Apple iPad review

It’s been years in the hyping and months in the waiting but Apple’s supersized iPod Touch, sorry, ‘magical and revolutionary’ tablet is here at last.

 

We got our hands on one of the very first production iPads to hit the stores in America, so read on for our in-depth look at the Apple iPad.

 

 

Box and build

 

There’s no mistaking Apple packaging. Shiny white cardboard box? Check! Life-size image of the product inside? Check! Embossed Apple logo? Check! Inside, the packaging seems a little rushed. There’s none of the joyous unfolding you get with an iPod or iPhone, and the flimsy plastic inset feels unnecessary.

 

The iPad comes with just a USB cable and power adaptor (not even earbuds). Of the few accessories immediately available, a skin or case would seem to be a sensible buy – the iPad’s screen is just as smooth, and its brushed aluminium back just as slippery, as an iPhone or iPod touch.

 

The weight (680g) is fine to hold in one hand while you’re typing or flicking on the screen but you’ll definitely want two hands if you’re watching a video or reading a book. There’s no cover on the USB charging dock.

 

Setting up

 

The iPad is recognised immediately by the latest version of iTunes (9.1), automatically synching iPhone/iPod touch apps, music and video files, and contact, calendar and bookmarks (Internet Explorer only) on request. The sync process stalled a couple of times but worked fine in the end – with the exception of a folder of photos that stubbornly refused to transfer.
 

Unplug the iPad and it springs instantly to life with a home screen that will be familiar to anyone with an iPhone or iPod touch. The Settings screen is now split into two, letting you browse the categories and quickly set up your Wi-Fi, mail accounts and app options.

 

—————————————————————-

More on the Apple iPad:

WIN one of five Apple iPads

Apple iPad: Ultimate guide

Apple iPad launches in US: T3 in the queue

Apple iPad unboxing and hands-on pictures

Best iPad apps on the Apple App Store

iPad alternatives – Best tablets

—————————————————————–

 

Organizing

 

The same split screen makes email a breeze, with a nippy preview window that renders attached images and opens documents in a flash (although you can only save images, not PDFs or Office files). Contact, notes and calendar apps now try to look like real world address books and diaries, complete with nicely drawn bindings and ripped-off paper pages. The illusion isn’t complete – you can’t flick through pages in your ‘diary’, for instance – but the calendar app particularly works well, and both are wicked fast to use.

 

Now’s a good time to talk about data entry. Open up a new email message and the iPad brings up a soft keyboard that’s ported straight from the iPhone. That means responsive typing, good predictive text and a sensible layout – but don’t imagine you can match the iPhone for speed. In landscape mode, the keyboard is way too large to thumb out words with two hands, and even held upright, it feels a bit of a stretch. You have to either lay it down flat and tap with two fingers, or hold it with one hand and peck with the other. Tiring.

 

Browsing and Maps

 

Everything you heard about web surfing on the iPad is true. The 1024×768 screen is superb for everyday browsing, flipping between portrait and landscape mode in seconds, delivering bright punchy colours and smooth animation. The iPhone’s flick and pinch gestures work even better on the larger screen, letting you zip around pages completely intuitively. Resizing happens totally on the fly – and you will need it as the default text size on search pages (still Google, not Bing!) is pretty tiny.

 

Yes, you will miss Flash but probably not as much as you think you will, with many of the heaviest Flash users offering dedicated iPad apps. YouTube’s preloaded app, for example, is smooth and pretty good quality, with an interface that follows the iPad’s split-screen model (although with menus on the right hand side rather than the left). Bookmarks are well handled via a pop-up menu, though they lack icons.

 

Maps look totally gorgeous on the huge screen, scrolling and zooming effortlessly. The Wi-Fi-only location finding service worked very well in central Seattle but will clearly be useless for in-car navigation.

