iPad: I love it but do I need it?

iPad: I love it but do I need it?

Summary: After playing with the iPad for a few days, it's still not clear what role it will play in my life.

TOPICS: Browser, iPad, Mobility

Special Report: Apple iPad

My colleague, Matt Miller, has been blogging in a series that he calls iPad Experience Series. His first installment features his initial thoughts on the Apple iPad, so I figured I'd follow some of his format.


I woke up on Saturday, April 3, anxiously waiting for my iPad to arrive. In my case I had pre-ordered the moment the option became available. Not wanting to chance delivery not occurring, I had it shipped to my local UPS Store where I have an account. So, Saturday morning at 8am I called the UPS Store, only to find out that it doesn't open until 9am. I waited impatiently for 9am to arrive and then talked with a friend who works there, who assured me that there were no attempts to deliver before the store opened. Long story short, my iPad didn't arrive until 12:30p, while a friend who pre-ordered his and had it waiting for him at the Apple Store, walked in at 9am, and walked out at 9:10am with an iPad. In the future I might go that route, too, although it did give me a nice Saturday morning outside, whereas if the iPad had arrived, I would have spent the morning toiling away at it.

Startup and Sync

When you first start up the iPad it immediately wants you to connect it to iTunes. I found this to be a buzz kill since when I had opened my iPad, I had friends and family around me who were hoping to experience it first hand. So, I connected it up and to speed things along, unchecked everything so that it would just authorize and not waste time syncing.

The first thing I noticed after it was all set was the unlock screen. It's a nice picture but the streaks actually made me think that my iPad was cracked.

It took me a few minutes until I could change the wallpaper and verify that it was the wallpaper and not the screen, but I can imagine that Apple probably received some support calls on Saturday with people complaining about their iPads arriving with a cracked screen.

After getting over the initial wallpaper issue, I then synced all apps, music, photos and videos. I had purchased a 16GB iPad thinking that it had more than enough room, but a little while into the syncing, I was notified that I had run out of room. As a result, I manually deselected every app, selected just the ones I wanted to see working on the iPad, and then carefully selected the music, photos and videos to bring over.


The first thing I noticed was that the iPad was heavier than I had expected. Others I have spoken to thought it was lighter, but I think since it's Wi-Fi only I expected it to be lighter. Regardless, it's still plenty light and comfortable to hold.

The iPad is definitely a work of art. I, too, thought it would be like an oversized iPhone, but it's rounded in just the right areas to fit comfortably in your hand in both portrait and landscape. I had also wondered why Apple went with such a thick black border around the face of the device, but after holding it for a few hours, it became apparent that it's so that the user can hold the iPad in any direction, without triggering an action on the screen by accident.

The built-in speaker on the iPad is more than sufficient, too, actually forcing me to turn down the volume on a number of occasions--especially when gaming.

Of course, I have to mention the speed of the iPad. I thought that my iPhone 3GS was fast, but it doesn't hold a candle to the iPad. If future iPhones are running Apple's A4 processor, I can't even imagine how fast the phone will be.

One last thing of note is the addition of a rotation lock switch. I have spent far too much time fighting with the auto-rotation on my iPhone, so this was a welcome addition for me.

Built-in Software

The first thing I did when I started playing with the iPad was swipe around. This worked as expected, but one thing that surprised me was the inclusion of a photo slideshow button on the lock screen. Many people were saying that the iPad would replace the e-reader, but having it also work instantly as a photo viewer is a nice touch. Granted, you can just click on the Photos app icon once you unlock the device, but just tapping and having it play out photos is really nice, too. You can also click on the photo button again while the photos are cycling, if you want to pause on a particular one--all from the lock screen.

Safari works the way you would expect, except that thanks to the larger real estate, you can now see a quick thumbnail of all open Tabs.

Calendar is what you always wanted an electronic calendar to look like. In fact, it's better than I had imagined and it's probably the closest I've come to a paper-based calendar. You can easily see your day, week, month, or list of upcoming appointments, and it's almost the size of a piece of paper, so there's a lot of information that can be displayed at once.

Maps now features some new enhancements, including a Terrain view. On the iPad screen this looks like the ultimate mapping application.

Pretty much each core app received some iPad reformatting love, but the ones above immediately come to mind.

The Apps

Instead of going into each App, I'll write up a separate post about "what's on my iPad" and why. Like most people, I downloaded as many free ones as I could, so that I could try out the iPad first-hand. For the most part I came away impressed.

Streaming videos and some WiFi trouble

I used the iPad in a bunch of different locations throughout my house. Thanks to the LinkSys WRT400N, I have a dedicated N band to play on, so I couldn't wait to really enjoy some streaming. Unfortunately, this is where I discovered the first issue with the iPad. It seems that it has trouble hanging on to a WiFi signal. If you're right on top of the router there's no issue, but try to move away into another room and even if you have it selected to not look at other networks, it enjoys jumping to another, or completely losing the one that you are on.

As for watching videos and movies, I had heard from friends how they had watched Lost or other shows on it, and how they were reading in bed with it. In my experience, when the WiFi was solid, the ABC player and YouTube played great, and the large iPad screen makes it a great TV replacement.

Good purchase?

For me, the iPhone plays many of the same roles that the iPad does. In fact, the iPad itself is actually a bit too large for reading books while lying down. I know I'm not the target market for the iPad, but so far I can definitely say that I like having it, but that I'm just not sure what role it will play. Then again, I am just a few days into using it, so we'll see if that impression changes.

Topics: Browser, iPad, Mobility

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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  • Well I don't think anyone actually ever NEEDED an MP3 player.

