flash review of the ipad.

I had a chance to duck into Best Buy with Mr. Quinn yesterday, to take a look at the iPad.  My local BB had four of them on display, and I toyed with one for a few minutes.  As I’m sure you’re just dying to know my first impressions of the thing, here’s a quick list of thoughts.

  • It feels really substantial, and it’s quite a bit heavier than I thought it would be.  You’d figure that a device with an uncovered ten-inch glass screen would feel fragile, but the iPad doesn’t.
  • The tactile factor, like with most Apple hardware, is something you can’t get through looking at pictures or reading a review online.  It feels terrific in the hand…rounded edges, the texture of the aluminum back, everything just makes you want to handle it.
  • The interface is super-slick.  I opened a few apps and did some panning-and-zooming in the photo album, and the user experience is something that’s never been there before.  It sounds like a breathless affirmation of Apple fanboi-ness, but using an iPad really makes you feel like you’re holding a piece of the future…or at least what we imagined the future to be like back in the 1980s.  It’s a very intuitive and pleasing way to interact with a piece of technology.  You may scoff at the thing from a distance, but I’d challenge anyone to pick one up, play with it, and not be impressed by it.  It’s like nothing else on the market.

That said, I am quite aware of the fact that the iPad is neither fish nor fowl for me right now.  It sits in the niche between desktop and iPod touch/iPhone, so the closest functional equivalent I can think of would be a netbook, for which I also have no need right now.  (I leave the house by myself once a week for a few hours, and when I do, I take along pen and paper for work, and the iPod touch for those rare times when I need to Google something, or show off a picture of the kids to an unsuspecting victim.)  Do I want one?  Oh, hell, yeah…I’m a tech hound, and Apple makes shiny tech like nobody else.  Do I need one?  Absolutely not, at least not right now.  Will I get one?  Probably…but it’ll be one of the 2.0 versions that’ll invariably pop up in another six months or a year.  It’s simply too cool a piece of technology…and it’s not that much more than the Kindle I wanted to get, with a ton more functionality, and a much higher shiny factor.

So yeah…the iPad is a very slick, impressive, techno lust-inducing piece of gear.  Apple will likely sell a metric hojillion of them, and I’ll own one sooner or later.

Oh, crap.  I blogged about gadgets again, didn’t I?


27 thoughts on “flash review of the ipad.

  1. Atom Smasher says:

    I was yakking about this with a buddy lately. Whatever the iPad becomes, Jobs has succeeded in finally making a device which this Mac-avoiding, PC-based guy is thinking about buying. I probably won’t, because as you point out, a Netbook is cheaper and will do what I need. But still, it fairly screams “only a moran could fail to find something useful about me”, doesn’t it?

  2. MarkHB says:

    The iPad is a useless chunk of pointless frippery. Just like that Iron Man action figure I’ve got my eye on.

    After all, the point of not living in a cave and not breaking one’s back with tilling the soil all frelling day is to have time and resources to spend on nonessential stuff.

  3. KingsideRook says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jonathan Ive hadn’t gone to work for the devil, or had quit, and was now making tablet computers of an open-source variety, with the amazing form factor, for say, Sony or Asus.

    I loved my iPhone, but I hate that Apple now means closed-source, consumption-based computing on portable devices. “App store or nothing” burns my hacker to the core.

    Cory Doctorow put it fairly well:

    Hopefully within 2 years, there’ll be a clear winner in the Windows 7-native world of near-gen tablet equivalents, that still lets me run my legacy Windows apps, play DOOM and use the internet as it exists(with Flash), and for god’s sake, play all my video from various codecs without manually transcoding it.


    • Nate says:

      This I just don’t get. Apple has always been “closed source”, and in fact is more open than it ever has been. OS X’s kernel is open source. The rendering engine that Safari is based on is open-source (so much so that Google used it for their browser). Most of the file formats Apple uses are parseable XML rather than big ‘ol binary blobs.

      Yes, it’s true that Apple controls the app store and you have to bow to their restrictive controls. But Microsoft requires the very same thing with Windows 7 series phones! You berate Apple for not being open enough then talk about how Windows is the open paradise you’re looking for??? Lets me run my legacy Windows apps ≠ open

      The other thing is that you’re not going to want to use your legacy windows apps on a touchscreen tablet. I worked for a home automation company that sold MacBooks that had been modded into touchscreen tablets before the iPad existed and their user interaction was crap. There’s a world of difference between a mouse and a finger. Hovering is impossible. Double-clicking is a nightmare. Right-clicking requires some pretty smart software support. We ended up having to display a custom full-screen UI to make the user interaction experience less than horrible.

      I was also in the legacy support camp until I actually used one of these tablets and an iPad. The tablet form factor simply requires re-doing the software; there’s no way around it. Stylus-driven tablets are a different story, of course, but those have been out for eons, and that’s not really what we’re talking about here, anyway.

