(Full disclosure: This review was written on an iPad.)
A device that Apple calls “magical” right out of the gate comes with high expectations. So I waited with bated breath on the morning of April 3 for UPS to bring me the latest foray into tablet computing like the ones on sale on black friday 2022.
First, a brief history of the tablet computer and Apple: Tablet computing isn’t a new idea. It’s an idea that started roughly around the time that someone thought it would be smart to write with a pen on a computer screen. Regardless of the fact that most people can type much faster than they write, the swiveling screen tablet has quietly existed for years, not revolutionizing much.
Reports of tablet computer prototypes have existed around the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif. long before the iPhone was a thought. Back when Palm was a respected company with its PDAs, Apple put out a similar device called the Newton, geared toward business people. Years later, Apple jumped back into the idea of tablet computing, developing a device that would later be scaled down and turned into the iPhone.
So here we are, magic has come to tablet computing in the form of the iPad. While the “m” word is a strong descriptor, I have to admit that the iPad feels like the future much in the way that the iPhone did before a thousand cheap touch screen phones hit the cell phone market.
The device is big, bright and has a weight to it that makes it feel more like a computer and less like a toy. Battery life is exceptional, easily lasting through two days’ worth of gaming, tweeting, e-mailing and Internet use.
Apple has positioned the iPad between the laptop and the cell phone and acts much in the way that netbooks do. I won’t edit videos on the iPad (because I can’t) or record and mix a record, but I will use it for the light tasks we all do throughout the day. E-mail is quick and fun on the iPad, a welcome departure from the monotony of my laptop. The Internet flies and the games make wasting time feel like the joyous days of my first Game Boy.
Apple will be quick to point to the iPod Touch and iPhone as their gaming devices, though the companies actually developing the games will beg to differ. Popular iPod and iPhone games have been redeveloped and reengineered specifically for the iPad, toting the tags “HD” or “XL” to signify their differences in Apple’s App Store.
The App Store on the iPad brings more expensive apps than did the iPhone, not because of any differences in the development of apps but because developers can hike up their prices for the new device. App Store economics were worked out with the iPhone so developers know what price points will work and why.
Apple provides iBooks, a free app for starting a digital library right on the iPad. The tablet computer is also an e-reader and a direct competitor to Amazon’s Kindle. Steve Jobs says it is his hope that textbooks will make their way to the iPad as well. It’s my hope that those textbooks will be cheaper than they are in physical copies.
Reading on the iPad is not much different than reading a physical book, other than the thing that’s in your hands. Pages are numbered in normal ways (not like the Kindle’s arbitrary numbering of your progress through books) and with a drag of your finger from right to left, the pages turn beautifully.
To test iBooks, I downloaded a sample copy of Stephen King’s collection of short stories, “Different Seasons.” Apple gave me 81 pages (quite a sample) containing most of the short story, which later became the film “The Shawshank Redemption.” Reading is a pleasure, comparable to the Kindle but with a backlight.
The iPad boasts an impressive external speaker and a headphone jack for listening to music or watching movies. Organizing life becomes easy and fun with the iPad, which will eventually beg me to ask the question: “What did we all do before the iPad?”
The two core arguments against the iPad are its lack of a camera and its ability to only run one application at a time. The camera gripe is largely irrelevant to me because my laptop has a camera, as does my phone. I have enough cameras, thanks.
As for multitasking, it’s the one thing missing that will bring the iPad into the big time with the rest of mobile computing. Writing this review, I jumped out of Pages (a word processor) and into iBooks, Safari and Mail. Switching applications, though not difficult, should be as easy as a finger swipe or two. Multitasking is coming though. I don’t doubt that.
If you’ve ever watched “Minority Report” or “Avatar” and wished their computers were our computers, know that Apple just took a giant step in that direction.
Contact Social Media Editor Zack Shapiro at Zashapiro@colorado.edu.