Apple iPad: a short-term hands-on review

Note from Josh: No, it’s not a photo specific device. But a lot of people have been asking me what I think of the iPad since they knew I had purchased one. So I decided to write this up.

So the Apple iPad is finally here. After over two months of hype and speculation, accusations and arguments, debate and worship, the thing has finally shipped and is in the hands of the early adopters. Well, sort of anyway. If you are one of the ones who chose to buy the 3G version, you are still waiting for that ship notice email from Apple (and will keep waiting for another couple of weeks).

But for those who chose the Wi-Fi only version, the worlds first mainstream successful tablet computer has arrived. How can I say successful when the iPad has only been out a week? Well, with 450,000 units sold in that week, I think we can say that it’s pretty successful. At the very least it’s going to be more successful than any other consumer tablet computer thus far. To be fair though, there haven’t been many of them. Anyhow, as I previously stated I would do, I ordered a wi-fi iPad to arrive on the first day they were released. After being asked by a number of photo.net members what my impressions of the thing were, I decided to write a short-term hands-on review.

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Good stuff about the iPad

Here are some things that I was impressed with:

Performance

The iPad is a snappy performer. There is virtually no startup time, you just press the button and slide your finger across the screen to unlock it and the iPad is ready to use. Opening programs is much faster than doing the same thing on the iPhone as is switching between horizontal and vertical orientation. There are none of the random pauses and long load times that smartphone users have always had to live with. Websites open quickly and long pages display as fast as if you were reading them on your home computer. Overall Apple has done a great job with their homegrown A4 processor.

Screen

The iPad’s screen is really something to see. Bright and sharp with rich colors, both photos and video look great on the device. Its 1024 × 768 resolution may not sound like much in this day and age of external monitors with resolutions of 3840 × 2400. But the fact is that for whatever reason, the screen on the ipad looks wonderful. I have yet to talk to anyone who thought it was lacking in that department. The multi-touch interface has scaled up well from the iPhone/iPad devices. In fact, given the larger real-estate, you would have to say that the concept of multi-touch works even better on the larger form factor as you have more room to scroll, swipe, pinch, draw, etc. If I were a photographer who needed to have a portable digital portfolio, I can’t think of a better device than the iPad. Between its “looky here” new gadget factor, finger swipe navigation, and great looking screen, what could be better for getting an art director, bride, or editor’s attention?

Battery Life

In his initial presentation, Steve Jobs claimed a 10 hour battery life for the iPad. Unlike most other battery life claims in the electronics industry, I think Apple was underestimating the iPad’s numbers. While I haven’t done any scientific testing myself, every review that has done that testing seems to come out with at least 10 hours as the actual battery life, and often it’s somewhat more. Now, Apple could have been giving itself wiggle room knowing that the 3G version would use more power than the wifi. But the fact remains that battery life on the iPad is impressive. Of course, it had better be, because you can’t replace the battery yourself. If your battery craps out, it’s $99 out of your pocket to Apple for a replacement. Though they do apparently give you a whole new (refurbished?) iPad rather than just replacing your battery.

Screen Rotation Lock

Hallelujah we have made it to the mountain top! Well no, not really. But this feels like a much bigger deal than it really is to anyone who has tried to use their iPhone or iPad Touch to read in bed, curled up on the couch, or in any other position where the device is not exactly straight up and down. There was simply no way to keep the device from switching screen orientation if it thought that it should. It was frustrating and limited the usefulness of those devices. The iPad’s physical screen rotation lock is just the answer. Now no matter how contorted you are in your favorite chair, you and you alone can decide in which orientation you want the device to display content.

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Speaker

This may seem like a small thing, but the speaker on the iPad is actually pretty good. Apple has a lot of strengths. But like all companies, it has its weaknesses as well. I have never been able to figure out why they can’t make a decent set of built in speakers for any of their devices. But the iPad speaker, while nothing that audiophiles would write home about, is plenty loud enough to watch videos or listen to a podcast in most situations. While I think that most people watching videos or listening to music on the iPad will be doing so via headphones, it’s nice to know that at least the option is there to use the speaker and actually hear something.

Newspapers and Magazines

Now, I have to admit, I’m a newspaper junkie. I subscribe to 2-3 daily newspapers and read them cover to cover. Oddly enough I very much dislike reading those same stories on my computer. Perhaps it is because of the environment in which I like to read the newspaper (at the kitchen counter or on the couch) or perhaps it is because of the cluttered ugly design that most newspaper websites have. But reading the news on my desktop or laptop has never been satisfying or enjoyable for me. Sure, I use news websites for information gathering and breaking updates. But for the simple enjoyable ritual of reading the paper in the morning while eating a bagel and drinking my coffee, the computer has never done it for me. I prefer the real thing. I feel much the same way about magazines, though the difference with them is that at least the concept of a “web magazine” has been moving in some new directions in recent years. with Flash based layouts such as the one used by This is Fly magazine and others.

