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on April 3, 2010
I've now spent the better part of a day playing with the new iPad, and while it excels in many things there are still some things anyone considering buying one should probably keep in mind.

First the good sides:

This thing is very fast, opening and closing applications is quick, the screen is incredibly responsive, there is no lag while typing, and the built in Safari browser does a great job of quickly loading even graphic intense pages.

The not so good sides:

As has been thoroughly pointed out, there is not presently much in the way of multitasking within the iPhone OS, but with most expectations pointing towards a summer release of OS 4.0 this might be remedied by mid summer, and almost certainly by a generation 2 release. That said, it should be kept in mind that on such a little screen being able to view multiple applications at once will likely never be something you'll use, and the speed by which you can open and close applications makes this less a headache than you might think. It isn't as fast as moving between open apps, but it isn't a deal breaker by any means. The lack of a camera in this generation is a little surprising, while I've purchased my iPad already, I honestly believe that with the number of competitors expected over the course of 2010 we're probably going to see a generation 2 by Christmas with a camera. It's still an amazing device, but the ability to video chat with it would definitely put it over the top, that's a feature worth waiting for. The lack of Flash support isn't as irritating as I expected it to be, but still something to consider. Many major sites have evolved to html5, or are in the process of doing so. This allows for full viewing by the Safari browser, and where it exists, it works great. The remaining sites still using Flash show up with annoying little boxes looking for a plugin that is likely never going to exist. If you spend a lot of time on flash heavy sites it really probably is worth considering holding out to see how the Slate/Android Tablets look in a few months, but if you're mostly just e-mailing and checking facebook (no Farmville) the lack of Flash support probably won't bother you too much.

As a laptop replacement:

The inclusion of the iWorks utilities gives this device a little bit of a laptop personality. Don't let that persuade you into believing that you don't need a computer though. You might be able to get away with ditching a laptop if all you really do is e-mail or very light word processing, but if you do anything more than that you'll like the freedom and ease a full computer offers for more complex tasks. That said, this device is a tremendous leap towards a future tablet style device that may very well be a replacement for your computer, but for now it is more of a casual use device than something you can really expect to do substantial work with. I have put together a presentation in keynote, which was easy enough to do, but pages isn't as intuitive as I'd have liked, and taking lengthy notes or writing long letters/e-mails/reports will probably make it worth considering buying either the keyboard dock or the wireless bluetooth keyboard.

Battery life seems to live up to the claims, I managed to get about 7 hours before getting the 20% remaining battery life indication, which puts it about right for 10 hours or so of total use. One very important thing to realize about charging the device is that presently (at launch) there is some issues with charging via USB from many computers. The iPad is different than other iPod products, it requires a bit more power to charge up, and unfortunately most USB ports aren't set up to support that higher power draw. This is something that may be fixed in a firmware update to allow for a slower charge, or it may simply be that you'll need to either rely on a new Mac (seems like they can handle the power issue) or rely on the wall charger. Just don't be surprised if you plug it into your computer and it doesn't show that it is charging.

All in all, the iPad is an impressive device that might make for a reasonable replacement of a netbook for casual users. For people who need something to really do a lot of work on, you may find that for the price that a netbook or laptop still offers the better value for your needs. Future generations of this device will probably transition into fitting that market better than this first generation. However, if you're an avid reader, casual gamer, music fan, who doesn't do much more on the web than check a few sites, and e-mail. This thing is definitely worth considering! If you're on the fence, nothing about this product is so incredible as to justify running out and buying one right now, but it is worthy of your consideration if you're thinking you might like a tablet style device. I definitely would encourage you to go play with one at best buy or an apple store to get a feel for it. With a number of competitors due out over the next few months we're likely to see some price movement, or a second generation release, so it may be worth it to wait it out a little while.

One final note, the screen is absolutely gorgeous while it is turned on. It is crisp, bright, and very easy to see from any angle. But when you turn it off, every finger print and swipe is suddenly very visible (while it is on the light is bright enough you don't see them fingerprints). If you are a neat freak, or just hate finger prints on your devices you'll have to invest in some microfiber cloths or get used to using your shirt sleeve!

In conclusion, it's a lot of fun, and I'm not the least bit sorry to have bought one. It does many things, and over the next months will do many more. If you think you want one, go play with one, and if you don't want to wait for a next generation this one is definitely awesome. If you have specific needs that aren't really addressed in this generation or by apple, don't let the hype or peer pressure bully you into this one, there are a number of devices coming with great potential, one of those might be a better fit.
136136 comments|3,952 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The main difference between this item, and the wi-fi only version, is of course the sim card with 3G. So, before I talk about the iPad in general, I'd like to explain my take on the 3G.

3G Performance:
The BOTTOM LINE: Works good as long as you aren't using it in a moving car. I ran an internet speed test on it and in the metro area it was 1.2Mbps down and 210kbps up, which is decent.
The DETAILS: If you are doing basic computing, you will be able to be anywhere within a 3G service area to enjoy the internet. (If 3g service sucks in your area, don't buy an iPad 3g) Here is the only problem: when you pass from tower to tower the signal can hang as the data has to be rerouted to the new tower. Lets put this another way. If you are using the iPad netflix app to stream "Kim Possible season 3" videos to your iPad while driving at 60 MPH it will "hang" during the 22 minute show. In summary: The AT&T 3G works the same as my 3G expresscard from Verizon.

2G Performance: Yes, you can use your iPad on AT&T's 2G EDGE network as needed. The data is slow. You won't enjoy it.

3G setup:
3G setup is simple:
- press settings button, choose cellular data, press set up cellular service.
- put in your *iTunes* password. (AT&T is "invisible" except for a logo.)
- put your credit card into the iPad
- voila! you have service for 30 days
Its very slick and takes less than a minute. Its how it should be.

