My First Impressions of the Apple iPad

Like a lot of people hearing about Apple’s iPad announcement, I thought “it’s just a big iPod touch.” Since I already had an iPod touch, I certainly didn’t need the iPad. But I kept thinking about it, and I finally realized that “just a big iPod touch” was just what I needed. I almost never use my touch for listening to music; I use it to surf the web, to check email for some of my accounts, and to play games. I literally spend a couple of hours a day surfing on my touch, and it’s frustrating because it’s so slow to connect to a web page. And I spend a lot of time zooming, panning, and scanning on the touch so I can see to read on that small screen. The iPad’s bigger screen and faster processor should greatly improve my surfing/email/gaming experience.  I could hardly wait for my gift from Julie to arrive Saturday so I could test out my theory.

Turns out the iPad is more than I hoped for. The iPad is fast! Web pages connect in a fraction of the time. The screen is big enough that I don’t have to zoom to see the contents of the web pages. I really like that web sites display normally – not as the mobile version. And the display is gorgeous – clear and sharp and big enough that my aging eyes don’t have a problem reading even the normal-sized font.

I was worried about the size and weight – 1.5 pounds sounds so heavy when you’re used to holding a 4 oz touch or a 10 oz Sony reader. The iPad feels nice and balanced in the hand, and I don’t notice the weight so much because I find I tend to prop it against my leg or part of the sofa while I’m using it.

I’m enjoying playing with apps, too. The apps that have been modified to work with the iPad or designed just for it look great on the big screen. (Best of all, I got free updates for most apps I owned that had already been modified for the iPad.) The iPhone/iPod touch apps I have still work on the iPad. They look good when displayed their normal size, but they’re fuzzy if you enlarge them to fill the screen. I even like the virtual keyboard, so I’m planning to actually use my contacts and calendar apps now that I don’t have to use that microscopic keyboard on the touch.

I know there’s not a lot of detail here – you’ll get details when Julie and David Rees post their joint review. What I wanted to do here is just answer the people who complain “it’s just a big iPod touch.” Yes, it is, and that’s a good thing, but it’s more than a touch, too.

Posted in: Articles, iPhone, iPad, iPod

{ 21 comments… add one }

  • jimtravis April 4, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Tried an iPad at Best Buy last night. I had dinner next door to a BB, so had to give the iPad a try. I do agree that the screen is gorgeous, text is very crisp, and overall display is sharp. I surfed to the websites that Safari has a problem displaying with a large enough font for comfortable reading on the iPhone/touch. These problem sites are wide formatted single column sites like Craigslist, or some forum pages. Due to the large screen, the sites do display with a somewhat larger font on the iPad, but still have too many words per line for my “even more aged eyes” to read comfortably. I could read the text because the fonts are so crisp on the iPad, but they were too small for comfortable reading in both portrait, and landscape. I was hoping that deficiency in Safari had been corrected. Maybe a setting has been added that I did not have a chance to see. I assume the bookmarklets I use on the touch to compensate for the text reflow problem would work as well on the iPad, but they are a pain to use for each page, and each page refresh.

    I did only spend about 15 minutes with the iPad so I certainly have not finalized my opinion until I have a lot more time with it. I am also not a fan of the finger scrollling. I realize, and respect many don’t mind, and may even enjoy finger scrolling, but for me it gets cumbersome, and annoying quickly.

    I did not purchase the iPad, nor did I expect to since I am disappointed with its overall specs, and missing features. I do admit it is fun to use, and the screen is top notch. I also want a device to do the things I need, and the iPad in this original version is not that device.

    Good luck with your iPad, I am sure you will have many enjoyable hours using it to replace the touch for email, surfing, etc.

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  • jasonSey April 4, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Got mine last night at 7:00pm. Only slept a few hours last night because I couldn’t put it down. I love it.

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  • Jean-Denis Haas April 4, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Hey,

    you say that mobile sites show up as regular ones. I had problems with that, where it would still redirect me to mobile versions. At least some like gizmodo have a link that brings you to their classic version, but if there isn’t a link, how can you turn that redirection off?

    Thanks
    JD

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  • Janet Cloninger April 4, 2010, 2:14 pm

    @jimtravis Yes, I’m having a lot of fun with it. Sorry it didn’t meet your needs.

