iPad Tablet First Impressions

Tuesday 6 April 2010 - Filed under Default

I just went to the Apple Store and played with the iPad which was just released a few days ago. Here are some first impressions:

Compared to the iPhone, it has a large screen but not a particularly high resolution screen(1024×768). This affected the iBooks application where I tried both the upright single-page mode and the landscape page-turning mode. I found the experience to be less pleasing to the eye than typing in notepad or gedit or even reading most web pages on my laptop or desktop.

The device was light enough to imagine using for a while and felt pretty sturdy as so all Apple products. I then went to Pages to type out a little note. I wrote a sentence then sought to type in a web address. Http came out alright but hitting a colon and the slash required non-intuitive switches of the entire keyboard to the symbol layout.  In landscape mode, the keyboard is large enough to type on regularly but it removes some keys to stay within the screen’s confines. I also didn’t see how to save my document in the short time I played with it.

I tapped on a few different apps but noticed that they looked like iPhone apps had been enlarged rather than re-rendered at higher resolution. I think it’s a blunder to just blow up iPhone apps without increasing their resolution. It makes them look cheap. Like they’re being played on an NES emulator.

Next, I looked at the photos app and I can say that was the best thing on the device. It’s easy to navigate a large number of photos and the look good at 1024×768.

I was familiar with Safari on iPhone so didn’t see much need to go to any special websites with the iPad but I did go to the YouTube app. I was able to search and browse through many videos easily and the video I selected played well.

All in all, the best summary came from a 7 or 8 year old girl across the beech-veneered table from me: “I’d rather have a computer.” Why would YOU buy an iPad? My best guess is that you want a bigger screen for kids and the elderly, or that you want to share pictures. For the rest of us that can handle one, a computer will almost always be a better tool for the job.

Another major reservation I have with the iPad is that it doesn’t respect the user’s freedom. We users cannot load or modify our own applications without jail-breaking. I use Firefox and Thunderbird and with a device like this that is powerful enough to be a computer, I would prefer to be able to run these programs out-of-the-box.  So, I’ll probably wait until a gnu/linux-based iPad clone comes out. Or maybe I’ll forget about the tablet idea and get a laptop that runs 100% free software like the Lemote YeeLoong.

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2010-04-06  »  David Sterry