Avoiding the 3G data charges: If you are an iPhone user, and you have an iPad, you can avoid paying for 2 data plans by swapping sim cards. Of course, you might miss a few calls while your sim is in the iPad because the iPad doesn't support phone calls. If you have an older iphone: Older iPhones use large SIM cards and the ipad uses small microSIM cards. You would have to cut your large sim card down to the microsim size, and put it in your iPad (you will need a needle to pop it out). You would need to buy a little adapter (sold on the internet) to make your small sim fit back into your iPhone (so, buy the adapter first!) But this isn't a great long term solution, because, if you want to use the iPad as a GPS in the car you will not be able to use your phone quickly or easily until you switch them back out again. Here it is on Amazon: Microsim Adapter for Ipad Iphone4g Convert Micro Sim to Regular Sim Adapter

Despite my little princess being vexed at Kim Possible hanging, the answer is yes. Certainly, its wonderful to have the 3G access. Everything about the iPad works better because its a bigger screen, and being able to access the internet (almost) anywhere is very, very useful for me.

Now, the question begs to be asked: why the ipad at all?
I have to say I originally joined the legion of pundits who said "hey, its just a big ipod touch" and "it won't replace my laptop". Certainly, this has to be the two most common things you hear people say about the ipad, right? And yes, that can be the truth you choose.

iPad vs. Laptop: If your idea is to buy an iPad to replace your laptop, and get an external keyboard, and a docking station, and bla bla bla... then you will be disappointed. This is a different kind of device, and you can't put a square peg in a round hole. The iPad is for even more mobile computing than a laptop can provide. ***A laptop needs a desk. But the iPad doesn't.*** Thats the point, and if its not compelling for you, then consider carefully before buying an iPad.

iPad vs. iPod Touch: To say its just a big iPod touch is not really fair. The processor is much more powerful, allowing you to do a LOT MORE. You also get a big screen. And the 3g with this version. So to refuse to upgrade from the ipod Touch is similar to refusing to upgrade from a Kia Rio on the grounds that all other cars do the same thing.

But the biggest reason the iPad+3G will work for you, is that after a few weeks with it, you will want learn how to make it work for you. You will *enjoy* using it and it will be easier to use. You will say "how can I change what I do so I can do it on the iPad" not "how can the iPad do exactly what I did before".

For an example: here is a day with the iPad.
I get up in the morning, and if I'm not being lazy, I get on the treadmill. I prop the ipad up on the treadmill while I walk. I watch some news video on the iPad, read some email, play a game, catch up on facebook. I'm usually not done with this after my walk, so I head downstairs. Its like carrying a magazine, its so easy. I bump into my daughter in the hall and show her a picture from her Grandmother, with the iPad securely held in only one hand. While I'm eating breakfast, and shaving, and brushing my teeth, I'm catching up on a book I was reading on my wife's Kindle: using the kindle ipad app. Then I can use the iPad when I leave the house, in a myriad of ways that I would not use my iPod Touch or Laptop. And the iPad fits in the pocket in my car door. Its really never in the way!

So far I have used the iPad to:
1) Watch streaming netflix movies.
2) Read books on iBooks and Kindle for iPad, both to myself and to my children.
3) Browse the internet without constantly having to use finger motions similar to "pinch" and "peace" (goodbye iPhone!).
4) My kids use it as an interactive coloring book at restaraunts.
5) I can control my laptop when I am away from home if something crucial comes up, as if I'm sitting at my laptop.
6) Move pictures from my digital camera to the iPad very quickly and easily (using the camera adapter, sold separately). Either for storage or for emailing.
7) Listen to Pandora internet radio anywhere in the house. (ok, I can't really listen to "Crystal Method thump thump boom boom music" but most other music sounds good)
8) I have used the internet to teach my children things when we are away from the house (Daddy, where does the word "helicopter" come from?)
9) Watched owned or rented iTunes movies on my 42 inch LCD TV (using an adapter sold separately).

The point of the above is that the iPad gives me more FREEDOM when computing, due to its small footprint and light weight.

What you can't do on an iPad:
1) Multitask. You don't really need all those windows open, but, we're all used to that.
2) Print.
3) Use the iPad to connect to a TV and give a presentation. When you use the HDTV adapter, the iPad screen blacks out so you can only use this for movies.
4) See macromedia Flash based content online. (a lot of websites use this, like Hulu)

Steve Jobs says 1 and 2 are coming, in fact, multitasking is on the new iPhone4 so it won't be long.
#4 will probably never come. If you need to use Flash websites, then, stick with our laptop. End of story.

Oh and the battery.... The battery is consistently lasting all day, 12 hours, without a recharge. But, its important to note that MANY USB ports will not charge an iPad. None of mine will. Also, my cheap iPhone car charger will not charge my iPad. There has been discussion about this lately, apparently the charger or USB port has to actually provide the correct rated power. Most don't provide enough power. But the battery lasts all day for me so this is not a negative.

If the reasons above don't help you make up your mind, consider Steve Wozniak's recent comments about the iPad: "Everyone wants things to be simpler, and along comes this simple thing." No viruses. No compatibity issues. No wondering why your iPad is so slow (Apple vets all software to make sure this doesn't happen). No questionable upgrades. No cryptic errors. All these things were things that took the joy out of computing for a lot of people.

The iPad is such a simple thing. And thats why the average person will love it and prefer to use it instead of a computer.

I'll upgrade this to 5 stars if/when:
1) More powerful iPad apps come out
2) Multitasking 2 things at once is possible (at least web browser and word processing, or pandora internet radio app + any other app would be nice)
3) Some kind of printing would be cool, although, I'm ok with paperless, really...

There you have it.
2828 comments|1,378 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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
Want the long and the short of it without having to read a "mega review"? Here goes. I have an original Kindle and a DX and I've had an iPad for one week. I love them all, but the iPad has won me over. Here's what I've experienced so far:

VERSATILITY - Apps, movies, music, pictures, effective internet connectivity, color display, extremely intuitive GUI all combine to make iPad the hands down winner in this category.

