Back­ground Story

I finally got my hands on an actual base-model iPad yes­ter­day. I was going to men­tion it but waited because I didn’t want to come off as brag­ging. Plus, I wanted to give myself some time before jump­ing to any conclusions.

I didn’t pre-order one so I had to drive out early to a Best Buy around the cor­ner from me and wait in line. Sales were to go on at 9:00 AM, so I left the door at 7:30. I didn’t know what to expect. If there was going to be a huge line, then I would’ve turned the car around and wait the sales-hype out just like most ordi­nary peo­ple. I fig­ured that if the line wasn’t that bad, I could surf the web on my phone and look up some infor­ma­tion on Word­Press plu­g­ins and func­tion­al­ity. This way, wait­ing in line wouldn’t be a com­pletely friv­o­lous waste of time.

Turns out that there was only one other per­son wait­ing in his car and a Best Buy employee sweep­ing the park­ing lot. The employee said that they had them and we briefly talked about the poten­tials of such a device.

I got to chat­ting with the lone other guy sit­ting in his car wait­ing for the doors to open. Turns out to be a very inter­est­ing fel­low — he was a research sci­en­tist for the Depart­ment of Defense at the MIT Robot­ics Lab who was work­ing on a landmine-sniffing robot. He explained that he was new to the area and bored out of his mind because he didn’t know any­one around here.

So we waited. 9:00 AM roles around and the employee comes out of the store and doesn’t look too happy. He walked up to us and explained that every store in the area has had ship­ping prob­lems and that no one was going to get them. The sci­en­tist stand­ing next to me explains that he wanted to see if the man­ager could get us a “ticket” for wait­ing instead, or to see if there’s any other stores that can hand one out. So we end up wait­ing another half hour while the man­ager calls around but to no avail. He ends up writ­ing the both of us a ticket which says we need to make the pur­chase before 5:00 PM that very day.

I head back home and a hour later, I receive the phone call that they just received them so I head back out. There were only three left on the shelves, and one of them was going to shortly be in my hands.

Rea­sons Why I Pur­chased an iPad

The rea­sons why I bought the iPad are to serve sev­eral dif­fer­ent functions:

  1. Devel­op­ment.
  2. Test­ing.
  3. Surf­ing the web or watch­ing movies in my bath­room, on the back porch, or in my bed.
  4. An extra device to have run­ning while my com­put­ers are processing.
  5. Future poten­tial for an extra monitor.
  6. Future direc­tion for the way desk­top com­put­ers and lap­tops are headed.
  7. Last but not least, I sim­ply love gadgets.

My iPad Opin­ion and Review

It wasn’t just hype dri­ving my infat­u­a­tion with the poten­tial of this device. Shortly after Apple announced it, I had writ­ten my own arti­cle stat­ing why I thought this type of device is the direc­tion the future is headed-in. A lot of the 3D artists, pro­gram­mers, and Face­book friends had debates on the forums about this device — a good num­ber of them laugh­ing at it and stat­ing, “why would I want that sort of thing?” I like to think of myself as a bit of a forward-thinker — while some peo­ple tend to only look at present poten­tial, I tend to look towards the future and see how some­thing could even­tu­ally be applied.

Within moments of unbox­ing the iPad and turn­ing it on, I was instantly hooked. The dis­play is absolutely gor­geous — a vibrant back-lit mon­i­tor which was easy-to-read. The other notice­able thing is that it fits “per­fectly” well in my hands, and is extremely light-weight. The respon­sive­ness to rotat­ing is and touch­ing but­tons is incred­i­ble. To be com­pletely hon­est, I wasn’t expect­ing too much since I had already owned a 2nd gen­er­a­tion iPhone (non-3Gs) which could be slow and inter­mit­tent at times. I had orig­i­nally thought, “well, if it’s twice as fast then I’ll be happy with it.” While I don’t have bench­marks to go on, it seems (to me at least) to be 15X faster than my iPhone and that’s no joke. It’s lightning-fast. So fast in-fact, that it seems to dust my main dual Intel Xeon 5355 while surf­ing with Fire­fox (I do have a bunch of devel­op­ment plu­g­ins run­ning on this comp.)

As for con­nect­ing every­thing up, it was extremely sim­ple. That’s kind of to be expected from Apple prod­ucts these days. They’re dummy-proof. I was up and fully run­ning within 10-minutes. The best part was that it some­how came fully-charged.

