The iPad: Early-experience notes

I was initially unsure if I would like to buy an iPad when asked many a time, and my usual response was “let’s see it first”. Then I saw it. It didn’t take a couple of minutes of playing with it, and looking at it, that I decided that I must get it. A week later, the Apple Store still gets queues in the morning (when I went there was no queue – a pre-requisite for me even entering the store), and they’re all out of 16GB models. In fact, the 32GB models are hard to come by. So I got a 64GB model – oops! Here are my early-experience notes:

  1. I like the form factor. Its a bit heavy (try holding it on left hand, typing with right hand for long periods of time). Brushed aluminium on the back, and it seems like my MacBook Pro – I doubt its going to get scratched easily. The screen is like an iPhone/iPod Touch’s, and it smudges similarly – not too badly. I doubt its going to scratch easily, which is probably why Apple can’t be bothered with screen protectors.
  2. Speed. The A4 processor is totally amazing! Scrolling is easy, changing from an app to another is snappy, I’m totally amazed.
  3. The battery life is totally amazing. A4 processors in an iPhone in the future might help. But I also think there’s a huge battery here. One thing to remember – there’s a special 10W USB Power Adapter to charge the iPad. So even when you grab the Apple World Travel Kit, you don’t get a compatible adapter. The standard iPod/iPhone one only outputs 0.15A of power, while the iPad one gives it 0.45A. They may even be the same size, but they’re not the same. In fact, when you pick up 3rd party power adapters that have USB chargers… you’ll find its not rated high enough for the iPad.
  4. Activation process is interesting. The device will not work until you connect it to your computer. It has to be running iTunes 9.1 (so I had to reboot my laptop to get this going). It was simple. Of course I have a Malaysian iTunes account, and for this to work, I needed a US iTunes account. No iPad Apps unless you have a US account. No credit card that has a US-based start, so I can’t buy apps yet. I consider this to be a major fail and think Apple should stop limiting folk to regions – its retarded. I’ll have to go buy lots of gift cards soon…
  5. Typing on the touch screen is surprisingly easy. Portrait mode – check. Landscape mode – check.
  6. I don’t know what the WiFi troubles are all about (just yet). I am currently travelling and using an Airport Express. I hope when I get back home, it “just works” with my current access points.
  7. iBook only gets installed the first time you connect to the AppStore. Winnie the Pooh is the story of choice – why? The interface reminds me very much of Delicious Library. The management of this is via iTunes.
  8. Standard iPhone apps work. They don’t necessarily look pretty – sitting in the middle and all that. People are going to want to get their apps working on this platform, fast.
  9. It has a pretty good speaker. It comes with no headphones, so if you don’t want to be annoying, spend USD$29 and get yourself a pair from Apple.
  10. The screen has an interesting wallpaper. It looks like the iPad had been scratched. Tsk tsk.
  11. I bought a dock. The keyboard dock isn’t available for sale yet. But it can already work with a Bluetooth keyboard. I’m excited to try this working, so I can type fast on my iPad.
  12. The guy at the Apple Store told me he returned his Apple-made iPad case. To make matters worse, the store was out of stock. So I bought an Incase one. With a zip (the other one had a retarded design). I have no complaints here.
  13. Watching YouTube videos are nice. I highly recommend giving it a try. In fact, watching videos are quite pleasant on this large screen. Its about the size you get in an airplane…
  14. The accelerometer is very active. There exists a screen rotation lock – totally useful when you’re lying in bed and reading.
  15. I tried out the Maps application. Interesting. There should be a digital compass. No assisted-GPS or using the nearest cell to find you, but I tried to find my location and it was pretty accurate just based on what must have been the IP address. I’m not complaining. Maps would be good for this kind of device, and my model does not have an A-GPS, but I don’t really think I’ll be needing it.
  16. This is not a netbook replacement. You just can’t access your media that easily. In fact, iTunes is such a horrendous way to manage all this. I’d have preferred if I could drag & drop things onto my iPad. Not all media will get on your iPad easily, quite naturally. Mac users are probably used to Perian, but such an application does not exist for the iPhone/iPad. I presume converting lots of media to a format that is capable for the iPad/iPhone.


