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Apple's iPad: First impressions

A bit more than two months after its splashy product introduction, weeks after the start of an absurd excess of media coverage, and hours after particularly dedicated shoppers began waiting in lines outside stores, Apple's iPad is a $499-and-up product you can pick up in a store, plug in and start using.


What's that like?

The first words that came to mind after switching on a $699, 64-gigabyte model lent by Apple's public relations department were "blank slate." The iPad may work a lot like an iPhone or an iPod touch, but this device's far-larger touchscreen, 9.7 inches across, looks empty compared with those on Apple's smaller devices.

That phrase works as a metaphor for Apple's wireless-enabled tablet as well (the devices shipping today connect only via WiFi; mobile-broadband versions compatible with AT&T Wireless's 3G network are due late this month). Although it runs on the same software and uses the same interface as the iPhone, the iPad is a different creature, with its own quirks and capabilities for users and software developers to learn.

The most dramatic difference surfaces when you try to enter text on an iPad. Compared with an iPhone's on-screen keyboard, the iPad's looks enormous. But in a vertical, portrait orientation, it may be less comfortable than an iPhone's keyboard, since you have to stretch to hit the middle keys with your thumbs. In a horizontal, landscape mode, however, it's just possible to touch-type (with help from auto-correction software that cleans up typos and tries to guess what you'll type next).

The iPad's display rotates from portrait to landscape modes if you switch from holding it upright to sideways, then continues to rotate if you flip it again. Because its physical controls--one big home button, a power button, a switch to lock the screen and volume up/down buttons--are so unobtrusive, it can be easy to forget which end is "up."

The bigger screen also makes browsing the Web feel a lot more like the same action on a "real" computer, with far less need to scroll from side to side. But with no support for Adobe's Flash plug-in, parts of some sites--this one included--remain inaccessible on the iPad.

The 1.5-pound iPad feels heavier than it looks, which makes me doubt how many people will want to walk around with one while they catch up with their favorite blogs. This gadget seems made for a comfortable sofa (or a less-comfortable economy-class seat).

Apple says the iPad can run "almost all of" the 150,000-plus applications available for the iPhone and the iPod touch. But that doesn't mean you'd want to. These programs either occupy a small frame at the center of the screen or, if you tap a "2x" button in the corner, are crudely magnified to fill the display. The resulting bitmapped text and blurry images may leave you thinking you need a new eyeglass prescription.

Instead, you'll want to seek out programs that have been written or revised for the iPad (which Apple designates with a small plus sign in the iTunes App Store). Some don't run on the iPhone at all, such as ABC's ABC Player, which streams videos from the network's site (and gets around the iPad not including the Flash payer required by that site); Netflix's self-titled player; and Apple's own iBooks electronic-book reader program.

The last may be the most intriguing program available for the iPad, since it so directly challenges the most popular sort of tablet computer so far: Amazon's Kindle. The free iBooks ships with a copy of A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" that shows off a big iPad advantage compared with the color-deprived Kindle: the ability to display the book's original artwork.

Like its more compact cousins, the iPad can't run third-party programs in the background. So although the new iPad-compatible Pandora Web-radio application looks terrific on the iPad's bigger display, it still stops playing if you want to switch over to your e-mail.

This seems more of a problem on the iPad, thanks to it featuring a screen that looks and feels big enough to allow switching among multiple programs. At some point, Apple should find a way to make that happen. Will it?

Also unclear: Will this Cupertino, Calif., company continue to exercise its arbitrary control over the App Store, the only remotely easy way to install extra software on an iPad? The iPad offers programmers a new palette on which to create, but as long as they risk having their work rejected from the App Store--or removed after the fact for poorly explained reasons--some developers will direct their creativity elsewhere.

What else would you like to know about the iPad--or, if you've picked up one, what should I look for as I continue my evaluation? Let me know in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 3, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  E-books , Gadgets , Mobile  
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Got mine this morning in Annapolis. RealRacingHD was worth the price--it's a driving game that looks amazing. The BBC's new app has some pretty graphics. Overall the iPad was smaller than I thought, but the keyboard ended up being bigger than I expected (though I doubt I could write a novel on it). The weight hasn't bothered me.

Spending some time now removing many of my iPhone apps that auto-sync'd to the iPad as they look really bad all shrunk up on the iPad. Going to be getting the iPad versions loaded up on this and take advantage of the new screen real estate.

Posted by: idiparker | April 3, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Looks pretty cool. Saw some funny stuff on about it.

Posted by: grassyknollgunman | April 3, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Another Apple "Newton," but in color.