As for nav­i­gat­ing the iPad, it can sim­ply be described as intu­itive. As any­one that owns an iPhone or iPad read­ily knows, click­ing on things becomes sec­ond nature quickly.

When it comes to wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity, I have a D-Link giga­bit router with wire­less 802.11 N. The only thing I have con­nected to the wire­less por­tion is my phone. I thought for the last cou­ple of years that my wire­less setup was rather shitty — per­haps it had some­thing to do with my setup or the fact that the sig­nal was bounc­ing around cor­ners and through walls. In some sick way, I’m proud to say that it turns out that my iPhone wire­lesss con­nec­tion was shitty. My setup is com­pletely fine. I can actu­ally wan­der around the entire house and back­yard with a full five bars with the iPad unlike the iPhone which gets three bars on the back porch with the occa­sional dropout and con­stantly inter­mit­tent lag. When it comes to wire­less, there is absolutely no prob­lem what­so­ever. It works bet­ter than I had ever even imagined.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not videos were going to  play well at that res­o­lu­tion. While surf­ing YouTube on high-def, the pic­ture was impec­ca­ble. I really don’t see how (or why) you would want to squeeze even more res­o­lu­tion into a device that big.

There has also been crit­i­cism amongst peo­ple about the lack of Flash sup­port. Flash tends to drive many web­sites either with nav­i­ga­tion and/or ani­ma­tions. It is also a com­mon video player — the likes of which Hulu or Com­cast Fan­cast uses. While that is a major bum­mer, most of the web­sites I did browse didn’t even have Flash enabled so it was some­thing I really didn’t notice. If Apple refuses to sup­port Flash down the road, I can eas­ily see video web­sites switch­ing over the HTML 5 pro­to­col sim­ply because of this. What really sucks is that now I think I need to reprocess some of my own ani­ma­tions for my web­site into a HTML 5 for­mat or .mp4. In some ways, they’re forc­ing peo­ple to con­vert. It’s either sink or swim technology-wise. It has already changed the Internet’s land­scape. One thing I do hate from Apple is their Quick­time video player. I believe Quick­time does put out the best qual­ity video, how­ever it comes at a very high-cost of hav­ing to install it and the web inter­face on Win­dows x64 machines being buggy.

When it comes to appli­ca­tions, there’s plenty avail­able. What­ever runs on the iTouch or iPhone will pretty much run on an iPad, albeit at half-resolution. But there’s plenty of other ones which have been con­verted over to the new iPad inter­face. It has also made other appli­ca­tions use­less. For instance, I had a Face­book appli­ca­tion for the iPhone and now I sim­ply don’t need it. I can just con­nect to the orig­i­nal Face­book page via the browser. So I’m actu­ally stor­ing less apps mak­ing mem­ory more or less triv­ial unless I want to add libraries of music and movies.

One appli­ca­tion that piqued my inter­est was an appli­ca­tion called “Free Books.” I down­loaded it for free and was utterly amazed to find over 30,000 free books whose copy­rights have expired. If you’re an avid reader, than this device alone has more than paid for itself. It fea­tures almost all of the clas­sics, includ­ing many from my favorite author Her­man Hesse. I can­not even imag­ine read­ing books on some­thing else now. The dig­i­tal library has cer­tainly come of age — if you love the old mys­tique of dusty libraries in hard-covered leather-bound books, then it is going to make them look like old Vic­toro­las and 8-track cas­settes. I couldn’t help but mar­vel at how much money on books I would have saved back in col­lege as well as hav­ing to lug them up a hill.

The ques­tion often arises, “do I really need this device?” The answer is no. Peo­ple do not need this device any more than they need a hole in the head. Philo­soph­i­cally (and pragmatically-speaking), the only “things” peo­ple really need are food, water, and shel­ter. So no, you do not need this device. As for “want­ing” this device, I’d think many of us would want this device, but per­haps aren’t will­ing to pay the money for some­thing that can be viewed as a lux­ury — espe­cially in uncer­tain eco­nomic con­di­tions. How­ever, this is one “lux­ury” that I can guar­an­tee is here to stay. The fact is that most of us do not need lap­tops — the major­ity of peo­ple only surf the web, watch videos, and check their emails. Most aren’t going to be ren­der­ing or crunch­ing hard data (and even that will even­tu­ally become a thing of the past.) Over time, there will be other com­peti­tors and sim­i­lar devices that will fill this mar­ket. With cloud com­put­ing sit­ting there on the hori­zon, expect this design “niche” to become the de-facto stan­dard for most com­put­ers mov­ing forward.

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