Test drive: iPad 3G delivers

- May 27th, 2010

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It’s in our nature to compare something new to something we know, so back in January, when the rumours of the iPad turned out to be true, my initial reaction was: “Cool, a giant iPod Touch or an iPhone sans phone and camera.”   I knew it was special, but it wasn’t until a week ago when I first held one and began to actually use it that I could really appreciate what it delivers and how once again Apple redefined what’s possible.

If you think of how the iPhone changed the way we did things like play games, surf the Internet and consume media, the iPad takes us to whole new dimension – an enhanced experience, with features and functions operating more how we expect them to be rather than conforming to the limitations as what is.

Instant On

It starts with the simple task of powering it on – no waiting, no boot up time, it’s immediate, like flicking a light switch. You immediately notice the 9.7” LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display. And although it can suffer from serious glare when used outdoors and in brightly lit areas, colours are vibrant and graphics are crisp. It’s also just the right size to hold in your hand and with 178 degree viewing angle, it allows someone sitting beside you to almost equally share the viewing experience of Star Trek, The Movie. And with the battery lasting 10 hours, you can go a good chunk of your day without a recharge.

Redesigned Apps

For the 85 million users out there who are used to the look and feel of the iPhone and iPods Touch, the iPad interface will seem familiar. The 12 standard apps, Safari, Mail, Notes, Photos, Calendar, iPod and iTunes etc., are still there. They have been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen and extended functionality when used in landscape vs. portrait mode.

Safari can be used in full screen mode. You can scroll nicely through text simply by flicking your finger or pinch in or out to zoom in and out on a photo. Mail, in landscape mode, allows you to view both a list of messages in your InBox and open mail. Flip it into portrait mode and the message fills your screen. Photos can be viewed right in the message. Notes has similar functionality allowing for a full-screen note page or a split-screen in landscape mode, showing the current note and list of others. These just make sense.

I found using the new larger on-screen keyboard in either orientation quite satisfactory and actually big enough to work with using two hands – but for those who prefer tactile keys there’s the optional, wireless Keyboard Dock.

And if you’re already stocked up with products from the iTunes or App Store, you investment is safe too. All apps I tried work on the iPad, albeit in a smaller window. You can zoom out to 2x, but some graphics appeared jagged.

Better Faster Mapping

Processing capabilities of the Apple A4 1GHz processor and the improved ultra-responsive Multi-Touch functionality is so apparent when using Maps. You can quickly view a location on the large screen with high-res satellite imagery, a close up or street view.  Simply tap and the response is virtually instantaneous. Like the iPhone, the iPad with WiFi can use hotspot locations, but true freedom comes through being able to access maps, or any wireless service on the iPad via 3G while traveling down the highway.

iWork for iPad

For road warriors who want to stay productive, there are iPad versions ($9.99) of, Numbers, Pages and Keynote. There is also support for iWork ’09 and select Microsoft Office file formats as well as PDF. Pages allows you to use your finger for page design. And while there is no actual USB port on the iPod, there is an optional iPod dock connector to VGA adapter that works nicely and allows you to present your Keynote creations on an LCD projector, monitor or TV.

iBookstore

The iPad is literally changing the way we consume media. It’s truly ideal for reading books, magazines and really any type of text on screen. And the new free downloadable iBook app along with yet a new store, the iBookstore can allow you to get those bestsellers classics and even public domain books and enjoy them in a way you would like just like reading an actual book.  In portrait mode you can browse through Winnie the Poo seeing a single page, or 2 in landscape. You can select you own text size and up to 5 different fonts. You can bookmark your favorite place or touch on a word to look up its meaning.  I thought I would easily tire from reading from the screen – but in fact the exact opposite happened – I found I read longer and yes, I did need to look up some words.

Publishers are creating their own media flavoured apps. Time Magazine for example, allows you not only to purchase and navigate the magazine the way it’s printed by scrolling and swiping,  you can also play videos or slideshows, access additional content and news feeds and even interact with an advertisement, like you would normally do when you wanted additional information. I discovered that I actually spent more time on the periodical and paid even more attention to advertising than I would normally do with a paper copy.   Could this be the revenue-generating model they were looking for?

Games like Shrek Cart HD Road Race change the way we play games. No mouse, no joystick, the entire iPad becomes the steering device you hold, you twist and you turn as you navigate your way to the finish line. Run a single race or find another person with an iPad that can race along against you.

And it goes beyond games. Apps like Skeletal System PRO offer incredible learning opportunities. It allows us to navigate through, rotate and zoom into different areas of the skeleton. You can then test your knowledge with a quiz. I found it offers not only a vast learning experience, the delivery via the iPad is quite engaging and encourages even more learning.

The App Store currently has 180,000+ offerings, only some of them of course for the new kid on the block. And it’s those 3rd party apps –of them that will offer endless possibilities and open more doors in showing what the iPad can do.

Test-driving the iPad was an opening experience and I just touched the tip of the iceberg.  I was quite impressed with its overall performance,  multi-touch sensitivity and accuracy and the reliability of operating in the 3G environment. And that display – Yum!

It’s too bad that it doesn’t have a built-in camera or support Flash which can cause a little grief on certain websites, but I found that it didn’t hinder me significantly.

The Apple iPad will be available here in Canada starting tomorrow, May 28th.

Wi-Fi models are priced at: 16GB $549, 32GB $649, 64GB  $749. Wi-Fi+3G models are only $130 more, $679, $779, and $879 respectively and my humble opinion, well worth the extra bucks. To enable 3G, you’ll need a micro sim card and a data plan. Rogers offers monthly packages with no contract at $15/250MB; $35/5GB.

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4 comments

  1. Herba | May 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I have one since mid April and loving it. The main difference between the iPad and other previous tablets is older were all running full OS like windows and the Ipad is running a mobile OS fully adapted to multi-touch. This means its much better at content consumption which is the device main goal.

    I think any real Ipad competition will come from Android base tablets or maybe HP tablet running WebOS.

  2. Herba | May 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Just want to add up you can now have Flash on the ipad with the Cloud Browse app. Its in the appstore and it let you used Firefox WITH flash.

  3. Greg Gazin | May 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    HI Herba,

    Thanks for the heads-up on Cloud Browse. Have you used it? How does it work?

  4. J Kane | June 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I would love to get an iPad but would still need to carry around a laptop for my line of work…I don’t think I can add another device to the items I carry around daily unless one would replace the other.

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