This was a difficult article for me to write, mainly because I just haven't been able to nail down my thoughts on whether I believe the iPad has
lived up to "my" expectations of what I thought it would be.
Prior to the launch of the iPad I truly believed that this would be a game changing product. I imagined that students,
parents, techies, road warriors, and teens would all want an iPad thanks to its ease-of-use and portability. To me, the entire process
of waiting for a notebook computer to boot-up just to do even the simplest task like web surfacing or checking email is very counter-productive.
The iPad, with its instant on / off and incredible battery life (10+ hours), seems like the ultimate take-anywhere computer. And for many,
just may be.
Like many of the other reviews out there, I will be covering both the things I love about the iPad and the the things I don't love about it.
There will also be many facets of the iPad that I won't cover in this article, mainly because I would rather focus on what my impressions of the iPad
are now - aftering using it, compared to what they were just the day before it was released.
While it is easy to fall in love with the iPad, there are a few issues that have made me wonder if this marriage will ultimately work out.
After all, we all know how enduring love is when it's based on looks alone.
Why it May Not Be The Ultimate Marriage
The size and form factor is definitely one of the reasons you'll fall in love with the iPad, but it may also be one of the reasons you find the
marriage a bit disconnected. The 9.7" display is bright and beautiful with text and graphics that are crisp and sharp, but this is before
you start to swipe, pinch, and tap all over the screen. The size of the display combined with the glossy finish makes smudges and fingerprints
stick out like a soar thumb. Fortunately, the fingerprints and smudges all but disappear when the iPad is turned on, but it makes for a terrible
first impression when showing others. The work around for this issue may be to install an aftermarket screen protector, but I can only
imagine how many screen protectors I'll waste trying to get just one to adhere without air bubbles.
The light 1.5 lb weight of the iPad is another reason to fall in love with the iPad. Now you can leave you 3 - 6 lb net book or laptop at
home and take the iPad with you on vacation to check up on your email, social media connections, and news. It will make reading in the
airport, on the plane, or in the hotel a lot more fun and you'll most likely be able to do all three before needing to recharge it.
Unfortunately, while the iPad is very light, it doesn't feel as light as it is. Compared to a heavier notebook which you use by placing it
down on a desk, table, or in your lap, the iPad is more likely to be held in much the same way you would a magazine. Not only does this get
uncomfortable after a short while, it also makes typing a bit more awkward.
Typing on the iPad
Typing on the iPad is best for those that "hunt & peck," although better typists will still be able to get upwards of 40-45 words per minute
once they learn to hover about an inch over the keyboard while typing Multi-touch is a great feature of the iPad but not while typing.
Keeping your hands about an inch above the keys while typing will help to ensure that only one key is pressed at a time. The other thing to keep in mind is that
the lack of tactile feedback means that you really need to keep your eyes on the screen. If you often have to type in written documents into
the computer you'll be better off getting the iPad Keyboard dock or connect using a bluetooth keyboard for those tasks. If you are a fast
touch-typist you'll quickly discover that the on-screen keyboard lacks the ";" key that would normally fall under your right pinky finger.
So instead of the normal "ASDF JKL;" layout, you are given "ASDF and JKL." After a while you may get used to it, but I found the fastest and
most accurate solution was to use the middle three fingers on each hand to cover the keyboard. In this configuration I was able to consistently
achieve 40-45 words per minute with minimal errors.
When holding the iPad in landscape mode (horizontal) the tablet is just a bit too wide to comfortably thumb type. Yes, you can stretch those
thumbs to reach the middle characters on the keyboard, but you'll find it uncomfortable and less accurate. In Portrait mode
(vertical) the shorter distance between your left and right hands make it much easier to thumb type, but since the keyboard only takes up the
lower ¼ of the screen, the iPad will now feel a bit top-heavy and will make it more tiring to type for any real length of time.
The best typing position for a 'naked' iPad would be to use the iPad horizontally on your lap. The keys are large and wide in landscape mode
and you'll find typing accuracy will be pretty good. Ergonomically speaking, it probably isn't the best position to be typing in.
The Apple iPad case is one of the best accessories available (for now) for the iPad. Not only does the case protect the iPad during and when not in
use, it also features a front cover that can be flipped around to provide a slant to the iPad, much like typing on the top of a 3-ring binder.
This works great either on a desk or lap. The case does pick up specs of dust especially when wiping the screen clean, but overall it's a great
solution. The texture finish also makes it easy to hang on to the iPad when carrying it around.
