iPad Experience: Initial thoughts on the Apple iPad

The Apple iPad rolled out via UPS, the Apple Store, and Best Buy today with people lining up and sales being quite brisk. Rather than reiterate all the detailed reviews, I will be walking you through different experiences of usage.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

I was going to post a full review here for you on the iPad, but there are already some VERY good reviews (linked in the list below) online that cover the unboxing, walk around the hardware, and basics of what is on the device. Instead, I will offer some of my general initial thoughts on using the device below with a series of articles on different aspect of the Apple iPad. For my iPad Experiences series I am planning to include Bible apps, ebook reading on the iPad, Office applications on the iPad, remote access capabilities, watching TV on the iPad, enjoying sports on the iPad, and more. If there are other areas you are particularly interested in and want to see more about then please do let me know. Let's take a look at my initial thoughts on the Apple iPad.

In-depth iPad reviews I recommend

Here are several reviews that I thought were quite in-depth and helpful.


My thoughts on the hardware

My Apple iPad finally arrived at about 2:30 pm from UPS today and I have been using it ever since. This was the first time I had seen or held the iPad and honestly I found it lighter and slimmer than I had anticipated. Given that it is lighter than I though, my B&N nook should be concerned about being put out to pasture if the iPad works out as my ebook reader (article coming soon on that functionality). In typical Apple fashion, the hardware is very well designed, rock solid, and just plain sweet. Everyone in my family that I showed it too oohed and ahhed when they held it and played with it a bit. It is truly a thing of beauty and simplicity.

I read a few people's reviews and Tweets where they complained about the headphone jack being up at the top, but honestly you are more likely to use the iPad with headphones for watching movies and playing games and those are both primarily performed while in landscape orientation so the headphone jack would be on your left. Your iPod, iPhone, Zune, or other device is what you will probably use primarily for music enjoyment.

My thoughts on the software

The display looks pretty empty after you first turn on your iPad, with just a few essentials (Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Google Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Settings, Safari, Mail, Photos, iPod). You do now have the ability to have 6 icons placed along the bottom toolbar and I personally have Safari, Mail, Photos, iPod, Evernote, and iBooks.

There are an increasing number of 3rd party apps being approved and rolling out on the App Store and I have personally spent over $50 on new apps. Every new iPad app (sometimes called HD on the App Store) has had an improved interface that takes advantage of the large display and really shows you the power of the iPad. Many iPhone apps are now in "universal" format so you can install and run them on the iPad. However, I personally have removed ALL of them, but 3, because I personally find the experience to suck. The apps appear in the center of the display in a small iPhone-sized area with an option in the bottom right to tap the 2x and double the pixel size of the box. In this mode, most apps look really bad and IMHO it takes away from the beautiful experience on the iPad. I guess it is OK for now if you have some critical apps, but there is nothing that essential I need that is not in an iPad version at the moment. I will just wait until those apps are update or else find a way to be satisfied with the iPad-optimized ones that are available.

FYI, here is my current list of apps on my iPad (not including the default ones):

  • Evernote
  • iBooks
  • ABC Player
  • MLB.com At Bat 2010
  • NBA Game Time Courtside
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • LogMeIn Ignition
  • Netflix
  • Angry Birds HD
  • Twitterific
  • Dungeon Master HD
  • IMDb
  • Rugby Magazine
  • YouVersion Bible
  • Logos Bible
  • Boingo WiFi
  • ESPN ScoreCenterXL
  • Pandora
  • TweetDeck
  • New York Times
  • BBC News
  • NPR
  • USA Today
  • Dragon Dictation
  • Truphone
  • Blackjack HD
  • PokerFreeHD
  • SoundHound
  • Marvel Comics
  • The Weather Channel
  • Dictionary
  • WordPress
  • US Constitution
  • Clinometer
  • eBay
  • Craigsphone
  • Voice Memos
  • Kobo (not iPad-optimized)
  • B&N eReader (not iPad-optimized)
  • Slacker Radio (not iPad-optimized)

I loaded up the Wall Street Journal because it was shown in the App Store as a free app, but it actually is not a free app and comes with a pretty hefty $3.99/week subscription. If you are a heavy WSJ reader then this may be a great deal, but I am satisfied with the New York Times that looks awesome on the iPad.

Am I happy with the purchase?

After several hours of usage, I have to say I am very pleased that I made the purchase. The hardware is better than I thought it would be, developers didn't just make apps bigger to fit the screen, the battery life reported by everyone has been at least 10 hours, there is more media content than I thought we would see right at launch (Netflix, ABC Player, MLB At Bat), and apps are rolling out fast. With my Palm Pre Plus and free WiFi Hotspot service I think the iPad will actually fill a role in my life as a daily train commuter and heavy web surfer.

I really want to see a firmware update to support some multitasking on the iPad though. I would love to bounce in and out of apps while having Slacker Radio play in the background. Part of why I purchased it was with this future hope of multitasking so now we will have to see if Apple can live up to my hopes.

I am very curious what family members will think of it at Easter tomorrow since I think it really meets the needs of the consumer more than the gadget geek.

Stay tuned for more in my iPad Experiences series.

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