What’s the iPad really good at?


I’ve had the iPad for some time now and I can tell you what I think it’s strengths and weaknesses are, based on how I use it. It’s bound to be controversial, but I think it could be helpful if you’re thinking of getting one. And it’s my blog, so hey.

Lets start with the negatives – for those of you who know me, I’m a glass kind of full guy – so I’ll finish with the good news.

What’s the iPad not so good at?

1. It’s NOT a laptop and gets a bit frustrating at the moment trying to multi task. I realise this may change over time, but at the moment it’s rubbish. Quitting out of apps to do other stuff is annoying and not a patch on a laptop.

2. Unless you buy the 3G be prepared to be at the mercy of the UKs (and mainland Europe’s) random and expensive wireless coverage. I knew this when I bought the wireless version, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take believe me.

3. Sunshine – just like one of the vampires in Twilight, the iPad despises the sun as if it’s one of the living dead. Everything reflects and it’s pretty much hopeless to look at. The reflective screen explodes with light and is a waste of time.

4. Websites – some websites are still not configured to display sites for the iPad (Google reader is particularly duff in this instance) and whilst the simple, informational sites are fine – the cooler, flash based sites are a bit of a letdown at the moment, although I think this may change as the iPad dominates.

5. Tunes – it’s not that it does iTunes badly – it’s the same as the other devices – I just find myself not really using it for tunes. It’s almost like the format of the device defies you to listen to stuff on it and not watch.

What is the iPad good at?

1. Email. Twitter. Linkedin. Facebook. – the iPad is tailor-made for this social networking and makes the entire user experience a cut above laptop and light years above iPhone usability. It makes the laptop seem overblown and the phone seem miniscule.

2. Movies – having recently flown to Spain, the journey evaporated as I watched Star Trek on the iPad. The size of the device, the screen, the headphone sound – it was all way, way better than I’d expected. The cramped spaces of budget travel were made for the iPad. Movies on the iPhone or the iPod? Forget it – this is the real deal. There’s also the added value of other passengers flashing you envious stares as you tuck into the visual treat of the latest instalment of Vicar of Dibley (or whatever takes your fancy).

3. Books – funnily enough, this is the area that I’d expected to write off the iPad. I love paper and ink and I’m sure that nothing could exceed the reading experience of a REAL book. Oh no. The iPad is just different and it absolutely works. I tell you where it works with bells on – reading on dimly lit transport (planes, trains, cars) and in rooms where an ordinary book would require a lamp or ‘big light’ on. The reading experience too is silky and controlled, with lovely little touches like bookmarks.

The other thing that was a big revelation for me was the ability to buy a book from the store – as long as you have the connection – at our villa in the Andalucian hills recently I was able to buy the book I wanted. No more scrabbling around for the pre holiday book, ordering from Amazon, and the days it takes to deliver. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis? Bought and downloaded in fifteen minutes.

4. Apps – clearly it’s early days on the App front and there’s lots to choose from – the iPad proves to be the prefect environment for some of the iPhone ‘upscaled apps’. I’ve particularly been loving the sheer practicality of The Times app. I download it religiously every morning and it acts as a digital newspaper, delivering news in a more responsive and intuitive way than the web (no more awkward folding of the broadsheet/tabloid on the train or plane, no grubby fingers from the ink either). It’s still got room for improvement, but the world has changed here and it’s definitely not going back.

Most other things just work as I’d have expected (mail, etc) and that’s Apple for you. No nasty surprises (unless you’ve got an iPhone 4 😉 And it’s obviously beautiful and feels right and all of that stuff

So there we have it – warts and all. Some winners, some losers.

Overall, the iPad is, in my opinion, living up to the ‘Game Changer’ tag a lot of people are giving it. It does some stuff OK, but it does an awful lot of stuff very, very well indeed.

One thought on “What’s the iPad really good at?

  1. Hey Phil,

    Welcome back !

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts, and tend to agree with most of them. Whilst I don’t use it for music, I do use it for reading feeds – more and more.

    But, don’t use Google Reader! Just use the Reeder App – stunning and intuitive and without a doubt, an essential app.

    You should also check out Flipboard – I think this was launched whilst you were away, but again, an essential app, very clever, and makes Facebook, Twitter, and feeds become a personalised digital magazine.

    I think once we get iOS4 on it in October (??), the multitasking issue will be solved.

    See you soon,

    Jon 🙂

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