Reading newspaper content on the iPad has been an aspect where it has really shined for me. Every day I have owned it I have used the (currently free) New York Times, Wall St Journal and even the USA Today apps. There is something wonderful about the tablet form factor and the finger swipe/tap/pinch interface that makes me feel much more like I’m reading an actual newspaper. Of course it is not exactly the same, but it is much more of a bridge between the print and electronic world than I have seen before. The magazine situation is similar, though the varying delivery concepts of publishers makes things slightly annoying. One magazine will have one feature and navigation method, and another will have something completely different. A particular downfall for the magazines is text size, some of them allow zooming and some just don’t seem to care. While the same can be said for the newspaper apps, they are far more similar to each other than the magazine apps are and given their black-text white-page design, the text issue is less of a problem. Both kinds of media are starting to take advantage of video and other “rich” media in their iPad layouts. This is a very interesting melding of the old and new and unlike most mashups, tends to give the best of both worlds.

Pricing is all over the board. Right now the newspaper apps are free, though all have said they will begin charging at some point. But at what price and for what content remains to be seen. At the moment, the Wall St Journal is the only one that has announced a subscription plan. They think that people are going to pay $16 a month for the iPad version of the paper. Which is laughable when you consider that a combined subscription to the print home delivery and website version of the WSJ is $11 a month. Magazines range from a few dollars less than cover price up to exactly the same as their print counterparts, generally $3-6. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any subscription discount as would be typical with magazines.

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Where you use it

While many of us are accustomed to having a cell phone, even a larger smartphone, in our pockets all of the time, few of us go as far as to carry our laptops all through the house with us. The iPad changes that. Here’s a list of the places just in my house that I have used my iPad in the past 24 hours:

  • kitchen counter
  • dining room table
  • couch
  • walking around calming down a baby
  • as…er….“bathroom” reading
  • in bed
  • my office desk
  • the backyard

The iPad ends up being much more like a book or magazine than a computer. It is simply not a problem to use it just about anywhere you happen to be. It starts up instantly and there are no cords or cables or mice required to make it work. It really unhooks the Internet and digital media from the tethers of a traditional computer and also from the limitations of smartphones and their tiny screens. Though I decided that I didn’t need the option myself, this will become even more true when the 3G version of the iPad is released later this month.

Fun Factor

It’s hard to deny that the iPad is a fun toy to play with. I’ve let any number of people try mine out, it’s still new enough to get plenty of “Oh, is that a…” attention at a coffee shop or the local brewpub (otherwise known as my ‘office away from home’). Virtually every person who has tried it out has said some version of “I have to admit, that’s pretty cool”. Now, some of them followed that up with “I’m going to have to look at getting one” and some followed it up with “Still, I would never buy one”. But there was little avoiding that the form factor, the swipe/tap/pinch way of interacting with content, the quality of the screen and the overall user experience struck most everyone as being pretty interesting and fun.

Bad stuff about the iPad

Here’s some stuff that I was less than impressed with:

Ergonomics

Let me say this first, most all of these ergonomics problems are not limited to the iPad. They are inherent with the “tablet computer” form factor and will likely exist in some fashion with any tablet from any manufacturer. That said, the ergonomics of the iPad leave something to be desired. While the best way to read the ipad may be curled up in a chair or on the couch, the best way to type on the device is with it sitting flat in front of you on a table or counter. It is very difficult to balance it on your knees or lap at the proper angle to actually use the keyboard for anything but hunt and peck typing. Similarly, while the iPad’s form factor encourages us to use it all sorts of places, its interface can make it difficult to do so, particularly while standing or walking. Due to its size, it is virtually impossible to hold it in two hands and thumb-type as with a smartphone. Then again, trying to prop it in one hand and type with the other is frustrating if you are trying to do more than just enter search terms into google or input a URL.

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To be fair, many of these complaints exist in related forms for laptops (big & heavy) or smartphones (tiny & cramped). Have you ever tried to walk around your house holding a laptop in one hand and typing with the other? It’s not any better than doing the same with an iPad. But then again, the laptop company isn’t telling us that we can use the laptop in that fashion. Apple tells us that the iPad can and will go anywhere with us. Due to that fact, I feel that the ergonomic challenges of the iPad are something that should be taken into account prior to purchasing for many people. It is something that I myself am willing to work around, but not everyone will want to.

Wi-Fi connectivity problems

For a device that is as tied to the Internet as the iPad is, it was frustrating to see many reports of Wi-Fi connectivity problems cropping up within hours of the device’s release. Users reported that not only was the signal strength and throughput of known good Wi-Fi signals much lower than it should have been, but also that the device randomly dropped signals and tended to “forget” what network it was connected to after being turned off and later turned on again.

Now, I myself had none of these problems. I have a basic Linksys 802.1 “G” router in my house and the iPad has stayed connected to it since they day I brought it home. But there are far too many of these reports out there for it to be a fluke. At least some percentage of iPad users are having trouble. So it that sort of thing frustrates you, you might want to wait and see if Apple can fix the problem before putting your money down.