      • KingsideRook says:

        Ok, so maybe not Windows 7 phone, but Windows 7 for a desktop or netbook lets me do plenty, including really rudimentary stuff like…move a file around, or play a flash game, or listen to music on Pandora while checking my email. Or pretend I said wintel-based tablet, with a custom touch-based OS that hybridizes the UI, even if it’s Linux/Unix. I get that people want something that goes does simple stuff with a single press of the button. Until they stop telling me that I can’t run software unless they approve it, then they are AOL as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got no interest in a walled-garden approach to not only my browsing, but all my software.

        That said, I’m not a tablet interface designer. If I don’t realize how bad an idea legacy applications are on a touch interface, then possibly I’m wrong. That said, I’m not convinced that it is impossible to make it work. There’s nothing that says another multi-touch control scheme can’t work, though it be potentially different from Apple’s. Apple already holds a variable pressure touchscreen patent, and I don’t think it should be 5 more years before someone challenges it by implementing something similar in another tablet PC for dragging and hovering.

        • “Until they stop telling me that I can’t run software unless they approve it, then they are AOL as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got no interest in a walled-garden approach to not only my browsing, but all my software.”

          Exactly. I have a netbook. I can run whatever software I want on it from where I want and whenever I want. I really can’t do that on any of the Apple iProducts without jailbreaking as I am beholden to the App Store. If I jailbreak then OS updating becomes a huge hassle because many OS updates prevent jailbreaking or specifically brick jailbroken units.

          Yes, my netbook isn’t quite as slick as an iPad. But it is about the same size, has a full keyboard that I can touch-type on, and costs half as much. I have had kindle and B&N apps on it for months. I have always been able to read newspapers on it via browser. Since most of the Apple apps also have flash version, I can use them too. Judging from my wife’s iPod Touch, my netbook will also have significantly better battery life.

  4. KingsideRook says:

    Oh, and for the record, I do agree that the iPad is slick, beautiful, hand-friendly and gorgeous. The UI is nuts, now just stop obscuring the file system if I decide I want to take it out of “my mom” mode.


  5. Tam says:

    The iPad is damn close in form-factor to what Marko and I used to conjure up as the ultimate convergence device: Your one-stop wireless-communicating, web-surfing, game-playing, pr0n-watching, Palm/PC/phone/camera/GameBoy replacement.

    We’re getting closer, but the Ideal Device can’t be, as KsR noted, closed-source. Also, from my point of view, it’s gotta have an easy-to-use data input for any text more complex than names, phone numbers, and TXTSPK. To wit, some sort of usable keyboard. I don’t need to be able to type the sequel to And Quiet Flows The Don on the thing, but the “virtual keyboard” on the touchscreen isn’t up to a 200-word blog post…

    • Marko Kloos says:

      Luckily, they had the smarts to make it compatible with external Bluetooth keyboards. They even make a keyboard-on-a-dock for it. Still, for me that would mean dragging around an iPad that doesn’t fit in a pocket, and a BT keyboard.

      Nice device, though. Most people who like the iPod touch will love the iPad…just as long as they don’t expect laptop capabilities.

      • Tam says:

        Yup, that’s the problem: How to get a keyboard into your handy portable fusion device without turning it into a compromised laptop.

        How to get to the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup stage, though? “You got your iPhone in my Eee!”
        “Yeah? Well you got your Eee in my iPhone!”

        Will there be a Megadroid? Or maybe a larger version of the Sony Mylo I’ve been playing with?

  6. Sabot says:

    I agree about it not being open source – that would fill a void for me. As would the price considering how much ammo one can buy to put through an IPad with $$$.

    If they make it open source they should call it the IPoo. I would stand in line to buy it.

  7. bluntobject says:

    I’m writing the guts of an iPhone app that’ll kick ass on the iPad, so I’m getting a kick out of these replies.

    I can’t see the iPad replacing any device I own — let alone all of them — but it would work beautifully as a “portable screen”. Set it up in the kitchen to access Cooking For Engineers? Sure. Prop it up in the workshop to flip through reference photos? No problem. Set it on my lap to look up player stats while watching hockey on a bigger screen? Hell yeah. My laptop’s too big for those tasks, and my iTouch is too small.

  8. Mike says:

    Reading this on my iPad right now. I can never imagine surfing the web with my pc again! It has turned the net into one big magazine I hold in my hand. Pretty incredible experience. Is it useful for much more? I don’t know but I’m pretty satisfied right now.

  9. anonymous says:

    And assimilation continues as ordered and ism’ed.


  10. LittleRed1 says:

    Mamma Red1 has announced that she will be getting one for her birthday next year. She likes the idea of not needing to carry so many books when she flies commercial. Kindle/Nook/et al are not big enough for her to read and hold comfortably.

  11. Jenny says:

    You know, I was really looking forward to the iPad. Heck, it was the form factor of the thing that had me seriously considering a changeover to the Mac side of the house for development as well.

    The closed-store aspect of it was only kind of bothering me, until Apple started taking political sides with their Fox boycott. After that… enh.

    Politically active company + Closed shop content = don’t trust I’ll be able to use the darned thing for what *I* want to read in 5 years.

    And yes, I’d say the same thing if they starting punting MSNBC ’cause of the “MS” or any other ol’ reason.

