Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Hour with the iPad

By Andrew Mathieu
Staff Writer

The iPad. Image courtesy of

Ever since Apple announced the iPad a little over two months ago, reactions and expectations have been boiling and overflowing through word of mouth, print, and web. After months of proclamations like “second coming of computers” and “just a giant iPod Touch,” the iPad was released on April 3.

After going through dozens of reviews on apps, iBooks, and the device itself, I finally went hands-on a demo iPad at a local Best Buy. Here are my impressions:

Though I initially thought the device would be bigger, I got to see the iPad in all its half inch, 1.5 pound glory. It was heavier than I thought it would be as well, but it still felt nice to hold, giant touch screen and all. Since I had handled an iPhone before, the iPad’s interface was easy to use. Though the device could be held and viewed in both portrait and landscape mode, I opted for landscape for most of my hour long demo. After getting my bearings on the device, I started to try some apps.

I started with the Calendar, Contacts, and Notes apps that will be familiar to anyone who has used an iPhone or iPod Touch. These are not carbon copies, however - the larger, 9.7 inch screen makes these applications much better, with easy-to-read text and enhanced typing due to the larger, on-screen keyboard.

Next I watched some videos from the app of the same name, and was surprised by the quality and speed of the video. The quality varies, however, depending whether you’re watching videos downloaded from iTunes, video podcasts, or YouTube (which actually looks fantastic).

The built-in speakers sounded fantastic, and were surprisingly loud when I loaded an iTunes song preview. I rarely used earphones with my time on the device. However, similar to video, the quality varies depending on the source. It is also worth noting that a person can supposedly sign onto any iTunes account from the iPad, though I did not test it myself.

Photos look great on the larger screen real estate, and the ability to create albums and slideshows is welcomed. I was even able to save an image from Safari directly to the device, which was very convenient.

My overall experience with Safari varied. Some websites took a while to load, while others were clearly made with the iPhone in mind. For the most part, though, it was a good experience, and one that will hopefully get better as time goes on.

Finally, I played some games. All of them were blown-up iPhone games, but they still worked very well with the bigger screen (N.O.V.A. and Rock Band in particular).

All in all, I enjoyed my time with the iPad. It is a well made and thought out device, though the internet problems and high price keep me from recommending it to anyone who doesn’t have a spare $500 around. A better, cheaper version of this device, either made by Apple or another company, is probably on its way next, which is also something to keep in mind. The best advice I can give is to somehow try the device if you can. When it comes to the iPad, it is better to judge it from arm’s length.

No comments: