Last Train to Orpington

iPad – First impressions

by on Dec.16, 2010, under Uncategorized

I have have an iPad on loan at the moment. Ok, so I know everyone has one already, but I don’t, so I thought I would have a look and write up the results.

So. Here we go.

Firstly The build quality is excellent. It feels well made and strong. There is an audio jack connector for headphones, and a microphone for apps that need it. The speaker is on the bottom of the device where the “Home” button is. The audio quality is surprisingly good and better than my Windows netbook. There is a volume control on the top left-hand side.

There is a standard 3.5mm audio jack, but the only other external connector is the proprietary Apple connector which is identical to the one used with the iPod.

With a resolution of 1024×768, it compares OK to netbooks. In direct sunlight, you get a good amount of reflection, but overall the display is clear and very sharp.

As far as using it is concerned, there is no learning curve at all. It’s the same look and feel as a iPod touch or iPhone. the iPad is arguably one of the best touch interfaces out there, and most people will get used to it in no time at all.

Time to point out a few shortcomings:

  • There is no mouse support and this isn’t expected to be added any time soon.  The question is do you miss the mouse?   I didn’t.
  • There are no USB connectors.  As I said above, the only way of connecting it to other equipment is via the Apple connector.
  • You are limited to the Safari web browser.  I didn’t find this a problem for most of the sites I visited, though there are limitations with some web 2.0 functionality, and with sites that are optimised for Internet Explorer or Chrome.  In particular the Facebook ‘Chat’ utility doesn’t seem to work under Safari. This is fine on Chrome and IE. It isn’t clear if this is a limitation of the iPad or of Safari itself.
  • Flash isn’t supported.  This is  perhaps a bigger annoyance, since it means many video-based applications won’t work.
  • You can buy an add-on keyboard dock.  This also allows you to connect your iPad to an external display.

The other thing that takes a little getting used to is that not all web sites work in quite the same way.  For example, Google Maps – at doesn’t include Street View.  To use Streetview you have to go to the in-built ‘Maps’ app on the iPad itself.  This gives the same results as Streetview as you would normally use it, but takes a little getting used to.  This is mostly due to the lack of a mouse.

Battery life seems very good.

I couldn’t get Bluetooth to work and it wouldn’t detect either my desktop PC or my Phone.

So what about non-internet related shenanegans?  What if you want to write a letter or create a Spreadsheet?   What if you want to get files on and off of the thing?

Well, if you want to create documents, there is as the commercials say, an App for that.  These seem to be mostly chargeable.  For example, £5 will get you ‘Office2 HD’, which allows you to create view and edit Word documents (.doc and .docx) and Excel spreadsheets on your iPad.  The documents integrate with Google documents. It isn’t immediately obvious how you would transfer files and documents between your iPad and another computer, unless you exchange everything via email.  Nor can I a way of enabling the iPad for disk use like you can with an iPod.

According to an article here, you can do this through iTunes. In essence, if you have an App on your iPad that allows sharing of documents, it will show up on the ‘Apps’ tab in iTunes itself when you connect the iPad to your computer. You can then drag and drop documents to and from the iPad. As the iPad I have is on loan I haven’t bothered buying any Apps that would allow you to do this so I can’t tell how reliable and usable they are.

All In all, very good.  The model I have doesn’t have 3G, so I don’t know how that fares, but as a device to use round the house or in wireless enabled areas, it’s easy and quick to connect.  The biggest drawbacks are lack of USB/Disk use and lack of Flash.

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