My iPad

Yes, I bought an iPad last Saturday. For those that know me, you will be surprised to know that I even waited in line for almost 2 hours. But I must say, Apple really had its act together. They had the line snake down a service corridor, so that you couldn’t see it when you came in. And then they had coffee at the end of the line. Very civilized. When I got to the front, I was assigned to an Apple employee, who introduced himself, took be in and got me my iPad. He then told me about the accessories that they had in stock, and tested my iPad for me to ensure it worked. I also bought the dock that enable you to charge the iPad while it stands up and the Apple cover. Unfortunately, the you can’t dock the car with the cover on, so I took it off. There seem to be many better covers than the Apple one.

Immediately on leaving, I went to Starbucks to try it out. (OK, maybe to show it off a little.) The screen was brilliant, the package exactly what you’d expect from an Apple product, and the fit and finish terrific. However, the extra size made the touchscreen keyboard very difficult to use, compared to the iPhone. I suppose that I will find a comfortable way to type on it eventually.

It connected to the wifi on the first try. (I wish my Windows laptops did as well.) I then connected it to my exchange server, which also worked on first try. After a brief wait while it downloaded, I had my email, calendar, and contacts. First observation – Apple modified their email, calendar, and contacts programs for the iPad to take advantage of the extra screen space. Really nicely done.

Next, I downloaded the Kindle reader. It immediately synced to my Kindle account and downloaded my books, and even synced to the current page in the book I was reading. Really slick.

I searched for apps in the App Store. Some very cool apps made just for the iPad. One of my very favorite is the Netflix app. It allows you to actually stream and watch movies in your queue! And crystal clear picture, no skips, and good sound. I’ve been using it frequently.

The ABC app, NY Times, and BBC are also really good. The apps made for the iPad that take advantage of the platform really show it off well.

One other cool feature is the photo show button on the sleep screen. When you press it, the iPad becomes a picture show while charging. Very cool.

My iPhone apps also work (for the most part) on the iPad. Apple added a “2X” button at the bottom of the screen so that you can double the size of the iPhone screen. Note that it doesn’t double resolution, but that’s not too bad in most apps. Note that iTunes won’t download apps that don’t work on the iPad.

One big problem was getting files onto the iPad. The only way I found was using iTunes – clearly sub-optimal. Till a friend (who had been an iPad beta tester) told me about GoodReader. Allows you to use wifi to transfer files. Works well.

Another big gripe from me – the iPad has NO CAMERA. Why? I hadn’t thought much about the implications of this, but it not only means that the iPad won’t take pictures, but also can’t use the camera-enabled apps. One of my favorite iPhone apps is WorldCard, which lets you photograph a business card, recognizes it, and then exports it Outlook. I have lots of photo apps on the iPhone and wish they worked on iPad.

Another problem is Apple’s stupid decision not to support Flash. With the fabulous screen and wifi, it is possible to pull up full size web pages, many of which now use flash. They just don’t play/display on the iPad. Note to Apple – please support Flash!

Last gripe – the only other attachment was a VGA adapter, which can show the iPad screen on a monitor. Why not HDMI, so that you get sound as well as the video?

Not perfect, but a very cool product. I can see the value of the 3G version. Hopefully it will do text messaging as well. And maybe version 2 or 3 will fix some of the shortcomings.

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