In this article, I’ll continue with my hands-on review of the Apple iPad, their newest device that will revolutionize the marketplace. While it certainly has some exciting aspects and features, is it a “must-have” device?
Like the iPhone, the iPad is only as powerful as the apps it supports. With the iPad providing so much more screen real estate, they have really been able to create some marvelous apps that capitalize on the larger size. For reading e-books or magazines, the iPad rocks. The new iBooks app brings electronic books to the Apple store and for decent prices, you can pick from a wide selection. Reading them is intuitive, as pages turn with the stroke of a finger and bookmarks can be easily created with a double-tap of your finger. Online newspapers from USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press each feature their own signature design, but are enjoyable to read in this format, with interactive videos seamlessly coordinating with the articles. Video apps, like Netflix and ABC Video, allow you to view movies and TV shows easily and they take full advantage of the rotating perspective of the large screen. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the games, for which there seem to be more than any other type of app in the app store. I tried a couple of the free offerings, but honestly, I can’t say much about them. I seldom use devices like my iPhone or computer for games, but I’m sure that folks who do like gaming on their iPhone will appreciate the larger screen. Future apps that might add potential for the iPad will include the educational and sales marketplace, as the cost and need for printed products could diminish with the iPad being a realistic replacement for textbooks or brochures.
Naysayers to the iPad will bring up issues like the lack of multitasking, but I have faith that an upcoming update to the OS will address that. Lack of Flash support will most likely not ever be addressed, as Steve Jobs remains adamant in his thinking that it is an outdated and dying platform. Depending on how many folks become iPad adopters, he may be right; Apple is known for changing the rules on the technological playing field, but it will remain to be seen. I think the iPad is a nice tool for anyone who wants an easy-to-use tool for email, Internet access, reading electronic documents, or playing simple games. If you don’t have an iPhone, the iPad is a nice complement or replacement for your computer. If you are a heavy computer user, this is no substitute. If you do own an iPhone, the iPad is a bit redundant. If you do want to become an iPad user, waiting for the 3G version to be released next month might be more prudent, since there isn’t a contract requirement from AT&T on this device. There will be two monthly plans available: 250 Megabytes for $15.00, or unlimited downloads for $29.99. For light users, the former may work better, but I would wager that most would opt for the unlimited option. The wireless network version available now (which I evaluated for this article) is nice for having around the house, but once the full functionality and convenience of using it anywhere is realized, I might consider it to be a device definitely worth buying.All in all, I was impressed with the Apple iPad. It definitely has a “wow factor” for people that haven’t seen one yet, much as the iPhone did upon its initial release. Whether it will create a flood of demand for the device based on it’s technical merits alone will remain to be seen. As with any new technology, it might be wise to wait until a second version is released as they “iron-out” any wrinkles that might be present, but I think that with the experience that Apple brings to every product, they’ve got a winner on their hands.