As I mentioned previously, iCaved during the iPad launch weekend and drove down to Seattle and picked up a 32gb wifi iPad.
My decision to drive across the line to get one was further justified (to me) by the fact that Apple then had to delay the international release of the iPad over a month longer than originally planned (pushing it out to almost 2 months from US launch to Canadian availability). This delay, combined with my demo of the device, prompted a number of friends and coworkers to make their own track to Seattle to get their own units.
I have to say, after having it for a number of weeks now, the device keeps surprising me. For starters, the battery life has been amazing. Apple suggests that it lasts for about 10 hours on a charge. I’ve heard of people getting better than 12 hours of life out of the battery. Personally, I’ve gone for 3-4 days of heavy usage before having to plug it in. I never do stupid battery tests (playing a video loop until the battery dies for example) with any of my gear as they aren’t reflective of my actual usage. I can honestly say that the battery performs better than expected and that is awesome for a device like this.
Of course, since the iPad isn’t currently available in Canada, I get asked about it all the time. It’s been fun to have people come up to me at Starbucks for example and say “Is that THE iPad?”. Pretty much everyone has been impressed by seeing one in person, including many naysayers that start off their questioning with “so is it really just a big iPhone?”. It’s also been interesting seeing people that don’t have an iPhone or even a Mac play with it and intuitively figure out how it works without any prompting from me.
So here’s a few app highlights of why it’s outperformed my expectations:
Like Photos, the Movies app is equalling compelling to view movies…I’ve loaded up a bunch of my portfolio videos along with a number of feature films and combined with the crazy battery life, it’s truly a great media player.
I’ve collected a few books to read over the next little while and love that the iBooks app supports ePub formatted books. Combined with the opensource Calibre app (cross platform) conversion tool, you can pretty much put anything text based into the iBooks app. It’s also a nice touch that the entire Amazon Kindle library of books is available via the free Kindle app that has been updated with iPad support.
While considering the purchase of a magazine in a grocery store, I realized that this could be better read on the iPad. A quick check of the Zinio app and for about the price of two issues of a magazine (in this case Shutterbug), I could get a 12 issue subscription. This was a no-brainer. The iPad version includes a number of benefits over the printed version including text transcripts, in-app url viewing (all the ads have clickable links to product pages) and fast navigation through the magazine. I also get an email when the next issue is available.
GoodReader is another ‘reading’ app that allows you to view any PDF document along with a number of other supported file types. It also allows you to create a webserver on the iPad to allow you to wirelessly share files between your iPad, your computer and even other iPads without syncing. I currently have a pile of manuals and documents stored in GoodReader that is incredibly handy. Pretty slick for a $0.99 app.
The Google Maps app is blazingly fast and truly excels at showing the power of the iPad off. Despite not having built in GPS, I’ve found it worked incredibly well at locating me via wifi triangulation in a number of different locations around the province. It truly feels like something out of Minority Report when your are pinching and zooming such a large screen around. Streetview even works amazingly well.
At this point, I’ve got over 4 screens of iPad specific apps. Every day, more apps come up on the App Store and impress me. I can’t get into all of them in this post but will do future posts on some of the more impressive ones.
Gaming on the iPad
I have a bunch of games on the iPhone and have been really impressed with the quality of the iPad games that have been released that really take advantage of the iPad’s big screen. In particular, Scrabble has blown me away with some innovative game play options:
Basically, the party mode supports the notion that players have an iPhone/Touch. They download a free ‘Tile Rack’ app (currently only available on the US App Store) that lets players using their personal devices as view screens of their own tiles. You can arrange your tiles on your iPhone then when it’s your turn, you simply flick them onto the iPad’s game board and place them. You can even flip the iPad’s board orientation around to face you if desired.
Too bad it seems unlikely that Nintendo would ever port any games to the iPad…Zelda or Mario Kart would be amazing on a platform like this.
but opted to get it anyway since it was the only one that offered a cover over the screen along with a simple, yet innovative integrated stand that would work in either orientation as well as comfortable angle for typing on a lap or table surface:
Simply tucking the cover into the little flap on the backside quickly transforms the case into a sturdy stand. The only thing I don’t like about this case is the fact that it seems to pick up dirt/lint like crazy. Unavoidable I guess but it’s a pain to clean it constantly. Apparently this case has been wildly popular with it being sold out in all the Apple Stores and it has been spotted on ebay for more than twice the list price of $39.
Some things I don’t like or annoyed me
- Like most people with an iPhone, the iPad could really benefit from over the air syncing. It would be great to be able to add some new movies on the fly without having to sync. I already have Mobile Me which works great but doesn’t allow me to add any kind of media over wifi sync.
- I wish the VGA adaptor supported true video out…right now only a handful of apps support video out – I would have loved to been able to make a video demo of all the apps via the video out but it’s locked down unnecessarily
- I keep finding myself reaching for the home button on the wrong side of the device since it’s orientation is always different depending on use. Only way around this would be a gesture system for getting home or putting a home button on all four sides of the bezel (not likely)
Using the iPad normally results in it never getting warm (unlike my iPhone or laptop)…it’s always cool. But take it outside and it starts to get warm when in direct sunlight and eventually will shut down after about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. I’m not planning on taking it to the beach but it’s kind of a disappointment.
What I’m looking forward to
I soon hope to get my hands on the Camera Connector as it should open up some interesting options for a much more portable photo upload tool with its support for RAW images, selective uploads and video support. It also sounds like the usb dongle that is included supports things other than photo downloads from cameras so it will be interesting to see what apps take advantage of this option.
Considering the iPad has only been out for a few weeks with the development kit only being in the hands of developers for little more than a month, the potential for this device is still largely untapped. It truly is a game changer in my opinion and not just a ‘big iPhone’.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the 3G enabled iPad is released as well…I’m still not convinced the mobile carriers will offer a compelling package for data users that already pay for a data plan on their iPhones (or other smartphones) which was one of the reasons why I opted to get the wifi version and tether my iPhone to the iPad via an app…although this method does require a jailbroken iPhone, there are similar apps for Android devices as well.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments if you’re curious about the iPad and I’ll try to answer them.
UPDATE (May 10, 2010): Rogers has announced (or rather, Apple has announced it for them) their pricing for the 3G iPad data plans. $15 for 250mb (per month) or $35 for 5gb.
If you already have an existing data plan, you can add the iPad to your plan for $20/month. That means that it would cost me $50/month for my 6gb data plan that I can use with my iPhone & iPad (Looks like Apple/Rogers has removed this option – due to negative response?). Um, no thanks, I’ll stick with my tethering option.
UPDATE #2: Keep an eye on Roger’s official blog for more details about iPad pricing…there still seems to be some confusion about how the plans will work and whether there is an addon option.