Hands-On With the Apple iPad



Now that it's been a few hours since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, I've had some time to let the whole thing sink in. Those few hours taught me that there are a lot of cynical people out there. Either they're contrarians just to be contrarian or they simply lack imagination for a product that has enormous potential.

Paint me an idealist, but this geeky backlash reminds me of the cynicism surrounding the launch of the first iPhone. "Oh no! It has a proprietary headphone jack, can't do copy and paste, has no third party apps!" This time around it's, "Oh no! There's no front-facing camera, can't run background applications, and it has a large bezel." 

Really? That black frame around the screen is causing you  heartburn? Give me a break! Remember, this is a first generation device in a space that's never taken more than a few baby steps before falling on its rear end. If any tablet were to grow out of diapers, this is it.

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What about that front-facing camera? Is that a deal breaker? This device is not meant to be used at eye level, so how satisfying would video conferencing be anyway? I'd rather have a Webcam on a desktop screen than in my lap staring up my nose. And I imagine that would be doing you a favor as well.

This device was a call to arms from Apple to developers. I can't wait to see what publishers do with the new iBook format, for example -- rich media content embedded in books, interactive charts and graphs, video stories with supplemental text, and so on. I can't wait to see what newspapers do with their old rags. I can't wait to see how magazine publishers transform that boring page into a visually stunning experience. These things don't exist yet -- we can only imagine. 

What about gaming? At launch we saw only first-person shooters and racing games optimized for a 9-inch screen. As impressive as those were, humor me and imagine new iPad versions of Risk, Stratego, Monopoly, and a random medieval strategy game where you control armies with your finger, a jigsaw puzzle, I could go on and on. 

Apple announcement was like handing a kid an Erector set or a box of Legos -- go forth and build something imaginative. 

Yes I wanted the keynote to feature a whole lot more: demonstrations of video editing in iMovie with the tips of our fingers, designing web pages by dragging and dropping content in a new iWeb, building songs with a touch controlled Garageband. But am I dumb enough to think we'll never see it? No. 

Apple asked the question, "is there room for another device that sits between the iPhone and the Macbook?" Apple proved to me that the answer is "yes."


Clayton Morris gets some hands on time with the Apple iPad


Examining the New Yorker's custom-built app


Reporters use the Apple iPad, examining the e-book functionality


Testing out the virtual keyboard