A simple laptop does much more, allows multitasking, and even comes with a USB port.

IPad? iPass.

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 3, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Looks pretty cool. Saw some funny stuff on about it.

But seriously folks, the best way to eliminate the hype about Apple's products is for nice guys like Rob to stop writing about the darn things.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | April 3, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Google "ipad" and "flop."

Pages upon pages already.

That's your story, Rob.

Do you have it in you to report the real story?

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 3, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

hi rob! (i also write for the wa. post--freelance- on baking). i'm hoping the pdf of my cookbook will work on the ipad. there's a pdf download for the iphone which works perfectly. will there be something like that for the ipad?

rose (levy beranbaum)
author of the cake bible +

Posted by: foodwriter | April 3, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Did you fanboys buy a man-purse to carry your new iPod around on your shoulder? Hmm?

Posted by: screwjob11 | April 3, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

No reviewer seems to have explained which storage option--16gb, 32gb, or 64gb--is the optimal choice for the average user. How much is consumed by the average app or movie? How many apps could each option likely hold? What other factors should drive the storage decision, other than the obvious ones like how large your iTunes music library or photo library is?

Posted by: jimhecker | April 3, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

When will Apple's App Store fall under scrutiny from the Commerce Department for the monopolistic way it controls who can sell software for Apple products (and for the manner it exacts a tribute for every sale of software).

Didn't Microsoft fall under this scrutiny for trying to make it so that Windows would favor Microsoft Office products?

Posted by: reston75 | April 3, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50, did you choose your userID because you're a fat 50 year old failed writer? Wow, googling "iPad" and "flop"--that constitutes research for you? Loser.

Posted by: bendan2000 | April 3, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comments! Responses to some:

@Dawny_Chambers: Thanks... but I didn't think Godwin's Law would come into play so soon on this thread.

@scrivener50: I hate it when people issue a challenge to my manhood like that--will I lose more face by ignoring it or by falling for such an obvious ploy? Readers, please let me know how I should respond.

@foodwriter: I am delighted to see you reading my blog (I use one of your bread recipes, the "Lazy Loaf" one you wrote for Food in 2004, about every week). There are already a batch of iPad-optimized PDF apps; among those, iPDF is free, and GoodReader, $0.99, has been getting positive reviews from writers I trust.

@reston75: Commerce hasn't asked Apple about that issue AFAIK, but the FCC quizzed Apple and Google about the former rejecting the latter's Google Voice application.

Please, continue the conversation...

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | April 3, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

You got a comment from Rose. Levy. Birnbaum???? I'm so JEALOUS. Seriously. I worked for two years in a bakery in a small town in NH and Rose was our goddess of baking. (Hope the .pdf function works for her. Anything that gets her books into the bookstores can't be bad.)

Posted by: quacker | April 3, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

can it do any real work or is it just another Apple hand toy?

Posted by: wesatch | April 3, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Well at least this reviewer isn't fawning like the fan boys over at TechCrunch. If you listen to them, the iPad will take over the world.

Posted by: tundey | April 3, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I think the iPad is just an oversized iphone. you cant even switch screens if your using pandora and you don't want your music to turn off. I thought it was supposed to be like a computer too? I don't think the iPad will take over the world. I agree that it would be better to use it on your couch or on a plane. I like my iphone and i don't plan on getting an iPad, i will just stick with my MAC.

Posted by: mbdavis7 | April 3, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I think the iPad is a great idea, but who the heck is able to bankroll these things?

Kindle, Nook, and now the iPad! I understand some people are simply tech-geeks, but how many Apple followers are there that will sit outside of Apple Stores hours before opening to be one of the first to get their hands on them.

Pretty soon these people will be grown-ups with kids and wondering whey they don't have the down payment for a house, or are these some of the people who say they can't afford medical insurance.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | April 3, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I have never owned a mac but I was this close to getting an iPad. Why? the 10-hour battery. I have a laptop and 2 10-month old twins. It's a battle keeping them away from the laptop's cable (since i have to keep it plugged in 'cos of the sucky battery). But then I started researching it more and found:

* can only use Apple-approved applications
* no multi-tasking
* have to pay for each and every little app. That's ok with a phone but not with a laptop-replacement
* no built-in SD card reader
* proprietary port. So you can't just use any old USB device

Posted by: tundey | April 3, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Besides, I'll wait for the iPad 2.0 Maybe that'll fix all the shortcomings of the current one.

