They mock, but tens of thousands of Apple devotees were so excited about the arrival of the new tablet, which looks like an overgrown iPhone, that they bought one as soon as it was available in Australia yesterday.
The Chaser app also confides that, “Many of our customers will buy anything that Apple makes, even if they don’t need it. That’s why we made iPad.”
They’re right. We don’t need this uber-gadget. But there are many, many reasons to want one.
The quality of its screen resolution makes it ideal for watching videos, playing games, sharing photos, reading magazines and books and using maps. Text is sharp and readable, colour vibrant, and the Multi-Touch screen makes everything seem easy.
The Maps function allows you to view street directory-like pages (or satellite versions) for easy navigation. If you’ve ever used a GPS, a smartphone or a print street directory to find your way on the road, you’ll prefer this.
The Photos application signals the end of old-world photo albums for me. You can view and share dozens of photos at a time, or select one and see it at full screen or zoom in and out. You can also view photos by place with one touch (most cameras geotag photos these days).
The iPad allows you to download films and television programs from iTunes and again, the resolution is fantastic. You can switch between wide and full screen with a double tap. You can rent (in some cases) or buy, and choose standard or high definition. The battery lasts for ten hours of video viewing, according to Apple.
The iBookstore is a bit of a disappointment – no Australian books and only out of copyright titles (I’ve downloaded the Borders app and plan to use it instead for this reason). The iBookstore does come loaded with a cute version of Winnie the Pooh, though, and it’s clean, white pages and bright illustrations make for an engaging reading experience.
You can choose between double page horizontal or single page vertical orientation by tilting the device appropriately, then lock it in to your preferred position.
The ebook experience is nothing compared to the over-the-top graphics in some of the iPad magazine apps, though. The Wired app is navigable in three different ways, and features video, interactive images and mind-boggling page formats.
There are 5000 iPad-specific apps in Apple’s App Store so far, and most of the 200,000 iPhone apps will also work with the iPad, though they’re not optimised for the format.
Web browsing, presentations, word processing, spreadsheets, email, calendar and contacts options all work intuitively. The latter two seem more familiar and user-friendly than any I’ve used on an electronic device before because they look like a physical diary and address book.
On the down side, the iPad is a little heavier than I’d expected, and you’ll need to keep a microfibre cloth on hand to wipe the fingerprints off too.