reader, because it can read Magazines, News and even the Web on a level that cannot be matched by the Kindle (at least not yet). Besides, no one said your choice was limited to one device or the other. Get them both, if it tickles your fancy!

All physical aspects aside, the iPad is definitely a great e-reader, just on a whole new level. Those touting that the iPad is just a glorified iPod Touch, however, probably don't realize this important distinction: the apps being put out by publishers are iPad specific and cannot be used on the iPod Touch nor on the iPhone.

===== Gaming =====

If you're like me, you probably don't have time for games. Ultimately, I still se the iPad as a productivity device more than as a gaming console. Regardless, it may still be high-time to let the kid within you roam free from time to time, as I do. Alas, it may just be time to

Without a doubt, millions of people use their computers for gaming, and with the iPhone and iPod Touch having taken on a clear role as a gaming console that has been as revolutionary for mobile gaming as the Wii was for living-room gaming, it goes without saying that the iPad is, and will continue to be, a decent platform for playing games.

I see board games and lap-friendly games being the most popular on the iPad. Meanwhile, I suspect that games heavily dependent on rotation and other accelerometer-based interaction may quickly wear you out do to the weight of the iPad. I got tired of playing EA's Need For Speed: Shift after about 5 minutes. Resting the iPad on my knee didn't help much.

===== Productivity =====

Productivity carries numerous definitions. Usually its "getting something done" though some people tend to believe that it's the ability to focus without being distracted, which I see as one of the iPad's strengths considering it currently does not support multitasking (yet). In the context of software though, applications that allow you to edit office documents are commonly referred to as productivity software. Apple's own suite of productivity apps, collectively called "iWork", has been re-created from the ground up just for the iPad. (Previously it was only available for Macs.) For work-minded individuals, it will probably one of the most popular uses of the iPad. There are three apps in all: Pages is a word processing app that allows you to create and edit word processing documents. Then there's Numbers, which allows you to create and edit spreadsheets. Finally there's Keynote, which lets you create or edit presentations and slideshows (including PowerPoint files). So far, I've found the latter to be pretty invaluable in giving personal presentations within small groups or one-on-one meetings.

However, there is a whole category of iPhone and iPad-specific apps dedicated to productivity, and are consequently located under the category titled "productivity" in the categories section of the app store. Remember, any app that works for the iPhone will run on the iPad, but do note that there are some exceptional productivity apps made or updated for the iPad specifically. Some notable iPad-specific productivity apps include Bento (personal organization/information management), Things (project management), iTeleport (remote desktop/VNC), Layers (drawing/painting), and GoodReader (best PDF+ reader around).

===== Printing =====

Notice that I haven't said much about printing so far, as there is no perceived way to print from any of the iWorks apps, nor from email, nor Web pages in Safari. This is a potentially huge flaw, especially for people who want to use the iPad for editing office documents. This, if nothing else, is what I think sets the iPad apart most from desktops, laptops, netbooks and even other (Windows-based) tablets. There are apps that support printing, but they have been quirky to use and typically require a printer that supports them and the details of what you can and cannot print varies widely between the available printing apps.

===== Security =====

With portable devices, there should always be some level of concern regarding the safety and protection of your data. The iPad deliver surprisingly well in the area, providing several layers of security to protect your data. You can require complex passcodes to securely access important information, encrypt data whether stored or transferred over WiFi, and even remotely wipe everything from your iPad instantly in the event of theft or loss (with subscription to Apple's MobileMe service).

===== Technical Specifications =====

Amazon's product descriptions tends to be a bit lacking so here's all the technical jargon geeks have come to expect when researching new gadgets. Feel free to breeze on through!