Posted by: tundey | April 3, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

When will Apple's App Store fall under scrutiny from the Commerce Department for the monopolistic way it controls who can sell software for Apple products (and for the manner it exacts a tribute for every sale of software).

Didn't Microsoft fall under this scrutiny for trying to make it so that Windows would favor Microsoft Office products?

Posted by: reston75 | April 3, 2010 6:17 PM

That's an excellent question reston75!

With estimated revenues for the 2nd quarter to be over $12 billion, and pretty much a lock on smartphones with it's iPhone, that run only Apps and music sold by Apple, how much more is required before an investigation?

I can only think that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have something up their sleeve.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | April 3, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Hi. It is not clear how to download PDF documents (save?) on the IPad. also, how to save web-pages on iPad as wifi is not always there. Thanks.

Posted by: Myvideoreviewer | April 3, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

At 1.5 lbs., even on a comfortable sofa, is it too heavy for reading more than an hour or so?

Posted by: SteveDC1 | April 3, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I can't understand why anyone would by the version without 3G (other than a complete inability to delay gratification). For just $130 extra, you can free yourself from Wifi....

Just wait a month, you idiots

Posted by: David61 | April 3, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Does the iPad signal the hopeful demise of the current version of the Post website? Other papers are redesigning their sites in anticipation. Can't come soon enough for the Post. Despite being blessed with five pro teams and great college sports programs, the Post's current web sports page is like reading the nutrition label on the back of a can of soup .. only less informative. At least try a little WP.

Posted by: tslats | April 3, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

@David61 Even though $130 is no small amount, its not paying one time payment that is holding me back buying 3G version. It is the $30 per month subscription fee(to get 3G coverage) that I am concerned about. Its for the same reason I bought iPod Touch instead of iPhone. iPad is not as portable as iPod Touch/iPhone. I don't see myself carrying iPad everywhere.

Unless you are constantly on the go, I don't see lot of use for 3G version. This is just my opinion.

Posted by: Kishore1 | April 3, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

rob, what a wonderful and surprising response! and here i was hoping you'd address my question--little did i know you were making my bread!
i've been begging for an ipad-type device from apple for over a year now--since i bought my first ipohne and mac. i had the idea i could input my favorite recipes from word docs. and bring it into the kitchen instead of having to print them out each time or worse yet look for them in the stacks of papers all writers seem to accumulate.
now i'm waiting for the 3G version and hope to be happy with it. i'll be following this blog!
p.s. thank you new hampshire baker! by the way, i filmed my PBS show in walpole,NH. chocolatier larry burdick loaned me his top assistant to do the makeup (it's all cocoa butter after al!).

Posted by: foodwriter | April 3, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I tried it today at the Apple store.

It's fine, it's okay, but it didn't really grab me. If the device was $500 with the 3G maybe. But it's too much for too little.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice device, but it feels like a very limited purpose thing for too much money.

For less money, maybe. For now, it would be silly to pay so much for so little.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 3, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: twynne105 | April 3, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

@tundey: 2 twins? Does that mean 4 children? Seems a bit redundant.

Posted by: Ebola_22039 | April 3, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

i was under the impression that the 3G monthly fee is $15 not $30. but here's an interesting thought: is it possible to get the model with 3G potential and not sign up for 3G unless one finds one needs it? that would be ideal and worth the extra $130 just in case it turns out one would use the 3G often enough to warrant the fee.

Posted by: foodwriter | April 3, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

ok i see one can opt for a minimum data plan of 415 (14.99). but here's an interesting question: would it be possible to use wifi when available on the +3G model and then switch to 3G when there is no wifi? that would keep the data plan minimum possible and much more affordable.

Posted by: foodwriter | April 3, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Foodwriter- i think that's the way it works, that's how the iPhone works. And yes, you can go month to month, you don't have to sign up for a year or more.
And how cool that you could have it in the kitchen with you as you're cooking and writing the recipe as you go along...

I'm pretty excited about it. Won't replace my laptop or iPhone, but will augment them nicely. Might wait until v2 tho, we'll see. Do hope for multitasking and a USB port, but thing it's going to do what it does very well in the meantime.

Posted by: billjones2 | April 4, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

I thought Apple was preparing to enable multitasking with the next update, using the Exposé paradigm for easy switching...?

Posted by: cbum1 | April 4, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Watch here for a hands-on view of the iPad:

Posted by: rw-c | April 4, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

To an earlier poster who liked the 10 hour battery life, but had these concerns. Assuming it wasn't just a troll or veiled Apple-basher, here are my responses

* can only use Apple-approved applications

---> No big deal as there 150,000+ apps and growing. You can find just about anything you want.

