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Apple iPad Hands-On First Impressions

Apple iPad Hands-On First Impressions

My iPad arrived a few hours ago, so I loaded it up with some apps and checked it out quickly. So far, it's not all that impressive. It's exactly what you'd expect, for the most part: High quality, nice design, very expensive for what you get. I still disagree, and strongly, with some of the first generation limitations--like the lack of dual cameras and the non-widescreen display--but overall it's a decent device.

Here are my initial notes, which I'll use for my eventual review:

The power plug is the bigger, uglier old-style plug, not the new small, square one you get with iPhone.

The box it comes in is oddly thick, given Apple's penchant for thinness. Most of the box is just air, and that part is below the device. Weird.

16 GB isn't 16 GB with the iPad, it's 14 GB. That's a big difference when you're talking about a small pool of storage.

The device is far heavier than expected, and heavier than it looks. It is literally a big iPod touch. In fact, if anything it's too big. Why isn't this widescreen? It's so obvious.

The Picture Frame mode is nice, and will be especially nice with a dock, I think. Of course, it would have been nice if Apple could have delivered even a single accessory on the same day as the device. Those who preordered are looking at early next week for some accessories, later for others. I hate not having a case on this thing. It gets smudged just from the air, it seems.

The iPad is beautiful, and it makes your own pictures look even better.

The default wallpaper is ugly; worse yet, the meteor shower it depicts looks like screen scratches, causing a momentary bit of panic. My wife had exactly the same reaction when she saw it.

In iTunes, Audiobooks changed to "Books" - but there is no (obvious) way to buy iBooks-based books from the iTunes Store. (You have to buy them from within the app.)

The iBooks application is laughably bad as I suspected. The Amazon Kindle app, however, is awesome. No silly "looks like a book" design or superfluous page flipping animations. The Kindle app is how eBooks should be. Bravo, Amazon.

That said, the screen is way too reflective. And this is a problem for a lot of things, not just eBooks. It's hard to watch movies on the screen because there are so many reflections. (Well, that and the non-widescreen aspect ratio.)

The iPad screen is smudgetastic and highly reflective.

Initial sync is as slow as ever. Apple really needs to get a handle on sync performance. From the time I took it out of the box, until the time I could actually use it for the first time, was 40 minutes. The reason? You have to sync/set it up first with the PC, and I decided to sync some apps I bought yesterday plus some content. And this sync was for about 7 GB of stuff. Geez.

Some apps don't do rotation, which is irritating. However, the device handles landscape view much better than the iPod Touch/iPhone, and it works nicely in the UI, which I really like.

Performance is great, as reported by others.

There's only a single speaker. It actually sounds OK but come on: It should four speakers so there's always stereo sound, regardless of the screen orientation.

This thing is crying out for dual cameras.

Screenshots work as they do on the iPhone.

The Marvel Comics app is surprisingly nice. I'm not a comics fan but this could make that happen. It's a nice experience.

The screen responsiveness is superb. This is something Apple does better than anyone. This should be studied and copied. It's just amazing.

It's too hard to find iPad apps in the iTunes Store ... from the PC. The key is to browse the store from the device, because then you only see iPad apps.

Mail, Safari, Calendar are all nice on the big screen. Contacts is ridiculous. Apple needs to get over its desire to ape real world interfaces. That does not work.

Review worthy?

More later in the review, I guess. Is this thing even worth reviewing?

Right off the bat, I'm glad to see that my initial reactions to this thing were accurate. Anyone who believes this thing is a game changer is a tool. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is. The iPad is nice, as we knew it would be. But it's bigger and much heavier than I'd like for a movie player or eBook/newspaper reader, and those were my own personal primary use cases. That so few early reviews called this out says a lot about those reviewers. My kids would get tired just holding an iPad. Is it made of lead?

Short version: It's an Apple product through and through. You don't need it. But I get that you might want it. Apple does have that effect on people.

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