Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad: The First Six Hours

I've been fully engrossed in my new iPad for the last 6 hours.  Much of what I've discovered so far is close to what I expected, but it's been a mix of pros and cons.  Here's a summary:

Thumbs Up
Display -- Simply put, the display is spectacular.  The richness of the colors and the deepness of the images is second to none.  As a result, even the iPhone-only apps look better on the iPad.  Seriously, if you put them side-by-side you'll see the iPhone image looks more washed-out.

Battery Life -- So far, the battery charge lasts as long as advertised.  I haven't plugged mine in yet and I'm still looking at a 64% charge.  And that's with heavy use over 6 hours, including downloading many apps, surfing many web pages, etc.  Very impressive.  (Btw, I was never wowed by the Kindle's ability to go several days without recharging.  I have access to electricity every day/night, so I don't need more than the 10 hours the iPad offers!)

Moving from Kindle -- I immediately installed the Kindle iPad app and downloaded all my books.  Thanks to wifi being faster than Whispernet that process took less time than when I originally bought them!

Great for Workouts -- I've tried reading from my iPhone on an elliptical and I just can't do it.  There's too much shrinking and expanding of pages, which is fine when you're sitting but not so much when you're working up a sweat.  The iPad was an outstanding workout companion though.  It fits nicely on a magazine/book holder and the backlit display is very readable, even with all the movement on an elliptical.

USA Today -- This is one of the iPad apps that was available on day one.  It's just what you'd expect and feels like reading the print version but without the hassle of getting ink all over your hands.  It's not just the functionality of this one that caught my eye though...I feel like I've finally found a device that I can bring to the breakfast table.  I never warmed up to the idea of eating with my laptop but the iPad (and my incase cover/holder) is a wonderful combination.  I'd love to dump my hometown paper but (a) they don't have an iPad app and (b) my wife likes to read it too, so I'm stuck for now (till the next gen iPad comes out and this one becomes a hand-me-down for my wife!).

Real iPad Apps -- Speaking of apps...  Most of the iPad-specific apps (as opposed to iPhone ones that run on the iPad) make nice use of the larger surface area.  I'm sure we'll see many enhancements here in the coming months but many of the ones available today are worth paying for.  Stay tuned for a future post on my favorites, btw.

Product "Fit" -- This is the area that has me most excited.  Remember how Steve Jobs talked about how this device would fit between a smartphone and a laptop?  A lot of people struggled with that concept.  I did too, mostly because I was coming at it from a Kindle point of view.  I always used my Kindle separately from my laptop.  It was either one device or the other, never both simultaneously.  I see my iPad propped up right next to my laptop running apps that are better suited for the ultra-portability of the iPad.  For example, I'll probably run AIM on my iPad, not my laptop, going forward.  And for those late nights I'll have MLB running on my iPad, right next to my laptop.  Those are just a couple of simple examples but I'll bet there will be more as the iPad app list grows.  I plan to follow-up on this with a post in the not-too-distant future as well.

Thumbs Down
Where's the NY Times?! -- Holy cow.  I still can't believe there's no NY Times iPad app.  As my O'Reilly colleague Brett McLaughlin pointed out: The NY Times has been featured so prominently in many of the iPad promo pieces, it's hard to figure why there's no app.  I was all ready to sign up for a $15/month subscription but I can't get them to take my money!

Single-tasking -- If there's ever a reason to jailbreak an iPad, this is probably the one.  As I noted in an earlier tweet, the lack of multitasking stands out even more on the iPad than it does on the iPhone.  Let's hope the rumor of a summer OS upgrade with multitasking comes true.  This is a big hole, IMHO.  And hey, if it's all been done in the name of battery life, I'd be happy with 6 hours instead of 10!!  But let me choose whether I want multitasking or long battery life; don't do it for me, OK?

Where are all the Magazines? -- Time looks nice but I'm not paying $4.99 for a single issue.  Why can they offer a free copy or two for a trial subscription in print but not on the iPad?  Stupid.  I haven't dug into this thoroughly enough but I'm just not seeing much in the way of other magazine and newspaper products.  Very disappointing.

Smudges, Smudges & More Smudges -- Dear Mr. Jobs, just because you refuse to sell screen protectors in your stores doesn't mean the iPad display resists fingerprints!  As David Pogue noted in his earlier review, it's even more noticeable when the screen is turned off.  I can't wait to buy a screen protector for this thing!