* no multi-tasking

-----> No issue here either. It's easy to switch between apps; you'll mostly be doing one thing, not several, at a time. For those must have music playing while they do everything, just run the Music app (or turn on your radio!)

* have to pay for each and every little app. That's ok with a phone but not with a laptop-replacement

-----> Many, many good, even fantastic apps are free and the others don't cost that much. Plus, you're getting novel, different, useful, multi-touch apps, so a little $ is worth it. And, we should reward the developers.

* no built-in SD card reader

------> Not sure why people are so focused on this... the iPad will be mountable on the desktop as a USB drive and you can move things to and fro. Wireless transfer will be easy, too, and even more convenient than fussing with those SD cards.

Plus, even 16 gbs is a HUGE amount of space unless you want to carry around gobs of full-length feature movies. (If so, just get the 64 gb model!)

* proprietary port. So you can't just use any old USB device.

-----> That's the point. This is a new device, filled with new possibilities. You don't want to use just any old USB device. Plus, the iPad has plenty of connection possibilities, including bluetooth for wireless keyboards and other stuff coming.

Try one, you'll like it!

Posted by: Astrogal | April 4, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

The iCrud smutch, er, iPod touch, is so badly designed and restricts me in so many arbitrary ways (mentioned by others above) that I think will never buy another machine of this kind from Apple. These are fine if you want a toys to play games or watch video on. People who need a powerful PDA, however, are apparently being told to shop elsewhere. I certainly will.

Posted by: dpb23 | April 4, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I still look at the iPad and see something that seems to promise so much but offers so little. Maybe it's the proprietary stuff that Apple does, but I just don't see the point of the device. I will be curious to see how the Slate compares when it comes out, since it seems to offer a lot more.

Posted by: cayman2 | April 4, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Hi Rob,

How does the iPad work as a reader? Is it easy on the eyes, does it work in various lighting conditions, and is it good for long stretches of reading (more than an hour)?

Posted by: MouLif | April 4, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

My iPad was stolen from the UPS delivery van. After speaking with local UPS (1-800-682-4701) they referred me to UPS International (1-800-782-7892). UPS International said that it was an Apple problem.

They had no phone number for Apple, and suggested I google around, and if I didn't find the number that way that I should go stand in line at my nearest Apple store.

I got the phone number for tech support and spoke to them last night. They forwarded me to a dead voice mail number that hung up on me.

I managed to get someone at Apple this morning. He said that he was going to speak to someone in sales, but I probably wouldn't hear anything until tomorrow.

Someone named @ThomasAtUPS saw a twitter post that I put up describing this, but his response was that I should send email to No response yet, but maybe Monday.

So, this is easily the worst customer experience I've had. Not only do I not have my iPad, but nobody wants to "own" the theft of the device.

Posted by: AltHippo | April 4, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Picked one up at my local Apple store to see how much I could do w/o being in a hot Wi-Fi area. The answer: very little. I was unable to sync iTunes from the iMac to the iPad. I picked up the 32 GB model thinking I'd outgrow the 16GB really fast and that 64GB was probably overkill. I've already outgrown the 32GB because of the Wi-Fi limitations. The device goes back to the store today and I'll give it another shot w/ 3G. As new technology goes, this certainly isn't in the same universe as the iPod or the iPhone...

Posted by: randysbailin | April 4, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"The iPad is so wonderful, precisely because it sucks. That is what makes me so different."

Typical Apple fanboy

Posted by: screwjob11 | April 4, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

No USB port? No multi-tasking? Proprietary everything? Why bother?

Posted by: barbnc | April 4, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Another usless toy for techies.

What a waste (probley paid for with their unployment check).

Posted by: OldHippie | April 4, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@tslats: I don't know if we're planning to make our site more iPad-compatible or not. I do know that I wouldn't mind seeing us ease up on the Flash use.

@foodwriter: Correct, you only need to pay for 3G access if you need it that month - though it sounds like you'd do better with a per-megabyte prepaid option, in which you could slowly use up a data allocation. And yes, I will be testing the iPad's utility as a recipe-display device.

@cbum1: That's the rumor I've seen too, but we should know for sure this summer if Apple sticks to its usual schedule.

@MouLif: I'm looking forward to some quality reading time on this thing, especially now that it's porch season.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | April 4, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

thanks bill and rob.

i'm seeing so much on the internet about the reflective screen on the sony reader and how kindle with "e-ink" is much easier to use as a reader than a back lit ipad. my husband, who's a radiologist, and stares at screens all day thinks the back lit is easier on the eyes! have you don't any testing on this?