  1. I’ve had an iPod Touch for years (I bought the first generation when it was announced, from the same Apple Store in San Francisco that I got this iPad years ago). I’ve never downloaded this many apps, or felt like paying for stuff, until owning the iPad. Colour me impressed.
  2. iPad apps cost a lot of money. NetNewsWire which might be free on the Mac desktop, come free on the iPhone, unless you get the Premium edition for $4.99, costs a mere $9.99 on the iPad! Instapaper has a free version for the iPhone, a Pro version for $4.99, and on the iPad it costs the same. Time charges you for every issue you buy – why? I’d rather read the dead tree edition at airports.
  3. The Bloomberg application (which I use on Symbian S60, BlackBerry, iPod Touch, and now iPad) is truly a thing of beauty. If you’re a finance geek, love the stock markets, and spend some time on it, you’ll want an iPad just for it. Charts, etc. are totally amazing at that size. And the touch interface is totally rocking.
  4. I am a bit disappointed that the Remote iPhone app from Apple to control Keynote does not work as an iPad native app. I would love to use my iPad as a clicker, compared to my iPod touch. Why? I can see my speaker notes, etc. on a larger screen. It becomes totally useful. Remember, I don’t want to give a presentation on my iPad – I still want to use my laptop; I just want to be able to walk around and use the iPad as a large clicker and see things on my screen. I have yet to purchase Pages or Keynote yet, I wonder if I’ll ever purchase Numbers? All $9.99 a pop.
  5. I played around with Adobe Ideas. Nice.
  6. Evernote is a must have application. It “just works”. I think its much better than the Notes application that Apple bundles.
  7. Don’t bother buying an iPad without an iTunes account. You’ll want to be buying apps to make it useful/interesting.
  8. Its funny they did not embed a PDF reader. You have to download (mostly buy) one.
  9. Having two copies of apps is stupid. For example, I have Wikipanion for iPad and Wikipanion for iPhone/iPod Touch. One is the regular, nice size, and one is about half the size (aka iPhone size).

Games? I’m the last to judge. I don’t play games. ‘Nuff said.

Developers? Go get your app in there during the land rush grab. I wonder if these premium prices on apps will last, or if its just a fad. Are people willing to spend a lot more on apps here? The iPhone AppStore is basically killed by $0.99-1.99 apps. Its hard to break out of those price points unless you’re uniquely providing value. On the iPad? For the near future, you can do whatever it is you want, and people are bound to play with it as the initial hype is there. Once it becomes more commonplace, I expect apps to get cheaper, and more free apps to become more high quality.

What will I use it for? So far, I’m browsing lots of stuff in Safari. I’m writing notes in Evernote. I’m checking out a lot of apps (Marvel is neat, some news apps, Twitter apps, etc.). The Bloomberg application just rocks. I’ve not seen much of this “just work” with the cloud – I can imagine Apple is working on this. Maybe I’ll finally purchase a .Mac account. Copy/Paste isn’t as seamless, in my opinion. Multitasking would make it a whole lot more useful – but then again, me switching apps at the moment is almost instantaneous, so it already feels like I’m multitasking.

Will I get the 3G version? Nope. First off, this whole micro-SIM will be a big issue for me (no provider in Malaysia supports it). Next, where do I use this – probably mostly at home, in a hotel room, or on a plane. What about a cafe? Well, I’ll carry around my portable 3G WiFi device and all will be well. What if you’re on a train/bus? The 3G connection will probably be unreliable as the cells switch, I would get pretty annoyed with connection drops. Besides, I don’t use data when roaming, so another minus for the 3G edition.

What’s missing? I’d like to grab the Camera Connector. Maybe someone will make a 3rd party GPS. Could be useful for mapping nuts, especially since it won’t be an A-GPS. I’m still contemplating spending USD$29 on the dock connector to VGA adapter. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a presentation using my iPad. I’d much rather use the Keynote Remote… if they make an iPad version.

Is this replacing my Sony Reader PRS-505? I’m not sure. One’s e-ink. One isn’t. I haven’t read on the iPad long enough to know if its going to annoy me or not (in iBooks, that is). Reading in Safari is very comfortable.

One Comment

  1. Lenz Grimmer says:

    Thanks for the report. So far, I'm not convinced :)

    The WePad looks much more appealing to me – have you heard about it?