    @jasonSey Yeah, I was still awake at 4:00 am playing with my iPad. I have insomnia anyway, and the iPad’s just going to make it worse!

    @Jean-Denis Haas I still have some websites show up as the mobile version, too. I haven’t found a way to turn off the mobile version if they don’t have a link to redirect you. Hopefully as the iPad because more common, more websites will update their programming to recognize the iPad/Safari combination. Read an article at http://www.macworld.com/article/150313/2010/04/safari_ipad.html for more information about this.

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  • momo April 4, 2010, 4:49 pm

    “I had dinner next door to a BB . . .”

    Ha, ha! Quality yumminess.

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  • James Branch April 4, 2010, 5:32 pm

    Nice run through Janet. I’ve never been much of an Apple fan, but something about the iPad intrigues me somewhat.

    I’ve not ordered one, so if I do decide it’ll be sometime before I manage to get my mits on one… however the more I think about it, the more I want one! :)

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  • 1000Acres April 4, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Got mine yesterday about 4:00PM at Southcenter in Seattle. I didn’t plan to buy one as I’m not much of an Apple fan. The store had a number of iPads on display for hands on. There’s just something about the feel. After 5 minutes, I had to have one. Stood in line about 2 hours. It was worth it. Didn’t sleep much last night. The more I play with it, the more I like it. I only wish I could have taken pictures of the happy faces leaving the store with their new iPads.

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  • Richard Raborn April 4, 2010, 9:50 pm

    New tech is so seductive! My Palm Pre’ just got better with free tethering to my computer which I am using. I will also wait for the 3G version of the iPad and after a bit send it to my sister for her birthday. Hope to load it with some new books! The Age of the Unthinkable comes to mind. I am distracted by the Tricoder function my son got on his Droid. Seems very useful and realistic! I will let you know how my sister likes the 3G version

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  • Jean-Denis Haas April 4, 2010, 11:52 pm

    Thanks Janet for the link!

    Few things that surprised me: the iPad doesn’t come preloaded with the calculator, weather and with the clock/timer/alarm app.

    If you’re in the app store and browse for a while through search results, you might find an app on page 12 and download it, but then it takes you out of the app store in order to show you where it is putting in. That means you have go back to the app store and flip through 12 pages again to continue. There should be a tag function where you can tag apps you like for later inspection.

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  • James April 5, 2010, 1:59 am

    You should check the PC World Stress Test on the iPad…
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/193388/apple_ipad_stress_tests.html

    The initial part where it is dropped on carpet is the most troublesome… all iPad owners better treat theirs like a baby.

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  • Janet Cloninger April 5, 2010, 9:00 am

    This could just be conjecture, but I read that the calculator, clock, weather, and stock programs were left off because they didn’t look good on the big display. It’s just as likely they were left off because it was felt most people didn’t use them. I always used the Weather Channel app on my touch, and I found the free version of the redesigned-for-iPad version of the Weather Channel app looks fabulous on the big screen of the iPad.

    I found various alarm clocks, but I didn’t find one that would let you set several alarms during the day – but the included calendar program does have alarms in it.

    James, that PC World video made me feel sick!

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  • Michael Murray April 5, 2010, 9:16 am

    Any thoughts on lying in bed and reading, play solitaire etc? The rotation lock sounds like a plus over the iPhone. Are you going to be able to hold it in one hand and flick cards around with the other? My other question was what it is like flat on a table? Readable or do you need to lift it up with one hand?

    So many questions :-)

    Thanks – Michael

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  • Janet Cloninger April 5, 2010, 9:41 am

    @Michael Murray I did just those things Saturday and Sunday nights. I usually lay on my side, and I’m very near-sighted, so I propped the bottom of the iPad on my chest and held it with my left hand. I happily surfed, checked emails (even typed one short email one-handed), played solitaire, and shopped at the app store to buy some clock apps. It was easily done – I never even thought about the bigger size. I always propped the touch on my chest, too, so it seemed natural to me with the iPad. The rotation lock is great. I could move around on the bed without my screen “flopping” around.

    I have a little laptop table that I use. It has a slanted top for the laptop, and that’s what I used for setting my iPad on when I was “touch typing”. I tried laying it flat to read just now. I can see the screen just fine – that screen really is readable from most any angle, but it didn’t seem natural to me. I’d probably prop up the end with something for a more natural angle.

