Part 2 Review – iPad Hands On – This device simply ROCKS!

Part 2 Review – iPad Hands On – This device simply ROCKS!

Has Apple used hyperbole to describe their iPad?  I couldn’t wait to get one and find out for myself where the reality of it is.  And now that I’ve got my 3G iPad up and running, I confess that I’m smitten yet again by another amazing product from Apple Inc.   Apple says it’s magical, and IMHO,  that’s not hyperbole, it really feels that way.

It’s simply beautiful in its design.  You can set the wallpaper so you have a different startup image and desktop images.  And, when you go to unlock, there’s a slideshow button right there that will instantly turn the iPad into a living picture frame for whatever you direct it to.   Yesterday, as I was working on my laptop,  I hadan app called ‘Pocket Pond’ running on the iPad nearby on my desk.  The look and sound of it is peace-inducing – I hear the sound of an outdoor water feature, fish swimming about, and if I touch the pond, it responds.  This simple little app seems to help me think, write and develop my ideas when I run it side by side with my office Macs. I’m really excited about the impact this device is going to have on my creative output.

iPad, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

The iPad is somehow familiar in its look and feel.  It has that Mac like quality of ‘friendliness’ that you would expect from an Apple product in its every detail.  It starts immediately. Everything happens immediately.  And I mean immediately, not a moment of delay.  Wake it from sleep and everything is just how you left it.

It’s got great built-in speakers, so I’ve been using it to access my iTunes music in my office, in the bedroom, and when I’m working out.   It’s got a beautiful bright screen, so watching movies and TV shows and YouTube videos is pure pleasure, and some apps (like Awaken, which I use as a hotel room alarm clock) lets you turn down the brightness with a swipe of your fingers.

The size of it makes it something I can use in the hammock, or walking around the office and house.  Now, this is a portable computing device!  Without the case, it felt heavier and a bit awkward in the hands, and I was concerned about scratching it up.  The rubber case provided by Apple gives it a bit of a Batman-like appearance, and with the case on, it feels exactly right.

I spent a few hours exploring the iTunes App Store, looking for goodies that could help me extract more goodness from this device.  And I found a treasure trove, with something worth getting in every category. There’s an app called AppDeals for the iPad that helped me find some real bargains in iPad software.  Almost all the apps in the store are fairly inexpensive and, for the most part, dazzling in their graphics and simplicity of operation.

So far, nothing I’ve tried has crashed, and even old iPhone apps, designed for the smaller screen, run just fine.  When you load an iPhone app that hasn’t been developed for the iPad, it appears in the center of your screen at the same size and resolution it has on the iPhone screen.  The result is that the text can be a bit pixelated when blown up to 2x in order to fill the screen, something easily done by hitting the 2x button that appears near the framed iPhone app.

I’ve yet to run out of power, and I’ve had it on for about 12 hours.  Currently, I show 25% remaining.  And I’ve really pushed it.

I keep stopping to say wow.   Here is a computer I can hold in one hand, that has enough power to serve my needs all day, even when I’m traveling, and that does almost everything I do on a laptop as well or better. Most typing I do is in small spurts, and the built in on-screen keyboard isn’t hard to master.  For larger typing jobs, like writing this blog post for example, I use the dock and keyboard I got for it.

Reading the news on it is a pleasure, much better than messing with a newspaper while trying to eat a meal at the table.  I’m using apps like ‘fwix’ for local news, and  the excellent ‘Reuters News Pro’ for everything else. USA Today has done a great job on their app as well, though it appears they were rushing it out the door as it isn’t quite finished.  Digg has a great app, Discovery too, and MacDailyNews (one of my daily habits for a long time now) is more fun than ever in this context.  And ‘sobees for FB’ turns Facebook into a newspaper format that is simply awesome.

I’ve played around with Keynote and Pages on my iPad, and I’m impressed.  Admittedly, the iPad versions don’t do everything that the Mac versions do.  There are serious font limitations, Keynote doesn’t do ‘actions’ and doesn’t recognize ‘actions’ from imported Keynote presentations.  There is no notes field visible on the iPad when running a presentation onscreen, nor any way to see what’s coming next, and these features are big differentiators from the inferior-in-every-conceivable-way PowerPoint.  But I’m guessing Apple will add these great features of the Mac version back in when they update the app.  And the basic need of running a presentation from Keynote on iPad works flawlessly once you’ve taken these things into account.

