Top critical review
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Not without flaws, but certainly more than just a glorified iPod Touch!
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:
* Dock Connector to USB Cable
* 10W USB Power Adapter
* 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 (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
* 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
* Ambient light sensor
* 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
* Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)
External buttons and controls:
* On/Off, Sleep/wake
* Volume up/down
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. :)