3 quick impressions after one day of testing the iPad

3 quick impressions after one day of testing the iPad

Summary: So I braved the lines, which weren't outrageously long, at my local Apple store, and picked up an iPad yesterday morning. To be honest, my kids spent more time with it since then than I did, but I played with it enough to offer my first impressions to the growing multitude of iPad commentary.

TOPICS: iPad, Mobility

So I braved the lines, which weren't outrageously long, at my local Apple store, and picked up an iPad yesterday morning. To be honest, my kids spent more time with it since then than I did, but I played with it enough to offer my first impressions to the growing multitude of iPad commentary.

1) No multitasking is the iPad's biggest current drawback. I'm sure as I do more Web surfing the lack of Flash support will bother me more and more, but I'm not a Web video addict so I tend not to watch as many Flash clips as other people might. What was painfully obvious to me as I fired up the free Pandora app was that, as worthy an attempt as Pandora made to fill up the display with info to accompany each track, all I wanted to do was click a minimize button and do something else.

I'm well aware of this limitation on the iPhone, but I may be more forgiving because of the cramped screen. With the 9.7-inch display on the iPad, it seems worthless to devote the whole screen to a music streaming or an IM app.

Multitasking is rumored to be coming in iPhone OS 4.0 and iPad customers will receive it as a free upgrade. Free advice to Apple: Make that update soon and don't make iPad owners pay more than a couple of shekels for OS updates after that. (Given that people are spending 2x-3x more than for an iPhone, iPad owners really shouldn't have pay anything for upgrades, but that doesn't appear to be likely).

2) Netflix is already a killer app for the iPad. If you're on the fence about getting one, and you're a Netflix subscriber, this should tip you into the buy column. I won't attest to extensive testing of video quality (yet), but the fact that I was sitting in bed with my four-year-old and was able to fire up an episode of Caillou (parents will know what that is) in about 60 seconds that was almost completely stutter-free should give you an idea of the possibilities this app brings. Sure, you won't get new DVD releases, but there's enough in the Watch Instantly catalog to help you kill a lot of hours.

The one missing feature that would make this even more indispensable would be the ability to download movies for times when you aren't near a Wi-Fi connection. It could be just a single title for a 24-hour duration, but you would want such an option if you're traveling on a plane or out of 3G range if you have the 3G iPad. (Of course, you could do that with iTunes, but for an extra fee.)

3) You can read a newspaper like a newspaper on the iPad, but that won't necessarily make more people read newspapers. People who grew reading (or even writing for) newspapers will delight in the Wall St Journal and New York Times apps, which make reading that content as much like reading the printed version as they can currently can. I read a piece from the Sunday Times Magazine about as easily as I could with the printed version downstairs.

But while the experience may get some downloads from curious people who've rarely or never picked up a paper (or magazine, for that matter), it doesn't address the larger issue: A whole generation has grown up completely ignoring this material, whether because they were watching hours and hours of TV or gaining information from new Web sites and blogs. They're not trained to read a paper at all, so making your content look like a paper doesn't inspire nostalgia and familiarity in them. Some magazines are trying to think outside the box for this new, erm, box, and other print media need to do the same, because the future of media isn't in looking like the past.

This does bring up another interesting issue, however, and that's how the app revolution is making it easier for sites to abandon the browser and the typical browsing experience. Anyone involved in Web production knows the issues with creating a site: limited selection of fonts, Javascript hacks, and countless other compromises that need to be made in order for sites to render across multiple browser types with a minimum of difference. And while CSS 3 and HTML 5 are helping to break Web designers free of these limitations, these are a couple of years away from being mainstream. But with an iPad app, I can mostly throw that whole model out and design something that doesn't have to rely on Arial and Verdana fonts, a 960-pixel width, etc. You can hate on Apple all you want (the closed system and so forth), but you can't say the company hasn't stirred up a big debate on how online information should look and work.

Speaking of work, that's one aspect of the iPad I haven't tested at all yet. Hopefully, I'll get an opportunity to put it through some productivity paces this week, and report back on whether it has any chance of replacing a laptop when it comes to getting things done.

Topics: iPad, Mobility

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  • ignorance at its best

    "Given that people are spending 2x-3x more than for an iPhone"

    ever heard about carrier subsidies? your iphone (or any other
    smartphone) is not cheaper, you pay just less upfront. and yet your
    ignorance (as a zdnet tech blogger nonetheless) shows how well the
    subsidization system works.
    • However you swing it.

      The UPFRONT cost for an iPad is more than the iPhone and the point he was making was upgrades should be free.

      Try to keep up dear.
      • My iPhone cost me 4K - $600 iPad is a deal.

        I pay about $100.00 CAD per month for my 3G subsidized with

        $100.X12=$1200 3 year contract, plus
        My cost of the iPhone was 300.00
        $1200 X 3=3,600. + 300 = 3900.00 + Taxes

        If I had picked up a Fido dumb cell $15 per month and a free phone it would have
        cost me $600 for 3 years..

        So I indeed purchased the iPhone to play with it. Please, Don't tell my wife.
        Now how can to justify the iPad? Any ideas?
  • Wow

    I'm impressed. I imagine it was difficult to write an entire article with absolutely no insight or real analysis. A whole day and nothing. Thanks.
    • I thought it was very good at highlighting some aspects of the iPad.