DISPLAY - E Ink is much better for reading, especially in bright light. And, the matte screen on the Kindle doesn't smudge as easily as the iPad screen. However, the iPad has a gorgeous color display and once you get accustomed to it, reading is not difficult. I especially like the backlit display at night when reading in bed ... I can read to my hearts content and not bother my sleeping wife. Slip on the headphones and my full iTunes library is available while I read. If you want a device only to read books, the Kindle wins. If you want color and a display that shows book diagrams and pictures clearly, the iPad wins.

PAGE INTERFACE - I actually like turning pages on the Kindle much better than I do on the iPad. While the iPad has a cool page turning visual (it looks like the page is actually turning), the touch screen is far too sensitive and there is very little edge around the screen to hold on to. The result is that I'm constantly turning pages on the iPad when i don't want to. Kindle's buttons win this one hands down.

CONVENIENCE - on the iPad, all my media is in one place (audio books, photos, music, books, internet, breaking news/weather, address book, email ... the list goes on.) The Kindle, while and excellent book reading device, still requires me to bring along an iPod or a laptop when I travel. iPad is the clear winner.

PRICE - Kindle and the iPad simply aren't that far apart. If a hundred bucks is going to break the budget, stick with the Kindle because it is an excellent reader. If you can afford a little more, go with the iPad... it just is much more versatile. If the Kindle DX were a couple of hundred bucks less, it would be a great reading bargain.

AVAILABLE BOOKS - hands down, Amazon slaughters Apple in just sheer volume of available titles. However, Apple's titles often include color pictures, diagrams, etc. that can actually be sized by the reader for easier viewing. Downside here is that Apple's titles are often higher priced. Winner here is Amazon/Kindle. However, there is an App available for the iPad that allows you to read Amazon Kindle media. It is still not a very elegant design, but it does allow you to read these titles easily and I'm sure the App will only improve with time.

SEX APPEAL - ok, when the Kindle was first introduced, it was a hot item. I couldn't read it at the airport without being interrupted at least a few times by people asking what it was and waning to look at it. Same thing with the iPad, only it's exponentially hotter. With it's sleek design, excellent color display and tons of Apps, people just go nuts asking questions. In short, it just generates a lot of interest and this is proven by the fact that Apple has already sold over a million of these things during the first month of availability. This thing is addictive ... with the Kindle, I can read a book. With the iPad, I can do almost everything I could before on my laptop AND I can read a book.

MY OPINION ONLY - sorry Amazon. You have a great product that pioneered the whole ebook market (others came before you, but you made it work.) Your Kindle is an excellent product, but given the iPad, your device is very much overpriced. Your library continues to be the standard by which all others are judged and I will continue to buy e-books from you, but I'll be reading them on an iPad. On that rare occasion where I'll be laying on a beach reading in direct sunlight, I'll pull out my Kindle because you have an edge there.

I hope whoever reads this finds it useful. I the end, it's your money and your preference so my opinion really doesn't matter. I hope you enjoy whichever device you settle on.
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on May 16, 2010

Hopefully my video shows you most of everything you needed to know.
If not, please feel free and ask. I will try to respond.

The iPad is an amazing entertainment tool. It will soon be much
more than that.

For those with iPhones and iTouch iPods, you will not be as dazzled
as those who have been deprived (I have a Blackberry, trust me, I know).

All will love this device, but the is always a price. I mean literally, a big price :-)

It is worthy of 5 Stars due to the vast things you can do. Video, music, pix.
But not like every phone or iPod. This is completely different.
This is nearly perfect.
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VINE VOICEon June 3, 2010
I have 2 iPads. A 64 GB WiFi only model which I bought the day it was available, and this 32GB 3G model which I picked up last week. They are about the same price; if you have to choose between an extra 32GB of storage and 3G capacity, definitely go with the 3G if for nothing else future proofing. I consider this to be the sweet spot of the 6 iPad variants.

Right now, my wife is in China with a WiFi only model. She is not a technical person, and can rarely find an open WiFi hotspot. So, she goes days between checking her e-mail. E-mail which might be critical to her business. If she had a 3G model, I could have purchased a modestly priced data plan from Chinese Unicom, modified a data SIM to a micro-SIM, and she would be getting her e-mail every minute, and doing some light web browsing. On the other hand, her iPad is loaded with media with over a dozen DVD quality films, all her music, and a large number of family photos. This does take advantage of the extra storage, but is a poor substitute for the whole Internet.

3G is not quite the great deal as it was yesterday, AT&T is eliminating unlimited data for new accounts. In the past, the deal was you could get unlimited data for $30/month with no contract. Now you can get a $25/month deal for 2GB, which is probably more than enough if you don't watch video. Existing $30/month users might as well be on contract, because they will have to keep paying to get the original deal. There are also cheaper smaller plans. Right now I'm on the unlimited plan, and it is great. I have been Skyping to my wife in China, using Google maps, browsing the web in the dentist office and at lunch. It is very slick. I tried the 250 MB/month plan and that was just too small for what I was doing.

As for the rest of the iPad, it is great. I downloaded a free novel from the iBooks store and read it comfortably without any eyestrain or hurting my arm. It's my preferred device for browsing the web, although you do get to notice the lack of Flash. It's mostly ads though so that's fine, but occasionally there will be a graph or video which you just can't see. Over time, I expect this will be less of a problem as Flash dies out, but it is mildly annoying now.

The glass does get awfully greasy, but that is easily wiped away. Typing is surprisingly OK, I can type about as fast as I normally can if I concentrate. My kids like watching YouTube every night, and that is slicker than going to the website. So, I find I use the iPad several hours a day, which means I can get 2 or 3 days out of a full battery charging, which is a relief compared to being worried about keeping my iPhone charged.

This is indeed a game changing device, and I think most anyone will find there are hours of the day whether it be on the couch, bed or passenger's seat where it is nearly the ideal computing companion.
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Just to set the stage correctly - I'm a multiple Microsoft MVP winner for the tablet PC platform. I've been using tablets since their inception in the early 2000's and have used Windows since 1988. I've been programming since 1981. My level of knowledge is way, way up there. And until last July, I never even considered a Mac product. Everything I needed to do was available on Windows, most of the critical apps of mine weren't even available for the Mac OS.

Last spring I purchased another car, and I've long had MP3 players, but never an Ipod. This new car had direct plug access to the Ipods, and allowed all the metadata to display on the radio head unit, as well as full control via the steering wheel controls. So I got an Ipod, my first Apple device. For the heck of it I threw the little Apple sticker on my back window and watched everyone who knew me, employees and clients alike (I'm the director of an IT consulting firm), freak out when they saw the apple on my car.

Then last July a friend of mine showed me his new Macbook pro, and what got me was the hardware, NOT the software. The touchpad was just magical, and after trying it, there was no other input method to compare, and all the windows machines had nothing that felt like this glass surfaced beauty. The backlit keyboard, the solid body (My last two Lenovo's had cracks in their shells just from grabbing one side and picking them up), the design of the hardware was just light years past anything ever done on a PC. And with the new ones running on the intel processor, and able to directly run windows, not just virtually, it made sense for me to get one. So I did.

Then last November I replaced my 1 year old Media center PC with a new Dell Zino, and a month after that replaced THAT with a new Mac Mini. So in about 5 months, I went from a Mac hater to someone who had an ipod, a macbook pro, and a Mac Mini.

So when the iPad was announced, people weren't sure where I'd fall. I was a longtime Mac hater, now a convert, but this "first ever tablet device" was hardly that, Microsoft has been doing tablets for a long time. And my initial take was very, very negative. Like most of the talking heads out there who didn't like it, I was wondering what possible use something that wasn't a real OS would be, something that can't multitask, and, for my tablet background, why on earth there's no support for pens. For me, the best thing about tablets and slates has always been notetaking. I loved MS Journal, and Onenote. Not for *converting* the handwriting to text, but for persisting my notes IN handwriting. I liked it. Worked great. And the form factor on this device would have been outstanding for such activity.

But no joy, we all know how Jobs hates pens. Don't know why, he thinks it's an "outdated" method of input or some such, yet he puts keyboards on everything, which, according to his type of thinking, should also by now be an outdated type of input...

So I had no plans on getting one. I have been waiting for more info on the HP Slate, which would run Windows 7, have multitasking ability, all the things I was used to on a slate.

But I kept thinking about the battery life. And the form factor. I use a kindle daily, and this would be a great replacement for it since, while I liked the concept, both versions of the device I've had just still didn't do it for me. My eyes don't get strained from conventional monitors and displays so it didn't benefit me at all to have the paper ink, but it WOULD benefit me to have a backlit device again for night time reading. And since the iBook app supposedly would allow me to open other books I already had (I've been doing ebooks for years and years before the kindle was ever announced, reading them on my windows PDA phones and comptuers), there was potential here.

But I kept going to the single use, non comptuer OS, limitations.

But I also start to twitch when there's a new toy available. So I started thinking about what I do with computers, both for work and at home, and realized that I didn't *NEED* a full windows 7 slate device with multitasking and everything, since I did not want a second "main" computer. I keep EVERYTHING for both work and my entire personal life on my laptop, so getting the HP would then necessitate a lot of syncing of data between both the windows side of my macbook as well as the mac side. Something I don't like dealing with.

So I realized I didn't want a full computer. I didn't need the ipad to replace anything, or take over any existing functionality of my computers. I wanted it to take over my kindle, and maybe give me some fun drawing apps to play with my 6 year old in. So I decided to give it a try.

So two days ago I ran to the local brick and mortar, figuring they'd be sold out, but at least I could play with a demo unit and see what it was like, get myself past my preconceptions and all the BS flying on the blogosphere. I picked one up, held it, and two store associates were playing with the one next to me. I asked them how quickly they sold out - they told me they didn't, that Apple did a great job stocking them, and they had all versions still left. I decided to not even play with the demo, but just take one home. So I grabbed the 16GB version (knowing I didn't need it for an ipod and such, so 16GB would be sufficient) and went home.

Unboxed quickly since there's nothing but the unit, USB cable, and power adapter. Came fully charged, so I was up and running instantly. Within about 15 minutes I had 70 free apps installed already and was moving through things like a pro. And it dawned on me that even if i wanted that HP Windows 7 based slate, it would NEVER be this smooth. That is one place where Apple just dominates - the UI. And this one was great. Everything worked intuitively, the apps were well designed, and I found my conversions of some of my ebooks to EPUB format installed just fine in Itunes, and showed up just beautifully in iBook. So the reading experience became way better instantly than the kindle could be. And with the kindle software available, I can already get the books I purchased there as well, so i had the best of both worlds.

The drawing apps were a big hit for my 6 year old, who, like any kid, loves finger painting.

Weather apps abound, my favorite so far is weatherbug (not a shock, theirs was my favorite gadget for Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well). I've had storms here, heavy, severe, over the last few days, and my usual thing when dealing with storms at night, while I'm laying in bed reading my kindle, is to randomly get up, go into the great room, and check out the local weather satellites from a few local news stations, see what is still heading this way, how heavy, etc, maybe check mail again while I'm there, then go back and read some more, repeat a few times over an hour or two. So this time, I just changed form iBook to Weatherbug, saw instantly the local radar, what was still on the way, then hopped into the browser, checked all my mail accounts (the built in Microsoft Exchange support is seamless and works great BTW), and enjoyed the browser, which works and looks just as well as my Safari does on the macbook pro. So without having to leave my toasty bed, I was reading, checked three weather sites, three mail accounts, and was back reading, all flawlessly, no running around my house.