The iPad / iPhone OS
Top Navigation Controls Need to be Moved to the Bottom of the Screen
I love the iPad operating system; For the most part it is very intuitive and fluid, especially when zooming, panning, sliding, pinching,
and tapping. The one design flaw I have noticed over the first couple of days is that the top-navigation controls should be relocated to
the bottom. When holding the iPad, especially in portrait view, you'll be holding the iPad around the lower 1/3rd of the device,
making it inconvenient to keep reaching up to hit the "back" button in Safari or to use other menu options in apps like
"Pages," "Mail," "iPod" or virtually all other application with top navigation. On the iPhone the screen
is so small it doesn't matter, although interestingly enough many of the navigation bars on the iPhone are located on the bottom of the screen.
Is It Really Charging?
Another OS issue I discovered is that when the iPad is plugged directly into most USB ports the device will sync, but not charge. At least
that's what the message says at the top right of the display. This is a big mistake and one that hopefully will be corrected by Apple
in upcoming firmware releases. When the iPad is docked to a computer it should charge as well as sync, period.
I went to the web to see if others were having problems and found that this is an issue with all iPad's, however it seems that the "no
charging" message may not be 100% accurate. From what I have read on various web sites, the iPad will indeed charge from the
majority of USB ports, but only when the iPad is in sleep mode. If the iPad is turned on while connected it does actually receive enough
juice to keep the battery life from draining, but not enough to actually increase the charge. I have tested this and found this to be the case.
After keeping my iPad plugged into my PC's USB port for over 3 hours with the screen turned on, I did not lose any battery life. Also, some newer
model Macs have a higher power USB port, which will enable the iPad to charge normally, even when on.
The Constantly Moving Volume Control
Ok, this next quibble is more me than the iPad and it's a bit silly to mention, but I still thought I would mention it. When holding the
iPad in its default position the screen is vertical, the home button is centered below the screen; the standby button is on the top-right;
volume controls and rotate lock are along the upper right edge, and the headphone jack and microphone is located along the left top edge.
However, since the iPad will rotate to any of four orientations, I was constantly losing track of the volume controls. Watching a video
in portrait mode puts the volume controls along the right (or left) edge, watching a video in landscape mode and you'll find it either
on the bottom right or top left. Not a big deal until you're in the middle of
a classroom or meeting and happen to navigate to a web page or video only to discover
that the volume control is cranked up all the way, and now you're fumbling
around to find the controls while the embarrassment grows. I guess the best way to prevent this would be to keep the rotate option
locked or keep the sound off by default. The Apple iPad case, which I love, makes this more problematic than it normally would be since
the case blocks the visibility of the buttons and also has a button-matching black finish.
Here's a tip for those that need to mute the sound quickly. Press and hold the volume-down button and after about ½ second it will
jump to MUTE.
The Best Computer is the One That's with You
This line is a rework of a quote from photographer Chase
Jarvis who always says that the "The best camera is the one that's with
you." Chase even has an iPhone app
called the "The Best Camera" app. The
reason for this quote is that unlike the other bigger, higher-resolution, and
more capable camera's that you may own, it's most likely your phone camera that
will be with you when you really need it - since, well, it's always with you.
This quote came to mind during Easter when I was showing the iPad to family members. Since it doesn't fit in a pocket, it inevitably ended up on the coffee table or couch. I was out on the patio enjoying the great
75-degree Easter Sunday (in New Hampshire), when I was asked if I remembered what year the May 9th Massachusetts ice storm took place. I would have preferred to use the iPad to
look up the info, but guess which computer was immediately accessible to me? The iPhone. It was much more convenient to do a quick search on the iPhone that it
would have been to walk around the house looking for where I (or in this case a family member) left the iPad. I have a
funny feeling the iPad will soon become the equivalent to a TV remote or a set of keys - always wondering where I last left it.
I also took it with me in the car over the weekend, using it
and getting to know it at any opportunity.
However, due to its size, I had to figure out where to leave it when I
left my car to do some shopping. I ended
up sliding it under the seat, whereas my iPhone was slid into my pocket. Again, the iPhone will be the one device
I'll almost always have with me - and when I need it the most. Luckily I found that my 5 year old
ScotteVest jacket has an inside pocket that fits the iPad perfectly. This will allow me to take it with me to more
The applications that are available specifically for the
iPad's larger display are head and shoulders above their iPhone
equivalent. The larger screen real
estate and faster processor is allowing programmers to not just super size
their apps, but also provide functionality that would have been impractical on
the smaller iPhone screen.
In the first weekend of availability there were about 1300 iPad
apps available, but the iPad will also run all the apps designed for the
iPhone, which brings the selection to well over 100,000 apps. Since iPhone apps are written for a much
lower resolution display, they only take up the center ¼ portion of the
screen. Luckily, Apple added in a 2x
zoom feature for iPhone apps, allowing them to use up a larger portion of your
display. While resolution isn't great I
did find that using iPhone apps definitely helps make the wait for the
publisher to rewrite the app for the iPad that much easier.
