Thoughts about … Apple iPad

Apple Grey iPad Wallpaper
Originally uploaded by Bravo Whiskey

Just over a week ago, on UK launch day, I popped out to the shops on the pretence of looking at the iPad in the flesh, but truth told, unless it was really awful to use, I was going to buy no matter what. I’d done my research, felt I knew all there was to know. The only question a forum really couldn’t answer was “What’s it really like to use?”. 20 minutes in store later and I had an early answer – one week on, I can give a more qualified response.

First, be clear of the iPad’s limitations. These are outlined very well on countless websites but here are my …

5 reasons not to buy an iPad

  1. You like flash. If playing Facebook games is your thing, or you use interactive websites, the iPad is not for you.
  2. Peripherals. If you need to print, or just have to connect a keyboard, ignore the iPad. Whilst there are rumours of both these features coming soon, there are no timelines and no guarantees.
  3. You need Google docs. Just now, you can read but you can’t edit.
  4. You need specific software that’s not covered by the 200,000 strong app store. There’s plenty of stuff there but it might be that your “must-have” is not. If so, avoid.
  5. The iPad is a great addition to your house, but unless you’ve got iTunes loaded somewhere, or can hitchhike on someone elses, you won’t be able to update, activate or push new content. I don’t think it should be anyone’s primary device.

My 5 reasons to buy:

  1. The best surfing experience there is. It’s just so easy to use and the screen is fantastic; websites really do come to life. I’ve found that I consume sites, especially news, when I have previously browsed. Really, it’s fantastic
  2. Simple, powerful email client. Ok, Outlook it ain’t but what it does, it does really really well. Throw it horizontal and the neat part-screen scroll comes into it’s own to browse email and read in the instant preview side. Crystal clear, easy to use.
  3. Photos look great! The new photo stack feature is also very smart. I remember when we bought the Apple TV and suddenly we took time to look at our photos again. And now, with iPad, we’re doing it again. The photo frame feature is also excellent.
  4. Oh, the apps! They were great on the iPhone and they’re brilliant on the iPad, assuming the company have made the appropriate coding efforts. Tweetdeck is superb, we love Epicurious (iPad comes in the kitchen for that) and tvcatchup for iPad is everything the BBC iPlayer should be and isn’t.
  5. Videos and music. Apple have completely reworked itunes for iPad and it really shows. As with photos, it enhances serendipity; you’ll discover old favourites you’d forgotten. Video is outstanding.

What is our Apple iPad (notice I’ve said ‘our’? It’s now a firm family favourite shared by everyone). iPad is…

  1. An in-car entertainment system for my daughter. Hook it to the headrest and she can watch Nemo for hours.
  2. Sofa surfing. Perfect for it with the flash caveats noted above
  3. A digital photo frame. Ok, I’d’ve never bought one but now I’ve got one, I use it!
  4. On the go Internet and email. Better than iPhone, more portable and discreet than a laptop. We’re travelling to France on holiday next month and I can see iPad being indispensable.
  5. Children’s entertainment and education. My daughter is just over 2 and loves the iPad. If i’m honest, it might be just too easy for her to use – need to find a way to lock the settings app though!

I confess that I love Apple’s gear and we have a houseful of it, but the iPad is a very welcome addition. It has it’s own place, fits the gap neatly between phone and laptop. It has limitations but for my purposes, that’s not an issue.

My one gripe. I need a case (I have the Apple one) to make sure the iPad doesn’t get too beaten up, but it so destroys the aesthetic of this device. Its just so good looking without it!