The last part I tried finally last night was instant message, which for me is critical since all my employees use it to keep in touch with me, as do a couple friends. With the push technology, all the "you can't do this and that at once" fell apart for me and was debunked. I already had noted that my ipad, regardless of what I was doing or what app I had open, chimed i had a new mail on my works' exchange server before even my smart phone, or my computer directly connected to my exchange server. And so went my experience with IM as well. I loaded a client I've used in windows, then closed the IM program and opened iBook, and a buddy of mine sent me a message. I got not just the notification, but a bubble with his text actually opened in front of ibook, and had a choice of switching over to reply or just close the text bubble and keep reading. So that really rid me of all concerns about the lack of multitasking since that gives me exactly what I need - notification of an email or an IM while I'm doing something else. This is all the computing power I needed on this.

So I finally realized I didn't WANT another tablet PC, another full fledged computer. I wanted something to fill a need between my phone's screen and my computer. Something to replace my kindle, something for some neat games, playing and painting with my 6 year old, and simple/convenient IM and mail access when i'm just vegging at home and don't always want to pull my laptop on my lap to check something quick.

The keyboard is actually far easier and better to use than I had expected, and much faster to type on than I hoped. Not as nice, obviously, as a full screen one, but works surprisingly well.

Screen is a delight - even hours of reading later it's still comfortable, bright, but it gets fingerprints easily despite some "non fingerprint coating" they tried to use to minimize it. Still looks awful after a while at an angle when you look at it askew. But not at all noticeable while staring at it straight and using it.

Screen brightness is good, but it doesn't go down as far as I would've liked for ebook reading, but then I found iBook has a separate brightness control that lets me dim it to nearly nothing for use in the dark. Outstanding.

So then I started throwing some music and photos on it, and that's when I realized I can easily use this to show my grandmother pictures of her great grandson, since she's in her upper 80's and refuses to have a computer, so we can't email her or send her links or anything. So I started playing with music and photos, and this thing became such a cool toy at that point. I had to run back to the store and return it so I could buy the larger 32GB model since I knew by this time I was keeping it. Fortunately I have a 45 day return period with no restocking fees at this place, so the upgrade was painless and free of cost.

That's when I found out that itunes was automatically backing up my unit when it synced. So when I plugged the new one in, the first thing it said was "restore?" So i tried it. It restored all my settings, including mail, so all I had to do was reenter passwords the first time, and I was back up and running after it resynced my apps again. Those stayed in Itunes so I didn't have to redownload everything.

Playing with pictures is pretty fun and very smooth, and the speaker on this thing is surprisingly full of bass. There's even an equalizer for tweaking the sound output to your liking. And the music keeps playing after you close the app so you can have the tunes playing while doing other things (but it will stop when you hit something else that takes over multimedia like a video or some other sound thing from an email of course).

I grabbed the apple book-like cover and the dock, but you can't charge it in the dock while that cover is on.

So I went from the initial "What a useless piece of junk" detractor to the "I wouldn't live without it" supporter.

I gave them all sorts of grief for using the term "magical" to describe it, but I have to say, that it actually felt nearly magical that first hour doing things... All my experience with the tablet PC and I wasn't ready to experience what this interface was like.

And with this, i may finally be able to get my grandma to have something to keep at her condo so we can email her pictures and such... This would make it a lot easier for her than trying to get her to use a full computer...

So for a first revision, it's a grand slam out of the park hit. Granted, it's just a big ipod touch or iphone or whatever, but for someone who never used either of those, and wanted something with a useful form factor, this is a BIG hit.
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on September 26, 2010
I got a WiFi, non-3G version, the cheapest one; I don't need GPS and don't want to pay AT&T any more than I absolutely have to, and don't want another monthly subscription, either. Got plenty of those, it seems. And, at least for now, I don't need all that storage.

I'm not what one would consider a "Power User" of the iPad. I use a laptop constantly, and bought the iPad a couple of months ago because it is great looking and I was curious about it and I got a case of The Wants. I've been involved with computers since the mid-60's when I first was employed as an IBM 360 (and 1401 before that) programmer, and I've continued messing with them pretty heavily ever since, though I changed careers in the early 70's. Over the years, I've owned (in a small business) maybe 40 or 50 desktops and laptops, including several Apple IIe's way back when. I've always liked Apple products, but not used them due to the overwhelming prominence of DOS and Windows products (both software and hardware) and the excellent pricing of IBM clones.

But when the iPad came out, I couldn't help myself. I now pick it up several times a day and use it. I've taken it on trips without a laptop. Here's what I think, mostly.

1. It's cool. No avoiding it, the little fella is great looking and has that Apple minimalist approach to design that they do so well.
2. It's tiny. Well, small, anyway. That's good and maybe bad, but it does have its appeal.
3. Screen resolution seems creamy, silky smooth. Don't know how they did it, and don't really care. It's good.
4. I love Apple's approach to WiFi.... Walking into a new place, without even the slightest thought from you, the iPad finds an open connection and asks if you want to connect to it. If you say yes, you never hear from it again. Done. If the proper connection needs a WPA code or such, it simply asks for it. No fuss. (It seems like Windows, which I use for hours every day and have since it came out, has never really felt comfortable with wireless networking).
5. No keyboard. Well, face it, most of the time you don't use one, anyway. Not having it is OK. No mouse, either, for that matter. Good.
6. Scrolling is a dream. Fabulous. Effortless. Scrolling, something that simple, is probably the single thing this little unit does best. You have to try it to understand it.
7. One of my apps (I don't have many) is a flight simulator similar to MS Flight Simulator.... X-Plane. It allows pilots to practice instrument flying, so I got it. VERY cool. No joystick foolishness. You must rotate the iPad itself like you would a yoke and the airplane turns or climbs or descends, or whatever. Way easier than Windows products to do the same thing.
8. Pilot friends who use other apps for charts and such love it, so I would guess that all graphics applications work pretty well on the little system, though I haven't tried. Oh, yeah, Google Maps and Earth and such look great, too. Apple always has done graphics well, so no real surprise.
9. Ditto for video.
10. Battery life is great. Days on end at my level of usage.
11. My Blackberry has a cute feature (maybe everyone has it, now): When typing an email address or URL, when one presses the space bar, the OS converts it to a @ or a period, whichever is appropriate. The iPad takes that to another level.... There is a ".com" key that enters that when pressed. A small thing, but more helpful than one might think on a device where typing ain't as easy as using an IBM keyboard.

