iPad: Six months later [Round table]

Back in April Apple launched their magical, revolutionary iPad and all this week TiPb's been wondering just how well all that magic and revolution has held up some 6 months later. Rene has already shared his thoughts in an editorial and Chad and Georgia shared theirs during the last iPad live! podcast, but we wanted more.

Here's our original iPad review. Follow on after the break to see how the TiPb writers and Smartphone Expert editors Dieter, Kevin, and Malatesta feel about their iPads... six months later.

Dieter Bohn, SPE Editor-in-Chief

Six months in, the iPad has basically filled in two niche uses for me. First and most important: the iPad is the perfect airplane / airport device. I have the 3G version, so I don't feel beholden to the vagaries of airport WiFi before I get on the plane. While in-flight, I rarely find the environment good for getting actual work done, so the iPad is a perfect device for watching movies and some light reading. The second niche use is as an internet device when I'm puttering around the house. I still don't feel I can effectively get 'real' work done (the browser isn't up to my needs there), but it's great for looking up random stuff and sneaking in a game or twenty of Strategery.

Could I live without the iPad? Absolutely. But I'd be hauling out my laptop, not my phone, to fill those gaps.

Check out PreCentral.net's updates on the forthcoming webOS PalmPad

Chad Garrett, TiPb.com

At first I thought the iPad would be a back-up device to my iPhone. I purchased the 16GB Wi-Fi only model at launch. Though, this worked, I longed to be able to access data anywhere on the device. Over time I have used it more and more, to the point that it is my main computing device. I have since sold my 16GB model and I upgraded to the 32GB 3G version. This device now competes me. Is it perfect? No. But it does what I need it to do very well. Do I still love my purchase? Yes. I love it more than ever.

Georgia, TiPb.com

It's a larger version of phone more than a laptop, so if you want a laptop, get a laptop. iPad can't replace that. If you want something easy to use, for pictures or surfing the web or games, get an iPad. For less tech-savvy parents, for children, it's fabulous.

But it's not perfect. I wish it didn't need that ugly USB adapter for my camera. I wish I could just sync it directly with my iPhone. And I'm upset Apple is taking away my orientation lock in iOS 4.2. Plus, what's with Mac getting FaceTime before the iPad?

That aside I still love it. Go get it.

Ally Kazmucha, TiPb.com

At first it seemed like there weren't a ton of apps that were made specifically for iPad but as that number grew, so did the amount of time I've spent with it. Adding multitasking may make me more apt to spend more time on the iPad than I do with my iPhone 4. After 4.0, my usage switched to being heavier on the iPhone 4. I'm looking forward to see what devs will do with multitasking on the iPad. I think it'll only help people make the decision between an iPad and a netbook. 4.2 should add a lot of features people need and want.

Leanna Lofte, TiPb.com

Six months ago I did not think I would be purchasing an iPad because of the cost. I decided to get one at the last minute and do not regret it one bit. My MacBook has been playing the role of a desktop now and if I had the money, I would actually sell my MacBook, purchase an iMac, and use the iPad for my mobile computing. My biggest complaint about the iPad is that 6 months later, we are still waiting for iOS 4.0. This is unacceptable to me and I'm looking forward to multitasking and a unified inbox when it finally becomes available. Although I absolutely love my iPad, it is still clearly a 1.0 device in my eyes. I have high hopes for the next generation iPad and can't wait to see what Apple announces for it.

Kevin Michaluk, Founder of CrackBerry.com

Yes, I'm the world's biggest BlackBerry addict, but that doesn't mean I hate Apple. Truth be told, I probably own more Apple products than most of the hardcore Apple fan boys out there. When it comes to the iPhone, I've owned all of them -- including the iPhone 4 -- but honestly I have yet to really ever be enticed by any of them.... it's a great consumer product, but for what I do 90% of the time when I have a phone in my hand (communication, critical apps, etc.) for me the BlackBerry simply gets it done quicker, and that's what I want in a mobile device. I don't use a phone to kill time, I use it to get sh!t done. But when it does come to killing time with media and games, which is that that other 10% for me, I really appreciate the iPhone as this is where it excels.

