Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First impressions of the iPad

When I first laid eyes on the iPad when I opened it's box, i thought - wow...it's so gorgeous! Typical of any Apple product unboxing. The first thing I did on it was post a status update on Facebook as my friend and I were on a race to see who could get their iPad's up and running first!

While I was doing this, I was completely blown away by the beautiful screen. The IPS screen that they put into this thing is crystal clear. It makes doing anything on the iPad such a pleasure. Coupled with a quantum leap in speed from the iPhone 3GS with it's new Apple A4 system on a chip, the hardware of the iPad is already enough to make it a winner from the first generation.

Typing on the iPad
Admittedly, I was scared of what typing would be like on the iPad. In portrait mode, you're usually typing with your thumbs while holding it with your hands much like an iPhone. If you're in landscape mode, then you definitely need a case to elevate it slightly to get the right ergonomic angle to type on it like a normal keyboard, otherwise you'll be doing a lot of one handed typing. There's a slight learning curve no doubt, but like on the iPhone, it is responsive and once you get used to it, it's great! in fact, I'm typing this whole post with my iPad. Below is a comparison of the iphone keyboard and ipad keyboards in portrait and landscape modes.

Everything is bigger and better!

Web browsing
Like i said before, web browsing is simply amazing with fully rendered web pages that look fantastic on the IPS screen. The smoothness and fluidity when scrolling and zooming with your fingers is an absolute delight. I've yet to experience any problems with the lack of flash.

Photos also look wonderful and the iPad makes for the perfect digital photo frame to show off your photos. With a Mac it syncs with iPhotos so you'll need to sort out everything (my iPhotos gallery is still a bit of a mess!)

The mobile video experience is also enhanced as I can stream videos from my iMac to my iPad and watch it (using AirVideo) you could do this with an iphone but the screen is simply too small. The iPad's screen is large enough to enjoy watching any kind of movie on, and the speakers are pretty loud as well.

There's a native iPad app just for videos called "Videos" and it is no longer combined in the iPod app like on an iPhone. So far i've only transcoded some Tutorial videos but as always they still look great! Even videos that have been transcoded for the iPhone resolution look good.

I must say, all the HD iPad apps look amazing. Granted, I'm a bit disappointed that developers have just done straight out ports and have not revamped much else apart from the graphics, but I'm positive we'll see some really great iPad only games coming out soon.

Firemint has done a wonderful job with Flight Control HD as it let's more than 1 person redirect the planes. This adds a whole new dimension to the game as you have to work with a buddy to land the planes. Thats a great example of iPad gameplay that I would like to see other developers doing.

iPhone apps also render pretty nicely on the iPad although some apps still look a bit pixellated when you blow it up to the 2x screen resolution. Just knowing that it is backwards compatible is nice, unlike other recent mobile gaming devices (PSP Go and DSi)

I've already filled up my iPad with a bunch of note taking apps but I have yet to try them out at uni for real until next semester. I've been playing around with a bunch of them and some of them look very very promising.

iBooks is definitely the best app for reading ebooks. You can convert any pdf to a .epub using free software for both Mac and PC to put onto iBooks, but any document which is graphics heavy (pictures, tables, etc)like a textbook will not convert very well.

To solve this, I use GoodReader, which is one of the best PDF readers out there. I used to actually put a textbook pdf on my iPhone and read it on that but it soon became unbearable to read. Now with 10 inches of screen size, I can now read that textbook with ease.

This has been more of a fly-by review and I hope you've gained more of an insight to what an iPad can do. It's definitely more than just a giant iPod touch and once you play around with it for awhile and go back to using your iPhone, you feel like its a totally different beast. The iPad is here, and it is great!

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