iPad, therefore I am

It’s been a solid 24 hours since I picked up my iPad and I think I’ve spent enough time with it to give a decent overview of my thoughts on it.

The device is beautiful. It’s a sleek, sturdy simple design that anyone who’s ever seen an iPhone will be intimately familiar with. The iPad feels heavier in the hand than I thought it would. Not sure why, but I assumed it would be lighter than it is. This could be in part to the Kindle which is slightly smaller but significantly lighter.

The iPad screen is crisp, clear and bright. It’s one of the nicest displays I ever seen on a piece of technology and it’s certainly the focal point of the device. The glass is unfortunately as sensitive to fingerprints as I thought it would be, and 2 minutes of use render the glass greasy and smudgy.

The apps are arranged similarly to the iPhone in an orderly row/column format although I would have liked for an option to tighten the space between apps to fit more on each page. There seems to be some wasted real estate between apps and they look oddly distant on the iPad pages.

The processor is fast and the UI snappy. Apps load instantly and there is almost no lag in any activity I’ve attempted so far.

The keyboard is remarkably usable. I was expecting a better iPhone keyboard, but the keys are large enough where typing is comfortable and far more error free.

The orientation of the device also changes very quickly. You can hold the iPad in any orientation and the screen will rotate quickly to adjust. There is also a lock on the side to keep the orientation locked to prevent accidental rotation.

One thing I’ve noticed is that certain rotations will remove menus from the viewable area. For example in the Mail app, the only way to have your messages listed along the left side is the have the device in landscape mode. Once you rotate it to portrait mode, the message list disappears and you can only view the message. This holds true for Pages also. Menu options are only available to you in portrait mode, but not landscape mode. This can get a bit annoying as you need to rotate the device to access certain functions.

Gaming on the device is remarkable. The big, bright screen coupled with the accelerometer make gaming a joy. I downloaded and played Sandstorm, Real Racing HD and Scrabble. All three were fun, responsive and beautiful.

I won’t delve too far into the apps as they each deserve their own respective reviews. I can say that I was somewhat disappointed in the “support” for iPhone apps. The iPhone apps do technically install and run in the iPad, however they only display at the resolution of the iPhone screen which is small and centered in the iPad’s large display. There is a small [2x] button on the bottom right corner of the screen which blows up the display, but to anyone with any sense of aesthetics, it looks horrible and renders fonts and images jagged and ugly. Usable, but certainly not elegant or “Apple-like.” I reminds me a little of the transition from OS9 to OSX where apps ran in “classic” mode until developers caught up to OSX. App developers will slowly have iPad versions of their apps which will take advantage of the larger screen and higher resolution.

I am already slightly dismayed at the number of developers that are charging for very basic iPad versions of their apps. If you already own the app for the iPhone, why should we pay more for an iPad version . If anything, I’d expect an upgrade price or (god forbid) a free iPad version if you’re already an iPhone user. We’ll see how that goes.

My overall impression of the iPad is that is is a tremendous consumption device. Watching videos, listening to music and viewing pictures are all a glorious experience on the device. It is instantly the best portable video player available. One problem is that I am already wanting larger capacity to add more HD movies to the iPad. the 64GB is tantalizingly small for the amount of content I’d like to carry with me.

One word that kept popping into my head as I carried the device around all day was convenience. The iPad is an incredibly convenient vehicle with which to browse the web, get email and consume media. While the iPhone is ultimately more portable, the iPad is a quantum leap ahead of the iPhone in terms of navigation and data entry. My current email options are my laptop which requires booting up, launching app and finding a flat surface with which to use it or my iPhone which is painful to type out anything more than a few words. The iPad immediately becomes the most effective and fastest way to access my email and browse the web quickly.

As the universe of apps make the iPad more and more useful, I can see it taking the place of netbooks and even laptops for many of us. Considering what most of the computing world uses their computers for, the iPad can be a worthy replacement and even a superior choice in some instances.

Apple has indeed created another winner and I am eagerly awaiting what they have in store for the iPad in the coming months and years.