When the iPad came out, I picked one up in the USA long before it came to Canada. And it didn't take me long to decide that for me, everything the iPhone can do the iPad does better. When I travel and have time to kill at the airport and on flights, it really is my best friend. The night before I leave town I always download a few movies and buy a few new games for the iPad. I really like iTunes - it's one of the best things Apple has going for it (though if you own multiple devices it's still a pain in the butt to move your content around between them). For the iPad It's all about that big screen size - why would you want to squint playing Angry Birds on an iPhone when you can have it be nice and big on an iPad? Previously a Kindle user, my Kindle now collects dust too as I now use the iPad as my ebook reader (I use Amazon on the iPad though - not the iBook stuff). Whoever says e-ink is better for reading never grew up with computers - I have no issue reading on the iPad and I do like flipping pages with a touchscreen (I do still find the iPad is a little heavy though for reading when lying in bed - it's bonked me on the head a few times now when I've fallen asleep with my arms outstretched).

The iPad isn't perfect though. One of things I really wish for is multiple user management. The iPad is kind of like a coffee table book for me - I leave it lying around and it's something for guests to play with or my niece or nephew when they visit. The fact I can't set up a guest account on it has forced me to never really start using it as a work tool - I don't put my email on it. I also own enough laptops that I would never send email on it anyways - time is money and I can type 110 words per minute on a real keyboard... so why would I want to do something slower on an iPad that I can do quicker on something else?

The lack of flash really sucks too. I know the web is quickly catching up and going html 5, but still... I wanted to buy an iPad for my girlfriend's dad as a present. He doesn't use a computer but I figured he'd like using the iPad. I showed him mine and he liked it. But the first 3 websites he wanted to check out (mainly the websites for magazines that he reads) had a lot of flash on them so didn't even load. It turned him off immediately.

Things are getting exciting in the world of BlackBerry with the announcement of their first tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. I'm really excited to get my hands on this one. It'll be interesting to see how I like it. For me, I've never really liked the iPhone because I'm so entrenched in BlackBerry - going away from that physical keyboard and the BlackBerry way of things things (fast!) has just always felt alien for me. But on the tablet front, the iPad is my home. It's what I'm used to in a tablet device. So it's going to be the PlayBook that will have to be fantastic to really impress me. Apple set the bar for tablets high, so we'll just have to wait and see how it goes!

Check out CrackBerry.com's ongoing coverage of the BlackBerry Playbook

Matt Miller, Editor of NokiaExperts.com

I pre-ordered the 32GB WiFi iPad and after six months of use I am still very happy with my purchase, yet I cannot wait until the next OS update with multi-tasking. As I am sure many iPad owners can relate to, I use my iPad while on the couch, sitting at the table, and in other situations where I just want to browse the Internet and I do not need to create content. As I look back at the last six months though, the number one usage for my iPad is as an ebook reader. I have books on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo so it is great to have one device to access and read them all.

The Apple iPad is also a wonderful accessory for the airplane traveler. I have used it multiple times for watching movies and reading ebooks. A couple of times I have even left the laptop behind and traveled with the iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard.

The more I use it though, the more I want to see support for multi-tasking as I find myself jumping in and out of apps and games quite a bit. I understand an update is coming soon and think this will make my iPad even more useful.

The Keith Newman, PreCentral.net

Honestly, by TKN standards, I was a late adopter. 2 months after release and several jokes about how the iPad wasn't magical nor revolutionary, I broke down and gave into my gadget obsession. While the pricing was absurd (like all things Apple) I am finding it to be an amazing device for leisure and work. Yes, we all know the benefits of the "toy" aspect, I mean, it has thousands of games, does gorgeous video and is a giant iPod. However, as an educator, I didn't expect the device to come into handy in the classroom. To my surprise, I have been using it to access student records via web and Excel documents (including rosters, discipline and attendance); I've also been using the iPad to VPN into my Smartboard Mac Book to control the board / display when sitting in the back of the classroom with a student to show the rest of the class. This way, what appears to be a "one to one" coaching isn't anymore and the rest of the students can benefit by just looking up and seeing the math problems with walk through. It was weird at first but the capacitive pen has really come into good use for instances like this. Overall, I feel less guilty for spending close to $800 dollars on this device knowing full well I can now play KenKen's and use it as a teaching aid.

Steve Jobs is still a tool (you can edit that if you like :P) [Will do -ED]

Rene Ritchie, TiPb.com

“It’s just a a big iPhone” is exactly right — size is the killer app. Almost immediately I stopped reading on my iPhone or MacBook. I began saving everything I came across to Instapaper so I could read it later on my iPad. (I would even close my MacBook and pick up my iPad just to read long articles, the experience was so much more enjoyable). Browsing the web is fantastic; disintermediating the keyboard and mouse of the traditional PC and touching the screen made for a far more immediate and intimate experience. So much so, in fact, that when Dieter and I wrote our iPad review we focused almost entirely on the experience of the device. Gaming also benefited from the big screen, igniting an ongoing debate in Chad’s heart as to whether the faster launch schedule of iPhone games can equal out the grandeur scale of iPad.

