I spent this week trying to keep it near me so I could use it immediately if I thought of something. So far, it’s about 50% “this is a large iPhone” and 50% glee that I’m using a device that feels like it’s straight out of all the science fiction I read and watched for decades.
Things it does well I was hoping it would do well:
- Great for reading on the bus
- Makes a great terminal where a laptop/netbook would be inconvenient (couch)
Things it does well I hadn’t thought of:
- Browsing the web with someone (ie, shopping for gifts on Amazon, or clothes). The big display and lack of keyboard make it great for passing back and forth
- Easy mini-projection (I can pull up one of Expedia’s web pages and show it to a small group without having to muck with projectors, etc)
- Turn the wasted first 5-10 minutes of meetings where you’re waiting for the late people into demo time and an interesting conversation about interaction design.
Things it does way better than I thought it would:
- It’s crazy fast. I could not believe how responsive it was for the first couple of days.
- Video. Stored video looks great. Netflix videos look pretty good considering they’re streaming. The display is tremendously nice.
- Immersion. I don’t know how else to put it. That 50% of the time where I’m grinning and you can see the thought balloon over my head that says “wheee!”
- Battery life is crazy. I’m used to being vaguely aware of how long it’s been since I charged my phone, or my laptop. I don’t care at all about the iPad. I know Kindle users can crow about days on days, but I used it on and off for four days and got to 60% before I plugged it in.
- The news apps from BBC/NPR/Reuters are tremendous.
Things it does worse than I’d expected:
- Sync seems to take forever. The first sync was glacial.
- Typing. The dimensions make it hard to type with my thumbs in portrait, and in landscape I’m either typing one-handed while holding it or struggling.
- Dimensions. It’s sometimes hard to balance it on one leg to type, and not fitting in a pocket means it’s hard to carry around without thinking. It’s the same problem you have with a netbook.
- It’s hard to conceal. If you’re in a meeting with an iPhone, it’s really easy to check email (or whatnot) and not be conspicuous. The iPad… no can do. Even swapping over from taking notes to something else is so obvious I don’t dare try it.
- File sync for iWork documents. It’s there, and it’s cumbersome and annoying. See here, here
- I am so tired of “ha ha I’ll wait for the next one that’s twice as good for $2.” 1. Yes there will be a better version eventually 2. I get that you think Apple’s upgrade cycle sucks. I understand, but 3. Is it cool? Do you like it? Can we talk about that?
- “So it’s just a big iPhone”. Even from iPhone owners. Yes. And your iPhone is just a phone with a touch screen and a pretty interface. Doesn’t your experience with what happened with the iPhone make you even a little curious?
- I didn’t think I’d need the 3G version, but I’ve grown so used to having access almost everywhere that it’s weird to not have it. Fortunately AT&T’s terrible network coverage got me used to flaky data access.
- Oh yeah, the wifi. I’ve had a couple problems with it, when one of my favorite things about my laptop is that it works everywhere with every wifi point I’ve ever encountered.
Things it would to well and doesn’t yet:
- Display extension. One of the developers I work with talked about this, and I totally saw what he was saying: it’d be so great to be able to use it as a second monitor for my other computers. There are apps that are trying to get there, and it doesn’t work yet
Should anyone else buy it?
If you’re as curious as me about computing and application and web site design, absolutely.
If you’re thinking about buying a Kindle or whatnot, and an extra hundred/two hundred dollars is worth it to have a fully, awesomely functional web browser, word processing, and all that good stuff — yes! do it! (unless you seriously go to the beach and don’t do beach things but stare at your computer the whole time)
If you’re not sure what you’d use it for… go play with one. Wrestle it from an owner’s hands for an hour. It’s worth seeing how it works. If you don’t get it, wait until you see it do something that makes your brain light up.
And as the apps get better, the case is going to get stronger and stronger. In six months I’m sure I’ll be able to demo a killer app for whatever your need is.