1. It's hard to hold and easy to drop. Needs a shell or something to protect it; that makes it as big as a netbook or small laptop, anyway.
2. Can't keep several "windows" open at the same time to switch back and forth. Not a horrible issue, because you can get back to a previous window relatively easily, but sometimes you'd like to have both open at the same time or be able to switch with a single click. If there's a way to do that I haven't found it.
3. Hotmail and Gmail don't work like they do on a laptop. Or on a Blackberry Storm2, for that matter. I don't know the issue, but I can't seem to find a way to send a new email (though it's easy enough to reply). I'm sure there is some app or setting to fix it, but I really don't want to be troubled with that. I just want it to work. Like the way WiFi does. (Since I wrote this, I actually went into the email setup and set it up; it works, but I would prefer to use Hotmail and Gmail as pure web based apps rather than something more akin to a cell phone feature, which, of course, it is).
4. You can't print from it. I've read that there is a wireless printing feature in the next OS. Waiting to see.
5. When working with it in your lap, either in a chair or a recliner or bed, a laptop is just more well suited for the job. The iPad has to be held up, and, the screen is lower, so you are craning your neck more. I don't use a stand to put it in. Things like that and the case to put it in detract from the advantage of small size, so you might as well use a small laptop which will make you happier in the long run for this sort of thing.
6. No keyboard. And don't tell me they make a keyboard for it. If I have to buy that, I might as well get a laptop. Typing on the screen is a trip. If you use the virtual keyboard holding the iPad in the "landscape" position the keyboard is large, and a little awkward to span the keys with your thumb. So, you end up turning the iPad up to the "portrait" position where the keyboard is better suited to thumb-typing. I haven't tried typing in the traditional way ("touch typing").... I just reach for the laptop. I'm using my Lenovo to type this review.
7. OK, here we go.... No Flash. Now, I don't have a dog in this fight, but I don't understand this. Every now and then (pretty often, actually) some video will come up and the iPad will tell me that it doesn't do Flash. (Happens frequently on sports and news sites). I never even knew what Flash was before this issue came up. Well, Apple wants me to go to iTunes to download their app that will let you view Flash files. OK, y'all, why didn't you just put it in the iPad from the get-go? I just want it to work. Yesterday, I wanted to watch a video of a Tropical Storm in the Caribbean, so I clicked on the link to go get Apple's app. Then I had to cycle through a few pages on iTunes. Heck with it. I just used the laptop (which has a larger screen, anyway). There's a saying: "People don't want quarter inch drills, they want quarter inch holes. "

So, what's the upshot?

I like it. I'd buy it again. No, I wouldn't wait for the Android competitors to come out. Well, I am curious about those and might get one of them, too, just to check it out. But, the WiFi-only iPad is a nice, polite little computer.

I do want to say this, and it's one of those potentially inflammatory things, but I don't mean it like that.... It's more of a toy than a tool. If I am really in need getting things done.... Spreadsheets, presentations, documents, etc, it's really hard to beat the tried and true Windows laptops that are available everywhere and are dirt cheap and fit in with the way things are done and the formats that are used throughout the business community.

So, sure I use it. This morning (a Sunday) I've been using it.... looking at airplanes for sale (daydreaming) and checking out a few football forums and generally surfing the web. So, if this review seems a bit too negative, that's not really intended. I like it.

That said, a would-be buyer needs to understand what it is that he is getting, and what that is, is something of a media machine that requires you conform to Apple's way of doing things, a very good little web surfboard and a pretty neat little toy.
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VINE VOICEon April 3, 2010
I've had an iPad since the first day they were available. It's taken it's place in the household as the preferred way to browse the web, watch bedtime videos with the kids, and play games. Just yesterday, my four year old son sat around the device with his friend playing Plants vs. Zombies HD and it was as easy, natural and comfortable as if they were playing tic tac toe instead of an elaborate tower defense game. It would not have been possible for two four year olds to share a game like that with the mechanics of mousing in the way on a desktop computer or on the cramped screen of an iPhone.

[Update: iPad Camera Connection Kit: I received my iPad Camera Connection Kit recently and that works well, quickly and slickly. It comes as two parts: an SD reader module and a USB port module. The idea being that you can either take the SD card out of your camera or you can connect the camera directly depending on the module. Pop it together and photos and movies are imported into the Camera Roll, and are viewable if the iPad can handle the format, so JPEG images off the SD card from my Lumix can be displayed, as can RAW images imported over USB from my Nikon D-3000. All RAW formats are not viewable, but they should be transferable. I was not able to use a 3rd party SD reader with the USB port as it "used too much power." The USB connector also allows a 3rd party audio device, so you can get digital optical stereo (not surround) out of your iPad instead of the normal dock connectors analog line out. Mass storage devices are apparently not supported.]

In my opinion, the iPad delivers an unmatched content delivery capability. The browsing experience alone is worth the price of admission, but it does so many other activities so well and with such beauty and an organic interaction between user and content that just scratches the surface of what can be done.