Dirty Screen

The iPad screen gets really REALLY disgusting looking after some steady use. Oh you don’t notice the gunk at all while you are using it. But as soon as you turn it off and the screen goes blank, you see a forest of greasy smears and fingerprints. The material that Apple used makes it easy enough to clean off with a wipe of a soft cloth. But man, it’s not the kind of thing you’d want a your mother or a prospective boyfriend/girlfriend to see sitting around. They would be convinced you had some sort of disease that squeezes goo out your fingertips.

No Flash

A lot was made of this prior to the iPad’s release. But the fact is that lack of support for Adobe Flash is kind of a strange decision for Apple to have made. On the iPhone it seemed like much less of a big deal, you sort of expect the internet not to be perfect when it has to travel in your pocket. But on a device whose sole purpose is to be web connected, lack of Flash is pretty strange. My wife likes the iPad a lot,but until Facebook/Vimeo/Hulu/etc all come out with non-Flash versions of their sites and embeds, she’s not going to want to use one as her everyday Internet device. I think there are a lot of people in that boat. On the other hand, no Flash means you see a lot few annoying Flash-based ads.

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Interesting stuff

Here’s some random stuff that wasn’t really good or bad:

The iPhone 4.0 OS

Just today the 4.0 version of the iPhone operating system was announced at an Apple press event. Available later this summer for iPhone and fall for iPad, the new OS version should, in theory, address a number of the complaints that people have made about the iPad (and iPhone as well). By far the most important in terms of “why can’t I do this” complaints are multitasking ability and a folder structure that will allow files to be moved around as on a regular computer. Other less groundbreaking improvements are the ability to have custom wallpaper and to create"folders" for app icons, among other small improvements.

The keyboard

Aside from the ergonomics issue, the iPad on-screen keyboard is actually not that bad. Landscape mode is much better than vertical for anything resembling touch-typing. In all honesty, in landscape mode typing isn’t any worse than trying to type on the cramped keyboards of many netbooks. One frustrating aspect is that most punctuation is hidden on an “alt” screen. So if you are a heavy user of apostrophes, quotations or parentheses, you are going to be slightly annoyed. However, at least in the case of apostrophes, the iPhone OS’s text correction helps a lot. Typing the word “dont” turns into “don’t” without any extra input from the user.

Applications

Given the fact that only a very few people had a real iPad in their hands prior to April 3rd, it is surprising how many applications were ready to download on release day. Sure, there was the iPad SDK with its emulator. But as all programmers know, there is no substitute for actually testing on the hardware you are going to be using. And to be honest, it shows in the early software. There have been a few more bugs than I’m used to, based on my iPhone app buying experience. But I’m chalking that up to people rushing a bit and not waiting for the real McCoy to do their testing. More iPad specific apps are being released every day from the programmers who did wait until they had a unit in their hands and I have no doubt that any bugs in the early apps will be fixed by those programmers as well.

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As for running iPhone/iPod apps on the iPad, yes it can be done. But it is really unsatisfying after having used iPad specific apps that take advantage of the larger display. At the moment I’m only using a few reference applications where the display doesn’t make that much of a difference. The rest of the apps will be replaced with iPad versions as soon as they are available.

Where’s my iPad?

Because I use the iPad in so many different place, I have found that I have a tendency to stash it in the weirdest of places if I get interrupted or was just looking up something quickly. Kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, the baby changing table, etc. Too big to put in your pocket when you are done, too small to leave in one place, blessing and a curse I suppose.

Useful for the vision impaired?

Given the large screen size and its pinch-zoom ability, I would think that the iPad would be a natural for anyone with impaired vision. Being able to zoom in far enough to read a photo.net forum post with letters as large as 1cm each seems like it would be very nice for some folks. Particularly since, unlike using the “increase text size” function on your browser, zooming on the iPad doesn’t break a website’s formatting or layout.

Apple does keep the gate closed

One of the tech world’s biggest gripes with the iPad/iPhone/iPod, and one that I have literally gotten in a “yeah well f—k you” type of argument with a good friend over, is the fact that Apple has based everything on a “If we don’t approve it, you can’t run it” system. The only place to buy applications for those devices is through Apple’s iTunes app store. If you are a programmer, you have to work with Apple if you want to get your programs on these devices. If what you want to write as a programmer or install as a consumer isn’t something Apple approves of, you are out of luck for the most part (Google “jailbreak iPhone” if you want to learn why I said “for the most part”). The claim, and the reality, is that this keeps people from doing exactly what they want with a device that they paid for and that it stifles innovation and limits what programmers can create.

To an extent, that claim is true. As such, if Apple were the only computer hardware company in the world, I would be standing there next to the anti-Apple naysayers screaming about the issue. But the fact is that we live in a free market economy. There are any number of other hardware providers out there who do not run things the way that Apple does. Buy a netbook or a laptop or any other computer you like if you can’t stand Apple’s way of doing business. Run Windows or Linux or Unix or even OS/2 on there if you want. There’s nobody to stop you and nobody that says you have to give Apple your money.