Size and weight:

9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;
1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

In the box:
* iPad
* Dock Connector to USB Cable
* 10W USB Power Adapter
* Documentation

* 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
* 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
* Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
* Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Wireless and cellular:

Wi-Fi model:
* Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Wi-Fi + 3G model:
* UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
* GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
* Data only
* Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

* Wi-Fi
* Digital compass
* Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
* Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

* 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

* 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

* Accelerometer
* Ambient light sensor
* Magnetometer

Audio playback:
* Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
* Audio formats supported: HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
* User-configurable maximum volume limit

TV and video:
* Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable
* H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Mail attachment support:
* Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

* English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian

* English (U.S., UK), French (France, Canada), German, Japanese (QWERTY), Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Russian

* English (U.S., UK), French, French (Canadian, Swiss), German, Japanese, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Russian

* Support for playback of closed-captioned content
* VoiceOver screen reader
* Full-screen zoom magnification
* White on black display
* Mono audio

Battery and power:
* Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
* Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
* Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network
* Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and output:
* Dock connector port
* 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
* Built-in speaker
* Microphone
* Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

External buttons and controls:
* On/Off, Sleep/wake
* Mute
* Volume up/down
* Home

Mac system requirements:
* Mac or Windows PC with USB 2.0 port
* Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later or Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
* iTunes 9.1 or later (free download)
* iTunes Store account
* Internet access

===== Praise =====

* iPad continues Apple's trend of creating the best multi-touch experience around
* Wireless-n support, means faster and farther-reaching WiFi connections (if your router supports 802.11n)
* Battery life: I was acheiving about 8 hours of battery life with constant Netflix streaming over that span of time

===== Dissappointments =====

* Would have preferred a higher resolution such as 1280x960
* Less wasted space, including thinner black margins and more columns of apps on the home screen
* Weight could have been closer to a typical magazine (12 ounces)
* Wish it were a smaller 8" version with a 163ppi resolution, like iPhone
* Still no multi-tasking (though this will be added in the fall iPhone OS 4.0 release)
* Crippled Bluetooth stack, lacks support for BT file transfer and DUN profiles
* No memory card slot (or maybe this was a ploy to get users to buy the camera kit)
* No perceived ability to print. There are apps for that, but there should be a universal method for printing if you're going to use this for productive purposes.

===== The Bottom Line =====

Despite several disappointments, the iPad is a device worthy to be in a class of its own. This is a good and a bad thing, as it's certainly no laptop nor netbook replacement. But there is a lot of potential. Apps from the app store, built especially for the iPad, will be what makes the iPad shine, as more and more developers see its potential and start coding world-class apps for the device.

It may not leave your pockets or wallet happy, but if you want to take the iPad from good to great, there are plenty of "apps for that". Given all my tips, I think you'll find the iPad to be a usable device, with a deceptive price (given upgrades, apps and AppleCare). And just like every other Apple fan, you'll get over its flaws. There's always hope for Apple to improve on the iPad 2G in another year or two.

I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. :)
124124 comments|2,837 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon April 12, 2010
I've never bought anything on the first day it was available, but I was off to Venice on the 5th, so I got an iPad on the 3rd. Even though I'm a Mac-only person, I never had an iPod or an iPhone, so I think that many of my problems arise from that and will probably go away in time.

Right now I'm not sure how to answer the great Wizard of Oz question: good witch or bad witch?

~light, small, and I didn't have to play the whole "how many books in my purse?" game for the transAtlantic flight

~beautiful screen

~great battery life -- I read the new Maisie Dobbs all the way across the pond

~holds a massive number of books and movies, and I've got just the 16gb model

~gets you into many interesting conversations

~hard to keep it turned off when not in use and that's bad for draining the battery

~steep learning curve if you don't have an iPhone or iPod-touch

~pages on book-mode turn too easily unless you keep a perfect grip on it

~hard to prop up on a table to read while eating

~no substitute for a real book when standing in line, sitting in bright sun, falling asleep ...

~no way (yet) to directly up-load pix from camera

~no real photo software

~hard-to-use documents software

~wireless connection not all that enthusiastic compared to my laptop

~sloooooooooooow to charge up, which is a real issue when there's only one outlet in your hotel room

So am I glad I bought one? Well, sort of. If I weren't traveling, I might be more grumpy, but the book/movie thing alone is certainly sufficient reason for getting an iPad.