Despite the fact that iPhone apps will run on your iPad, I can almost guarantee that you'll never purchase an iPhone app to run specifically on your iPad. Why? Once
you see an app that was written specifically for the iPad screen, you'll never go back to one designed for the iPhone screen - unless of course you have an
My Recommended App List for Photographers & Cinematographers
Since the focus of Cameratown is photography and cinematography I thought I would share some of first apps that I have downloaded over the weekend
that are photography or cinematography centric. Most of the descriptions are direct from the software company, though I have added comments
to some of these as well (in italics).
(Free) - Cameratown Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Filterstorm was designed from the ground up to meet your mobile photo editing
needs. Using a uniquely crafted touch interface, Filterstorm allows for more
intuitive editing than its desktop counterparts with a toolset designed for
The app allows you
to load and save images, crop, and change to B&W, and offers adjustment
sliders for hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast as well as a curves tool
with histogram. There are also preset
filters for vignettes, noise reduction, sharpen, posterize, tone map, box blur,
(Free) - Cameratown Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
LightTrac is a must have tool for photographers who are interested in
knowing the ideal times to shoot your photos outdoors. As a serious
photographer, there may be times you wished you knew what elevation and
direction the sun would hit a pond or lake or waterfall or any outdoor subject
for that matter. With the help of LightTrac, you can find out both the
direction and elevation of Sun at any time of day for any location in the
world. Also switch between the locations for quick reference. It becomes an
indispensable tool once you start using it.
- Clinemeter (0.99 cents) -
Cameratown Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
This professional tool called Clinometer is
the most precise (all you can get with some calculations) slope measurement
tool for the iPhone/IPod Touch. It can be used for simple applications like
aligning a frame as well as for more sophisticated fields of applications where
an arbitrary slope needs to be measured exactly. Read the reviews (and write
your own) for all the applications you find!
A very useful app for photographers and
cinematographers who want a precision tool for measuring angles and
slopes. The ultimate bubble level!
- Adobe Ideas 1.0 for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 2 Stars out of 5
Adobe Ideas is your
digital sketchbook, letting you capture and explore ideas anywhere you go.
Adobe Ideas is an ideal companion for the professional design applications from
Adobe, including Adobe Illustrator® and Adobe Photoshop® software.
Features include: Simple vector-based
drawing tools, zoom without jaggies or big pixels, variable-size brushes using
multitouch control, vector eraser, huge virtual canvas, email ideas as PDF
files, gallery style organizer allows you to scroll through your ideas,
separate drawing and photo layers, 50-level undo.
for iPad ($1.99) - Cameratown
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Slides is a slideshow editor with Facebook integration. It turns your iPad
into a digital photo frame with Facebook photos of you and your friends. Browse
your Facebook photos by albums or tags and add your favorite photos to the
slideshow. You can also pitch and zoom for each slide and rearrange the slides
to create your unique slideshow. Slides
has built-in music and transitions (dissolve, move in, push, reveal, spin ,and
flip) to enhance the picture frame experience.
(Free) - Cameratown Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Puts the power of full-screen photos, dazzling slideshows and HD video
right into your client's hands. View your galleries with a glance and a swipe.
With a portable portfolio you're always ready to show off and seal the deal. Use your iPad as a digital photo frame and
display all your images in one sleek
setting. Prop it on the shelf and grab it when you're on the go.
IMDb (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
IMDb is the world's largest collection of movie, TV and celebrity
information. IMDb is the leading app on the iPhone and iPod Touch to find US
showtimes, watch trailers, browse photo galleries, get US TV listings, find
latest DVD releases, explore popular charts and share movie info. A great tool for cinematographers who like to research information on films
for the iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click
Stumble!, we deliver high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences.
These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of 8
million+ other web surfers with interests similar to you. Rating these sites you
like automatically shares them with like-minded people - and helps you discover
great sites your friends recommend.
Cameratown: I feel this is a great app
for discovering new websites relating to photography, great images from around
the web as well as from Flickr.
Memos for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
The iPad doesn't ship with an audio recorder app. With Voice Memos for
iPad, you can now record audio on your iPad using the built-in microphone, your
headset, or an external mic.
If you want
to use the email function you'll have to upgrade to the 0.99 cent version, a
very fair price in my view. Add a trim
or editing function and this would have received 5 stars.