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However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have the chance to buy these products if we want to. Because one of the main advantages of Apple’s way of doing business is the fact that there are very few problems with these devices (using the iPhone and iPod as examples). There are no viruses, no driver problems, no registry errors, and no blue screens of death. What you lose in freedom, you gain in stability and simplicity. For some of us, that is a great trade off. Particularly in a device that is not, for most people, their main productivity machine. I want my cell phone to be rock solid because having it crash when I am stuck somewhere is a nightmare. If my computer at home crashes, it is an inconvenience. But I can always use my wife’s computer or my neighbor’s or even the one at the library. The ipad is somewhere in between these two examples, but for me, I’ll take the stability and protection of Apple’s system. If you choose not to, I understand perfectly. But don’t rain on my parade or call me a “mindless fanboy” just because my needs are different than yours for a device like this.

What’s the bottom line Josh?

The iPad:

  • Is a compact device with great battery life
  • Gives you new ways to interact with existing information
  • Has a great screen and clean “modern” design looks
  • Is a lot less expensive than we expected it would be (given its manufacturer)
  • May help to save or at least evolve traditional print media.
  • Fits nicely in between a smartphone and a laptop
  • Has a lot of potential to become more useful and facinating as more applications are written
  • And is the first of what may be a new consumer hardware genre, the tablet.

The iPad is NOT:

  • A laptop replacement
  • A full fledged computer
  • A netbook
  • A digital wallet
  • Open source
  • Cheap (compared to a netbook)
  • Without faults
  • A “magical and revolutionary device” (at least not yet)

I like the iPad a lot. It’s a device that has already fit well into my digital life. But keep in mind, I’m a guy who works from home running a giant website, I am online all the time. Just like the difference between a professional photographer and someone making snapshots, I have no issue owning different versions of the same tool if they serve different needs. As such, I knew exactly what needs the iPad would meet for me and I knew how I would use it before I ever laid hands on one. Sure, there have been some unexpected bonuses (reading ebooks is great) and some unexpected annoyances (the ergonomics of a tablet computer), but overall it has done exactly what I expected it to.

However, it doesn’t do much that you cannot do with just about any other computer out there. And it really doesn’t do much that a $300 netbook can’t do cheaper (and better in some instances). What the iPad does give you is a new way to interact with the information that is already in the world. Navigating with taps and pinches swipes rather than mouse clicks and scrolls, viewing news in a newspaper format rather than a website format, turning pages of books from the Guttenberg project with finger swipes, or playing a racing game using the whole device as a steering wheel rather than pressing buttons, and doing all of it while curled up on the couch. It’s a device that isn’t perfect, and if you don’t have a compelling reason to have one right now, it might be worth the wait to see what version 2.0 brings (to say nothing of the other forthcoming entries into the tablet computing world). But overall, the iPad is a very interesting start to a whole new class of computing devices that perhaps address the idea of “how do you want to do things” rather than the more typical “what tasks can you do with this”. If so, THAT may be the iPad’s lasting legacy and something that could launch it into the realm of “magical and revolutionary”. But until then, it’s just a pretty cool toy that you can do a lot of neat stuff with.

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    • Really wish such a device would arrive that's also pressure-sensitive (like the Wacom tablets and Cintiq line), so we could do artistic things to photographs using Photoshop, etc. That's #1 on my wish-list: PRESSURE-SENSITIVITY
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    • The iPad has potential to also be a LCD HDD picture storage on the road, at least for Jpegs (one would have to shoot RAW + jpeg I guess). The real boon would be a RAW converter for the iPad. Anybody can comment yet? I suppose not until the photo adapter is released.
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    • Time will tell but I suspect the term "toy" for an iPad is rather narrow thinking.
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    • I'm not bashing, but your article is not entirely accurate. Tablets have already been around for many years. I have one (true tablet, no keyboard) that is a pentium 3 (just to show how old they are) and it is smaller and has wifi, 802, SD & CF card slots, solid state hard drive, touch screen, and it is a full computer with external video outs. I use it for everything even GPS in the boat and car (free app's that are put out by the US Gov.) There are newer versions of this unit that are made by at least a half dozen manufactures. One from France even hangs on the refrigerator, and plays HD video. The interface seems interesting on the Apple though. Their entering into this already existing market can only help the development of this kind of hardware.
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    • Michael,

      Please note that I said:

      "the worlds first mainstream successful tablet computer has arrived"

      Yes, there have been other tablets. No, none of them can be called "successful" and some of them not even "mainstream" in the computer industry.

