As some of you know, I purchased an iPad about a month ago. This was by no means an easy purchase for me. The things aren't cheap, after all ($499 for the base model), and I don't exactly have money growing on trees out back. However, I really really really wanted one, and I was able to scrounge up enough to cover the cost. Even then, I debated in Best Buy for quite some time. Was I buying into the hype too much? Would I regret spending the money? I'm quite the gadget junkie, and I didn't want to look back a month later on my purchase and wonder why I'd been so stupid as to fall for the advertising. Even with all that hesitation, I took the plunge and bought one.
It's now a month later, and I feel like I've used the thing long enough to be able to accurately review it.
The short answer (for those of you with short attention spans and no desire to read a long review) is that I love it. If I'd known then how much I would use and love my iPad, I wouldn't have hesitated a moment in Best Buy. Anyone on the fence should stop hesitating and start getting out their wallets. End of short answer.
The Long Answer
If you're still with me, I assume that's because you're very interested in hearing the nitty gritty details about the iPad, and what my take is on all of them. Have no fear, dear reader--all your questions shall be answered.
Perhaps the biggest question my wife had for me before I bought my iPad was "What will you use it for?" I now know the answer: everything. I use my iPad multiple times a day for a variety of reasons. Allow me to demonstrate:
Surfing the Web
Really, there's no comparison to the surfing experience you get on an iPad. It's like you're holding the internet in your hand, and that makes it feel like a much more interactive experience. Web pages are big enough to read without needing to zoom and scroll all over the screen (like you need to do with an iPhone). The loading times are fast, and the control intuitive. What don't I like about the web experience? Well, obviously there's the omission of Flash--Apple and Adobe are having a bit of a spat right now about Flash (a piece of software that allows websites to be more interactive and, well . . . flashy. It's used quite a bit by many different sites.) Apple says it's buggy. Adobe says it's fine. In the end, it doesn't matter what Adobe says--it's Apple's sandbox, and if they don't want Adobe to play in it, they don't have to let them. Do I miss flash? Not really. With the single exception of homestarrunner.com, I have yet to have gone to a site where I couldn't use my iPad.
No, I haven't given up all my print books yet, but I've put the ereader app Apple includes with iPad to the test (iBooks) to see how it runs, and I have no complaints at all. It's easily legible, you can adjust the brightness, font style and size at will, and it's a breeze to navigate through the books. Better yet, it passed the "Sleepy Test" for me. I read before I go to sleep each night, and I had heard from some people that reading from a screen would never let me get tired in the same way reading from a printed page will, since the screen is lit up and firing light into my eyes all the time. Hogwash. I got tired just fine, thank you very much. It really felt no different than reading form a book--and that's the highest compliment I can give it. When the technology is good enough for you to forget you're using it, you know you have a winner.
You can stream Netflix from your iPad. It does so effortlessly. You can also interact with your queue and see everything on your account. The screen is big enough for the wife and I to watch together. If you're a Netflix streaming junkie like myself, this alone is huge.
They look amazing on the iPad. Up until now, I've always felt guilty that I haven't been printing more of my pictures. I take great ones, and they stay on my computer. Now I don't have to print them--I have them in my hand to show people whenever I want. This is an experience that was good on the iPhone, but great on the iPad--just like having a small picture isn't as good as having the same one, bigger. Make sense? Plus, the iPad can double as a digital picture frame. You set it up, and it'll cycle through the pictures on it. Love it.
Oh yeah--it plays music, too. Did I mention that?
Since the iPad can run iPhone apps as well, you have all the iPhone apps you love, and more. I have an imdb app, a calorie counting app, weather app, comic book apps, news apps, cookbook apps, finance apps, a Facebook app, espn app, word puzzle apps, game apps--and I use them all. This has in many cases eliminated my need to check something on the web--I can just pull up the appropriate app and have the info I'm looking for more quickly than I've been able to get to it before. A complaint I do have is that many of the iPad apps have inflated prices, it seems. They have the same functionality as their iPhone counterparts, but they cost five times the price? For better graphics? No thanks. I buy the iPhone app and run it instead.
Games on the iPad are plentiful, with many free options that are great, and paid ones that don't break your bank. When you're used to shelling out $60 for a game, and then find you can get the same amount of fun out of one that costs $1.99 . . . you start going for the $1.99 option. I'm considering just asking for iTunes gift cards for my birthday, then using them to buy apps and games I love.
This is huge for me. Board game companies are starting to migrate toward the iPad, and that just makes sense. Carcassonne and Small World and Settlers of Catan are already there, each for $5. It's also got your more standard fare, like Scrabble or Boggle. Games that can cost $30-$50, now just $5? And I don't have to set them up and worry about losing pieces? Love it. I can't wait for more to follow.
My iPad charge lasts forever, or at least it seems to. Until now, I've always felt like I needed to ration my battery life--regardless of what device I was using. I knew in the back of my mind that if I used _______ too much, I'd be out of juice, and then I couldn't use ________ until I plugged it in again. Not so with my iPad. It lasts 10 hours--and that's 10 hours of constant use. I can go days without recharging it, even when I'm using it quite a bit on those days. That's lovely. I adore the iPad battery.
All of this amounts to one remarkable thing: I'm using my laptop a whole lot less. If I want to check something online, my iPad can be up and running in a fraction of the time it takes my laptop to rouse itself out of hibernation. I don't have to worry about the battery dying on me, either--and that's a huge plus, as I've said before.
I can now just open my iPad and check my email--and respond to it--easily and quickly. This is an equivalent experience to email interaction on my iPod Touch.
The onscreen keyboard is fairly easy to use. It's not perfect, but with some practice, you get the hang of it. I've written my journal on it so far, but I haven't put it to the test and done any really long writing on it. I have a feeling that might get frustrating. However, it comes equipped with Bluetooth, so you could hook an exterior keyboard up to it, if you desired.
There aren't many for me to speak of. I would like to have a camera on it somewhere--ideally two, like the iPhone 4 will have. A USB port would also be nice (although if you buy an iPad camera connection kit, it gives you a USB port with limited functionality). But really, this is getting nitpicky. I mean, expecting one device to literally do everything is a bit much, isn't it? In the end, I am 100% satisfied with my purchase. I don't consider myself to be an Apple fanboy--my laptop and desktop both run Windows, not OSX--but I appreciate what Apple has done. Actually, it's what they've done with the iPod and iPhone--took an existing technology and made it irresistible.
So what are you doing? Go out and buy an iPad today! Got any more questions for me about them? Ask away. Disagree with something I said? Correct me. I'd love to hear what you all have to say.