Posted by: foodwriter | April 4, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

woops--i meant have you DONE any testing on this?

Posted by: foodwriter | April 4, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse


* no multi-tasking

-----> No issue here either. It's easy to switch between apps; you'll mostly be doing one thing, not several, at a time. For those must have music playing while they do everything, just run the Music app (or turn on your radio!)


* proprietary port. So you can't just use any old USB device.

-----> That's the point. This is a new device, filled with new possibilities. You don't want to use just any old USB device. Plus, the iPad has plenty of connection possibilities, including bluetooth for wireless keyboards and other stuff coming.

Try one, you'll like it!

Posted by: Astrogal | April 4, 2010 8:52 AM

Your suggestion that a lack of multitasking is a non-issue is ludicrous. Play the radio while doing something else? Why not hire a DJ to spin some tunes that I might like based on a set of criteria that I provide? Oh wait, that's what Pandora does. I want to be able to listen to Pandora and use other apps at the same time. Or maybe I want to view my calendar and email at the same time. This is not an odd feature request. No multitasking is a glaring hole in the iPod Touch/iPhone feature set, but for the much larger iPad, it's a deal-killer.

Your comment regarding the proprietary nature of the port is difficult to understand. You seem to be saying that the flexibility of connecting to whatever device I want is a "bad thing." It would certainly be convenient to use an external drive to load a bunch of movies/documents/etc. onto the iPad without having to use a separate computer as a go-between.

I own (and appreciate) a number of Apple products, but the iPad that is currently shipping isn't done baking. Without 3G, it is simply a giant iPod Touch (I already have one of those). With 3G but without multitasking, it is a giant iPhone that is missing the telephony features, and you will still be stuck with AT&T's lousy network. Finally, experience dictates that when it comes to Apple, it is always better to wait until the 2nd generation for any product. I'll check back when the next version of the iPad is set for release, but for now, it makes no sense for me to spend money on a product that doesn't do what I want.

Posted by: urkelism | April 4, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The iPad is a game changer. I had mine delivered yesterday and it is an amazing device. My main concern is the way Apple has such a tight grip on content. Publishers and creators of books, movies, music must be able to distribute their material to devices such as the iPad without interference from the makers of such devices. Imagine the uproar if television manufacturers insisted that only the tv programming they approved could be seen on their televisions. Apple's control of the books and magazines you can download to the iPad is a similar stance. I wonder when anti trust regulators are going to take on Apple.

Posted by: BowHill | April 4, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

A more general concern: How do I avoid losing my downloaded media when my hardware platform crashes? Also, hardware becomes obsolete so quickly, I don't want to download (purchase) media I don't know how to transfer to my next new platform. Till there's a standard (non-proprietary)way that is easy, I will stick with CDs & DVDs, for which interfaces are becoming rare.

Posted by: thothh | April 4, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Why would I need an iPad?

A. Because I'm a cRaZY fan boy/girl for Apple.
B. (and probably the biggest reason) Because I only own a desktop and want something to fool around with while I'm watching TV and don't want to drop $$ for a laptop or a netbook.

Myself, I am waiting for Gen II or III, as I already have a laptop to fool around with.

PS: thothh: You avoid it by backing it up on a separate hard drive. Any i-device will suffice (including iPhones), or you can buy one. It's actually becoming obsolete to use CDs and DVDs.

Posted by: brocrow2000 | April 4, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Not only do I not have my iPad, but nobody wants to "own" the theft of the device."

You're being ridiculous.

It's apples fault. You contracted with them to deliver an item. If they can't deliver it, that's apple's problem. The fact that they chose UPS as their agent to get it to you again, is their issue.

First things first. Contact Apple, if they refuse to do anything, simply write a letter to your credit card company explaining the situation. You'll have that refunded immediately.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 4, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Ombudsman1, I don't believe I'm being ridiculous, but there is a little bit more to the story. And, part of my frustration is in the details I left out.

Again, when I spoke to local UPS, they were the ones that referred me to International UPS. So, that set my expectation that they were the ones to follow up with. Second, when I spoke to International UPS they at first denied that my order had been stolen. They actually told me that I was probably the victim of a scam. I gave them the 1-800 number for UPS here. They called, said it was busy, but continued to say that they didn't believe the information that I had received (that my order was stolen) was reliable.

I managed to get in touch with tech support at Apple last night. They told me they were forwarding me to someone who could help, but it turned out to be a recorded message followed by a hangup.