It’s not perfect. It can be heavy and unwieldy at times. When iPhone 4 and iOS 4 launched in June the combination of Retina Display, FaceTime, and especially multitasking and unified inbox had me reaching for my iPad less and less often. Some of that was surely “shiny new toy” syndrome. Some of it was hard limitations of iPad under iOS 3.2. iOS 4.2 for iPad is on the horizon, however, bringing everything iOS 4 brought to iPhone back in June but adding AirPrint for productivity and AirPlay for entertainment, and while the former was needed the second could just be killer.

iPad is Apple's first generation mainstream computing appliance, the Apple I or Lisa, not the Apple II or iMac, and that means it’s certainly not for everyone, not yet and perhaps not ever. But it’s proven over time that it’s for me, maybe not “right” but “right now”. Apple hasn’t nailed the device yet — they might next time, or the time after — but they hammered it hard, harder than I initially thought, and developers have taken it even further.

(That's an extract of the longer iPad: Six months later editorial we ran earlier this week.)

Daniel Rubino (Malatesta), Editor of WPCentral.com

My affair with the iPad has been a mixed one, at best. It all started with a little interest, even a hint of mockery when first announced (okay, more than a hint). But like most people, at one point intrigue crept in and then a sense of fascination, curiosity with a hint of disgust...at myself.

Being ensconced in the Microsoft world (though hardly any allegiance), my interest in Apple is mainly as opposition, though I certainly respect their design aesthetics and recent market prowess. It took me three trips to the Apple store before I committed to buy, so yes hesitation was with me at every step. That all seemed to come to end once I opened it up the box and turned it on--that smooth metal, shiny glass and eye candy of the OS--I immediately fell in like with the device. Over the next few weeks, while not a full convert, I did administer more praise than critique, perhaps surprising a few tech compatriots a long the way.

Fast forward six months and where am I? I'm probably back in the critique camp, though it's not to say the iPad is a bad device--just not the device for me. What changed? A few things--the way I used the iPad, the strength of my Acer Aspire 1410 Notebook (had it before the iPad) and new or refreshed technologies like the Sprint EVO and new Amazon 6" Kindle. First, my Asus just served me better for productivity. As a blogger, typing, searching, copying, pasting, linking, etc. are all just easier on my Asus than my iPad. You could even say I love my Acer--I really do. Likewise, although I can read Kindle books on the iPad, I'm just not a fan of reading on displays with a backlight (my eyes tire quickly, headaches ensue). In this regard, the Amazon Kindle is just amazing--e-Ink is truly a remarkable thing if you're a heavy reader and although the iPad gets great battery life (still impressed by this), the Kindle can go weeks instead of hours. Between the $139 price tag on the Kindle, the battery life and the fact it only weighs 8oz, there's just no comparison between the two for reading for my situation. (And yes, took my Kindle to the beach where it was awesome; never thought about taking the iPad).

And the Sprint EVO? Yes, as it turns out, having a device with a 480x800 4.3" screen with 3G can serve wonders for checking email, twitter and websites (and being a Windows Phone fan, I expect the HTC HD7 to replace my EVO--hello Xbox + Zune). The iPad served as a great couch-companion for looking up things on IMDb, YouTube, or checking Twitter. But with the EVO, I can do all of that but faster. And its easier to handle too. As it turns out, my iPad still does serve a purpose: it's great for watching movies, video podcasts and Netflix. In fact, I use it 90% of the time just for this function. With the great battery life and 10" screen, it makes a good movie player at work (don't ask). Is that worth $500? No, not really.

To conclude, though the iPad is a unique device, one which will have a strong presence and continued success in the market, for my needs it fell short: not good for productivity (a fellow blogger tried using his a the recent Microsoft NYC event--I killed him in publishing), it's not a great eReader and it's just not that fast for doing things. Sure, I have a 3lbs notebook to carry around (5.5hrs battery life), a Kindle and my EVO, but I'm now quite happy with those over the iPad--in fact I'm thrilled with all of them. Still, I do look forward to trying the new OS update and will see if that breathes new life into the device which at this point is more luxury than necessity.