PS/News from the front on 4/15::
~the Netflix thing -- which doesn't work in Europe, so I hadn't tried it when I wrote the review -- is AWESOME. Netflix has really stepped up the available offerings, too.
~there's a KINDLE app now and you can get books from Amazon that the iBookStore doesn't have. The special effects aren't as cool, but it's still fabulous to be able to get a book in 10 seconds. And this _does_ work in Europe.

PPS 3 weeks in (4/24)
~I'm much happier with this than I was the first week, but that doesn't mean that it's entirely perfect.
~Nooooooo, it's not a lap-top substitute, nor was meant to be, but if it's gonna offer document software, it would be great if it worked better.
~I very much wish there were a way to batch delete mail messages, rather than having to select each one individually. It takes a significant period of time to clear out a day's worth of messages.
~A SAVED box would be great, too.
~the worst thing, really, that it DOESN'T have is a camera -- so you can't Skype
~there are lots of apps in the App Store, but it's hard to sift out the ones just for the iPad. More deceptively, there IS a filter for that, but it still gives you iPhone apps, which don't look as cool or work quite as well on the Pad.
~I'm very very very glad that there is a Kindle app, because the bookstore is low on new releases, at least in mysteries and thrillers
~I still worry constantly about dropping it and eagerly await the arrival of the Apple case.
~The wireless problems I grumped about are now famous and no fix in sight.
Summary? still glad I have it.
1919 comments|159 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 23, 2010
After receiving an unexpected bonus from my employer I decided to use it to pick up an iPad. I went with the 16 gig wifi only model as I didn't want to shell a lot out of pocket and the bonus barely covered the cost. While I like the device from a "coolness" perspective, I have found that over the past month of use that the lack of flash support makes the device nearly useless for effective web surfing. I would estimate that nearly 80 to 90 percent of run of the mill sites use some form of flash that makes them crippled on the iPad. Try going to any of the national chain restaurant websites, (fFriday's, Chilis, Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings) and it's likely that you'll end up not being able to view much if anything. Many sports news sites or general new sites have huge holes in their pages where flash is supposed to be running. Even with all the other nice bells and whistles, and the hundreds of thousands of apps available, this one drawback makes it tough for me to recommend the iPad to someone who expects a full web browsing experience from a portable tablet based device. As for use as a laptop replacement for business purposes, the options in the app store for MS Office compatible software for editing word, excel and PowerPoint docs are quote broad, but not a single one let's you edit in any form that is close to the full blown desktop software, especially PowerPoint which I use extensively. Logmein Ignition picks up the slack however in giving me access to my work laptop when I am away, albeit it's tough sometimes positioning the mouse on the laptop's screen accurately. It will allow me though to leave my laptop at home on short business trips as long as I have wifi where I am. I am going to add on a MiFi hotspur from one of the major carriers to allow me access anywhere rather than having gotten the 3G version, which allows me to pick the vendor of choice and upgrade to 4g or whatever newer technology comes out. The lack of cameras is glaring considering all android based devices are seemingly coming out with them in their first gen offerings. My hope is that e next gen iPads have dual cameras to support FaceTime and other video chatting software. I also hope they work something out with adobe so that flash support comes to the iPad. Without it, I am definitely leaning towards an android based device as an "upgrade" from the iPad because viewing the web is to me what these devices are supposed to do well and the iPad falls way short of acceptable.
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on December 11, 2014
I must have got a bad batch .i paid good money and it came in bad shape although I agreed to a used iPad it looked like the previous owner ate pizza and left some on the iPad ! Yuk ! Also it shuts down a lot and I'm guessing that's from the dent in the back
review image review image
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on April 28, 2010
I have been using iPad for 10 days and decided to walk away. It is a nice tablet device that I primarily was planning to use as:
- ebook reader while using public transportation
- showing movies to kids during vacation trips
- using as picture hub on vacations to store/review/sort photos
- browser (one that I can use on the sofa)
- generic computer for vacations and travel (way lighter than notebook)
- viewing and occasionally answering email at home when primary iMac is occupied.

