The iPad

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will know, I took the plunge and bought myself an iPad, as a kind of post-exams, post-degree celebratory splurge.

I have to say, so far I’m really rather enjoying it. It feels like this slab of glass and metal has just arrived from the future; it has this sense of violating usual expectations simply by existing.

The screen is glossy and beautiful, and it feels dense and sturdy. It’s heavier than you’d initially expect, but certainly not uncomfortably so. I’m not exactly a bulgingly muscular he-man, but I don’t find it uncomfortable to hold. They’re not wrong about the keyboard being large, it’s actually pretty comfortable to type on with the iPad in your lap, and you can get a pretty respectable typing speed with a little practice.

Pages load fast, browsing is fluid, and video on sites like the iPlayer work great. I started watching a Bettany Hughes documentary on Atlantis earlier on here, and it was a very pleasant experience. YouTube videos too look great, and I just last night found a service (although I now remember being told about it by Will Otter) called TV Catchup that allows me to stream live TV directly to my iPad, which is pretty cool.

As apps go, iPhone applications look flat-out ridiculous on the iPad. There’s not really a way around that one. They run, but you have the choice of running them at normal size, isolated in the middle of your display, or blown-up to fullscreen where they really just look appalling, pixellated, only having the iPhone keyboard rather than the superior iPad one, etc. You’ll want to use dedicated iPad apps wherever possible.

The catalogue of available iPad apps is comparatively smaller than its iPhone stablemate but there are already some pretty impressive apps available, and the number will only increase as more developers make iPad optimised versions of their existing apps. For instance the brilliant Google Reader client for the iPhone Reeder should be releasing and iPad version soon, and I can only hope that the Twitter for iPhone app formerly known as Tweetie will too receive an iPad version.

The in-built apps all look and work great, and one thing that surprised me was that even on the wifi-only model, location still seems to work fairly accurately, if not pin-point. I thought there was no GPS hardware, so I suppose it’s doing a trick using wifi hotspots to figure out my location. Whatever it’s doing, that’s quite cool.

I have a feeling that i’m going to change my habits quite a bit having this. I’ve already been tempted to impulse-purchase a movie from iTunes, and the iBook store would look terribly appealing if I didn’t already have a backlog of physical books (currently going through Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman) and I can see a lot of sitting in bed, browsing, tweeting and reading email in my future. Apart from high-powered hard-core gaming and writing code, there isn’t a huge amount of reason to go turn on my PC any more.

Anyways, I really like it, so there. This post was entirely written on the iPad.

8 thoughts on “The iPad

  1. I would dearly love an iPad, or tablet device of some sort. I don't think it would replace my other computers, because I'm too attached to desktop space. When I'm browsing the net I generally have a couple of browser windows open, with several tabs open in each window (the luxury of multiple monitors :P). And obviously for writing stuff, I much prefer a physical keyboard. When I used my Tablet PC, the on-screen keyboard was just as good as the one on iOS devices, but whenever I needed to write more than a couple of sentences I always found myself reverting to the normal keyboard.

    But, I think I'd use it a lot for consuming information. I think a tablet is the perfect thing for catching up on feeds in Google Reader for instance (and incidentally, are the apps really that good? I find it works really nicely just in the browser). And yeah, from what I saw when I played with one in the Apple store the other day, videos look brilliant on it, especially higher-res ones (I hesitate to call it HD :P).

    That said, there are some pretty good alternatives allegedly coming out. I really like the look of the Adam, but they keep pushing the bloody thing back…

  2. Also, yes, I'm still using IE, and it's a mark of how much I like reading your posts that I'm still subjecting my eyes to this horrible, horrible mess 😛

  3. Oh, if only I was turning into Mr Middleton! Wouldn't mind a motorbike…

    I appreciate the dedication! While I still contend that in some small way your life and the world would be better if you installed Chrome, I now have some free time I can use to make it a little more bearable on IE.

  4. I've found the iPad replacing a lot of my computer tasks just because it's so portable that it's easy to use just sitting in bed, which despite being possible with a laptop, is just not very comfortable (and worryingly warm). I do find it amusing that despite laptops being notionally portable, most of the time they just seem to roost on the desk at home.

    The iPad is just so light (680g!) that when you put it into a bag you just don't notice it's there, and you can use it anywhere, cradled in your lap or held up in your hands. It's great.

    You can switch “tabs” pretty easily on the iPad, but in general I find that it suits a more laser-focussed style of use, rather than flitting about between multiple things. This is actually quite nice, because it's easier to avoid getting distracted!

    For Google Reader there's a great app that just came out called Reeder for iPad (as there's also an older iPhone version) which is really, really nice. It syncs with Google Reader so that you can do things offline, and the interface is just great to use, it finally got me to go through all my unread feeds!

    Had a quick look at the Adam site, and you're right, it looks lovely. But a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as they say. I'll believe it when they can ship it. I'm very wary of people hyping things up before they can even deliver.

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