Weather Channel for the iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating - 4.0 Stars out of 5
A smart photographer or cinematographer will check the weather well in
advance of a shoot and will continuously check the radar leading up to a
shoot. I personally use the Weather
Channel app to try to gauge the quality of the upcoming sunset or sunrise. I like a sky with some clouds as it adds
contrast, looks great with wide-angle lenses, and makes for great sunrises and
sunsets. The iPad version of The Weather
Channel also features a 3 hour "futurecast" option to provide a look at what
the near future may hold.
for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
There are literally thousands of photographers and cinematographers out
there with a wordpress blog. Wordpress
for the iPad makes it easy to manage your website right from the comfort of your
couch. You can create a new post, edit a
post, and read / delete comments. My
only complaint is that there doesn't seem to be a way to preview your post
before submitting it.
for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Twitterrific is the friendly, award-winning
Twitter client that's beautiful to look at, easy to use and full of elegant
features. Effortlessly read and compose tweets, search Twitter.com, filter
message types and much more!
the look and simplicity of Twitterific, although it lacks the ability to add a
photo to a post and just doesn't quite match the power of TweetDeck (see below)
for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
TweetDeck is the best way to stay in touch with what's happening now on
Twitter for your iPad. TweetDeck's iPad optimized interface shows you
everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organized and up to date
wherever you are. Fully manage all your
Twitter accounts. Check web pages from within TweetDeck, and attach photos to
for iPad (Free) - Cameratown Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5
If you like to have the latest technology, then you know the advantages of
selling your old gear on eBay or buying new or used gear on eBay to save money. This app for the iPad is well designed and
allows you to check the status of your "My eBay" account, but unfortunately you
cannot post to eBay from within this app or check messages. eBay does make a "seller" app for the iPhone,
but it has not been rewritten for the iPad.
A Game Changer?
For the record I want to apologize about something. For weeks I have been saying that I believed that the iPad would be a "game changer."
Since I had never touched the iPad at that point, it was a statement based more on belief that reality, and was no more accurate or honest than
those who have been commenting negatively about the iPad without ever having used it. My opinions were based on the fact that current
laptop computers, for the most part, are just plain overkill for most folks. They have terrible battery life, are too heavy,
and they take too long to ‘boot' up and turn off. Add to that the fact that probably 90% of
consumers that use a notebook computer outside of work only use it to check email, catch up on
news, surf the web or check their Facebook page - and it's easy to see why the whole idea of a
"desktop" on your lap is overkill for many people.
The iPad is the answer to almost every negative feature of a portable / laptop computer. It's very lightweight (1.5 lbs); it turns on instantly; features a true 10-hour battery;
it doesn't require a big carrying case; it is totally silent since there are no fans needed or hard drives; and most importantly, the interface was designed
from the ground for easy-to-use portable computing.
Sure, Net books have seen explosive sales over the past
couple of years thanks to the under $400 price tag, but the net book has always
been a stop-gap answer to portable computing, since they share most of the same
issues that plague all traditional laptops (i.e. poor battery life, long boot and shut-down
times, and a clunky operating system designed for more powerful computers).
The whole idea of a lightweight tablet with an OS specifically designed for mobile computing has always made a lot of sense to me, but it
wasn't until Apple's iPad announcement that anyone has had a real chance on getting the masses to take notice. Their success with the
iPhone's simple design and easy-as-pie interface, combined with the ability to download useful (and some not so useful) and inexpensive applications
has made the iPhone the de facto standard against which all smart phones are compared - and now they have introduced a tablet with the same
advantages AND to a consumer that already likes and is comfortable with the touch interface. But once I started actually using the iPad
it quickly became apparent that the what worked for the iPhone may not be enough for the iPad.
Since the iPad has a much higher-resolution and larger display, software developers are already writing apps with more substance, giving them
desktop-like functionality. That's great news until you discover that the iPad wasn't designed to be a desktop replacement. A laptop
or net book CAN be someone;s only computer, but the iPad was designed by Apple to be a companion to a desktop or laptop computer, which is
why the minute you take it out of the box it asks to be connected to a computer so that it can shake hands with Apple's iTunes 9.1 software.
The iPad also lacks printer support or a USB port as standard, forcing you to email content to another computer for sharing or
printing. Yes, there are apps in the iTunes App Store that allow you to print wirelessly through a desktop or laptop computer, but there
doesn't seem to be one solution that works for every app situation. Some will print from the email and web app, but not through Apple's Pages app or
Google Maps. Just with these two omissions alone it becomes obvious that the iPad was designed to be a standalone computer solution. The lack
of direct connectivity and an always-on internet connection are the main reasons I don't feel that the iPad is as strong a product as I
believed it would be. However, I do believe that it has already become a game changer to the degree that it has put the tablet PC
into the spotlight. Since the initial announcement of the iPad, there have been dozens of other tablet PC announcements, but none of them with the
simplicity and design that has garnered so much attention for the iPad. If other companies hope to compete with the iPad in the coming months they
better get their act together before Apple releases an update.
In this review I didn't bother talking about the included iPad apps (iBooks, Maps, YouTube, Photos, Safari, Mail, etc.) since there is plenty of
information and demos on the Apple website about each of these. My main goal of this review was to provide my thoughts of the iPad after extensively
using it for a couple of days. In the weeks to come I will be taking a closer look at individual features and applications and I am sure that my fondness
for the iPad will continue to grow and grow as new functionality is introduced.