This is not a general purpose computer. I am not going to write much source code on it or transcode video or those other activities my laptop and desktop computers do so well. And while text entry is markedly better than on an iPhone, I would not look forward to writing anything longer than this review on its keyboard, although with each sentence of experience I achieve that gets less true. No, what this is is a viewing computer without peer.

You have not browsed the web until you do it with the firm swipes of mobile Safari. I know people have fixated on the lack of Flash and Flash advertising, games and video. And maybe for some people that is a big loss. For me, the only loss is the occasional home improvement show on Hulu, and it seems likely there will be an app for that just as there are ones for Netflix, ABC, Youtube, etc, while sites like CBS put some, but not all, content into DRM free HTML 5 video. What you lose in Flash you more then make up for in the amazing speed of browsing and how natural it all seems. (Having said this, the first time I asked my wife to try answering her e-mail on the device, the first message was to a Flash greeting card.)

The speed of the device is amazing for a low power portable device. Maybe it's the Apple custom A4 processor, or maybe it's the limitation of having so few processes, or the optimization of the OS for GPU acceleration, but the iPad is liquid fast at nearly everything.

Video playback is fast. Photo browsing is fast. Mail is fast. The calendar is fast. Large games like Plants Versus Zombies HD launch in a fraction of the time they do on an iPhone. You get the idea.

Third party developers have stepped up to the plate and delivered both beauty and added functionality. The Kindle app is smooth and imported all my Kindle account books quickly--it's good that there will be competition in the iPad eBook market between Apple's own iBooks store and Amazon't Kindle. The Weather HD app is stunning as it embroiders the mundane delivery of a weather report. Wolfram Alpha is big and well laid out and more powerful than ever.

As for the hardware, I am really liking this screen. It is bright, colorful and sharp with an amazing viewing angle. It does get a little smudged which is noticeable when watching movies but its oleo-phobic screen cleans with a quick wipe.. Its wide viewing angle is a great improvement on my MacBook's screen which would be unreadably dark at the angle I'm typing this. Some people think the iPad is surprisingly heavy, while someone else was surprised how light it was (the same person also expressed remorse at having bought a Nook after about 8 seconds of playing with my iPad).

Be careful with charging this. It likely won't work with your current iPhone car charger. My wife's car charger started to burn trying to handle the extra amperage this device demands. Best to only use this with either your computer's USB ports or the charger it came with. And charging time is slow via a computer, from full empty it takes 7 minutes until reboot, and around 40 minutes per 10% charge (so you are looking at over 6 hours for a full charge from fully drained). The wall adapter is about twice as fast. Regardless, be prepared to make over night charging part of your daily routine, although you will get several days of moderate use between charges given the amazing 10+ hours of activity you get from a full charge. A decade of laptop use has not prepared me for how long you can use this to do everything. It seemingly doesn't matter what you are doing, you still get 10 hours. Or more.

It goes without saying that you do not want to charge this device from your laptop's battery like you might do to your iPhone on a lengthy plane trip.

As for the decision to buy the 64 GB model, I think it comes down to perceived usage. I plan to fill it with quality feature length movies for when my wife travels to China. At about 1.5GB per movie (720x480 h.264)--or more if you have 720p content--16GB seemed a little tight while still loading multiple gigabytes of photos and music. 32 GB would probably be sufficient, and it's going to seem insane in a couple years spending so much for 32 GB of flash memory.

If you get a chance to play with one, try to find a comfy chair where you can put your feet up and make a platform for the device. This will negate the problem of holding its heft and allow you to build up your full speed typing skills. Realize there are all sorts of tricks you will learn and that after an hour you will be a master. Lock the iPad into landscape mode using the hardware toggle switch. I find I never have a need to use portrait mode unless a piece of software makes use of a separate portrait mode. Explore. There are so many little delightful touches to discover like the lock screen photo frame mode, the dictionary in the book reader, tapping on the status bar to go to the top of a web page, etc.

This is a moving target. Every time Apple releases a new version of the OS or a 3rd party developer gets a bright idea, the device will get better. For instance, Apple has announced iPhone OS 4 which addresses many major complaints people have and adds features we didn't know we needed. This fall, you will be able to keep Pandora and Skype running the background while you are playing a game or browsing the web or whatever; this will make these apps vastly more useable. You will be able to organize your apps in folders. Better organize your e-mail. And look forward to smaller developers coming out with more social network games.

If I were to point out one misfeature it is how badly the 2x mode for legacy iPhone apps looks. It just seems as though Apple could have put more effort in making non-bitmap GUI elements look sharp instead of just stretching all the pixels. You would think they could at least have made text and the built in keyboard look better.

I don't like the Apple branded optional case, so I would try before buying the case. It just gets in the way making it hard to access the external controls, and should only be necessary in a scratch prone environment. I am thinking about going with a Gelaskin protective skin instead.

In summary, I am a big fan of this device for a wide variety of activities be it web browsing, game playing, enjoying media, reading email (less so composing email), and reading books. I highly recommend picking one up if you have the means, although I would wait a few weeks until they are back in stock at the normal retail prices or even until the 3G version comes out.
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on February 25, 2011
I got my iPad a little over two months ago. It's a nice device that can do lots of stuff, but I guess the problem for me is that it doesn't do anything my laptop/iPhone can't do, there's plenty of stuff that my laptop can do that my iPad can't do, and the things my iPad can do, it can't do as well as other machines.

Apple's marketing for the device gives you many impressions. For example, that the iPad is thin and light, and therefore easily portable. That the iPad "puts the internet in your hands", giving you the ability to browse the whole internet with swipes of your fingers. That it's "magical and revolutionary". That $499 is an incredible deal for all of this. Unfortunately, the longer I own my iPad, the more I drift to the conclusion that none of these claims are true.

