In order to be awesome, I have decided to write out this blog post using the fine piece of technology I am reviewing. This is made possible through the very effective and efficient WordPress app.
As a rather strident Apple skeptic, the only reason I even entertained the idea of getting an iPad was because the University of Arizona bookstore decided to be generous and allow interested customers to come in and charge the device to their bursar’s account. As a lover of technology and a curious party to this device, I decided to go ahead and try it out. At $499.99, the machine is far from an impulse buy, but what the hey, I thought? I was leaving the University later this week anyways. Might as well get myself a going away present as well as something I might be able to use for my upcoming tenure at University of Phoenix.
If you want the short and sweet of it, here it is: The iPad is going to change the way a lot of people look at computing, possibly forever. And that may or may not be a bad thing. This device does just about everything. It is more than an oversized iPhone, and I cannot recommend it enough to just about anyone who wants to do more with their computing and has the discretionary income to do so. You may not be able to figure out a use for it before it is already in your hands, but trust me: you will eventually. And then you will wonder how you ever did without it. While I must stop short of calling it a fully-functional computer, it is so close to one that many PC users will not be able to tell the difference.
Unboxing an iPad is an experience in itself. You tear the shrink-wrap off the cream-colored box, open it up, and there it is in all its glory. One pull-tab later, the device is in your hands and (almost) ready for use. The sly devils at Apple have made iTunes, a service I am very mixed about, a mandatory part of having an iPad, and you cannot even get to the home page without going through the iTunes rabbit hole when you boot it up for the first time. The iTunes asks if you would be so kind as to let it sync all your music, movies, and pictures to the iPad, but at a mere 16GB and already being the owner of another device devoted to multimedia, I took a pass on that.
iPad then whisks you away to the home page, which looks exactly as advertised on the box and a lot like that of the iPhone. You’ve got your image of choice in the background, and a bunch of little square icons in the forefront for all kinds of exciting tools. Notes, Calendar, Safari, Contacts, and so on make up your factory-loaded apps, but the real strength of this beauty lies in the tantalizing offerings in Apple’s own App Store. The programs in the App Store allow you to customize the iPad to do anything you want, from being a gaming system to a work tool to a New York Times digest. Or all of the above. While I have yet to download any paid apps, I am very satisfied with several of the free offerings. These personal apps show up on a second page you can access by sliding your home page left with the touch screen.
And before you ask, yes: The iPad has one of the most sleek, functional, responsive, and polished touch screens you will find. Everything just feels right and it makes for a truly pleasurable experience. I have not touched my laptop since I got this, and it’s not because it does anything that my old machine couldn’t. It’s because using iPad is exciting and fun, and it could not be either of those things without a solid interface. Typing can be on the sluggish side, but it’s forgivable.
The screen on this thing is HD, high-resolution, and beautiful to behold. The Netflix Instant app allows me to stream movies in HD, which is fantastic. The colors look good, the pixels are crisp, the zooming utility is very sharp, and it is clear that Apple went out of their way to perfect this aesthetic. It’s also not a pain to stare at the screen for hours at a time the way doing so with a laptop or desktop monitor is.
Now, on to my criticisms. This device is lacking one of the most important tools for multimedia in today’s Internet, and that is Adobe Flash. Without it, a great deal of the things that I personally do on the Internet (watch That Guy With the Glasses, Spoony Experiment, play Armor Games etc.) have to be done on my laptop. It has been said that this is because Apple distrusts Flash’s rather considerable CPU intensity, but to completely remove it from the device seems a little harsh. Also, you’ll need to download the Facebook app to use it, because loading the site in Safari creates trouble for Facebook chat and generally slows down the entire device.
Another problem is the lack of multitasking capability. You can have apps keep multiple things going, but you can only look at one at a time. The iPod app allows you to play music while performing other tasks, but that’s the limit of this thing’s ability to really keep up with strenuous use.
Are these marks against it enough to outweigh the benefits? No. The iPad is fantastic at serving as a bridge between computer and smartphone. I firmly believe that Apple will carve out another market niche that imitators will only be able to vaguely mimic. And I believe that anyone who peruses the Internet and consumes multimedia like I do owe it to themselves to try out an iPad.