The Apple iPad was first unveiled in late January, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs describing it as ‘so much more intimate than a laptop, so much more capable than a smartphone and a device which will offer the best browsing experience you’ve ever had’.
Whilst Jobs has easily positioned the iPad in the ‘gap’ between a smartphone and a laptop the market is less convinced with many questioning if there is indeed a gap at all. The jury is out and the debate rages on as to what exactly you will need an iPad for, with some critics calling it an overgrown iPod Touch. But the naysayers have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of Apple loyalists who are eagerly snapping up Apple’s latest offering.
We got our hands on an iPad recently, courtesy of the newly launched Applestuff, to find out if the new gadget in Apple’s stable met up with Jobs’ lofty praise of being more intimate than a laptop with the best browsing experience in the known universe.
The first thing that strikes you with the iPad is the exceptional build quality and the great form factor. The screen is what you would expect from a device built on the same technology as the iPhone and iPod Touch, and the size feels just right. It is also quite light considering the size.
The iPad is a great device to consume any form of content on. Whether it is checking your email, reading a book, watching a movie or showing off your latest pictures – you will be hard pressed to beat the screen quality and ease of navigation.
The Internet browsing experience is also exactly as good as Steve Jobs said it would be. Websites render very fast and the intuitive touch interface makes navigation a breeze.
And then there is the multitude of apps which should serve most of your needs. Good news for iPad owners is that most of the current iPhone and Touch apps run on the iPad – albeit at a lower resolution in some cases.
For most tasks the iPad’s touch interface is great, but for business related tasks where one has to type a fair amount and use applications like Word or Excel one starts to appreciate the value of a mouse and keyboard.
We asked MyGaming editor Nic Simmonds to see if the iPad is any good as a gaming device, and he seems quite optimistic about its potential.
“My early impressions of the iPad’s gaming functionality indicate that it has significant potential as a casual gaming device. Where exactly it will fit in amongst smaller portable devices such as the PSP, DS and even iPhone remains to be seen,” said Simmonds.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the iPad is the lack of true Internet connectivity. While the device has built-in Wi-Fi, the lack of a 3G module or USB port means that that you will often be left without internet connectivity, and may well become a Wi-Fi spotter and pay exorbitant hotspot fees just to check your email.
For the test we initially used a nifty credit-card sized portable HSDPA router called MiFi, but the fact that one has to carry this additional device just to connect will become cumbersome in time. Apple’s failure to provide an adequate means to connect conveniently is one of the big drawbacks of the iPad.
Should you buy it?
While the iPad is undoubtedly a great gadget, the question however remains why you would buy an iPad. If you already have a netbook the iPad will most likely play second fiddle to your keyboard based device for everyday tasks, and if you don’t have a netbook it may not be easy to justify spending money on an iPad instead.
But maybe your reason is in line with Apple’s marketing policy: The iPad is a really cool device, and who cares whether it is functional or not. And for many Apple fanboys it will complete their iPod, iPhone and Macbook collection – priceless!
Apple iPad review << comments and views