 

Media

 

The redesigned iPod app is clear and functional but lacks the visual flair of desktop iTunes. The now familiar left-hand menu bar is no substitute for flicking through a virtual carousel of album covers, and it lacks the ability to sort songs by rating. Sound quality through the built-in speakers is predictably dire so connect a pair of decent headphones to enjoy rich, detailed audio.

 

Video quality is simply stunning, packed with detail and natural colours. To be picky, contrast and dynamic range could be better – shadows and highlights sometimes wash out – but this is the one of the very best LCD screens on the market.

 

The biggest problem you’ll have watching videos are the greasy fingerprints that the screen instantly collects. If you’re planning a long movie session, pack a screen cleaning cloth.

 

Apps and battery life

 

The good news is that virtually all of your iPhone apps will work on your iPad, albeit without GPS or 3G data links. The bad news is that most simply hover in the middle of the screen, looking forlornly miniaturised on the iPad’s sweeping vistas.

 

Last but not least, the iPad’s battery life seems to be as solid as early reports suggested. After four hours of installing apps, watching videos, listening to music, downloading files and emailing, the battery level dropped from 88% to just 70%. That suggests you’ll get a full day of use or more from a single charge of its 25Wh lithium polymer battery.

 

T3 Verdict

 

What the iPad does well – web surfing, media playback, calendar management – it does very well indeed, with a deceptive simplicity that will have computer newbies swooning. But it still struggles in key areas. Despite a new iWork package and decent enough email features, the iPad is a pain to type on and the lack of phone calling and multi-tasking could frustrate anyone trying to juggle work duties.

 

However, the larger screen and heftier processor means it’s far more than just a pumped-up iPod touch. High Def gaming promises to take off, VOIP calls are a great feature and as an ebook and enewspaper reader, it’s a glossy Hello! to the Kindle’s stodgy Spectator.

 

The iPad may not be quite as magical and revolutionary as Steve Jobs would have you believe, but judging by the enthusiasm – and diversity – of the crowd at its launch today, it’s set to storm the gadget world.
 

 


It’s been years in the hyping and months in the waiting but Apple’s supersized iPod Touch, sorry, ‘magical and revolutionary’ tablet is here at last.

 

We got our hands on one of the very first production iPads to hit the stores in America, so read on for our in-depth look at the Apple iPad.

 

 

Box and build

 

There’s no mistaking Apple packaging. Shiny white cardboard box? Check! Life-size image of the product inside? Check! Embossed Apple logo? Check! Inside, the packaging seems a little rushed. There’s none of the joyous unfolding you get with an iPod or iPhone, and the flimsy plastic inset feels unnecessary.

 

The iPad comes with just a USB cable and power adaptor (not even earbuds). Of the few accessories immediately available, a skin or case would seem to be a sensible buy – the iPad’s screen is just as smooth, and its brushed aluminium back just as slippery, as an iPhone or iPod touch.

 

The weight (680g) is fine to hold in one hand while you’re typing or flicking on the screen but you’ll definitely want two hands if you’re watching a video or reading a book. There’s no cover on the USB charging dock.

 

Setting up

 

The iPad is recognised immediately by the latest version of iTunes (9.1), automatically synching iPhone/iPod touch apps, music and video files, and contact, calendar and bookmarks (Internet Explorer only) on request. The sync process stalled a couple of times but worked fine in the end – with the exception of a folder of photos that stubbornly refused to transfer.
 

Unplug the iPad and it springs instantly to life with a home screen that will be familiar to anyone with an iPhone or iPod touch. The Settings screen is now split into two, letting you browse the categories and quickly set up your Wi-Fi, mail accounts and app options.

