Gadgets and Games

Life With the Apple iPad, One Week Later

It's been one week since I first started using an iPad and I've been asked hundreds of questions about my experience with Apple's latest creation. Here's what I've learned.

I didn't pick up my laptop once during the entire week. That's right, not even once -- and I didn't miss it. 

The iPad replaced my laptop for almost all of my workflow. Sitting at a coffee shop I typed out dozens of e-mails on the virtual keyboard (which took some getting used to), compiled to-do lists in the day planner, read a few PDFs, read a book using the Kindle app, listened to great NPR content, read Time Magazine on the new iPad app, watched the Phillies opening-day live on the MLB app, read hundreds of news stories ... and wiped away a lot of fingerprints.


This week the iPad quickly became my favorite way of consuming Internet content. Browsing through news stories is easier and more immersive than with any other device. Sitting in bed reading news kept me up well past my bedtime -- I don't want to put it down. I agree with my friend Jason Snell at Macworld who described it this way:

"There's just something about surfing the Web using Safari on the iPad. It feels different, somehow. Apple's marketing pitch says it's like holding the Internet in your hands, and while that's a little bit cheesy, it's not far off. There's just something different about holding that Web page in your hands, rather than seeing it on a desktop or laptop PC -- or a tiny iPhone screen."

He's right and it's hard to explain unless you've browsed the Web with an iPad in your hands.

There are some issues, of course. I want to store a few files and folders locally on the iPad, which is crying out for a way to natively store a few PDFs, documents, etc. I'm not asking for a massive hard drive -- just one folder on the home screen where I could store a few things.

This week I learned that iPhone apps ported over to the iPad just don't cut it. I've deleted just about all of the apps meant for the iPhone except for a few necessities like Facebook and Tweetie, my favorite Twitter app. Having the tiny iPhone application in the center of your screen is a poor experience, and blown up to full screen it's a blurry mess. I understand why Apple made that choice, but it's just a stop-gap measure until developers get around to releasing an iPad version of their apps.

This week I found that many developers are hoping to make a mint by overcharging for applications we already have on the iPhone. 

If I paid to own a great app on my desktop, and paid to own it on my iPhone, there's no reason I should shell out another $4.99 for the same app on the iPad. I don't mind paying decent money for quality apps -- but I know when I'm being taken advantage of.

Did I mention that I want my 3G version of the iPad sooner rather than later? We'll have to wait until the end of April before Apple starts shipping the 'always connected' 3G iPad. I don't like being tethered to a Wi-Fi hotspot, I want to pull out my iPad anytime, anywhere and jump online. The Wi-Fi version doesn't cut it for me.

This week I saw the future. I now know what it's like to hold a device with a truly remarkable battery. While Apple boasts a 10 hour use time, I got much more than that, and some reports suggest a whopping 14 hour battery life.

Finally, I learned that I want more apps. I'm impatient like that. There are a few great apps to hold me over but I can't wait until month number three. By that point, developers will have worked out the kinks and released some beautifully designed pieces of software.

I see myself using my laptop for some heavy lifting like video and audio editing, but the majority of my Internet surfing will be done on the iPad. In fact I've written this entire column on my iPad. Now I just need to wipe away some more fingerprints.