Impressions after playing with an iPad:

iPad, iPad, iPad. That’s the big focus in the news, on the internet and in all the Apple websites. Now, don’t get me wrong – I think its a pretty sweet device and I’ve spent some time playing with one. However, to call the iPad “Revolutionary” is a bit of a stretch – for now.

The following is a list of 10 observations I noticed about the iPad after playing with one for a little bit. Hopefully they will help you in deciding if one is for you or not.

1. It’s heavier than expected.

I know, it’s 1.5 pounds, which really isn’t all that heavy. But, the iPad just feels like its heavier than you expect it. Most likely this is due to battery weight. Judging from my next observation, I think Apple really wants a good solid run-time on the iPad and stocked it up with batteries.

2. Charging is tricky.

Assuming the iPad will charge just like the iPhone isn’t how it works. The USB connector will charge the iPad but only if the iPad is sleeping and your Mac is awake. Even then, it charges slowly. If you want the iPad to charge normally, you neext to use its power adapter. This makes sense if you think about it for a second. Apple wants this device to run strong for a good while. The batteries in the iPad are more like a MacBook Air’s rather than an iPhone’s.

3. Typing is clunky.

Apple tried to make typing a bit easier on the iPad than the iPhone but it’s still a challenge. The keys are bigger, with more space between them but it is nothing like the smaller keyboards on a netbook.

In portrait mode, you can only comfortably type with one hand. In Landscape mode, the “keys” are cramped and with no backing to hold the iPad up, its very awkward.

Even with the case opened up to prop up the iPad, I easily knocked it over trying to type with two hands. If you’re going to do any real typing work on the iPad, in Pages for example, get the keyboard adapter / dock.

4. The iPad is quick and snappy.

The first thing I noticed about the iPad is that it is snappy. Applications open quick and browsing the web is the way you’d expect it to be. This is where it is nothing like “a big iPod Touch”. On my iPod Touch, pages load slow and it can be annoying at times. Not the case with the iPad. The A4 processor handles page rendering very well. iWork’s Pages also opened quickly and was easy to use. None of the apps felt bulky, bloated or slow at any time I was using them.

5. As an reader, the iPad is great. Unless its a sunny day.

The iPad display is gorgeous with rich and detailed images, videos and eBooks. That said, when I used one, it was indoors and under florescent lighting. In the sun, the display is easily washed out, with the shiny exterior causing serious glare / reflection issues. This is something Apple will need to address if they want people to go out and about with their iPad and perhaps they are…

6. Get the case.

You don’t want to drop the iPad. You also don’t want to spill anything on it, scratch it or have it flopping around in a bag full of books. Apple’s iPad case is well worth it. I’d even suggest getting a laptop sleeve and putting the iPad inside for added protection in a bookbag.

7. Its a magnet for fingerprints and smudges.

Once I was finished playing with the iPad, I noticed fingerprints and smudges galore. On the screen, on the case, everywhere. They easily wipe off the screen with a microfiber cloth but the iPad’s case is made of material that smudges don’t wipe off of easily.

8. Very portable, like carrying a notepad.

The iPad is thin and a good size for carrying around, even with the case. It really feels like carrying around a notepad / folder. You can tell that portability and speed were Apple’s main focus when designing the iPad. Even though its heavier than expected, the weight itself isn’t an issue with portability at all.

9. The iPad is NOT a netbook.

Sorry Apple, but as much as everything I liked about the iPad, I have to just come out and say it:

I have a netbook. It’s an Acer Aspire One. I use it all the time. The iPad is no Netbook, not even close. Here’s why the iPad fails as a Netbook:

Even the cramped, mini keyboard of the Aspire One is easier to type with than iPad’s on-screen keys in landscape mode.

I can load whatever I want on my Aspire One. I can use any format video, audio, document, whatever. As long as it’s compatible with Windows, it works on my Aspire One. Acer has no say in the matter of what I do with my Aspire One and I like it that way.

With the iPad, a visit to common websites is full of missing plugin boxes. Its not that the iPad can’t render Flash, Java, Shockwave, Real Video or whatever else is out there – Its that Apple won’t allow it. C’mon Apple. If you behaved like this with the MacBooks and MacBook Pros, who would buy them?

Microsoft caused an uproar when they tried to make netbooks only run THREE apps at once with Windows 7 Starter. The days of single tasking computers existed in the 80s. It’s over 20 years later now. People expect this. My Aspire One can multitask and so can every other netbook out there. Lets hope iPhone/iPad OS 4.0 changes this.

You’d think this would be a minor issue but video chat is incredibly popular. Skype, iChat and even the dubious Chatroulette is no fun without the webcam. Apple set the bar when they began including iSights in their MacBooks. All other PC manufacturers followed suit. Now people expect this. I hate to repeat myself, but my netbook has a camera and its likely due to Apple including them in MacBooks.

A small device like the iPad could use at least one USB port. Loading / offloading content via flash drive? Connecting a printer? External webcam to make up for the missing one? Keyboard? Card Reader? All of these could be easily remedied with a USB port. Except that Apple couldn’t sell you an extra $20 adapter. Again, my Aspire One has 3 USB ports.

I’m sorry if this is bashing the iPad / Apple but how exactly do you release something “better” than a netbook, that doesn’t even come close? If you’re looking for the iPad to replace a netbook, or compete with one, you’ll be very disappointed.

10. The iPad has enormous potential.

Now that I’m through with my iPad / Netbook complaints, let’s talk about the incredible potential of the iPad and what exactly would make it “revolutionary”.

The touch technology Apple has for the iPhone / iPad is wonderful. It works the way you’d expect a touch device to work. Other manufacturers are working hard to copy it but its not the same. Its like the click-wheel of the original iPods. The iPad itself has potential in being a true portable tablet. Except they basically crippled it.

For being revolutionary, if you want to create a radical new device that changes the game – something Apple is very good at, you need to think revolutionary.

Drop the MacBook line.

Get rid of the MacBook. You want a real laptop, 13″ MacBook Pro. Then in the MacBook’s void, have an iPad with USB ports, a Camera, Multitasking and make it run OS X, like a real Mac. Rather than “dumb-down” the device into being a big iPod Touch, let people use it like an actual computer. Make it something people actually really want instead of inventing a need to fill.

If you have to raise the price, fine. Apple’s mantra for years has been to pay more for a better product. Make the iPad a better product because as far as a touch-tablet computing device, Apple’s touch-screen technology is top notch.

As far as a recommendation, I don’t think its worth it – for now. Let Apple work on the device and improve it. Improving on what’s out there is one of their strong suits.

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