Moving from Kindle -- Yep, it's both a thumbs up and a thumbs down.  I'm glad I have the option of reading all my Kindle books on my iPad.  I'm officially finished with my Kindle, but Amazon, please wake up and realize the Kindle iPad app sucks.  It's nothing more than a very basic reader.  Yes, I know you want to encourage Kindle hardware sales, so you're worried about adding too much functionality to the iPad reader.  Get over it!  This too will be the subject of a separate, dedicated blog post down the road.

Weight -- Have you noticed how most of the promo shots of the iPad show them on people's laps?  That's because the iPad weighs a lot more than a Kindle and you won't use the same technique to hold both.  That's also one of the reasons I love the fact that my iPad cover has a built in stand.  Very nice.  I just can't help thinking most of what's between the covers on this device is just one ginormous battery, hence the 10-hour life!

App Shortage -- I think Apple should have done a better job making sure more iPad-specific apps were available at launch.  I'm pretty sure I managed to look through all of them in less than an hour.  Yes, more are in the works and we'll see them soon, but it's disappointing that the list isn't deeper today.  And btw, the 2x mode available for iPhone apps is lame at best.  I have a hard time picturing Steve Jobs getting excited about this feature.  It doesn't feel very Apple-esque.


  1. Gee, there's not even a honeymoon phase for you with these things :-)

    As I said in an early tweeted-reply to you, the NYTimes has been reported to be holding back to get a better deal on subscriber info control.
    So have other periodicals. And it can take someo time to get a piece of software that'll read the NYT the way you want it to, reliably. So there's testing time too.

    Len has a picture of the iPad at the beach, and the reflections make the resulting page text display not super readable in sunlight. There's no reason not to have two or more types of ereaders.

    The no-USB port (dedicated and not-needing an adapter that comes with a kit) and lack of multi-tasking is HUGE for me. Add the lack of an easy SD slot for a presumed netbook-slayer, and in the present state it is not going to be killing any netbooks. I think people will have them as beautiful add-ons and a lighter pkg to take back and forth.

    Back to multi-tasking. Allowing that will slow down functioning as holding one program in memory means memory holes or less free space to execute functions. Right now the speed is dazzling. Less so with multitasking.

    I wouldn't buy one w/o 3G capability. The data plan is month by month, at about 1/2 the usual cost, so that is very nice.

    The Kindle for iPad page at Amazon -says- that the search and dictionary features will be coming soon.

    Does it already do highlighing and notes? The PC and Mac ones don't yet, though that's supposed to be coming.

    The iPad does not do annotations yet, I read, at all.

  2. Purchasing the protector with stand and the optional keyboard; wouldn't that turn it right back into a netbook? You know, kinda like the iMac just being a laptop on a stick.

  3. Good to get your first impressions Joe. I stopped by an Apple store yesterday to get my mits on one to get a feeling for the experience itself. So my impressions are based on six minutes with the device rather than six hours :-) -- I'm holding out for the 3G version most likely.

    Out of your seven 'thumbs down' items, three of them are negated with just a little time (I'm guessing 60 days). Very few developers had access to the proto-type version. Now that it's out, I expect to see a rapid deployment of iPad specific apps and rich magazine content (which is what I am most excited about). I expect that Apple will eventually acquiesce to the multi-tasking thing but it will have strict rules around it. In other words, only certain apps will get the blessing to run in the background prior to being released in the app store.

    I'm leaning towards the iPad replacing my Kindle, but not 100% certain. The weight does not bother me and is actually a plus. Hold the iPad and hold the Kindle at the same time. While the Kindle's weight is light and easy to handle one-handed, with so much plastic, it feels, well like plastic. Holding the iPad, it's solid and typical Apple fit & finish. I am guessing that the glass is every-bit as heavy as the battery. Compare it to a small LCD desktop monitor and you actually are amazed that it's comparatively light. The fact that it's a little weighty, makes me want to handle it more with care than when I am handling the Kindle.

  4. One feature I really noted was "notes". It is a pain on the Kindle to take a note which has nothing to do with the book one is reading. To be able to pop up the notes and just type in what was in my mind at the time is a feature that really grabbed me.

  5. Joe,
    I find that regular web pages such as the NYT and the WSJ work fine on the iPad. In fact, I think we have all become accustomed to the design/layout of great online newspapers that let us grok a lot of info quickly. I checked out the temporarily free iPad edition of the WSJ and didn't find it fast, intuitive or quickly informative. I sure wouldn't pay extra when I am already paying for the regular online WSJ.
    I guess one top feature for me is the ease of browsing and the great looking (if no flash) websites that don't really require a dedicated iPad version.