Usually Apple devices are aesthetically pleasant to work with. iPad is not an exception, unless you are outside. The device is great for reading at home in controlled light (though a bit harder on the eyes comparing to e-ink readers), but outside (on a train/bus) it has serios glare and reflections on the screen even without direct sunlight. It felt annoying. I guess after months of use one gets used to it, but in a few days I haven't started enjoying reading with it. I wonder if matte screen would have done better.

As far as watching movies, its mono speaker lacks power. I guess I'm not a typical user here as I got two kids, so headphones aren't an option. Getting its speakers up to the iMac level would be excellent. I realize that it's hard to fit on a way smaller device, but a little bit better speakers would actually let two persons watch movie together. Again, glare and reflection of yourself on dark scenes are guaranteed in pretty much every lighting condition. Some people don't bother about it; some people do, so see for yourself.

Having SD port would be great to transfer photos from my camera. I don't really want to mess with extra cords here.

Overall, it's been a pity to see device coming short of expectations. I'll wait for 2nd version, and would love to see better screen, better speakers and SD port there. And a camera would let me Skype. I don't care much about flash or multi-tasking.

Apple, please, do something about the glare/reflections. These "great" glossy screens aren't that great for some of us, I do have mirror at home already. That stands for both iPad and iMac. Old white iMacs had way better matte screens than current glossy ones. Having matte as an option would be excellent.
88 comments|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I love almost everything Apple, but the iPad just isn't there yet, primarily because it doesn't replace anything with better functionality -- not a netbook, not a Kindle, not an iPhone. Yes, the display is absolutely gorgeous with its intense colors and sharp graphics. Yes, it is sleek and easy to slip into a briefcase. Yes, video and photos cannot look any better on a portable device. But . . . .

The iPad is dependent in part on apps that you can purchase in the iTunes store; however, many of those apps are either incompatible with the iPad (showing up on the tablet in iPhone screen size) or cost money. There just aren't many free iPad apps the way there are with the iPhone. The apps that do exist, whether for a price or free, just don't add much to the iPad's functionality.

While the touchscreen keyboard is much easier to use than that of its cousin the iPhone (because of its larger size), it's not built for typing more than a few quick emails or notes. Plus, if you use Word on your main computer, you can't install it on the iPad the way you can on a netbook. You're stuck with Apple's note program or a separate productivity app purchased from the App Store. As far I can tell, the only way to share notes is to email them. You cannot edit an existing document.

As an e-reader, it doesn't compare to the more portable, more book-like, lighter-weight Kindle 2, except in the case of books that have color photos and/or animated graphics. It may compete well with the larger Kindle DX, although I don't have one of those to compare. To download books, you have to be on a wireless network, unlike the Kindle, which uses free Whispernet for downloads. (Note: the iPad with 3G can download anywhere if you pay for monthly 3G service.) When I read on the iPad, it feels more like a computer than a book; the Kindle feels more like a book.

The iPad does not have a camera, either still or video. It does have a microphone for voice memos. Its speakers are much better than those of the iPhone 4; you can start up the iPod and put the iPad on a table to listen while you do other things. Still, I have a computer and separate iPod players in the areas of the house; music coming through real speakers sounds so much better. I do like that I can play music while using other apps, just the way I can on all versions of the iPhone. Its the only example of multitasking on the iPad.

I'm leaving this iPad for my husband to use. I'll get another when Apple releases a version that has a camera and FaceTime; when it can share and edit files; when more (useful) free apps are available; when it allows multiple open window/apps the way the Mac OS does -- in short, when it successfully replaces one or more of my other devices.

The iPad has tremendous potential that isn't yet realized, but it is a fun toy to play around with. As to whether you should purchase this wireless version or the 3G, consider how you would use this and whether you want to pay for 3G service. You can tether your later model iPhone; however, that's an additional fee from ATT as well. I recommend the iPad for tech geeks who have to own the newest toys -- and as toys go, this is great. For the rest of you, hold off for a generation or two until Apple begins to fully utilize the power of this slender tablet.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2010
This is an amazingly addictive device. However, it neither brings the same level of unprecedented convenience to end-users as the iPhone, nor does it feel like a credible replacement for the traditional laptop. And yes, it is over-priced.