Designing a flyer in Pages is a pure pleasure, as the human interface just makes complete sense.  I’m also using Simplenote for, well, simple note-taking, something I can now do anywhere I want, whether I’m watching the history channel and googling interesting bits while I watch, or to prepare a quick summary of points I want to remember to make when speaking to a client or an audience.

I’m using PrintCentral to send docs to my printer, and GoodReader to read PDF and word documents I’ve imported wirelessly onto the iPad. Bringing in the documents was incredibly easy to do, and worked seamlessly.   At long last, all those PDF ebooks I’ve collected the last few years but never had the patience to read while sitting at my desk have become interesting and useful!

My reference library is growing too.  I’ve got This Day running, which, as you might imagine, offers something that happened this day.  I’ve got GoSkyWatchPlanetarium, which I took outside and got to see what the stars I’ve been looking at are called.   I’m also running NaturalCures, an iPhone app that works just fine on the iPad, though I’d like to see it developed for this larger format.  I’ve got Epocrates to answer any clinical questions I have, and it’s a no brainer to see how this device is going to figure in to healthcare…a doctor or nurse can have a complete patient record in their hands along with a medical reference library, on demand.  I’ve got the entire White Pages (phonebook), and a First Aid app for emergencies.  And my GPS apps work great too.  In particular, Magellan RoadMate looks and acts so much better on the iPad than it did on my iPhone.

I’ve tried Webex, the meeting app, and it’s WAY cooler for online meetings than using my laptop or desktop. Skype works great, as does TruePhone, for making calls across the internets to anywhere in the world.  I’ve got an app called QuickVoice that will record a message and then convert it to text and email it (with uncanny accuracy!)   Dragon Dictation still works pretty well, but makes quite a few errors.   Dragon Search fares much better.  I rarely type in a search anymore, just let Dragon hear my needs and fetch for me.   The built in Calendar app is gorgeous, as is the Address Book,  and as these are all integrated with the other Apple apps running on the iPad, scheduling and working with my clients is as easy as can be.

Business is a great context for the iPad, but the personal side of it is terrific too.  The iPad seems made for comic books.  In fact reading a comic book on the iPad gave me the same pleasure that I experienced when reading the 12cent titles of my childhood.  I think comicbook lovers are going to flip over the iPad because of this superior (and more immersive somehow) experience.   I’ve tried several comic book readers.  The Star Trek reader offers access to a library made up exclusively of Star Trek titles, some of which are free and all of which look fantastic.  Marvel’s app does similarly well with the entire Marvel catalog.  Not sure why, but DC seems to be slow in coming to the platform, ironic that, since Flash and the ever speedy Superman are both DC titles.  I grew up reading comic books, and have kept my love for this medium alive over the years (celebrating Superman Thursday, for example!)

The ABC player works flawlessly, as does Joost, YouTube, Yahoo! Entertainment.   On the other hand, looks awful, and iTV isn’t ready for the iPad.  All the radio apps work just great, and listening to radio on the iPad brings back memories of transistor radios from my youth.

New apps are coming out every day now. While there’s room for improvement, it’s already amazing, and the next generation of this device will be more amazing still.    A week ago, I was in New York, and visited the Apple Store on 5th Avenue at midnight.  It was packed, with lines of people waiting to get their hands on an iPad.  Three days ago in Austin, another Apple Store, and the same experience.  Two weeks ago in Cincinnati and Toronto, the same thing.  Apple’s produced another stunning success.

Right now, all the other hardware companies are playing catch up, trying to come up with something like the iPad, just like they did with the iPhone. But while everyone else is scrambling to catch up, Apple is already hard at work on the next step. I have no idea the depth of their playbook, but I’m guessing Steve is several steps ahead of the whole industry for the forseeable future.

Have you played with the iPad?  What do you think?  What are your favorite apps so far?  What do you wish would come out for the iPad next?   Your comments and feedback are welcome!

be well