Like 300,000 other people, I have a shiny new iPad in hand. Here is my very short review:
Apple is going to sell a huge pile of these things.
Expanding on that…
Lots of other companies are going to sell an enormous pile of apps for the iPad. From the point of view of a maker of software, this is a very appealing market. As with the iPhone before it though, my main concern is that it is such an appealing market, that is might actually have an unfavorable ratio of developers to customers.
Other hardware and software makers are either in panic mode, or they should be and will suffer if they aren’t.
The device and its software are remarkably polished and ready for wide use, primarily for content consumption. There are many commentaries out there about the iPad as a device only for consumption, citing the lack of a keyboard and camera among other factors. While the lack of a camera in iPad v1 is a bit annoying, I expect that to be fixed in the next version (2011?). Regarding the keyboard, I am also a fan of physical keyboards, but I was able to write the first draft of this post on an iPad without much difficulty. It is clearly unsuitable for writing many pages of text or extensive editing, but quite sufficient for blog posts, tweets, organizing and naming photographs, short emails, and many other minor-data-entry tasks done every day.
On the other hand, I generally agree with the many comments out there about open vs. closed systems, and I am a fan mostly of the former. We are in a situation right now where is one particular closed system has a great lead on the open alternatives, a situation I expect to continue for a few years but not much longer. The hardware design needed to make the iPad work is currently an area where Apple is well ahead of its competition; but they will catch up. Android devices with a similar form factor, battery life, and somewhat-as-polished user experience will appear.
The biggest surprise so far is Pages – it works much better than I expected (which was admittedly a low bar). A related annoyance is that Pages documents don’t automatically sync in iTunes; rather iTunes provides a GUI by which I can manually copy Pages files back and forth.
The second biggest surprise is my impression of the size of the iPad. I had expected it to feel a bit too small; instead, I think it’s actually a bit too large. I wouldn’t be surprised to see v2 feature a screen 1/2 inch smaller, and overall size 1 inch smaller.
As I expected, for me an iPad is an adjunct to my real computers. My work involves extensive use of multitasking, keyboard, pixel-accurate mouse positioning, large hierarchical collections of files, and all the other things that modern “real” computers are well suited for. I don’t see this as problem for the iPad though; for it to succeed, it is not necessary for grown-up computers to fail. It doesn’t even need netbooks to fail.
Lastly, it has been observed that iPad use requires a knees-up sitting position, and I can confirm this is true. There isn’t a good way to rest an iPad and have both hands free to use it, while tilting it to a reasonable viewing angle, other than with one’s knees up.