Staff

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There are 19 comments. Add yours.

scareprank.com says:

"is more luxury than necessity"

Tom says:

I totally agree with leanna. I sold my MacBook pro and bought an iMac because the iPad totally replaced the MacBook pro and it was just sitting on the desk anyway. It was a great decision. Ios4 means nothing to me though because its better jail broken anyway. I will upgrade when it comes out but had there not been a jailbreak I would have held off. Georgia is out to lunch the ipad has no camera for facetime...apple will add one but there is no reason to now since it will easily be a sell out around Christmas in it's current form. Why would they take away from their bottom line in their best quarter by adding a feature that costs them money when the current one without that feature will sell out at the same price

Tweger01 says:

I just bought mine yesterday, and as a college student, I love it. I can't handle to carry 7 very large books plus my toshiba laptop (with a very large battery) everywhere I go. The iPad is the perfect size for fitting right into my backpack.
The lack of print can be taken care of via email, always being on campus, I can email it to myself and print documents from a school computer. Used pages last night to type a paper, have to say that using the on screen keyboard is less than optimal, but I can hash out a rough 50wpm on there (compaired to my 60wpm on my iPhone 4), with time I'm sure that'll improve though.
Lack of multitasking wasnt a deal breaker, I can listen to pandora on my phone while doing homework on my iPad. It would be convienant, however, to use pandora on there while typing, but it's not a deal breaker.
Still looking for a way to update excel documents for my job though, haven't put much effort into finding one yet.
I think this is a great device for a student, especially if you have size constraints. Would of been nice if it had a camera, but leads me to ask, how the hell would you position that thing with one? I certainly wouldn't be looking like a fool holding up a large 8x10 device just to take a picture. I'll keep my phone for that, then just email the photo to myself, thank you very much.

Matthew Hudson says:

The iPad is the device that ultimately won me over to Apple. I was an devoted Blackberry user and often scoffed at Apple products until one day I picked up a iPad and was so intrigued that I bought one. My original intent was to use this for my school work -- I would use it for my e-books and PDFs so that I could get work done on the road. But I have found myself using it almost every time I want to brows the web or read the news or watch a TV show. With Hulu plus I watch all my favorite TV shows on my iPad. The iPad also temped me into buying the iPhone 4 and I've never been happier. I was one of those who thought I couldn't ever use a touch screen keyboard, especially after owning a storm briefly. but I have found that it is actually quite easy to use and I enjoy it. I also am finding myself in the Apple store more and more drooling over the Macs. Hopefully one of those will be in my future soon.

JackG058 says:

Mal, I totally agree with your experience. I also have the EVO, along with a Kindle 2. My regular reading is always done on my Kindle. It is way lighter so I can (and do) hold it for hours without tiring. My iPad most definitely gets heavy to hold, and comes with some eyestrain, ultimately. Videos and some games are where my iPad finds usage. But I do seem to leave it laying around a whole lot more these days. My EVO though is still a constant companion, and I don't even talk on the phone much. Sometimes one just needs that specialty device, as opposed to the device that tries to do it all.

Rob Terry says:

Great thoughts everyone! I had a similar take regarding not needing a laptop so much anymore now that I have an iPad, found in blog article here:
http://mobtechnews.blogspot.com/2010/04/end-of-laptop-as-i-know-it.html
For me if the iPad hooked up to a projector out of the box for Keynotes/PowerPoints, it would be a true laptop replacement for me.

OrionAntares#CB says:

The iPad is too expensive for what it provides. If it came with a few more of the missing features for the same price point then it might be worth considering. There were already Android tablets out before the iPad that could provide the functions that the iPad has at lower price points, just not nearly as well marketed. I'll wait for better iterations of either the iPad or competitor tablets, though competitor tablets will probably win out since they'll probably actually carry more useful hardware interfaces built into the designs (SD, HDMI, USB).

sting7k says:

Man students these days have iPads, laptops, kindles, and smart phones with data plans. Where do you get your money? Seems like I was in the stone age with my laptop, Moto Razr, and iPod just 3 and a half years ago. :)

Tweger01 says:

@sting7k
Personally, I work and go to school full time, so that's how I afford mine. I go to a rich kid school in southern California and all their parents buy them theirs. I was more surprised by the GTR's and M6's on campus than the ipad's and MacBook pro's.

Giolon says:

"I’m upset Apple is taking away my orientation lock in iOS 4.2"
As I understand it, they're only removing the hardware switch (or more accurately changing it to a mute switch) - which sucks, but it'll still be available the same way as it is in the iPhone - with a double click of the Home button and a swipe to the right.
It's not ideal but it's still there.
I personally really like being able to change the orientation lock while the screen is locked. It means that if I pick it up in an orientation that's not "correct" for what the device is currently set to, I can just flip the switch and it'll re-orient itself.

