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First days with the iPad

April 19, 2010

The first impression i got unboxing the iPad was ‘magnificient’. It really is.

You, however, are not! You are a dirty, greasy human being and you will sully this magnificient piece of glass and metal with your touch. In about five minutes of usage, the screen was so smudged it was hard to see through the layer of disgusting finger-fat. Ewwww!

I recently bought a 24-inch cinema display. The iPad and the cinema display are siblings. The material, the glass, the sharpish edges and the funky tapering of the back curvature are the same. The problem is, if anyone should put their greasy fingers on the face of my Cinema Display i will hunt them down and destroy them. It’s simply something i need to do, like a grizzly mother when someone gets between her and her cub. The iPad, on the other hand, is made to be touched. This is a puzzling design flaw from Mr. Ives.

It’s almost as if the iPad wants you to be ashamed to be human. Or to work using white cotton gloves. Like a mime.Why do i find that strangely appealing?

That same magnificence, while dazzling at first, gives way to further shortcomings. The iPad, in effect a small Cinema Display, is heavy. You hold it gingerly, afraid to drop it or ding it into something. You treat it with respect. Problem is, to realize its full potential, the iPad needs to be the portable wonder-window you carry with you always and everywhere, like…. oh, I don’t know… the iPhone?

Herein lies the crux and the main reason, i think, I’ve not yet fallen in love with the iPad. The only reference I had of what the iPad would be like when waiting for it was a large iPhone. The iPhone is light, portable, and always connected. Given that you get a decent case for it, it’s kind of sturdy. You can pick it up, and plonk it down at a table, together with your keys.

You do not plonk the iPad. Any plonkage and it will surely shatter, like a porcelain plate – which is pretty close to what in terms of heft it feels like when you hold it.

And of course, that other thing you do with an iPhone. Actually use it. To surf, to consume data, to contribute, to interact. The reasons for Apples flat out refusal to allow tethering with the iPhone is at first bewildering, but as you think it through, thoroughly depressing. Apple is of course bowing to the demands of the ISP:s and telcos not to introduce a gadget that will piggyback on existing bandwitdh deals. It’s that old TANSTAAFL song again. I understand there’s never gonna be a free lunch. I’m not a teenager. But I’m chafing at carrying around one piece of equipment from Apple that can talk to the internet in my back pocket and another one that cannot right next to it, while they of course can talk to each other. Disallowing tethering is just plain stupid. I used to love Apple, but I’m not loving that greedy stupid vibe I’m getting more and more.

The iPad needs to talk to the Internet if it’s going to succeed. The wifi iPad is a non-starter. Potentially, Apple has just pissed off a half a million early adopters.

There are, of course, a couple of areas where the iPad is showing huge promise. When you are connected, it works great. Checking Twitter with free app Twitterific is a dream. This experience is actually better than using a desktop computer. You can separate your distractions from your work by having an iPad on the work desk. To me, this could be a workaround for the ever-increasing need to handle distractions in the workday.

Painting on the iPad is a revolution, at least for me. It makes computer art as intuitive and accessible as pen and paper, even better using the right tools, such as Sketchbook Pro HD and Layers. I’ve put in an order for a Pogo iPad stylus, and have high hopes for it. It’s clear, though, that my iPad will earn it’s keep as a creation tool.

Gaming on the iPad has yet to win me over. I guess it depends on the games and who you’re playing them with. It will be interesting to try out Charadium for iPad. Arcade games are basically eye candy, nice to look at but not terribly engaging.

One aspect of gaming on the iPad – or doing anything else for that matter – is how public anything you do becomes. If you use your iPad on the bus or train, people three rows behind you can see clearly what you’re doing on your screen. With the iPhone, gaming had a bit of privacy from tha smallness of the display. Not that i play games that are NSFW, you understand. I maybe just don’t want to advertise that I’m harvesting carrots in We Rule when i want to look like a hot-stuff Donald Draper checking my latest award-winning napkin sketches on my way to the big meeting.

One last thing that was a pleasant surprise was how good it feels to type on the iPad. If you’re like me, and basically type with your index fingers, the process of tapping on the glass of the iPad works great. It’s fast, responsive, and the results are passable. The only problems arise from the awkwardness of Apples auto-correction-system.

The bottom line of this first impression of the iPad is that although it’s a great machine, i had kind of expected insanely great.

More to come. Like the iPhone, we have yet to see what path the iPad will take. I’m sure I’ll be there to see it.

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