The iPad experience

Yesterday I had some business in Belfast, and on the spur of the moment I visited the Apple store there to see whether they might have an iPad (and expecting they wouldn’t, given the run on the device). Amazingly they did, and here I am the proud owner of a WiFi/3G iPad, and this post is written on it.

It’s early days yet, but I am inclined to say that the hype is not wrong. The design, of course, is excellent, but it is also very intuitive to use, and extremely flexible. I would also have to say that, as an ebook reader, it is more user-friendly than the Kindle, and what you are reading has more of the ‘look and feel’ of a book.

One very positive experience has been the on-screen keyboard, which for me at least is usable in much the same way and at much the same speed as a ‘normal’ one. I suspect it may not be so good for those who do touch-typing. However, I also bought (and am here using) an add-on keyboard and charger, which works like any other Macintosh keyboard.

The downside? It’s slightly heavier than I had expected, though hardly so heavy as to be inconvenient. And as far as I can tell so far, the battery life is only so-so – it is running down much faster than the Kindle, though admittedly it has much more processing to do.

My verdict? This is not a ‘tablet computer’, and Apple were right to avoid a name that would have suggested that it is. It is something much better. Having used it now for a day, I am inclined to agree that these devices, and ones like them, are likely to be the computers of tomorrow. If I were you, I’d invest in one.

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16 Comments on “The iPad experience”

  1. Vincent Says:

    So, you are saying when on a trip to the States or Cork you will need a charging point or a trunk full of batteries ?.

  2. Jilly Says:

    I think your comment on the touch-typing aspect of using an iPad is interesting. In the days of the typewriter (used by secretaries), all full-time users could touch-type, and it was accepted that they had to. Once the computer arrived and then took hold, the typing pool died away as (almost) everyone had to become their own secretary. And yet touch-typing skills did not spread with the spread of the computer. So for well over a decade now, enormous numbers of people who would once have had secretaries now spend their time pecking away at keyboards with somewhere between 1 and 5 fingers. This not only undermines the supposed efficiency gains of using a computer over a typewriter, but is also VERY bad for people’s necks and backs.

    And now it would appear that the very technology itself is evolving to be incompatible with touch-typing. So even those of us who can touch-type (a skill I rank as highly as my PhD, given that I spend most of my working days chained to my computer) would no longer be able to do so if we bought an iPad. Given the health implications of not touch-typing, I think this is a pretty significant development. And one which would be enough to put me off an iPad, all by itself…


    • Ah, but Jilly, you can buy the add-on keyboard as I did.

      • wendymr Says:

        …which surely then takes away from its utility as a small and very portable device? Think I’ll stick with my netbook 😉


        • Not at all! The keyboard can be there at the office, but you don’t need to take it with you as you move around. Trust me, Wendy, this is nothing like a netbook…

        • wendymr Says:

          But, since most of what I like to do with a computer as I move around involves a keyboard…

          I know it’s nothing like a netbook, which is why it has no utility for me, particularly given the bizarre restriction on running different application simultaneously (You should see the number of windows I have open at a time, as well as tabs in Firefox!). Maybe in a year or two when tablet PCs come into their own and offer a lot more functionality than the iPad. At any rate, when I do get one it won’t be Apple!

  3. John Says:

    I use two fingers and can still type faster than I can think.


    • Yes, the same gies for me, I type very fast with three fingers. But I cannot read as I write, which is a drawback.

      • Jilly Says:

        …it’s not just about speed (although I’ve seen the ‘fast’ two-fingered typing, and it’s really not that fast), it’s also about posture. One of the things touch-typing does is get you to sit with your back, neck and shoulders relaxed and at the right angle. Typing for any period of time in any other way is really bad for you, and over a period of years (an entire career?) makes you vulnerable to really serious problems.

        I found learning to type properly surprisingly easy. I did a 1-week intensive course and could touch-type at the end of it. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent. As for the add-on keyboard for the iPad, mightn’t you just as well be using a normal computer, once you’ve done that?


        • Jilly, you wrote: ‘mightn’t you just as well be using a normal computer, once you’ve done that?’

          No, because with the best will in the world, I cannot detach my ‘normal’ computer and take it with me to read a book in bed, or carry it to my next meeting to take notes, or take it in the train etc etc. Some of those things I can do with my laptop, but not all of them.

  4. John Says:

    On the battery-life question, what kind of battery is it? NiCd and NiMh will usually increase their mAh capacity after a few charge-discharge cycles; I’ve noticed a similar effect with LiIon and LiPo.

    Is there a hard disk or is it all electronic memory?

  5. John Says:

    I’m off to scrape a boat right now, so it occurs to me to ask

    – what’s the screen visibility like outdoors?
    – is it waterproof?
    – is it GPS’ed up?
    – does it float?

  6. Victor Says:

    The problem is security
    Most US companies will not allow iphone or ipad
    for anything important, let alone mission critical.
    Apple is a nice toy but not serious for commerce or defense.
    Blackberry is ok for some lower levels, not Apple.

  7. John Says:

    Screen visibility outdoors is a key issue (and limitation) in portable computing.

  8. Neal Says:

    I have to say I’m intrigued by the concept. I’ve tried a netbook and gave up as found the keyboard too small and without text correction (for me of the unsung heroes of iPhones and Android devices – it’s the reason I can now work on miniature computers with worries for accuracy), essentially useless.
    The idea of a portable device with all books, note-taking, ‘net access is a pretty strong sell. An e-book reader has completely won me over, the sheer benefits of carrying multiple books in one form factor. So a device that can do everything else is huge. I’m indifferent to who makes it, but Apple is onto something here.

    Anyway, the argument of pro-iApple and anything-but-Apple will continue for a long time to come! (from a recent Apple convertee)


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