Virginia says:

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AlfieJr says:

interesting group of comments. everyone agrees the current model is a 1.0 product, and most acknowledge version 1.2 will be out in a month to address some obvious software needs (if that isn't good enough, boy are you overly impatient). i'm looking forward to version 2.0 next spring which will likewise address some obvious hardware issues. and add 4G?
down the road further ... AMOLED, retina dpi, lighter weight, thinner, wireless everything ... if you like it now, you'll love it then.

Viva Terlingua says:

I think that most of the people that criticize the iPad have not used it. I have never previously owned an Apple product, but my experience with the iPad prompted me to also go out and buy an iPhone 4.
Been using Palm products for years, and past couple of years using Windows Mobile devices. Now I'm sorry I waited so long to switch.
When I travel now, I leave my laptop at home. I think one thing people neglect when comparing iPads and notebooks is the instant on of the iPad. I know you can leave your laptop in sleep mode, but the battery is still running down and it's still not as fast to turn on as the ipad. Another thing about the ipad is that it's not nearly as intrusive as a laptop and you can use while talking to someone without appearing rude. Sure there's things my laptop can do that the ipad can't, but those things are few and don't make up for the superior convenience of the ipad.

GStrecker says:

I had to wait a bit because I ordered the 3G right off the bat because I am on the road a lot. The iPad gives me capabilities that I did not have before. While driving, I have it plugged into my vehicle stereo listening to podcasts or my music. If need directions, the maps are more up to date than my GPS. I can get all of my emails, and have figured out how to tie into my company's VPN. I found an app that lets me make Remote Desktop Connections to my desktop PC where I can access all of the Windows programs on that computer. If I need to do a large amount of typing, I whip out my bluetooth keyboard. I find it much easier to do things on the iPad than on a smart phone, I can also take it into meetings to take notes, do audio recordings or on the fly research. The battery life is phenomenal for a portable device. I love it and I am still finding new things to do with it. I keep listening to you and other podcasters to find out about new apps and ideas. Keep it coming!

John says:

I got an iPad right when they came out. The only time I really use it now is when I go to the doctor's office. The limitations of no Flash and lack of a keyboard really make me turn away from it quite a bit. A few of us at the office tried to go all iPad, but we're all back on our laptops.

James Lee says:

I have only just brought an iPad under the justification of College Work (UK) and in that area I couldn't be happier. The college I go to is a half hour train journey 5 times a week and with work only up the roadnfrom college, there is time I could kill doing college work, but as 90% of it is on the computer, doing a computer course, I couldn't do it without lugging my heavy, poor battery lifed, laptop which would not fit in my bag amongst college notes, my tea in a lunch box and work clothes. The iPad on the other hand fits in nicely, in fact it looks tiny in my bag. Doing work on my iPad is so easy, I recently whipped out part of an assignment in a train journey there and back, before I would have to wait till I got home, then muster up the effort and energy to do it, currently with a bit of STS, I want to do it, but then I do get bored on the train and doing thenwork makes the time fly by.
Being able to turn on and off the iPad quickly also makes it so handy, from when I wake up and check my life to being in college, sitting down and just getting on with it without waiting for computers to boot.
Whilst there may be cheaper tablet options coming out soon, I think the 9.7" screen size of the iPad is what is going to keep it going, 7" seems to small for me, as I make mistakes on the iPad when typing, but with a smaller screen I can see typing errors being more common and more annoying.
I'm quite happy with the iPad being on 3.2 for the moment, but sometimes do miss fast app switching and unified inbox, but with the experience of the iPad being so much nicer than my phone, I will try and wait and do everything on the iPad rather than the phone.
I may regret getting thenipad now rather than waiting for the new one when it comes out, but I will not regret getting one in the first place, top notch device with it's limitations, but I still love it.

DaveMTL says:

@Erik - Can you list a few of the tablets you speak of? The only Android tablet which I heard of was a 7" from KMart and it's hardware left much to be desired. I'm certain everyone would like to know of these other tablets which were available before the iPad.
Thanks.

rsanchez says:

It's a real bummer using a device that doesn't have native multi-tasking, isn't it? On top of that, individual app developers have to enable Apple's excuse for multi-tasking on their apps. That will be one big thing HP's webOS PalmPad will have over iPad. WebOS supported true multi-tasking from day one. Even when iPad gets Apple's multi-tasking, PalmPad will be leaps and bounds ahead of it with respect to multi-tasking right when it launches.

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