After sifting through the backlog of April Fools Day pranks that had accumulated over the Easter weekend whilst I was hiking my way up several mountains unnecessarily (note to everyone out there, a real GPS is money well spent) the next big ticket item that seemed to be gracing my favourite news sources was of course the iPad. Over the weekend it appears that all those who lashed out to get their hands on Apple’s latest device have finally got some physical hardware in their hot little hands and the reviews of the device have been coming thick and fast. I’ve read my fair share of the commentary of the lead up, announcement and now actual review of the hardware and if there’s one thing that stands out from all of them it’s this: I just don’t care anymore.
Way back when the iPad was still just a rumour and had a much cooler name (iTablet and iSlate have a much better ring to them in my opinion) I actually perked up at the idea. Needing some form of Apple computer to develop on I had hoped to be able to purchase what would amount to a less powerful Mac Mini stuffed into a touch screen, and had almost resigned myself to parting with circa $1000 for the privilege. The actual announcement then left me with a rather sour taste in my mouth as the device was nothing like I had imagined and was completely unsuitable for the use cases I had drawn up in my head. That’s no fault of Apple and I completely lay the blame on myself for getting caught up in any Mac hype, but that didn’t give the iPad a good first impression in my head.
However for what its worth the reviews of the device, even from those who were deliberately skeptical in the lead up to actually getting their hands on the hardware, have been fairly positive. The iPad experience seems to be well rounded and there are seemingly no 1.0 glitches to sully Apple’s reputation for good products. In all honesty I expected as much as the software hasn’t really undergone any revolutionary changes apart from a UI redesign, something Apple has proven themselves to be quite capable of doing. There’s been no report on any major website of DOA hardware or anything else so hats off to Apple for being able to ship thousands upon thousands of iPads without any glaring manufacturing defects.
Just like the original iPhone before it there are a few things missing from the device that have drawn the ire of a couple reviewers. Many of them make a point that a device like this would be a pretty darn nifty video conferencing device if there was an included camera, although since Apple has yet to include a front facing camera with their iPhone you’d have to question how much use the thing would get if it was actually there. The lack of a user login on the device is probably a bit annoying for those who were looking to have it as a coffee table device that was shared amongst a family, but the use cases for such an interface are a bit dubious (I mean really porn on the iPad? Ewwww). There’s also the usual no multi-tasking and lack of flash support but I’ve already harped on those enough already and beating a dead horse isn’t really my thing.
What I’m not seeing however is how the iPad is the media revolution device that it was supposed to be. Sure this could be due to the fact that negotiations between Apple and the media giants aren’t going along as quickly as they had planned (or the fact that most people who get their news on the Internet won’t pay for it) but those who are extolling its ease of use with all forms of media are really just regurgitating the same points they made when the iPhone came out. In reality there’s nothing new here apart from the form factor and 90% of the things that the iPad does the iPhone or iPod Touch could do before it. It’s still early days to call it a failure in that regard but for the most part even the enthusiasts aren’t really excited about the media revolution that this device was supposedly bringing in, they’re just really impressed with a solid piece of Apple hardware.
It seems whenever I post on the iPad I always have to finish it off with a “let’s wait and see” just because the product is going to need a long time for it to actually become whatever the hell it was meant to be. Apple to their credit has launched a solid bit of hardware that’s backed up by some very mature software but beyond that the device is nothing more than the giant iPod touch it was first revealed to be. I would say I’d give one to my parents, but they discovered netbooks last year and haven’t had any troubles using them. I think the iPad would just confuse them more than it would help them.
Then again, my parents aren’t that typical (I mean they did raise me up as the complete geek I am ;).