3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

My iPad Review

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.