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Apple iPad Review, Part 2


Apple iPad Review, Part 2

What Apple got wrong

As noted previously, the iPad is way too expensive given the minimal storage capacities with which Apple has configured it. With a couple of accessories (say, case and dock), you could spend $1000 on this thing.

The iPad is far heavier that it looks, and compared to devices like the Kindle, it's almost obese. In fact, I'd previously stated that I was looking for a thin and light movie player that I could toss in my carry-on and bring with me on flights; if the iPad accomplished this, and perhaps replaced my Kindle as an eBook reader, it would be a win in my book. The iPad does neither well, sadly. It's too big and heavy, for starters, forcing you to use it with two hands. And then the onscreen controls are so far away because of the size of the screen that you are always moving your hands around, and readjusting the weight.

The storage capacities are too small. The screen is not widescreen, as it should be, and it's reflective in ways that are annoying and distracting. This makes it less than ideal for both eBooks--the device is too heavy for single-hand use and the screen is too reflective, and can't be used outdoors--and for movies, which often take up just a tiny portion of the iPad's 4:3 screen.

Put simply, my Kindle is safe. And my quest for a movie player continues. That is too bad.

There's no camera. Heck, there should be dual cameras, one on each side of the bezel, as there are in the Nintendo DS XL and in the HP's iPad competitor, the Slate.

Moving to the software, the iPhone OS is starting to show its age. Rather than improve the iPhone OS for this device, Apple has instead just ported over the existing UI with minimal changes. You get the same horrible icon management, with a fixed grid of pages of icons, but now there is a background wallpaper option (which is nice) and the system handles horizontal (landscape) shell navigation in addition to the normal vertical (portrait) style (which is also nice). But neither changes the basic iPhone UI, which is largely the same as it was when it debuted three years ago. (The UI does now rotate with the device, something that inexplicably doesn't happen on the iPhone.)

One nice touch: The UI now rotates with the device, as it should.

The bundled wallpapers are surprisingly ugly--Apple has always done a good job with this--and the default wallpaper features comets (or meteors, or whatever) that look like scratches on the device screen. Just what you want to see when you first boot up the iPad.

Most of the built-in wallpaper is surprisingly ugly.

The Calendar application works well but unfortunately adopts a paper-based calendar look and feel, which is both inconsistent (only some iPad apps do this) and bad design. Aping paper objects in a digital device never works, and there are weird examples of this all over the iPad, in the Contacts and Notes apps that are built-in, as well as the awful iBooks app, which is thankfully a separate download. If this kind of UI is so good, why not do it all over the place? The YouTube app could look like an old-time movie house, for example. Mail could look like a stationary set. Photos like a paper-based photo album. You get the idea. It's just bad, lazy design. It's even worse--and lazier--when it's sporadically used as it is on the iPad.

Why does Contacts look like a real-world object? And why does it take up only part of the screen??

The Photos app works well generally, but the actual photos are out of order for some reason, in my case (and they aren't in other synced Apple devices, like the iPhone 3GS, various iPod touches, and even older iPods). Not sure why that is. And of course, you don't get certain Photos features unless you use a Mac. As 4 percent of the population does, so that makes sense.

The iPad Photos app.

The Videos application works well, and as you would expect. It's just that the device form factor works against it. The screen is a 4:3 design and runs at a sub-HD resolution. So widescreen movies take up only a tiny portion of the screen, which would be comical if it wasn't so sad, and if you are silly enough to buy HD movies from iTunes, they'll play on the device. Just not in HD.

Widescreen movies only take up a portion of the 4:3 iPad screen.

Speaking of bundled apps, it's curious that so many bundled apps from the iPhone are missing on the iPad. There's no weather app, no stocks app, and no clock, so you can't use the iPad as an alarm clock. Also missing: Compass, Calculator, and Voice Memos. Wouldn't these all have been easy to port over to the iPad? Why does it come with less?

These 12 apps (plus Settings) is all you get on the iPad: No Weather, Stocks, Clock, Compass, Calculator, and Voice Memos for you!

Continue to Part 3...

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