I’m not interested in buying the iPad, but this afternoon I happened to be in a Best Buy (and I do mean happened–the other people I was with wanted to go for non-iPad reasons) and decided to give the iPad a try.
The keyboard is hard to type on, even when the iPad is oriented horizontally. This may be due to my talons or because I’m not used to typing on a touchscreen. Whatever the case, the keyboard feels unnatural, and I found myself pecking at the keys instead of typing naturally. You can buy a special keyboard to attach to the iPad, but if you’re planning on doing hardcore typing, aren’t you better off using a real keyboard on a real computer?
For a device that has been touted as the gadget to get for the non-techy person in your life, it’s surprisingly nonintuitive to use. I played around with several of the apps that were preloaded on the iPad. Zooming in and out of Google Maps isn’t obvious, as there’s no button to zoom in or out; your fingers do the work. Surfing the Web takes time, as you use your fingers to scroll, and I found myself running my finger up the screen to scroll down, an action that made perfect sense to me. I’m scrolling the stuff at the top away, right? Wrong. You scroll your fingers down the page. This makes sense if you think about it, but at first glance it wasn’t the obvious thing to do.
The iPad doesn’t always orient itself properly when you turn it around. This drove me mad to no end, and I found myself looking at an upside down iPad. In theory you can orient the iPad with any of the four edges at the top; in fact, that happened to me at some point. This just doesn’t always happen when you want it to.
The iPad isn’t completely bad, though. Reading books is pleasant. You can import books in epub format and read them through the books app, and you can even click a word to define it, which is nifty. The neat part for me is the movies. I only tried this with the Youtube app, but this works with other video apps as well from what I’ve read. Turning the iPad horizontally makes the video fullscreen, and turning the iPad vertically gives you other options. This can be handy when traveling, especially given the iPad’s ten-hour battery life.
I don’t see myself owning an iPad. The concept of a tablet computer is a great idea, especially for those who consume media instead of create it. With the arrival of other tablets in the not so far future that are superior to the iPad, there will be plenty of options out there. Choose responsibly. Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my hardy laptop and desktop, though I may seek out some on-the-go gadget one day, preferably one without the restrictions that Apple has chosen to place on the iPad.