The iPad is certainly thin, no thicker than my first-generation iPhone. It's fairly light, at 1.5 pounds, much lighter than my laptop or even my netbook. The question is, does that make it any easier to use? And the answer is no. The bottom line is that the iPad is still a 10" device, and once you take into account that it needs to have a case to be protected, it becomes thicker and heavier. (By the way, Apple's case for the iPad is going to run you about $40.) I'm a student that lugs around 10lb textbooks on a daily basis. It doesn't make a difference to me whether the computer in my backpack is a 4.5lb laptop or a 1.5lb tablet. The iPad is no more portable than a laptop.

When in use, the iPad won't seem like a thin and light device. Unlike a laptop, which can rest on a desk or your lap, you have to pretty much constantly hold your iPad at the angle that's best for you, and since you need one hand to interact with the device, the job of holding it will be delegated to the other hand. This becomes tiresome after a very short period of time. Although I like the idea of being able to watch a movie on Netflix or read a Kindle book for iPad for extended periods of time, this really isn't feasible. Both of those activities are better-suited for a laptop (or a TV/paperback if you're old-fashioned). If Apple could make the iPad less than a pound, it would greatly help. You could also buy a stand for the iPad,[...]. There goes another $30.

So the iPad is no easier to carry around than a laptop and its weight makes it difficult to use for extended periods. So how does it perform when you're actually using it? It does fine for almost all tasks. Netflix videos load quickly, movies rented or purhased from iTunes look fantastic, music from the native iPad applications or Rhapsody or Pandora sound great, etc. I do wonder, though, if the touch interface used by the iPad is really logical. The touch interface in the iPod touch/iPhone makes some sense, because it allows the screen to be much bigger (instead of having many small buttons). On the iPad however, constantly flicking the screen doesn't seem as intuitive. Scrolling through a long list of musical artists for example takes much more grandiose hand movements than it does for an iPhone. Am I saying the touch interface doesn't work well, or can't be fun? No, but I am suggesting that using a mouse or track pad for a screen this large might make more sense. The touch interface of the iPad is not compelling. When using Safari I often think that my laptop can browse the internet much easier.

Typing on the iPad is another problem. While the on-screen popup keyboard is a decent size (about the size of the keyboard on my netbook), trying to do serious typing with a 2-dimensional interface is tough. Again, it's easy enough to type with your thumbs on an iPhone because all keys are within easy reach. But if you try to type on the iPad at anything above 40 words per minute (I type 110 words a minute on a proper computer), you will make myriad mistakes that Autocorrect won't fix. The popup keyboard also has the unfortunate side effet of obstructing a third of the screen, making everything feel cramped. Also, you frequently have to interrupt your typing to access a symbol that's much easier to access on a real keyboard. Overall, typing on the iPad is a frustrating experience. Typing up comments on a blog post on Safari might be doable; don't even entertain for a moment that you might be able to type up an entire document on the iPad. Of course, you can buy an external keyboard for the iPad which would make text input a lot faster and easier, but then you have the problem of how to hold the iPad and type at the same time. If you want to go this route, Apple's keyboard will set you back another $70 for the wireless keyboard and $80 for the keyboard dock.

I will touch upon one final subject, the apps. It's really amazing what you can do with an iPod touch or iPhone with the thousands of apps available for those devices. My iPhone is at once a phone, text messaging device, calculator, voice recorder, camera, MP3 player, video player, pocket computer, game player, metronome, etc. On the iPad, the apps aren't as impressive. A laptop can already do all of those things for free, so it doesn't feel thrilling to pay $3.99 for a simple metronome app in the App Store, or $7.99 for a word processing app when Open Office is completely free. The iPad is really quite a limited device in what it can do, and again the touch interface more often is a hindrance than a compelling benefit. I bought a music composition app for $12.99 that's absolutely dreadful; I wish I could get a refund because it's now a worthless placeholder on my home screen. Finally, games on the iPad are often awkward because of the size of the device. Devices like the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS are designed to fit into your hands nicely. The iPod touch is small enough to work as a gaming device. The iPad is too large and not designed for gaming at all, even simple gaming. For example, the game China Town Wars is quite fun on the iPod touch, and you would think that the generous screen of the iPad would make it even more fun. Unfortunately, you have to stretch out your fingers to even reach some of the controls, greatly limiting the fun potential. Games like Doodle Jump which force you to physically move the iPad quickly get tiring because of the weight of the machine.

Ultimately, I think what people want from the iPad is an exciting and easy new way to browse the internet and consume media, but the interface that's used by laptops and computers is by far the superior way to do those things. The iPad has made me realize that I never had a problem with the way my laptop functions, and that part of the reason the iPhone works so well is because it fits into your pocket. The iPad tries to bridge the gap between the two, and the result is an anemic compromise. You get neither the portability of the iPhone nor the power and ease of use of a laptop. On a related note, 16GB of storage memory for a device like this is pathetic. My music collection alone is 40GB, and movies are at least 1GB a pop. You can get a more expensive iPad with slightly more memory, but at that point, the iPad becomes more expensive than half-decent laptops, and you have to start wondering when you have to give in to reason.

I would give the iPad 1 star, but I'm giving it 2 because of the build quality (the aluminum backing is nice and the touch screen does work very well), and the battery life, which is sufficient so that you don't need to carry around the charger with you if you decide to take the iPad out. The iPad starts up from sleep in just a couple seconds, app load times are shorter than program load times on computers, and the sound quality from the speakers is better than most laptops. The iPad looks and runs smooth; it loses no points on presentation.

As someone who owns a laptop and iPhone, I have failed to find a groove for my iPad. There's never a time when I think "My iPad can do this better than my laptop or phone." If you don't have an iPod Touch or iPhone, get one of those instead of an iPad. If you don't have a laptop, get one of those before you get an iPad. A netbook costs only $285 these days and will give you 10x the storage, more RAM and processing speed, a bigger screen (10" vs. 9.7"), a physical keyboard, a webcam, etc.

The iPad is an interesting device, but can't currently compete with the form factor of a laptop or handheld iOS device.
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