Popgun’s iPad Review

Yesterday, I took delivery of my new iPad 64GB (wi-fi only).

Related equipment that affects the quality of the experience: My three-year-old MacBook Pro 17”, an iPhone 3G, my MobileMe account, and my MiFi2200 Verizon internet appliance.

Setup is easy, but it did take a couple of hours because I have nearly 6000 photos on my iPhone and MacBook Pro. Synchronization takes a while the first time because iTunes does some optimization on each picture before sending it over. I plugged in my MobileMe login info, gave it the WiFi security code for the networks I use, as I encountered them; all is good. I should mention that the iPad arrived with a full charge; I was able to start using it immediately.

Most of my data other than applications, photos and music happens transparently through wi-fi and my MobileMe account. I did not have to take any action at all, other than initially entering my MobileMe login info, to get all my contacts, calendars, favorites, etc. onto the iPad. I have my MacBook set up to synchronize to MobileMe once an hour, and changes show up automagically in either direction. All of this is also true on my iPhone.

I have now had three distinct wonderful out-of-box experiences with Apple products. Using the iPad is a dream, and very instinctive. I downloaded the free iBooks application, and bought a few books; a couple of science fiction novels, starting with “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Heinlein; “The Holy Bible” – NIV edition, and the U.S. Constitution (free). For reference, the Bible took about two and a half minutes to download, over Verizon’s EVDO network.

Using iBooks is completely intuitive, but navigation within a book depends somewhat on how the publisher set it up. The Zondervan NIV bible is easy to navigate, but that depends on how quickly you notice that the index starting around page 4 is links to the various books of the Bible. Comments by some people on the iBook site indicate that some of them had not stumbled upon this secret – they were having trouble navigating.

I purchased Numbers and Pages, and I am duly impressed. I had no trouble moving some design spreadsheets over from my MacBook. These are going to be useful when visiting our customers. I may do some sort of review of applications when I get a bit further along. PCalc is a valuable calculator program that cost me nothing for the iPad version, since I already have it on my iPhone.

As for the rest, it is just like the commercials. When not waiting on the internet, this thing is fast. Navigating pictures is intuitive and fun; the finger gestures make navigation easy. When you aren’t using it for something else, you can place this thing in your living room and use it as a photo slide show. Pictures are just beautiful. The iPad display gives a sharp picture even at extreme angles. But it is fairly reflective, so in some circumstances that could be an issue, although I haven’t found one yet.

Maps is a blast; navigating with your fingers is way more intuitive than using a mouse. Getting satellite view is very quick, and they have updated the photos of our home; I could actually see someone standing in the yard. Street view works, as well. Very well done.

I can see myself using the iPad for almost all of my daily activities. There are only a few things that I really need my MacBook Pro for: accounting, running Windows programs in Parallels (such as my CAD program, Solid Edge), and certain other programs I use in my work. The iPad won’t replace my MacBook, but I probably will put off upgrading it for another year. This makes the iPad dirt cheap, because it is postponing a multiple thousand dollar purchase I otherwise would have been considering right about now.

In short, the iPad is a lot of fun and so far, works as advertised. And in terms of bang for the buck, I’m very happy with it. Coming up is version 4 of the iPhone OS, which will bring multitasking; that will ice the cake.

I’ll be writing more about the iPad as I get more time with it.

-Popgun

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