From awe and wonder to ugh and what? My initial impressions of the iPad.


I was lucky enough to convince my friend John to pay for a relaunch of his website (still in the works) with an iPad. The idea was that he could play with it for a few weeks while I worked on the site, then hand it over when the site was done. This sort of worked, but only if you ignore the “still in the works” parenthetical above.

In short: it’s an amazing albeit not-quite-magical device. Along with many other folks, I mostly look forward to seeing what apps come out, as well as the refinements in OS updates from Apple.

The sentiment that the iPad becomes whatever app is running is a very astute observation. It’s a blank slate of touch-sensitive glass with no OS chrome which transforms into all sorts of different devices driven by the best mobile software to date.

How do you hold this thing?

twatted about how ridiculous it sounded to hear complaints of fatigue from holding a 1.5lb device for any length of time. Of course, I must now eat my words. It’s just heavy enough to make it uncomfortable after about 20 minutes.

Easily the most awkward thing about the iPad is figuring out how to hold it — while typing, watching a movie, browsing the web, playing Scrabble, etc — as well as where to set it down when you’re done. I have the Apple case on order ($46 after taxes and shipping: ouch!), so perhaps that will mostly solve these issues. I’ve never had a case for my iPhone and never felt the need.


The unstoppable demon Qwerty lives on

I’m in awe we’re still relying on Qwerty in 2010, a keyboard layout thrown together in 1868 in alargely random arrangement to avoid jamming of mechanical key levers. A century and a half later, it’s still our primary input method on the sexiest computing device man has created? Really?

Beyond my disappointment of the lack of a magical or revolutionary input method, I’m impressed with the keyboard. If I manage to get it to lay at a slight angle, propped up on my wallet on a table for instance, I can touch type at almost full speed. It reminds me of the laminated keyboard sheets we used in gradeschool typing class before they let us loose on the Apple IIe beasts.

However, when you’re holding it up with both hands, in any orientation, it’s really difficult to thumb-type. I would love the option for a split keyboard. Not only would it give more screen real-estate, it would be immensely easier to type with.

One baffling decision is the action button on the keyboard (Search, Send, Go, etc) is no longer blue, like it is on iPhone. Why the change? It’s an extra moment of hesitation trying to find the button, especially as the button is now moved up from the bottom-right location on the iPhone. Perhaps this will return with future OS updates. After all, the keyboard could sure use a bit more love aesthetically; the 1 pixel border and thin letter line weights are pretty ugly by Apple’s standards.

It worked for AM radio

The speaker does sound good for a mobile device, and I thought I wouldn’t care about stereo sound, but it’s large enough of a device that it makes a difference. When in landscape mode, it seems very odd for sound to be coming out of only one side.

I’d like to watch movies on the iPad without headphones. I’ve spent many hours watching tv and movies on my trusty old TiBook, which still has the best speakers I’ve heard in a laptop. How much more can it cost to put in a decent set of speakers, especially when they got it right eight years ago?

I’m a big fan of Apple’s gorgeous and often ruthlessly simple industrial designs, but not when it makes it perform as well as my cheapo (now useless) netbook.

What can you do with your iPad that you couldn’t do before?

This is a common question I hear, usually dripping with barely veiled disgust. I really don’t get this. Do people ask this when you get a new computer? Or a new phone? Or a new car? The iPad is a highly-portable computer. You browse the web, you do email, share photos, play games, make music, watch movies, listen to music, read books.

The exciting aspect is that, much like the iPhone, we don’t really have any idea of how the device will transform as more and more innovative software emerges. People shunned the iPhone as an overpriced, underperforming mobile phone, and look where it is today.