Hands On With Apple's iPad, Everything But The Games

After burning through most of the games Apple deemed playable on its new iPad tablet computer, I ventured into the off-topic portions of the device. As an iPhone and MacBook owner, would I find the need for something in between?

That I'm still pondering. The minimum $US499 entry fee is daunting, even for someone who hardly blanched at spending more than that on a first-generation iPhone.

But the iPad is, at the very least, solidly built and beautiful to behold, slightly heavier than I expected. The stark design and big, brightly lit screen offer the viewer something more visually striking than the pocket sized iPhone/iPod Touch. The redesigned core apps, like Mail, iTunes, YouTube Videos and Maps really take advantage of that expanded screen real estate.

And, yes, it is fast. Apple's 1GHz A4 processor may not give one the impression of blazing clockspeeds, but navigating the iPad interface, jumping in and out of apps and browsing multimedia was speedy. No lag. Shame then that there's no multitasking.

It's also a shame that there's no camera, something I would expect to see in the next iteration of the iPad. That lack of one (or more) cameras will limit some of the app support for the iPod Touch XL, but likely a small number of the 140,000 apps Apple boasts in the iTunes App Store.

As Apple head honcho Steve Jobs noted during his talk, the regular iPhone user will be very familiar with the iPad's interface, minus a few quirks. One is that, with all that extra space, native iPad apps like YouTube Videos and Maps get a bit more complicated. Searching for locations on the iPhone feels intuitive; doing the same on the iPad will take some reconditioning.

More straightforward apps, like watching movies downloaded through iTunes, managing email, calendars and adjusting settings do a damn good job of offering a lot more visual information onscreen at once.

Another quirk is the software keyboard, which does not "fix" the iPhone's keyboard woes simply by being bigger. I was still hunting and pecking, seemingly at a slower pace than on an iPhone, and making plenty of mistakes. The most frustrating change was the placement of the delete button. I've become accustomed to its placement on the iPhone, just to the right of the "M" key. The delete button is now situated in the upper right, the SHIFT key in its place, like a standard keyboard.

Of course, there's always this option.

The keyboard/dock accessory works just like a mini Apple keyboard does, letting iPad users bypass the need for onscreen typing. The implementation of the keyboard is fine, with a handful of function row keys dedicated to iPad buttons like the Home button, Search and Photos.

Much was made of the iPad's iWork suite of apps (Numbers, Pages, Keynote), a trio that I didn't test during my hands-on time. But I did get a chance to take the iBooks browser and shop for a spin, which rendered fake book pages beautifully, making customisation of the page display simple.

While the iPad looks like a solid, shiny piece of technology right now, something new to covet and throw hundreds of dollars at, it hasn't yet made a third pillar convert out of me. The device is zippy and well built, improving many of the iPhone's better first party apps. Apple still has a few kinks to work out, a few interface improvements to make, but it's worth keeping an eye on.


    To me, that photo of the iPad with the keyboard dock perfectly illustrates how pointless the whole venture is. BUY A LAPTOP.

      Agreed, It's either a crappy Macbook, Or a bigger laptop.

        exactly. at this generation and tech u'd be expecting more advanced functionality like support for stylus, and maybe something like OSX.

        it's pretty much just an XL iphone, there's not much difference.

        it's better to buy a nice lil netbook, u'd get something better for the same price pretty much XD

    Im curious. I own an iphone and i have a few paid for apps. Linking the Ipad to my iTunes account, would that mean all compatable apps would be downloadable onto the pad too?

    wow another wonderful invention by mac good work...

    I cant believe people buy this crap. Seriously, what can you use this for? Reading books?? Man, I may as well throw my obsolete laptop away then!

      Yes. They're after the Kindle market with this, which has taken off lately. Apparently people like the idea of being able to store a library's worth of literature in one device.

      Have you tried reading a laptop while you're on the toilet?

    cool idea, but way too limited for me to even think of purchasing it. Maybe when it adds some more functionality to it, cos right now all I see is an ipod touch XL.

    Am I the only one that thinks the iPad is a pile of shit?, I just don’t see a single purpose for it (besides perhaps a doorstop or drink tray). From the promo videos I’ve seen its got about half of the exact same features of an iPhone. But why would people want this when they have...you know, an iPhone, or any Smartphone for that matter. I don’t know if the iPad is marketed as “portable” but it seems like you couldn’t carry around that thing comfortably like an ipod or phone, so why not just go with a good laptop with about 100 times more functionality.

    Plus I doubt I will be buying something that sounds like it belongs in the women’s health section anytime soon.

      I'm sure the iPad will allow you to roller-skate while walking a poodle in tremendous comfort

    well im bored of it already, (especially at this price!!!)

    now get back to the real game news!

      I agree. I don't think its all that useful. I could have a use for it, but its not multitaskable. Its nice to have internet/msn type thing going while i watch tv etc. normally i have a laptop which i use for that but its no longer working. Would be cheaper to buy this for that sort of function. Also since i own an iphone i could (which i'm hoping) use a number of my paid apps without re-buying.

      You might ask why i don't use my iphone for that purpose? Too small. Takes too long to type. Ipad will probably not be much better though in that regard. Especially since its not multi touch.

      Will i buy an Ipad? Not initially but something like this has to start somewhere. This device will give the world a task and before you know it, someone else (like google etc) will improve and suddenly a device you never thought of exists and you can't live without it.

    Am I seeing an $800 iPhone that doesn't make calls or fit in your pocket?

    Or an $800 laptop that can't be used as a computer because I can't choose which software I can run on it?

    Or am I seeing an $800 ebook reader which doesn't have the main benefit of ebook readers, ie. a screen that doesnt cause eye strain?

    This is silly, but it will usher in a new age of fantastic products from other providers.

    What a waist of money, for the best part of a decade companies have been trying to convince us that we need table PCs and after all this time and all these 'innovations' I still think they are complete and utter tripe. The only thing that will change my mind is if you give me one for free and then I'll make up some reason why you should all buy one.

    lol you're disappointed over the lack of a camera, god do you demand your cereal box comes with one so that you may have your mugshot posted online showing every bit of anjoyment as you eat your corn flakes.

      You make a sound and well-rounded argument.

    Has anyone heard about the secret Microsoft tablet in development?

    Well today Apple released information that they are adding a brand new pen tool for the iPad to compete with the functionality of the MS tablet.

    The pen tool will be around 5 cm in length and white in colour. The most interesting thing though, is that the innovative pen will have a string attached, which will be useful for people who drop and lose things easily.

    The attached string is also useful for when the pen gets stuck in unlikely places. For example a couch.

    The "iTampon" release date is TBA.

      LMAO Would not be surprised at all if that did occur.

      Another pointless, limited and overpriced item from Apple that the stupid general public will buy regardless because it is from "Apple".

    YAY another craptacular Apple computer product, chuck it in the pile of worthless junk with the iMac and the MacBook. iPods are cool but apple computers are terrible.

    I think people are more dissappointed by it because of the hype before its release. Alot of media were saying its a tablet computer, and were very dissappointed by the lack of computer. As for no Flash, its is smart AND dumb. Smart because people cant play online games so they will buy more apps but dumb as alot of people use flash alot and will not buy the iPad. One last thing, its called the iPad. I think that iTablet or even iPod Touch XL would have been better.

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