I got someone from Apple on the line this morning. He's been friendly, and may help to resolve this. But, he's also made it clear that he'd doing this as a favor. So, I've got my fingers crossed.

I commented earlier mostly out of my poor customer experience with UPS. Surely you can see that someone would be frustrated if they get passed around from phone number to phone number.

Posted by: AltHippo | April 4, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: whocares666 | April 4, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Okay, first, I'm naive I guess. I have a basic cell phone that simply makes phone calls. And a Dell laptop, 600 series. A netbook makes sense to me; what I don't understand is what the iPad offers that is anything not already out there. I mean I might not have a million apps but do I really need to buy a new computer to do what I'm already able to do with what I have with just a little effort, but at less cost?

Posted by: Dungarees | April 4, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell me how a iPad compares to netbook? Seems to me that a netbook would provide grater versatility, plus access to many more book titles via Kindle for PC. The added advantage is that Kindle for PC has full color display, as well as full Adobe compatability. Yes, I understand that Flash may be near the end of its useful service life. And, with a properly equipped netbook, multi-tasking is already available, yes?

Posted by: angelos_peter | April 4, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Dungarees, if you're naive, that makes two of us.

Posted by: angelos_peter | April 4, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Regarding what you can put on the iPad. Applications (Apps) normally have to go through the Apple store, although it is not that hard to get around it. If you want details go to the Apple Developer Connection web site for details.

As far as books, videos, music, etc, you don't have to get them from Apple. Just get them into iTunes (which is free and handles the interface with the iPad.) I already have all the music from my CD, videos from my DVD's and audio books from old cassette tapes plus some from And the book format they are using, ePub, is a public format that anyone can use.

Is the iPad for everyone, no. But I use the same criteria I have used for the last 30 years on computers, is it useful to me now for the price I pay now, and it is better than the alternatives. I.e. shop smart.

Posted by: HappilyRetired2 | April 4, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

OMG this is the worst tech gadget ever created for 4 reasons: First, there is no floppy drive for me to transfer my files to it; Second no SCSI port for me to plug in my periphreal devices; Third, it is an Apple product, which makes it inherently a failed product only for "fanboys"; and fourth and most importantly it does not cure cancer like Rob claimed it would last year. What good is a device that doesn't cure cancer? Clearly curing cancer is a feature every netbook like device should have, along with 100 hr battery life and laying golden eggs!

Posted by: ThatGuy1 | April 5, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Please, WaPo, dump the Flash so I can use all of your site!

Posted by: jeffgopack1 | April 5, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I have an iPad. For those people who *don't* have one, they should spare everyone their uninformed conjectured.

1. It reads in direct sunlight just fine. I tried this. The sun beaming down directly on the unit. No problem with glare or sunlight reading or viewing video.

2. Multitasking. Not an issue. You can listen to music and do anything else. It is only third-party apps. I write software. I use 3 monitors and probably multitask more than 99% of the population and *I* don't care about this. Maybe on the iPhone IF if want to use say a GPS and do something else. Maybe. Not a big deal as the market has proven again and again. Even MS is not allowing multitasking.

3. Camera, USB, whatever. I wanted a camera, but no big deal. You won't miss it. SD card? No big deal. Get 32 or 64 gigs and you won't have a problem.

4. Flash? Don't miss it. Get your porn somewhere else. Netflix has an app. ABC has an app. Care to wager how long before Hulu jumps on board. Flash is not a business. Content is and the content will go where the market is.

5. Wifi. Shrug. My main use as an owner of an iPhone is to use this thing at home, so for me, wifi is all I need. But that's me.

I see a lot of tech "wannabees" acting so superior when most of them are not in the business or are in help desk or some such. As a hardcore technical profession with over 15 years of experience in hardcore C/C++/Java development with experience in multiple DBMSs, operating systems(Win,Unix,VMS), multiple computers(some I built), I can say as the real deal that the iPad is a great device.

People didn't get the telephone, the mouse, the PC, the fax, the GUI, IDEs, OOP, Java, the Internet, Amazon, the iPod, the iPhone, etc... either and here we are using all of the above as they are all ubiquitous.

Ignore the uninformed, biased opinion and take the word of someone who has one and is at least less bias.

The iPad is a great device.

Posted by: eternalemperor | April 5, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Rob - can I be the first to suggest you delete the posts at 9:08AM and 9:24AM?

