Ok, so, I am here sitting in a dingy atrium in the middle of Russell Square, London, typing on my iPad at it has just passed midnight, and I am coming to the end of a month long ramble around europe. If there is anyone who is going to tell me I didn’t give the iPad a fighting chance to impress me, I will be sorely tempted to shove a cactus up their arse…
So, inevitable, the question is… Has it?
Underwhelmingly… Yes… But not in the way one would expect, even coming from someone who is a closet Apple fan (yes, my nerdy gamer friends hang shit on me for it). The best way to sum it up, immediately, is to give you an example of an interaction I had with some fellow Australians, while on the road.
It was a blazing hot Berlin day (weird, I know, we brought Aussie weather along with us when we came) and I was sitting in the coach trying to get as much airflow to my face. The girl from the seat behind me, having spied the unholy iPad lying next to me asked me,
“Oh, that’s an iPad, can I have a go?”
Naturally, I said yes (as all gentlemen do when forced to interact with an attractive brunette interested in his gadgetry), and as she began pondering it’s use she asked me what I thought of it. All I could say was,
“Meh… It’s an iPad”
As opposed to the magical and revolutionary slogan Apple has now been pushing for the last 6 months (yes, it is even quoted on the service hotline, the hotline you call when you’re fed up with an Apple device not working), the greatest revelation (for me) has been the fact that it has not been a revelation at all.
Unlike the iPhone 3G, when I finally came to lay my hands on this device for the first time, I almost forgot I had it (I left it in the bedroom, promptly went to play some more Assassins Creed II, which, by the way, is almost as good as ME2, big call I know, before remembering I should probably take a look at my eleven hundred dollar purchase).
Previously called the Apple Tablet, Apple probably changed it’s name, when they realized how un-awe inspiring it was. As it’s former name suggests, it really is just an almost tablet PC, albeit, with the popularity of iPod touches and iPhones, it has come to be known as a gigantic one of them… And it is… Well… Sort of.
It’s giant 9 something inch screen is reminiscent of a tablet PC, and it’s multi touch screen is infinitely more usable than other similar technologies, however, it’s specifications and operating system limitations create a device that is extremely good at a small number of functions and not much good at anything else.
Coming in at over half a kilo (this is the 64GB 3G version we are talking about), it is far too heavy to use like a kindle as you slowly droop forward from extended use. However, Apple have made the choice to essentially make the device a giant battery, with over 10 hours of usage to be had (yes, I have used it for that long… On a plane… While my arse turned to jelly), which makes it good for another function.
Apart from being able to play your tunes through its iPod interface (iTunes is ludicrously easy to manage… To all those iTunes haters out there, think of the musicians who use it to fund their livelihoods…. yeah! Sad gits), with the release of iworks for iPad and a slew of similar applications through the app store, the iPad has turned into a marvelous space saving, long lasting, office computer!
And that is it’s problem… For many people, buying this device is like buying a luxury iPhone, the screen is supposed to be all encompassing and the functionality just as full. But it isn’t. Like any other computer, it doesn’t come preloaded with all that you need (It didn’t even come with a clock or calculator function), and all that extra software comes at a premium, a premium that is significantly more hefty than your average iPhone application. Even then, with the delayed release of iOS4 to the iPad, the usability of these applications can be frustratingly limited. The lack of a camera and microphone for such purposes as Skype is also perplexing, and would be an extreme let down to anyone who skypes a lot.
Upon reading an Ars technica analysis of the new OS in conjunction with the new iPhone 4, the sadness of this device became all the more apparent. Not only has the new iPhone been gifted with the new operating system, but it has also been endowed with twice the memory and the same processor as the iPad. This leads me to see the iPad as dated… And it’s only three months old…
Sadly, despite it’s downfalls, and also like a luxury iPhone, it is still undeniably desirable… It’s sleekness, solid build quality, screen and smooth operation (vetted by Apple, of course) still make it a compelling experience.
If you can lower your expectations and can settle for your everyday limited casual user functionality, this may be the perfect device for you… And therein lies the problem.