    Who knows maybe an IPad won't be nor be required to be a "need" but
    rather a want? When one stops and thinks about it how many of us
    actually "NEED" a computer?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Some sane thoughts at last

      Many people have said that the iPad is not "needed." I'll meet James with
      computer and raise him a television, a microwave oven, an electric kettle
      and an electric razor as things we don't really need but buy anyway.
      A Grain of Salt
    • Well I don't think anyone actually ever NEEDED an MP3 player.

      Maybe not "needed" but certainly an established concept. I'd think an MP3 player was the next logical step in the evolution of portable music: portable record players, radios, 8-track players, cassettes (Sony Walkman), CD's, I think there was even a digital audio tape format. There is literally a history of people wanting to carry their recordings. I still have the amplified speakers I bought from the DAK catalogue back in 1980 for my cassette Walkman, they still sound good with my MP3 player.
    • Required position from ZDNet

      You know their advertisers...
      Richard Flude
  • I don't need yet another iFad shoved down my throat. {nt}

    • Just how exactly is the iPad being shoved down your throat?

      You navigated to a page about someone's iPad experience and now you
      are complaining about it being shoved down your throat? Your name is
      aptly chosen.
      • He probably waited in line...

        To abuse those who wanted to get an iPad back on the weekend, and to tag his local Apple store. However, he probably got tossed by security, which explains his bitter trolling of zdnet.
        • Why do you think...

          ...he calls himself a 'tard?

          Most honest thing he's said.
          still not nice
      • You can't escapte iPad stories, plugs, and rants!

        Every time I turn on the news, there's some idiot telling me how great this thing is. Every time I open a news site, there is some pseudo-tech expousing the virtues of this thing.

        Look...we get it, Apple has a tablet; now shut the fuck up about it!
        • They write

          To their readers interests. Tomshardware had a recent discussion where the
          guy who runs the site admitted any Apple related articles generate over 5x the
          number of views that any other type of article generates. You folks who hate
          Apple articles are just bumping that number even higher.
        • Try being a Mac user

          Try being a Mac user in a Windows world for the past 20 years or so,
          then come back and tell us how you feel about the media being saturated
          with stories about the other guy's crap.

          Just sayin'
          • Re: Try being a Mac user

            This is actually a well-taken point, and one I
            hadn't considered before. I can see how Mac/Apple
            users might feel put-upon.

            It also might explain why Apple/Mac users so often
            exhibit superciliousness with regard to Wintel
            users: it might be a means of coping
            psychologically with their minority.
          • And is that a bad thing?

            Or are you an autoslave to all things M$?
            still not nice
    • I cannot take anything you say seriously.

      Of course you think that, you are self-confessed Windows fanboy, or at
      least a Windows retard (hey mods, that's what he calls himself). So I
      suggest that if you don't want another 'iFad shoved down your throat',
      don't read articles and blog post about it! It [i]is[/i] that simple! Of
      course, seeings as you are a self confessed Windows retard (honestly,
      it's him, not me!), it might not be that obvious...
    • And yet you feel the need to post on an ipad

      related forum to comment on that...

      oh and for your reading pleasure:

      iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac iPad iPhone iPod iMac...

      Just because I wanted to troll the troll. Now back to our regularly scheduled posts.
  • And do I need Microsoft Windows7 ?....

    Some have paid hundreds of dollars for a 20 cent plastic
    disk for Microsoft Windows 7, some have bought a whole
    new PC in order to get Windows 7. And. 99.5% of don't
    need Windows 7. So lets put this 'iPad I need it, don't need
    it' in perspective.

    BTW: the iPad is not 'shoved down your throat', it is a
    conscious buying decision, unlike buying a PC which has
    Microsoft Windows installed whether I want it or not. This
    is just easy money for Microsoft.
    • Buying decisions

      FYI: no one is forcing you to buy that PC with MS Windows installed in it. It's a "conscious buying decision."

      "Windows is not shoved down your throat, it is a conscious buying decision, unlike buying a Mac which has OSX installed whether I want it or not. This is just easy money for Apple."

      See how easy it is to twist your words around and still make true.
      • But that doesn't make it true

        All you've done is show us your cut-and-paste skills.

        Congratulations. :)
        still not nice
    • May I point out

      that I obtained a PC from Wal-Mart before Christmas with Windows 7, 2.2 GHZ processor, 250 GB HD, 3 GB Ram, DVD burner, 15.6" screen, 3 USB ports, VGA out, built in WiFi, and Ethernet for $298 plus tax during the Saturday before black friday sale. Where is all that profit for MS coming from there? And yes, I needed it as my old laptop had died (I have since replaced the backlight and it is working fine now running XP). I also use MacBook Pro for presentations and movies and have used Linux for other things. These OSes and types of computers are all a matter of personal need and personal preference. IMHO, you guys need to quit flaming and turn your energies to better pursuits.
  • Max-i-Pad

    It's not the hardware, software, apps, support or anything else that makes Apple fanboys annoying it's that they cannot see over the wall. You can buy a PC/Laptop/Netbook without windows and save a fortune. Most companies offer a Linux OS as an option.

    The reason Apple gets annoying is that they will not allow users to do what they will, Apple force you to follow their rules, remove your rights and force SJ's grumblings down your throat.

    Apple are the new MS just with far more draconian measures and a very evil under current of [i]'we are the best'[/i]. I liked Apple in the past they were the underdogs, I would not touch anything they create now as they are the fascist dictators we should all despise.

    Good luck with owning an Max-i-Pad I can see these things dying a death in the not too distant future. A touch screen tablet will be, if not has been, released that will have all the necessary ports, real OS and the freedom of choice being an Adult allows.

    Take care all.