 

—————————————————————-

More on the Apple iPad:

WIN one of five Apple iPads

Apple iPad: Ultimate guide

Apple iPad launches in US: T3 in the queue

Apple iPad unboxing and hands-on pictures

Best iPad apps on the Apple App Store

iPad alternatives – Best tablets

—————————————————————–

 

Organizing

 

The same split screen makes email a breeze, with a nippy preview window that renders attached images and opens documents in a flash (although you can only save images, not PDFs or Office files). Contact, notes and calendar apps now try to look like real world address books and diaries, complete with nicely drawn bindings and ripped-off paper pages. The illusion isn’t complete – you can’t flick through pages in your ‘diary’, for instance – but the calendar app particularly works well, and both are wicked fast to use.

 

Now’s a good time to talk about data entry. Open up a new email message and the iPad brings up a soft keyboard that’s ported straight from the iPhone. That means responsive typing, good predictive text and a sensible layout – but don’t imagine you can match the iPhone for speed. In landscape mode, the keyboard is way too large to thumb out words with two hands, and even held upright, it feels a bit of a stretch. You have to either lay it down flat and tap with two fingers, or hold it with one hand and peck with the other. Tiring.

 

Browsing and Maps

 

Everything you heard about web surfing on the iPad is true. The 1024×768 screen is superb for everyday browsing, flipping between portrait and landscape mode in seconds, delivering bright punchy colours and smooth animation. The iPhone’s flick and pinch gestures work even better on the larger screen, letting you zip around pages completely intuitively. Resizing happens totally on the fly – and you will need it as the default text size on search pages (still Google, not Bing!) is pretty tiny.

 

Yes, you will miss Flash but probably not as much as you think you will, with many of the heaviest Flash users offering dedicated iPad apps. YouTube’s preloaded app, for example, is smooth and pretty good quality, with an interface that follows the iPad’s split-screen model (although with menus on the right hand side rather than the left). Bookmarks are well handled via a pop-up menu, though they lack icons.

 

Maps look totally gorgeous on the huge screen, scrolling and zooming effortlessly. The Wi-Fi-only location finding service worked very well in central Seattle but will clearly be useless for in-car navigation.

 

Media

 

The redesigned iPod app is clear and functional but lacks the visual flair of desktop iTunes. The now familiar left-hand menu bar is no substitute for flicking through a virtual carousel of album covers, and it lacks the ability to sort songs by rating. Sound quality through the built-in speakers is predictably dire so connect a pair of decent headphones to enjoy rich, detailed audio.

 

Video quality is simply stunning, packed with detail and natural colours. To be picky, contrast and dynamic range could be better – shadows and highlights sometimes wash out – but this is the one of the very best LCD screens on the market.

 

The biggest problem you’ll have watching videos are the greasy fingerprints that the screen instantly collects. If you’re planning a long movie session, pack a screen cleaning cloth.

 

Apps and battery life

 

The good news is that virtually all of your iPhone apps will work on your iPad, albeit without GPS or 3G data links. The bad news is that most simply hover in the middle of the screen, looking forlornly miniaturised on the iPad’s sweeping vistas.

 

Last but not least, the iPad’s battery life seems to be as solid as early reports suggested. After four hours of installing apps, watching videos, listening to music, downloading files and emailing, the battery level dropped from 88% to just 70%. That suggests you’ll get a full day of use or more from a single charge of its 25Wh lithium polymer battery.

 

T3 Verdict

 

What the iPad does well – web surfing, media playback, calendar management – it does very well indeed, with a deceptive simplicity that will have computer newbies swooning. But it still struggles in key areas. Despite a new iWork package and decent enough email features, the iPad is a pain to type on and the lack of phone calling and multi-tasking could frustrate anyone trying to juggle work duties.

 

However, the larger screen and heftier processor means it’s far more than just a pumped-up iPod touch. High Def gaming promises to take off, VOIP calls are a great feature and as an ebook and enewspaper reader, it’s a glossy Hello! to the Kindle’s stodgy Spectator.

 

The iPad may not be quite as magical and revolutionary as Steve Jobs would have you believe, but judging by the enthusiasm – and diversity – of the crowd at its launch today, it’s set to storm the gadget world.
 

 


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