I know, I know: I called the iPad “disappointing” when Apple first announced it on January 27 of this year. Since then, I have changed my mind. The iPad has really grown on me.
Today was the release day for the iPad that has only WiFi capabilities (the version with 3G is expected to be released later this month). I went to my local Apple store to interact with this amazing new device firsthand. The store itself was packed (see the photo below). Many people were there picking up iPads that they had pre-ordered (the Apple store had iPads in their boxes stacked at the Genius Bar—see the above photo). Others were there hoping to buy iPads that were pre-ordered but not picked up. And of course, almost everybody in the store was clustered around the eight or so iPads put out for customers to use.
I wedged my way into the crowd and quickly found an open iPad (see the photo below). The thing that struck me the most was its size: I had been expecting it to be bigger and heavier. For iPhone and iPod Touch users, its interface is refreshingly familiar. It basically looks and feels like a large iPhone. It has a lock button at the top that functions like the iPhone’s lock button—it puts the iPad into sleep mode. There is a switch on the right side that locks the iPad into either portrait or landscape orientation (like the iPhone, it can detect in which orientation you are holding it).
The home button takes you to the home screen, which has different icons to tap and also a pretty wallpaper background that you can change in the settings. The iPad can do some very amazing things with photos, which can be synced over when you plug it into your computer. There is a feature called Picture Frame that allows an iPad in locked mode to display photos like a dynamic picture frame. The Photos app is also unique: when you are looking at different albums, you can pinch an album with two fingers to see what photos are contained in said album.
Speaking of apps, the iPad comes with apps that will be familiar to iPhone users, and some that are not. For example, Apple’s iWork suite of applications (Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office) has been revamped and is available for the iPad. You can create and edit documents on the iPad and email them through the Mail application. Another iPad-specific app is the iBooks app, which gives you access to the e-reader feature of the iPad. You can buy from the store or read already purchased book from your library. (By the way, turning the pages is completely amazing: you flick your finger to the right or left and the page turns.)
Accessing the Internet on the iPad is easy. You use the Safari browser, which is very much like the one on the iPhone. Websites display pretty decently in general, with the exception of Adobe Flash content. I went to the Russian President’s website and an entire section at the bottom did not display because the content was Flash. Rest assured that most websites do seem to display pretty decently. The one complaint I had about the iPad version of Safari was its lack of tabbed browsing. You have to open new windows instead of tabs and I feel that on a device the size of the iPad, tabbed browsing is a necessity.
All in all, the iPad is a very good tablet computer. It’s not for everyone but for users looking for a reliable, portable device with more features than the iPhone, it is a good choice. The version without 3G is handicapped by its need of a WiFi connection to have Internet access, so I would not consider buying one until the one with 3G is released. Apple may have created a revolution in technology yet again.