Thanks, DLD

Posted by: DLDx | April 5, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

To foodwriter:
I have no iPad, but I take my iMac's backlit screen as a proxy for reading on the iPad or any other backlit device. My eyes burn after an hour or two of reading this way, while I can read for hours on my Kindle without difficulty or fatigue. It can also go for a week or two of reading without recharging. Lev Grossman of Time says the iPad will kick Kindle's butt in e-book marketing. We shall see.

Posted by: alan25 | April 5, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

This 78 year old wannabe tekkie (...see above at 11:54 AM...) who boasts a laptop and a large rotatable wide screen monitor upstairs for movies went into Best Buy this AM to have a look and to play around with this IPad do-hickie, and soon put it back on the table as an over-hyped toy.

Lest this be construed as grumpy-senior-elitist commentary, I then watched a teenager confidently work his way around the touchy stuff and also promptly put it down with casual disdain. As only a teenager can....

A far a telephoning wirelessly is concerned, you youngsters haven't experienced the frustrations of making a radio-telephone call (previously booked for a certain time frame) from a special phone booth belonging to Cable and Wireless Limited (Hong Kong) during the 'sixties. Sometimes you could hear through the static to the East Coast of America, sometimes...not.
Then you re-tried for another booking.

Hence, I think this IPad is a time-waster-plaything only.

Stick with your loyal and faithful laptop, will save you grinding your teeth.

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | April 5, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So what do you do with your books and magazines (and movies and TV shows) once you're read (or watched) them? At some point the iPad will run out of space and in order to buy the next new book you'll have to backup and delete some old ones. But I don't think there's a way to save off your books somewhere, is there? Same same if there's a disk problem and the iPad is reset. Do you get your books back?

Posted by: tokrueger | April 5, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

By the way, have you notice all the problems getting Adobe Flash to play on the 64 bit Internet Explorer with Windows 7?

Posted by: davidfairfax | April 5, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@ "78 year old wannabe tekkie."

So, your casual inspection for a few minutes at Best Buy and a decades-old anecdote from Hong Kong in the 60s have convinced you the iPad is a toy. Suit yourself.

I think what most of the iPad haters miss is the functionality that will come with the thousands of applications that are in development right now. A few minutes playing around in Best Buy does not show you any of this, but people who *really* use it know, because they actually can download and use apps other than those in the demo model.

As for multi-tasking, critics fuss on and on because it is one of the few substantive complaints they have (even though it is completely overblown -- as if the need to run Pandora rather than the iPod app while doing email is all that matters). Most observers expect an announcement regarding multi-tasking in the next major software update this summer (for both iPhones and iPads). Nearly every major critique offered by the haters (no 3G, no cut and paste, no third-party apps, etc.) gets addressed, but they just find something else to yammer on about.

We get it. Some of you hate whatever Apple does and always will. That's cool. Just don't buy Apple products. Apple will be fine with millions of happy customers.

Posted by: jkh1970 | April 5, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"So what do you do with your books and magazines (and movies and TV shows) once you're read (or watched) them? At some point the iPad will run out of space and in order to buy the next new book you'll have to backup and delete some old ones. But I don't think there's a way to save off your books somewhere, is there? Same same if there's a disk problem and the iPad is reset. Do you get your books back?"

So, this guy has never even seen an iPod or iPhone in action. That is my point: uninformed conjecture. Let me put your mind at ease...the data is sync'ed and stored on a PC.

- done on an iPad

Posted by: eternalemperor | April 5, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Rob, can Apple delete Washington Post iPad and iPhone apps if they don't like the editorial content?

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 6, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

This product is a platform designed expressly to extract money from the wallets of twentysomethings.

Posted by: 0nl00k3r | April 6, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I love my iPhone 3G despite its quirks (no multitasking). I like the idea of the iPad as a multimedia device. But honestly this thing will be relegated to one's couch or on a plane. It would be a great entertainment device while trapped in the airport or plane for hours on end. Maybe some hipsters may lug it around with them to coffee shops or book stores to aimlessly surf the web, listen to music or watch movies.

Other than just for consumption of entertainment, it's seems pretty useless. So far one cannot multitask, one cannot create documents (word or excell). There's no adobe flash. Sure customizing it through apps is nice but with over 100K apps out there, over 95% of them are just junk.

Posted by: jabreal00 | April 6, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Do you think the Post could filter out all comments that contain the words "Air Jordan" and "Free Shipping"? This is a plague.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 6, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Replies from your blogger, part 3:

@foodwriter: I don't have an e-book reader handy at the moment (I haven't liked any of the existing models enough to buy them), but I am planning to spend some quality time reading an e-book title on the iPad this afternoon, both under indoor lighting and outdoors.