      I thought it was VERY interesting.
      • Really?

        You found it interesting why?
      • I agree. Limited but interesting.

        For anyone looking for info on the author's quick first impressions, it was a good article. It provided some of the basic info I was interested in and allowed me to decide that I don't want an iPad.
    • Did you read the title?

      If you expected anything more than "3 Quick Impressions" you have no
      one to blame but yourself.
  • Real Life

    Yesterday, I took my Asus Win7 notebook to the mall and enjoyed eating Sarku double meat chicken teriaki.

    I read, I watched CNN video and I wrote blog comments like I do every Saturday afternoon.

    Then I went downstairs from the food court and saw a bunch of people waiting in line for iPads.

    I had already had my mobile experience. With a netbook.
    • " no iPad for you" Next..

      Not everyone can be blessed. Someone will always be the loser, that you
      I think!
    • Yeah, pretty much agree.

      I have a notebook that does the things I need to do (unlike the iPad). The iPad might be lovely toy, but it's not worth much for real work.
  • Actually the reading experience on it is much better

    than I expected. I don't say I would replace it with eInk
    experience, but nonetheless reading experience on it is much better
    than macbook or windows laptop. I enjoyed reading on it.

    Ok, there are already some good apps dedicated for iPad, but I
    don't think they are the compelling ones to buy or have.
    The experience of watching movie on Laptop is much
    better than iPad. I see it is not going to replace a business
    laptop or personal computer at any given time, and of
    course a tablet with OneNote for handwritten notes taking,
    but I can see a middle market that want to have both
    eReader and a Mobile Web Surfing experience that would
    definitely go with this.

    I think lack of Multitasking experience is nonsense if you are using the
    machine for that purpose only. This machine is not for replacing a full
    business or personal computer system. Most of the times I don't want
    to use my company system or my client's system for my personal
    internet surfing while traveling and I can use iPad and just replace my
    Sony eBook-Reader for in-Flight or Airport waiting time. the
    only thing I see missing in it is a front-facing camera (I
    don't see any good reason for rear-facing one) with at-
    least a 2MP resolution, and USB port would definitely make
    it more usable. If Apple could add just those two, it has a
    killing device.

    Ram U
    • On the multitasking. I think there will be a number of applicaitions that

      make sense to run in the background, so I see no reason to NOT include it. That said, for many tablet applications it does not make sense.
      • Agreed having multitasking support would be cool

        but if somebody wants a real multitasking scenario, they could use their
        full blown personal computer or business workstation. I really don't see
        use of multitasking where a system like iPad, ok, having multitasking
        would be useful if you are gaming on the system, by that can be solved
        by saving the state of the application and bring it back. I don't think that
        would be a great deal. If you could serialize the state and restore it
        whenever you comeback that would be sufficient and sending the
        notifications between the applications would solve of the integration
        Ram U
        • How about ...

          ... listening to music while you catch up on news, blogs, reading/research, etc?
          • Hey I also had the same doubt

            but someone here showed how to do that on my iphone (listening to music) while reading news or surfing web on the iPhone easily. I understand that there is more than that for a business application. And in order to do that I will use my Windows 7 laptop or MacBook, but I don't have carry that as in-flight hand luggage, I can easily check-in and carry just iPad or the HP Slate once it is released.
            Ram U
        • Take a good look at...

          Next time you are using your notebook take a note of the different apps you have open and the interaction between them.

          Now equate this to the iPad.

          Listen to music while you work
          Have a dictionary/thesarus open while drafting a note / email / etc...
          Pause a movie / game / etc... while you check out a quick email...

          This generation has grown up executing at a multi-tasking level. You will either miss it or find yourself regressing or reduce your expectations.

          Pick one.
          • Some points

            1- Multitasking is already enabled for several Apple apps - You can
            listen to local audio in the background of just about anything. (though
            a primary reason I JB'd my iphone was to enable multitasking to
            stream NPR - so I feel your frustration)

            2. Built in Spell check system wide, Thesaurus and Dictionary included
            in iWork for iPad.

            3. The 'No 3rd party background apps' policy has forced devs to have
            robust 'save state' mechanisms and short app startup times - most
            apps are designed to jump into and out of quickly, so a phone call
            won't kill your game or movie.

            Now all that being said, I personally will be sticking with my 10v
            Hackintosh as my walkabout computer until there is a robust JB
            solution available for the iPad.
          • iPad provides support to most of them.

            I am an enterprise app architect and I know what is real multi-tasking and why do we need it. But majority of the times if you are using your device just for surfing or listening to music or entertainment other than serious game playing, you don't have to open your full blown laptop running Windows 7 or MacBook with OSX and Windows 7 in Parallels. If I need to do that I would use this only. I saw the iPad in real and I found it as a cool device and it definitely changed my perception. I will wait until HP-Slate or Lenova U1 released and buy whatever suites my tastes.
            Ram U
    • WiFi camera from Apple

      I hope I'm not letting the cat out of the bag, but Apple will have a WIFI
      Camera out next month. It will send photos or video right to your iPad
      via wifi.

      If Apple will not make it, some other company will, it's a no brainer.