+ Display is bright and sharp. A joy to behold.

+ Compared with a traditional laptop, it is and feels quite lightweight, and therefore convenient to carry.

+ Flash memory means that it wakes up in a matter of seconds. Laptops take longer to wake up from their "sleep" mode, and a lot, lot longer from a cold boot.

+ Safari mobile browser is almost as capable as your typical desktop browser - IE, Firefox...

+ There is an app for almost everything you need, want, wish for, think about, don't care about, and wished you didn't know.

+ Video playback (have not tried full HD so far) is smooth and without any jerkiness.

+ Audio quality is very good, even without the headphones.

+ Managing your wi-fi networks and VPN configurations is very straightforward.

+ Downloading and installing apps from iTunes is simple. Nothing to it really. You click to install and the app downloads and installs. No mucking around with install folders, specifying your JRE folder, or such things that we have grown to become accustomed to.

+ iOS4.2 will bring multi-tasking to the iPad, so that's another huge plus waiting in the wings.

+ The touch keyboard is large enough to enable almost full-speed touch typing. No more pecking awkwardly with your fingers.

+ The more powerful processor means that it performs perceptibly better than the iPhone 4 on similar tasks.

- Light though it is, it is still inconvenient to use it for extended periods of time in your hands. You will need to place it on a surface at some point.

- The lack of an in-built stand means you will have a terrible time viewing the screen in a brightly lit room. You will need to buy a third-party accessory.

- The iTunes software is a frustration-laden nightmare to use. Version 10 does nothing to improve matters. If you have multiple Apple devices, managing them effectively with iTunes is next to impossible. Knowing which apps are syYou never know when a right-click is available, where it is not, when to use drag-and-drop, and when to use the menu. Needless to say, it is the weakest link in this chain.

- The lack of a right-click gesture.

- The lack of tooltips and the equivalent of mouse-hovers. You get so used to hovering your mouse over a link or text or image and seeing more information about that markup that you sorely miss it on the iPad. Especially when browsing. You sometimes feel like you are taking a step in the darkness when you click on a link that you don't know what it is going to lead to.

- The automatic content orientation from portrait to landscape does not work quite as well or as expected. If you place your iPad on a flat surface and then rotate it by 90 degrees, the iPad, most of the time, does not automatically change the orientation of the content. You have to pick up the tablet and hold it at a slightly tilted angle, of say 30 degrees or more, for the content to reorient itself. Minor quibble.

- You need to connect the iPad into a wall outlet to charge it. Evidently you cannot charge the iPad by connecting the USB cable into your laptop.

- The closed, walled world of the iPad. No Flash, no Java. Yes, you can use your browser for most things, but if you want to use apps, then the iTunes stores it is. Yes, the store provides some assurance of safety and protection from malware, but this closed worldview is a regressive one, and reminds one of Microsoft's attempts in the 1990s to wall off its Windows users from the internet. Microsoft failed then. Apple could well fail now.

- Price. The iPad, even at its cheapest, at $499, feels overpriced. You can get full-featured laptops for that price, with more RAM, more hard disk, a bigger screen, a physical keyboard, USB ports to plug in external devices into, no limitations on Flash or Java, your choice of software to install, and more...

The Future

Consider this. A laptop with Flash memory and without optical drives, if well designed, could weigh just as much as an iPad. Innovate a bit more and provide a sliding keyboard so that you can use a physical keyboard when you want to, and which also allows you to place your laptop on a flat surface with the screen tilted, and you have an iPad competitor.
What Apple has managed to do is bring an unprecedented level of architectural integration competence and a very viable third-party commercial ecosystem to the world of its devices, in the form of the iTunes App Store. This, more than anything else, will prove to be a formidable barrier to competition. Till that happens, Apple's iPad (and iPhone and iPod) will continue to enjoy super-economic profits.
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on October 20, 2010
I am a German customer and my English is not perfect so I apologize for that in advance. I have bought the English version of the IPod 64GB. Well, a lot of things have been said about the product's features and how great it looks and all. Time to point out some negative facts and reasons why i would not buy an Ipad again.

I noticed that people praise the product based on their first impression rather than on actual every day experience.

Here are some disturbing facts about the all new and shiny iPad.

-Overpriced! If you consider that you can buy a netbook for half the costs, which outperforms the iPad in just about every way this latest Apple toy is clearly overpriced. Ok, it's not a netbook and it's not a laptop. But hello? One wonders why Apple's profits have skyrocket in recent months! A retail price of (maximum) 500 USD would just about be acceptable. But 800 USD for a product that offers less features than the late IPod 4th Generation is a joke.

Unlike the iPod 4G, the iPad has no still camera and no video camera. It's also impossible to do Skype calls at this time. The obvious benefit over the iPod is obviously is the big screen and as a result from this, the better resolution and picture quality.

-Another major drawback: Apple does not allow iPad/iPod users to view flash content. Yes, that's right! If you want to watch a video on the internet that requires Adobe's Flash Player, your outta luck! And since 75% of all internet videos use the Flash Player, this is a major setback!

According to Apple, the use of Flash Player would lower the performance of the iPad/iPod and also would lower resources to a rather low level. Excuse me? If am i paying 800 bucks for a so called "premium product" i get to decide which content i want to play and not Apple!

Here we go again, with the comparison to the cheap but solid netbooks of today! All the netbooks can play Flash content, not to mention the other countless applications users have become to appreciate such as Skype or web bases games. Netbooks have more disc space to offer, you get to decide what programs/applications to install and so on. They also offer a real keyboard and countless plugs which are essential today. What does the iPad have to offer?
Obviously no USB, no HDMI, no mic, no firewire etc. And again, for double the price over a modern netbook that is!

But the list of flaws goes on even further. Many of the apps that you can download from the apps store and iTunes are loaded with bugs! I recently purchased an eBook and after it finished downloading i tried to open it only to get the following message thrown into my face: "failed to load book because the requested resource is missing".

That was it for my first reading experience. I am still unable to open the book and i now have to contact iTunes for further assistance.

If Apple wants to sell Computers to the mass, they need to re-think their price strategy. If you want to buy a protective hard plastic case, or a similar nylon cover, you end up paying between 20 and 80 (!) USD. That's insane, knowing that the production costs for an iPhone/iPad plastic shell are in the range of 25-40 cents!

Wake up Steve Jobs, success is one thing but endless greed will always keep you under the wings of big Bill Gates, who remains to supply 90% of all Computers to consumers around the world. Ever wonder why?

I wonder no longer...
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on November 24, 2010
First, the good:
- It's nicely responsive most of the time
- has a good selection of apps
- the touch interface is fantastic.
- It's my go-to device for quick web-surfing, kindle reading, etc.
- Individual apps are often unstable, but the OS itself is quick solid.

The bad:
- iTunes for PC is without a doubt the most bug-ridden POS my computer has ever been saddled with. Every other app is rock solid but this one. It's also slow, confusing yet primitive, and crashes and errors constantly. I cannot gripe about this enough. Unless you are running a mac, steer clear of this product!
- Very slow web-browsing speed compared to even the lowest end laptops. Total lack of caching means flipping back a page forces a reload of the page from the web. Slows things down further.
- Lack of flash hurts more than I expected
- Slow wifi makes streaming video watching a crapshoot. Sometimes works great, other times abysmal
- Touch interface not so great for content-creation of any kind

Bottom Line:
Good for content consumption, not so good for content creation. Can't currently replace a real computer. If they would remove iTunes from the picture and fix the sub-par web browsing this would be a nice little device.
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on November 13, 2013
The ipad is great technology and the kids LOVE it. The first generation is all I need for the kids to play with, but with all of the new ipads that have followed, I'm finding that many of the apps are no longer supported and can't be updated. It depends on what you want to use the table for, so if you want the newest apps and a camera, go with a newer ipad. If you just want a few simple apps and some entertainment for the little ones, the first generation will work just fine.
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