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    • I don't know what you would call main stream, but the one that I have had at least 400,000 units sold world wide at a time when it was not common for everyone to even have a computer. It was used mostly for field use in business and scientific (thats who could afford computers then), but there have been other units sold by the same company, Fujitsu, and other companies that sold even more units. The aftermarket parts for these systems are a robust market, with some companies doing their entire business, making and selling parts and add-on's for these. Maybe a more accurate term would be average consumer level device. After all it appears it is geared towards the average user, In any case I am not going to buy one one It doesn't even do what a tablet that is ten years old does. disregarding the Apple interface. And I have personally seen an IPad, and tried it myself, as part on an evaluation, so I am familiar with its idiosyncrasies. I other wise agree with you for the certain people that this is marketed towards it would be great, I'm just not one of those people. I actually don't know anyone that would get one. They all need more functionality in a portable system. I think this system has the potential to help reshape the already existing market so that the next generation of tablets will be more useful to everyday use, But as you put it there would need to be a path for innovation and closed systems usually stifle that to some degree. Moving - on - to - next - subject. latter
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    • Michael, Fair enough. I would only point out that the 450,000 number is from the first week of sales for the iPad. No matter if the iPad turns out to be all that Steve Jobs wants it to be or if it fails like the Apple haters say it will, one thing I would happily bet money on is the fact that my statement about it being the most successful tablet thus far will be proven true in short order. Now, that record may be broken quickly if Google or HP or whoever comes out with something better. But that still doesn't disprove my statement regarding the iPad vs tablets from the past.
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    • I bought two iPads, a 16g wifi model, and a 64g 3g model. I'm using the wifi model until we can get it to my wife's father, who is undergoing speech therapy. He's dealing with some medical issues where he cannot remember the right words (the doctors have not ascertained the problem yet - altzheimers?) Anyhow, he's always been afraid of the computer, letting his wife use it and do all of the emailing. I am CERTAIN he will love an iPad! He loves watching the Weather Channel (for some reason, he can watch it for hours), and there are great apps I will install for him like the Weather Channel, but also Weather Bug. I will also put USA Today and other free apps that he will enjoy. I cannot think of a better product for him. For me, my wife and I have our own small business that does government consulting and training. I also cannot think of a more useful product when visiting a customer or team partner and needing to review our corporate capabilities, a marketing presentation, etc. I don't have to bring my less portable laptop. The iPad has an "instant on" feature, I can quickly switch between apps, and with 3G, I can visit detail pages on our website. The iPad is an AMAZING product, and its ability is only limited to the creativity of the developers, of which there are many, as evidenced by the number of iPhone apps I use. So I disagree with the author - it is a MAGICAL, REVOLUTIONARY DEVICE, particularly given the above uses I noted that were previously unavailable with any other solution. Imagine giving an HP Slate to my wife's father, who already would not use a computer. The Slate is running Windows 7, so there would be no benefit for him. I also cannot image how it will be cooled (the iPad needs no fan), or how responsive it will be at startup, or how quickly one will be able to switch between apps. I also disagree that the lack of flash is worthy of calling it out as "bad stuff". Many websites are converting to HTML 5 or other solutions as a result of the lack of flash on the iPhone and other similar systems. This problem will go away over time. I have had no Wi-Fi connectivity problems, and neither has the author. I have used my iPad with my Apple Airport Extreme Base Station, as well as the Linksys router I'm currently using it with while we are on vacation in the Outer Banks NC. I love the fact that the iPad supports 802.11n, and my download/upload speeds are great! Dirty Screen - no big deal! It's not an issue while using it, and it wipes clean easily. What's the big deal? And as far as Ergonomics go, instead of saying there is a problem (there isn't), I think it is more fair to say that it is easily the easiest to use computer like product I have ever held. In closing, while I am glad the author chose to write about the iPad, I also have to say I find it rather odd that this forum is all about PHOTOS, and the author did not mention how awesomely cool it is to link the iPad with your photos from either iPhoto or Aperture. Photos look amazing! And there is an excellent feature where when you first turn on the iPad, instead of swiping it to unlock it, you have the option to click on a flower adjacent to the unlock method, and your iPad will become a photo viewer, scrolling through whichever photo folder you have selected in the settings menu. So, if you are on the fence about the iPad, go for it. It is probably the best 1.0 version device I have ever had.
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    • Josh, Thanks for the review! I have two interests in the iPad. The first as a portable portfolio device so I am wondering how well the device 'syncs' to Aperture? I guess you feel the image quality is acceptable. The second is a reader (newspapers like yourself), but what do you know about magazines, such as 'Aperture', 'Rangefinder' and other photography magazines. Are those available yet? I find that I read an article or even a part of one, put it down and then a few days later try to find it. I would be great if I could hold a years worth so I could go back and find things of interest. Also, I will like to get rid of my physical tear our strategy and electronic bookmarking seems ideal.
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    • Stephen, I too wondered the same thing about Aperture since no one seems to mention it. I bought mine, and found that you have a choice to sync between iPhoto OR Aperture, and it works great with Aperture. Viewing photos on the iPad is awesome!
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    • Steve How does it sync with Aperture? Upload to MobileMe or through iTunes or ? Thanks
