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iPad Observations

As my job was kind enough to purchase an iPad for me for development purposes, I’ve had my mits all over the 16GB WiFi only model every since it arrived on my doorstep early Saturday afternoon. In truth, although I was excited about the iPad (as I am with any new piece of technology), I didn’t expect much beyond just a larger iPod Touch.

After spending a few days with the device, I can tell you that it’s going to be much more of a big deal than the average geek is making it out to be. It’s simplicity and versatility genuinely surprised me in many respects, and I’ve had a blast messing with it over the weekend. Here are a few observations about it, in no specific order…

  • Don’t just write it off as a huge iPod Touch. In fact, I would say that this is one of the few devices that you can’t form a respectable opinion about until you actually get some hands on time with it. What’s boring on paper is a blast in action.
  • Most of the biggest gripes people have with the platform can (and probably will) be easily remedied with a software update. The others are only a jailbreak away.
  • The iPad has three killer features: battery life, speed, and simplicity. Don’t underestimate how compelling those features can be when they’re combined.
  • The Kindle, Nook, and other E-Ink driven reading devices are dead in the water. Let any consumer play with these devices side-by-side and the iPad will win every time by a landslide. Amazon knows this (I think), and their transition to the Kindle as a service is a smart move. Expect those other devices to drop dramatically in price and fill a small niche.
  • Typing in portrait mode isn’t very comfortable; landscape works much better, but let’s just say I didn’t use it to write this post on purpose. You’ll want a keyboard if you intend to use this as your primary workhorse.
  • I’m just not very impressed with the Mail app on this, especially switching between my four primary email accounts. It needs some major polish.
  • My iPhone seems cramped and old school after stretching my legs on a huge, super sensitive multi-touch screen.
  • Did I mention the almost ludicrous battery life? I think it’s something competitors are going to have a hard time matching.
  • The thing is built like a rock and has a surprising heft to it. You’ll spend most of your time with it propped up on something.
  • Expect the desirability and popularity of the iPad to increase dramatically as thousands of developers continue to pump out some brilliant apps for this thing. I’ve been blown away so far by WeatherBug (I know!), Marvel and the YouVersion Bible App.
  • I desperately want a stylus and notepad app to use to jot down notes and ideas during meetings at work.
  • Following along with my previous thought, the only serious competitor to the iPad in my mind is Microsoft’s Courier. A tablet running a desktop OS is going to seem pretty ancient to users after this.
  • This is a look at the future. The geek reaction is to focus on all of the stuff that’s missing, instead of what the iPad does well. It’s a first step in moving the focus away from the operating system and more toward the task at hand. It’s forcing the industry to ask some hard questions about what is really necessary in a user interface, and that is a good thing for everybody.
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  1. Paul (Reply) on April 5th, 2010

    I keep hearing this about the iPad that it will kill the Kindle. I wonder about that. I love my Kindle and can’t imagine using anything else as a reader, especially the iPad. I don’t read on my computer simply because it tires my eyes. The eInk in the Kindle is great. It doesn’t wear out my eyes and it is easy to use.

    Do you think the backlight on the iPad will cause eye fatigue? Do people not realize/care?

  2. Eric Murrell (Reply) on April 5th, 2010

    The screen is gorgeous and the backlight is easily and quickly adjustable. Turning pages is much faster, cover art is gorgeous, the dictionary is easier to use, and full color illustrations are awesomely represented.

    I had a Kindle 2 most of last year and loved it. Had I not already sold it, I would’ve done so immediately after reading on my iPad. The eink is nice, but it’s not nice enough to justify all of the features the iPad brings to the table in my opinion. It’s like moving from a black and white TV to a high def plasma screen. I think eink readers will still be around, but they’ll drop dramatically in price and have a much smaller market.

    Plus, the iPad Kindle app is great! Glad to have all of my Kindle books back :-)

  3. Paul (Reply) on April 5th, 2010

    Well, I will have to give it a try then.


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