    I think I’ll wait for Google to put out a Nexus-ish competitor or something. They wear their hearts on their sleeve to (neener China!), but at least they’ll show you any ol’ thing you want to look at.

    • anonymous says:

      There ya go, Jenny… the orders and ism’s won’t be assimilating you!

      It is fairly astonishing to me which wins out when libertarianism conflicts with fanaticism.


      • Tam says:

        It is fairly astonishing to me which wins out when libertarianism conflicts with fanaticism.

        Shit, the government coercively forced people to buy iSomethings? I must have slept through that part.

        Down with the taxpayer-supported Bureau of Apple, Inc.!

        😉 :p

        • anonymous says:

          Point taken, Tam. I did apologize to Marko that he took my abrasiveness as a personal insult. And as for you? You are perhaps the last person that I would ever attempt to “berate” (except my wife, and for some of the very same reasons :o)).

          True, there are many windmills that need tilting at, and trying to tilt at them all would result in a fatal case of vertigo.

          I do reserve special tiltage for Apple though. Their methods go well beyond self-serving restraint of trade and competition ala ATK, and leap headlong into restraint of *ideas and information*.

          And considering that their products are essentially just tools (agreeing with Marko here) for the storage and sharing of that very information, and further that their empire was built on the free and unfettered exchange of the very ideas and information that they now seek to stifle?

          I think I’ll just tilt at that shit ’til I fall flat on my back, and then tilt some more.


        • Tam says:

          Tilt away, mah brothah; there are windmills enough to go around. 8)

      • Marko Kloos says:

        You’re starting to bore me to death with your fashionable non-nonconformism. Yes, I get it, you won’t get brainwashed into buying liberal hippie computers. Good for you! Now can you change the subject?

        Ever think it may be a bit insulting to insinuate that I’m a mindless consumerist drone for buying a particular brand of computer? Ever consider that your kind of ideological brand purity has a whiff of fanaticism all of its own?

        It’s a tool, like a gun, or a hammer. it’s what you do with it that counts, not what it says on the tin. Buying a Mac doesn’t make me boycott Fox, donate to Greenpeace, or vote a straight Liberal slate any more than buying a pair of ChiCom flip-flops makes me want to censor the Intertubes, buy old Russian carriers, or sell tainted milk powder.

        • anonymous says:

          Tam: I guess I wasn’t aware that your interpretation of libertarianism is limited to force of gov and does not extend to corporate/academic/scientific/celebrity manipulations that utilize your support to further their own very unlibertarian causes, whereas I find myself so sick of them that I could just puke. In a manner of speaking, that’s what I did here.

          I seem to recall a pretty blistering rant aimed (heh) at a particular custom rifle company that was endorsed by a certain gov agent/murderer. In my view, while that is a more radical example (especially for the Weavers), the rant and the retribution was aimed not at gov, but at the private company stupid enough to use him as a shill in what seemed like an intentional jab at their own core market. Apple Inc.’s activity is far wider-reaching, arguably the more harmful in the long run, and certainly deserving of disdain.

          Marko, there was no intent to personally insult, but merely to state the above in a more succinct manner intended to stimulate thought and discussion. If you choose to hand your hard-earned money over to an organization that *hates* your ideals and wants to limit their dissemination then that is certainly your choice. Myself, I’ll embrace that particular brand of ideological fanaticism, if that’s what you call believing I should be able to buy a fucking consumer product without an oppressive side-order of socialist proselytizing. But that’s just me.

          And if you’re bored, or just dislike being called on apparent inconsistencies, it’s your show, delete me.


        • Tam says:

          Al, if I boycotted every single company that did something I find morally reprehensible, I’d be naked and living in the middle of a field.

          Do you own any ATK products?

          Federal? Speer? RCBS? Alliant? CCI? Outers? Ram-Line? Weaver?

          Then you’re paying for the scrapping of U.S. military brass so it can’t be reloaded.

          I stopped trying to keep up with the ideological purity game when the boycott list on the internet gun forums got over a screen long ten years ago. It’s like some kind of Jainism, where you can’t spend a penny for fear it may go to a cause you don’t like.

          Every now and again I pick a personal fight or get bent about an egregious example like the H.S. Precision/Horiuchi affair, but I try not to berate those who have chosen different windmills at which to tilt than I have.

        • Caleb says:

          buy old Russian carriers

          This is an AWESOME idea. We should get together and pool our piggy banks into a Russian carrier.

  12. Jenny says:

    Marko… was that directed to me? ‘Cause I sure wasn’t *trying* to insinuate you’re *anything* based on whatever the heck you buy, read, write with, or whatever else. That you’re no “mindless consumerist drone*” is plain as day in your own words.

    I just said *I* didn’t want to buy the darn thing anymore. If you like it, it’s still (mostly) a free country, buy whatever you darn well please that works for your needs. I promise I won’t think you, personally, are (fill in the blank) ’cause of it.

    Your own talents, expression, and most of all your initiative in making writing a career instead of a dream say far more about the man that is you than your choice in [whatever] ever could.

    * to the extent *anyone* fits that stereotype, really. Everyone looks all stereotypical to someone sufficiently far from their subculture, I’d guess.

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