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    • Full disclosure... I'm a Windoze guy, Win7 Ultimate on a self built system, plus I work for an Apple Authorized Reseller and have been taking calls on the iPad all week! :-) With that said, I was a tad skeptical regarding the usual hype surrounding the device, I thought it was "cool" in concept, but didn't think it would be for me. Then I got to play with one throughout last Wednesday, and have to say I was pretty much blown away. To people who have an iPod Touch or iPhone I'm preaching to the converted, but to the rest of my MS using brothers and sisters, to say the iPad is intuitive is a gross understatement, and this thing is fast, WICKED fast! As I said, I'm using Win7 Ultimate, on a custom built 3GHz desk-top system, but with a Solid State System/Apps drive so it's quick, REALLY quick. By comparison the iPad is damned-near instantaneous; you turn it on and it's on, nothing seems to load or install, everything is just there ready to go, and it does so just as soon as you click those ubiquitous icons. To Michael McCathrin, I know what you mean about tablets being around for a while! I played with the XP Tablet OS on a device many years ago, and while Win driven tablets have been successful in very specific vertical markets, they've never made it into the mainstream mainly because the devices have been relatively expensive, slow, and underpowered, for the AVERAGE user. Just look at the “Slate,” HP's supposed “iPad Killer;” it's running on an Atom processor, with Win7 Home plus a touch interface... basically what we're looking at here is a Netbook minus the keyboard! Yes it has a camera, yes it can multitask, yes you can plug a stick-drive into it, but so what? The Gen2 iPad will have a camera, everyone knows that, the new OS that's just been released, and will be ready for the iPad in the Fall/Autumn, gives you multitasking, the WiFi+3G iPads have a micro-SD card slot... wanna guess how long it'll be before the WiFi only devices get one? And just as an aside, it would seem logical that the Camera Adapter should be able to accept a stick-drive, although I haven't seen anything that confirms or denies that supposition as yet, but let's not forget, the whole concept of the iPad is that it's a WIRELESS device! I've never owned a notebook because I've always considered them too bulky and clunky to drag around and do what I would need to do, ON THE GO, and conversely, “smart phones” are just too small! But I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients the other day, he's a professional photographer who lugs a 17” Macbook Pro with him everywhere he goes; after using the iPad for just under a week, he says he can see it replacing his Macbook Pro for at least 50% of the time he's out of the office... and once again, remember that this is a 1st Gen device! As much as I'm not an Apple “fanboi” - I love my Win7 system for all it's faults, mainly the Win OS! LOL! - I do believe that Apple have come up with an absolute game-changing device that will profoundly alter the mobile computing experience for the majority of people going forward. I personally think the “Slate” will be a bust, (there'll obviously be a market for it based on cost, just as there is for Netbooks), and I'll be interested in seeing what Google can come up with for their Chrome driven device, but I have a feeling that as soon as the 2nd Gen iPad is released with it's camera I'll be on board... hello multitasking video calls to family and friends in England via Skype from my favorite recliner!!! :-) I think it's fair to say that for the vast majority of us the future of mobile computing will be “flat,” regardless of OS, and we'll have Apple to thank for it!
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    • It seems this new device does not have a camera for conferencing.
      I am waiting to touch one as soon as be available here.
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    • Josh, I was very surprised to read nothing about the lack of USB ports. For me, this one of the two big issues that holds me from getting one (the other is the no flash support). Happy shooting, Yakim.
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    • The power connection can act as a USB connection.
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    • "Yes it has a camera, yes it can multitask, yes you can plug a stick-drive into it, but so what?" Good grief. My Motorola Droid (mobile phone) is more powerful than an iPad in every single department. Yes, I've played with the iPad plenty; yes I'm talking about processor and memory ***scaled***. Nevermind the current generation of far more powerful (and readily available) Tablet PCs; many with default UIs that are just as compelling and just as idiot-proof. Such interesting details are quite important to many users, especially when calculating price-performance ratios. The iPad is a typically crippled vanity product from Apple. Its severely limited functionality is fine for many casual and simplistic requirements, but anyone thinking they might do even the SLIGHTEST bit of productivity work on one may want to do a proper analysis and consider the advantages of a Tablet PC over a locked-down Tablet Computer.
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    • I too am concerned about the lack of USB ports. Thair, you said the power input could be used as a USB port? Is there any way to hook up a USB hard drive to the iPad for extra storage, do you think? Is there even enough device recognition to get away with it? I am thinking of the case of the photographer on the road for a fairly long time, shooting raw, not able to upload the contents of his Compact Flash cards to the internet/cloud for maybe as long as ten days. The iPad has something like 60 Gb of disk drive space, but that might not be enough for 10 days shooting in RAW. Would the iPad be a viable tool for this case?
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    • @Jennifer: It sounds as if something such as an Archos multimedia device would be more cost-effective and more ergonomically practical.
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    • Steven Seelig: It syncs to your Aperture files when connected to your mac via USB. In addition to being able to creatively view all of your projects (tap to expand and view, pinch to reduce, etc.) , you then have the option to choose which folder will be viewed when using the device as a picture frame. That's what happens when you first turn the unit on, and instead of swiping to unlock, you press the flower image to the right of the unlock slider. It will scroll through the images within a particular folder of your choosing, and you can preset the speed it scrolls with. Pretty cool!
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    • Yakim Paled, Jennifer Spencer - Apple has the perfect solution for you: Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit The iPad Camera Connection Kit gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera: using your camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card. iPad and the Camera Connection Kit support standard photo formats, including JPEG and RAW. Here's a link to the item from the Apple store, where you can buy it for only $29: http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC531ZM/A?fnode=MTc0MjU4NjE&mco=MTcyMTgxODY
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    • Walter Burton - the Droid is a dog. I've used one, and it can't touch the functionality / integration of the iPhone. That said, to each his own, so have fun with it.
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    • >> Yakim Paled, Jennifer Spencer - Apple has the perfect solution for you: Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit YMMV but I think that spending another 29$ is just infuriating. It's not so much the price by itself but the very idea that apple requires you to spend more money to get something that is a standard in all computers. Happy shooting, Yakim.
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    • Great review.....as soon as you stop thinking that its a laptop replacement, then you'll start embracing it.
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    • "Tablet PCs; many with default UIs that are just as compelling"