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  • Dick Startzman April 5, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Got mine on Sat. Agree that the iPod touch is similar. Like a shark is similar to a guppy. The speed is incredible. Terrific graphics.
    Too bad about the lack of Flash support. Fortunately some websites like Youtube have worked around this. One thing that should be clear to everyone is that the iPad is not a device for fancy development work. Perhaps so e day Adobe will have a useful version of Photoshop for the iPad, but I can only imagine the compromises that effort would entail.
    The only real complaint I have is with the collection of apps. I wish that Apple had insisted on a set of standards,like the ones they’ve used for years, for user interfaces. just a simple menu bar across the top of the screen would save the user a lot of time trying to find common commands. instead, the app developers have chosen glitzy interfaces that have to be learned over a period of time. I find myself tapping all over the screen just to find a simple action.
    None of this negativity detracts from the device, itself.
    It’s a brilliant invention.

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  • Cyberg00se April 5, 2010, 12:27 pm

    How can people rave on and on about how web browsing is sooooo great, when there’s no Flash support, and so many websites use it?

    That would mean a rather sucky browsing experience any way you slice it. Anything else is just gadget-joy.

    I say it becomes an option if you’re looking for an E-Reader that does other stuff pretty well too.

    Wil Wheaton suggested it would be awesome for board games, and I hope developers take him up on that, because it would be.

    But web and email, not even any handwriting recognition? No way, not for that.

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  • James Branch April 5, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Janet – the PC world video is watchable… compared to this lunatic! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGUppxoJUVg

    Be prepared to shut your eyes at certain parts though! Although, I’m still wondering why he wanted to buy three just to wreck one, whilst I’m sat here with none!

    :(

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  • Janet Cloninger April 5, 2010, 2:54 pm

    I’ve only found one website that I couldn’t connect to because of Flash.

    I’ve decided I’m not watching anymore of those destruction videos. Of course iPads will break, so people aren’t learning anything useful from those “tests” – all electronics devices will break. And those boys in the video James linked to above are scary in their gleeful violence – that’s what they call having fun?

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  • Julie April 5, 2010, 8:52 pm

    @James I’m using a Waterfield sleeve until I get a regular case to store it in when while I’m not using it…

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  • jimtravis April 6, 2010, 8:46 pm

    @MoMo. The BB is in one of the upscale areas of the city as are 2 of the 3 BB’s in Boston. Since the majority of BB items are in the discretionary spending category, they need to have some of their stores in the areas convenient to the people with the income to purchase the higher priced discretionary items. Across from this BB, they recently built a large apartment complex that starts about $2K per month rent, and goes up steeply from there. When a residential property is sold in this same area, it is usually well over $1mil. Areas like this also attract good restaurants for the same reason, residents / visitors with discretionary income for eating out frequently. Since I don’t know you, areas with >$2k rent, or over $1mil property sales may indeed be something you would snub you nose at.

    I have not been in a BB in Manhattan for awhile, but the last time I was, it was a BB located on Fifth Avenue Midtown. I know, maybe this too is in an area you consider beneath you, and of course, there may not be any restaurants in midtown NYC that are up to your culinary standard, or wallet size.

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  • Ravager814 April 13, 2010, 6:19 pm

    @janet – thanks for the update. great job.

    @jim – I hope he/she wasn’t implying that you were slumming by eating at a place near Best Buy, but if you were, so what? I have seen great restaurants near the BBs all over VA and even in AZ. Then again, I have seen Macaroni Grills in the same shopping plazas. I can see where that response kind of ruffled your feathers, but at the end of the day there was no value added to the discussion with momo’s post, and it just served to put you on the defensive and justify yourself.

    @Julie, I have been reading your blog for so many years Julie, even back in the days of the Handspring Prism. I have always enjoyed the humor you inject in your reviews and have found the analyses to be incomparable. I know you love your gadgets, and seem to really like this iPad. I have to read dozens of scientific pdfs a week, and it seems like this is a much better fit than a KDX, since the latter does not allow zoom. (At least the Kindle 2 doesn’t) Seems like a no brainer. Now if I can just convince my wife… Think I should buy two and beg for forgiveness? ;)

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  • Julie April 13, 2010, 8:11 pm

    @Ravager814 Thank you for your kind words! Now go out there and buy an iPad… and one for your wife too ;)

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