iPad standing tall after 48 hours
Update: Also read part 2 of this review.
After spending most of the last 48 hours with the iPad in my hands I have to agree with Walt Mossberg that “…this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly…” The folks at Apple like to shake up entire industries – iTunes and the iPod certainly changed the music business and Apple is now the largest music distributor in the world, and the iPhone showed the stodgy telecommunications industry what a phone should be, while Apple sold over 70 million so far. It’s too soon to know whether the iPad will have the same impact, but the early results suggest that it certainly has the potential.
Most reviewers describe the iPad as a device for “consuming content.” In other words, reading books, newspapers and magazines like on the Amazon Kindle, listening to music like on the iPod, watching movies and television, playing games, and browsing Web sites and blogs. Take our word for it, the iPad does all of those things very, very well. The screen is a good size for reading/watching at arms length. It has bright, bold colors and plenty of adjustments for reading in sunlight or a darkened airplane. If it does everything we expected, what we find more interesting are the business applications that the iPad handles equally well.
Remember that iPad has only been available to the public, and most software developers for 48 hours now so our expectations were rather low for real productivity tools. But the following list will give you some idea of the potential in this little device. Not all of the following applications will suit your particular needs, but this is what we’ve tested so far:
E-mail, calendars, contacts – This should be obvious and can be done on many phones these days. But the iPad’s larger screen makes it much easier to read and respond to messages. Also, attachments like Word documents, spreadsheets, PDF files and presentations can be viewed in a useful size – this is a big deal if you frequently review documents from other people.
WebEx – Most companies have cut back on travel so tools like WebEx see daily use in our world. Sales presentations, team meetings, training sessions and more can be done remotely, one-on-one or with large groups. The optional carrying case from Apple includes a stand to prop the iPad on your desk or conference table at a comfortable viewing angle.
Presentations – The iPad screen is perfectly adequate for a one-on-one presentation while hanging around at Starbucks, or standing at the bar after work, but you’ll want a bigger screen for the board meetings. Apple sells three different video adapters for the iPad: VGA, Composite, and Component. With these in your kit you’ll be able to connect to any computer monitor, flat screen, projector, or home theater system.
Skype – The iPad isn’t a phone, even the AT&T 3G model that will begin shipping in a few weeks. But with Skype it doesn’t matter. The built in speaker and microphone make it easy to place and receive calls. Skype-to-Skype calls anywhere in the world are free, and Skype offers very low cost calling to/from regular landlines and cell phones. Call quality in our tests was acceptable.
Excel on iPad using LogMeIn
LogMeIn, iSSH/VNC – If you manage servers of any kind you would never leave the house without some way to access the remote machines. SSH and VNC are two methods used primarily with Linux servers. The client app available for the iPad worked reasonably well, and the developers are already working though the list of comments received from users over the past day. LogMeIn is a way to remotely access Windows and Apple computers – you see the full desktop directly on the iPad and can work as if you were sitting at the machine, even from thousands of miles away.
Office applications – A suite of office applications is available for the iPad: Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet), Keynote (presentations). This is an example where a video is worth a thousand words, so take a few minutes to watch the guided tours on the Apple Web site. These applications have been available for the Mac, but they were completely redesigned for the touch screen interface on the iPad.
WordPress – Most companies and individuals have a blog or two these days so you need an easy way to manage your stories and comments. This app simplifies the process. Most of this story was written on the iPad using the WordPress app.
A few general comments about our iPad experience over the past couple of days:
- The iPad won’t fit in a pocket. It’s small, but not that small. You’ll want one of the optional carrying cases to protect it.
- The black screen does show finger smudges, but only when turned off. When the screen is on they disappear. Wiping with a soft cloth removes the fingerprints.
- Like the iPods, the iPad does plug into any computer via the USB connector for syncing with iTunes. But the iPad needs a lot of power to charge the large battery and early reports indicate that most computer’s USB ports are not up to the challenge.
- The iPad’s Web browser (Safari) does not support Flash. Some Web sites rely on Flash for animation, video and the user interface so check your mission critical Web sites before customers start complaining.
Back in December we wrote that 2010 will be the year of tablet-style computers and that these tablets will become a must-have device, filling a gap in our tech kit. The iPad fills the gap really well.
Continue with reading part 2 of this review.