       

      Uh..no.  Just...no.

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    • NOT a true tablet computer because it has no stylus input, handwriting recognition, limited storage and no usb or firewire connectivity I used a TRUE tablet PC in college (Electrovaya) which was great for note taking and researching on the internet as well as running any application. The iPad is an entertainment device, a large iPod.

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    • There's a significant difference between a mere tablet computer and an actual tablet PC. Which is why I used the terms the way I did.

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    • Gerald Skrocki "The iPad is a large entertainment device"

      Very shortsighted thinking.  Just last week, I gave a corporate overview presentation to a new team partner using my new iPad; we are teaming on a $500k dollar opportunity.  It's use for that meeting had nothing to do with entertainment.  That kind of closed-minded thinking won't take you very far in life.

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    • Excellent review which addresses the questions of those enthusiastic and sceptical. I should wait for 2.0 as you suggest, but after reading this I don't think I want to wait. I've been using my iPhone and before that my iPod Touch like I will use an iPad so the sooner I get one the better.
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    • Yes, an excellent review, and excellent comments. Thanks to all of you!

      I am doing a lot of things on my netbook, I cannot do with an IPod. E.g., I can connect it to a large LCD and do image editing with Photoshop (a bit slower, but workable). Or I can bluetooth to my GPS geotracker, or a Wacom tablet. I can install my choice of browsers. I can run Eclipse or Visual C++, and work on my software. I can run Skype with an excellent Logitex Pro 900 webcam. I can run my Java programs. I can play card games on line via flash.

      Yet, for the price, maybe I should consider ... After all, I know how good Apple can look ...

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    • For anyone living in Hampton Roads, VA - there is an iPad Business RoundTable being held tonight at the Apple Store in MacArthur Mall in Norfolk.  Hope to see you there!

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    • An iPad running on a smaller version of Snow Leopard, —Baby Snow Leopard.  

       

      /dream

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    • Steve Waddell - Apple iPad Camera kit,

       

      Hi Steve I have an old device like the above although it only connects the camera to the iPod, looks identical but as its old, I don't suppose it will work with the iPad, what you think?

      Thanks and regards Vic

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    • Victor,

      I couldn't tell you for certain if it would work.  However, what I would recommend would be to go to Best Buy or an Apple store near you, and using one of their display models, try it out! Give it a shot, couldn't hurt.  Good luck!

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    • Thanks Steve,

       

      I would have done so but my Apple Store in Exeter and most probably all Uk and European stores have no iPads yet as delivery here was delayed to the 28th of this month on account of all the available iPads were sold in the US, (we have to pre order). I will do so as soon as we see them here.

       

      Thanks Vic 

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    • Keyboards?! Tell Apple to get back to me when someone produces a voice-recognition app.

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    • John Wall - "Tell Apple to get back to me when someone produces a voice recognition app"........

      Apparently, you haven't looked. 

      Dragon Dictation is available in the App store with a separate app for the iPhone and the iPad, and both are FREE.  

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    • Josh,

      Thanks for this write-up. For people wanting a tablet that can do it all there are options. MotionComputing.com has some nice tablets. Me I ordered the iPad because I know what it can do for me and it was only $500. I can't stand Apple as a company but right now the iPad is the cheapest S-IPS portable display out there that I am aware of.

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    • Nice review.

      yeah, now along with the iOS4 released, iPad is on fire again!

      I, Not a fangirl - that said, I just might be one now.... the iPad has already changed the way I do my work - the iPad is here to stay!
      I love my iPad. It has almost completely replaced my personal computer. For the things I do... Is is perfect! Much nicer than any CPU I have ever owned. All my other computers would do a lot of things I would never use it for, and do it painfully in the process (slow, buggy, etc.). When you get down to what you do most on you personal computer... the iPad does almost all of the things an average user needs, and with a much much nicer U/I. Easy of use, fast, and efficient. The other computer manufacturers could learn a thing or two from this, but even if they do... they will probably screw-up the one they come out with by adding all the crap back in again. Ugggggg!!!!

      I am sticking with my iPad. I think other will do the same once they try it and realize it is the perfect personal computer :-)
      And some of my collections: http://www.ifunia.com/ipad-column/index.html
      www.ipadhelpguide.net/
      make the cool device more fun.

