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Note from Josh: No, it’s not a photo specific device. But a lot of people have been asking me what I think of the iPad since they knew I had purchased one. So I decided to write this up.
So the Apple iPad is finally here. After over two months of hype and speculation, accusations and arguments, debate and worship, the thing has finally shipped and is in the hands of the early adopters. Well, sort of anyway. If you are one of the ones who chose to buy the 3G version, you are still waiting for that ship notice email from Apple (and will keep waiting for another couple of weeks).
But for those who chose the Wi-Fi only version, the worlds first mainstream successful tablet computer has arrived. How can I say successful when the iPad has only been out a week? Well, with 450,000 units sold in that week, I think we can say that it’s pretty successful. At the very least it’s going to be more successful than any other consumer tablet computer thus far. To be fair though, there haven’t been many of them. Anyhow, as I previously stated I would do, I ordered a wi-fi iPad to arrive on the first day they were released. After being asked by a number of photo.net members what my impressions of the thing were, I decided to write a short-term hands-on review.
Good stuff about the iPad
Here are some things that I was impressed with:
The iPad is a snappy performer. There is virtually no startup time, you just press the button and slide your finger across the screen to unlock it and the iPad is ready to use. Opening programs is much faster than doing the same thing on the iPhone as is switching between horizontal and vertical orientation. There are none of the random pauses and long load times that smartphone users have always had to live with. Websites open quickly and long pages display as fast as if you were reading them on your home computer. Overall Apple has done a great job with their homegrown A4 processor.
The iPad’s screen is really something to see. Bright and sharp with rich colors, both photos and video look great on the device. Its 1024×768 resolution may not sound like much in this day and age of external monitors with resolutions of 3840×2400. But the fact is that for whatever reason, the screen on the ipad looks wonderful. I have yet to talk to anyone who thought it was lacking in that department. The multi-touch interface has scaled up well from the iPhone/iPad devices. In fact, given the larger real-estate, you would have to say that the concept of multi-touch works even better on the larger form factor as you have more room to scroll, swipe, pinch, draw, etc. If I were a photographer who needed to have a portable digital portfolio, I can’t think of a better device than the iPad. Between its “looky here” new gadget factor, finger swipe navigation, and great looking screen, what could be better for getting an art director, bride, or editor’s attention?
In his initial presentation, Steve Jobs claimed a 10 hour battery life for the iPad. Unlike most other battery life claims in the electronics industry, I think Apple was underestimating the iPad’s numbers. While I haven’t done any scientific testing myself, every review that has done that testing seems to come out with at least 10 hours as the actual battery life, and often it’s somewhat more. Now, Apple could have been giving itself wiggle room knowing that the 3G version would use more power than the wifi. But the fact remains that battery life on the iPad is impressive. Of course, it had better be, because you can’t replace the battery yourself. If your battery craps out, it’s $99 out of your pocket to Apple for a replacement. Though they do apparently give you a whole new (refurbished?) iPad rather than just replacing your battery.
Screen Rotation Lock
Hallelujah we have made it to the mountain top! Well no, not really. But this feels like a much bigger deal than it really is to anyone who has tried to use their iPhone or iPad Touch to read in bed, curled up on the couch, or in any other position where the device is not exactly straight up and down. There was simply no way to keep the device from switching screen orientation if it thought that it should. It was frustrating and limited the usefulness of those devices. The iPad’s physical screen rotation lock is just the answer. Now no matter how contorted you are in your favorite chair, you and you alone can decide in which orientation you want the device to display content.
The iPad makes babies snore
This may seem like a small thing, but the speaker on the iPad is actually pretty good. Apple has a lot of strengths. But like all companies, it has its weaknesses as well. I have never been able to figure out why they can’t make a decent set of built in speakers for any of their devices. But the iPad speaker, while nothing that audiophiles would write home about, is plenty loud enough to watch videos or listen to a podcast in most situations. While I think that most people watching videos or listening to music on the iPad will be doing so via headphones, it’s nice to know that at least the option is there to use the speaker and actually hear something.