@HappilyRetired2: No, there is no easy way to add an unauthorized app to the iPad. Developers are only allowed to offer unapproved software on an ad hoc basis to 100 users, tops. The only exception: Web apps that don't require an install at all, like Google's HTML version of Google Voice.

@davidfairfax: Not in Win 7 specifically, but I did write a Help File item about IE x64/Flash problems in Vista last September.

@0nl00k3r: If I exclude everything "designed expressly to extract money from the wallets of twentysomethings," I may not have much left to write about in a tech column!

@Bitter_Bill: Screening out comments with "free shipping" wouldn't help, since I've done entire blog posts about e-commerce delivery options. I have, however, junked the two spam comments you saw here earlier.

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | April 6, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I was surprised to find that you can't directly print anything out. I wonder what other "little things" the iPad can't do.

At first, I thought it was compact and a good deal. However if you get a decent protective case and starting adding more memory, assuming that is possible in future models, say to 128 GBytes, and then buy all the accessories needed, you will have more stuff to carry around and less money to spend than with the MacBook. The you start wondering why you can not use a simple scanner. No USB or ethernet interface and no external device support.

I also can not see investing time on a device that requires a separate unique development system on another platform. There is apparently no way to incorporate anything I create without going through Apple store licensing with all the issues and problems including delays that you reference in your article.

The most promising feature of the iPad may be the OS X core yet there is apparently no intent by Apple to offer the inherent flexibility here to the possible advantage of the end user.

Posted by: AlanBriggs | April 6, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

After a few visits at the local Apple store

a) the software is buggy like hell, input methods lock up in some strange modes, navigation app forgets to draw its window, etc

b) Bluetooth is as crippled as in iPhone, the device does not recognize external GPS receivers

c) bit two slow and lack of multitasking, inexcusable, mu 3 years old Nokia n800 does it.

Waiting for a significant upgrade, I need some bed/bathroom internet appliance so I am a potential customer.

Posted by: directore | April 6, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Rob, can you name five things the iPad does better than a netbook? Because right now I use my netbook on my sofa/on flights, and the weight doesn't bother me. And it seems from this review and others that a netbook actually has more capabilities for work than an iPad.

Posted by: dkp01 | April 6, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

rob, i got to play with a friend's kindle today so here's the report:

i downloaded a free sample of my latest book (rose's heavenly cakes) and to my delight, the ingredient charts on the sample all were viewable on one page/screen (this was the smallest kindle). then, to my amazement, i could opt to have text to voice so that if working in the kitchen on a recipe i could have it read aloud to me.

the device is feather light so as a reader it is ideal. i'm still wanting the ipad but am definitely going to hold off until the second or third version is out and also feedback on connectivity with all the at&t users out there including me on my iphone.

i look forward to hearing your response the the e-book. to be honest, i sit infront of my large apple display almost all day and my eyes never hurt so that is not a huge issue for me. weight is though.

Posted by: foodwriter | April 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

There are 3 groups commenting, 1. Those without one and want one, 2. Those without one (PC users) and don't want one, 3. Those who just bought on (generally elated). To the naysayers, I had doubts about the iPhone and ate Crow. Naysayers need to put their order in at their meat market because the iPad is a milestone event.

Besides casual users, gamers, and non techies, this will prove to be big in business. With right Aps, most Dr's will have one linked to complete, secure, and comprehensive medical records like the VA and military. This model will repeat itself in business and education. In case, you don't want your iPad send me an e-mail. I'll gladly take it.

Posted by: CPTKILLER | April 6, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The ipad is a bit heavy as a reading device. You get tired holding it while standing up very quickly. Apple missed the boat by marketing the ipad like the ipod in a 16, 32 and 64 gig version. They should have went with two models, a much lighter ipad fairly priced as a reader/media player in a couple screen sizes and a laptop slayer model with full netbook functionality. Wireless and Wifi should be standard on a mobile device. Their current marketing based on storage and wireless feature is such a throwback to Intel CPU marketing in the 90's.

Posted by: prjoseph | April 7, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50(#3 from top) don't understand simple design philosophy of Apple Technology:
===most innovative and brilliant technology for simple,easy,effective operation,
===look brilliant & gorgeous on screen,
===joy and pleasure to use

these are principles behind ALL APPLE wonderful and powerful tools.
You scrivener are stuck in 2000 or even 1999.You don't understand that Apple is the most innovative computer company, and that the technology they develop is making their computers more advanced than anything else.
iPad is a TRUE revolution in computing. The new version will be of course better and even more advanced.

Posted by: snappir | April 8, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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