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    • I have a 64GB 3g Ipad and have had for about a month. I lock it into the keyboard dock at work and use a wireless keyboard when I need it at home and on the go. I bring it to meetings and take notes. I use it to read book more or less continuously. I use it to keep track of my food (for purposes of monitoring and improving my diet in the care of a nutritionist). I get my news on it and use it to show pictures to others. I play some games and read some comic books. I also use it to organize my recipes. I use it for occasional skype audio calls. And I use it to read email and browse the web. It works very well for me and I wouldn't like to do without it.

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    • A USB port on the iPad is a waste of time as the iPad renames all the downloaded files into names like FKLY.jpg and stores them into it's own file system.

      You can't sort them , move them to different folders or retreive them or rename them.

      You can only do this on your computer then sync them to the iPad.

      There a number of applications that promise to do all this but.. I haven't found one that works.

       

       

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    • how can a USB port on a Ipad can be a waste of time? you can use it to send image to TV, to projector, copy your image... and by the way, it must be the software you use to transfert your image because on my ipad and my imac the image are call with the useless name of IMG_xxxxx.jpg as they are use to be call since i cant remember in any software i use...

       

      maybe its time you check your setting before ranting about it ; )

       

       

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    • I'm a photographer and my primary use is to show off my portfolio, using the native "photo" application.I need to organize my pictures by album and sort within the albums.The customer can then use the "native" Photos application on their own and enjoy playing with the pictures and iPad.

      I've spent time and money looking a different applications that promise "connectivity" via USB, ftp, WiFi etc.

      All they do is turn the iPad into a fancy USB stick or message server.

      The only product that "just about" does it, is iTunes.

      Please find me a product to manage my albums/folders, sort rename, on iPad "Photo". 

      Thanks

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    • you can use dropbox to receive and send images easily. you can use iphoto to manage your images, color correct them and create folder / subfolder. you can also use lightroom to do all that and use use itune to simply managed the transfert. on the ipad theres also a really good portfolio with image management.. dont recall is name .. but check the apple store its easy to find. on the other end, a ipad is not a computer, you have to use it for what it is and for me it is way more than just a portable HD like epson Pwhatever... it is a tool that when you fully understand what you can and cant do with it , certainly make your digital life enjoyable. u want a laptop.. get a laptop.
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    • "really good portfolio with image management."

      Yes what is it?

      Pity, the beautiful screen and touch technology is wasted, on all the stuff you mention.

       

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    • You obviously do not have an iPad, which is why you don't know what you're talking about.

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    • portfolio for ipad 14.99$
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    • The new iPad 4.2 OS is Bad news.

      I could attach a usb multiCard reader to the iPad and upload pictures to the iPad at events to show them off using the old OS. The new 4.2 OS can't do this any more. Says not enough power in the USB device.

      The old OS, same box, had enough power.

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    • First, in the way of a disclosure -- I'm totally Apple enabled from my X-Serve to my iPods. I have had my iPad for six months now and it is the one device that goes everywhere with me. My laptop now stays home 80% of the time. I continue to find new uses for the iPad. I wish the world had better connectivity. The one thing that continues to annoy is the bandwidth of the pipes into the device -- whether WiFi of 3G. But that is infrastructure, not the device. I was at a technology trade association committee meeting in DC this week -- iPads everywhere (one airbook), no Windows laptops, which used to be the norm. Can you say "Revolutionary?"

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    • I'm waiting on iPad 2 now!  Bring it on Apple.... dual core processor, camera front and rear for Facetime with relatives and others (we have a programmer in Edinburgh Scotland!), 1080p streaming.....can't wait!

      Oh, and while I'm at it, here's a pretty cool photo I took with my iPhone 4 at the Neptune Festival in VA Beach last fall.  It was at night, with no extra lighting other than what is already there.  The nighttime background made for an interesting perspective.  It's certainly not the quality of the other photos on photo.net, I just thought it looked pretty cool.

       

      BTW- regarding business applications, if you use SharePoint, give SharePlus a try, it works great on both the iPad and iPhone.  We're using SharePoint for our proposal process, and having it on the iPad is an added bonus.  

       

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    • I would have to say, since iPad does not have a USB port it is a little bit tricky getting photos there in the first place (unless you have dropbox :-).

      However the biggest benefits of the iPad comes in handling the photography business. It really helps organizing contracts, planning a photo shoot etc. Find out how does iPad help photographers in

      8 useful apps for photographers article

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    • great review, really helpful.

      I just wanted to mention that: jailbreaking violates he user agreement terms, and basically allows apple to never help you with device issues, instantly voids the warranty, and all sorts of other unpleasant things.

      but, the iPad is probably a better buy, considering motorola (with their amazing xoom tablet, the only real competition to the iPad) is supposedly undergoing financial issues.

       

      hmmm, maybe someone needs to submit a xoom review.

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    • As a parent of two young children, I am so grateful that Apple keeps its iTune store free of porn, violence, and "freedom of expression." 

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