10 Things That Surprised Me About the iPad

iPad on a stand

I know what you’re saying when you read this, “just another iPad review article.” You can find a ton of articles on the web reviewing the iPad, so I thought I would tell you the 10 things that surprised me about the iPad.

I received my iPad by special UPS Saturday delievery and had about 24 hours to play with it. Here are my initial thoughts.

10. It’s heavier than I expected.
Having used the Kindle and the iPhone, I was surprised by the weight of the iPad. It’s feels very solid to hold but feels naked at the same time. It’s almost the same feeling I had with the iPhone. I was very careful handling the iPhone and very careful where I sat it down until I purchased a silicone case to protect the back and sides. The case also provided the added assurance that it wouldn’t slip out of my hand. This will be my first accessory for the iPad

9. You can’t charge it with your computer.
When you plug the iPad into your computer to sync it up the first time, it displays “Not Charging” next to the battery indicator. I know that USB connectors are limited to 2.5 watts (5 volts at 0.5 amps) and the iPad requires 10 watts so they disable charging when plugged into a computer. It would have been nice to allow charging but at a reduced rate instead of disabling it completely.

Update: It turns out that the iPad will charge when connected directly to my iMac or Macbook but does not charge if connected to a USB hub (connected to the iMac) or to a Windows notebook.

8. How well my iPhone apps work on the iPad.
I have a number of apps that I use on my iPod Touch and iPhone and they all works on the iPad. It’s nice to know that my previous investment is safe and I know I will have the option in the future to upgrade to an iPad version of the ones I really want on the iPad.

I did download some free iPad apps and purchased a few apps designed for the iPad and I was very impressed with the quality and how they displayed on the device. It’s amazing what can be done with the additional screen size.

7. How bad my iPhone apps look on the iPad.
Even though my iPhone apps work on my iPad, some don’t look that great. When you launch an app made for the iPhone (480 x 320) it shows up in the middle of a 1024-by-768 screen. This is called 1x mode. You can select the 2x mode which doubles the pixels to nearly fill the screen. Text and some images don’t show up well using pixel doubling. It’s okay but you do notice the difference. If you use an app a lot, I think most users would pay to purchase the iPad version. Some vendors are even offering updated versions of their apps for free that support both the iPad and iPhone/Touch devices. The iPad does remember the settings of each program so if you were using a app in 2x mode, it will start in 2x mode the next time it’s launched.

6. Need for a stylus.
There are a number of design/drawing/sketching apps for the iPad and I found that my fingers doesn’t work well as a stylus. Because of the larger display size, doing  mock-ups or design sketches on the device is going to be big. I find my fingers don’t give me the control I need in creating and moving small objects on the screen. After leaving my Palm Treo and Window Mobile PDAs, I never thought I would be wanting a stylus for my iPad/iPhone device. One example of an iPad/iPhone stylus is the Pogo Stylus.

5. Built in Microphone and Digital Compass.
I guess these items were burried in the fine technical print so I was surprised to find them on the device. I have a few iPhone recording apps that work well with the built-in mic (located at the top left next to the headphone jack) and the sound quality is pretty good.

I was more surprised about the compass since there is no Compass app like on the iPhone. I happen to find it when I ran V-Cockpit GPS which I downloaded for my iPhone. This is a dashboard app that simulates the cockpit of an airplane. It uses the GPS and the compass and I was surprised that the compass heading actually worked (there is no GPS on the iPad). There is a free version that I would recommend to just try it out for the compass and sound effects. This program looks pretty good at 2x.

4. Picture Frame mode.
One of the things mentioned about the iPad is how great it would be as a photo viewer. It has the standard Photo app that has a slideshow mode (just like on the iPhone). What surprised me was the little icon next to the Slide to Unlock when you wake up the iPad. Pressing this icon starts a slideshow of your photo gallery. I can see having this in your iPad dock (a $29 optional accessory) and displaying the slideshow while it’s charging.

3. Need for an iPad stand.
I downloaded the Netflix app and watched a few movies from my Instant Que. It was nice to be able to move from room to room and keep watching the movie but couldn’t find a good way to prop the iPad at the right angle to watch the screen without having to hold it.

The description of the Apple iPad case talks about it folding at the right places to angle the iPad for landscape viewing. It does need something if you plan to watch videos on the device. I did find a pretty good solutions in the housewares department that is used to display single dish plates. I purchased one for around $8 and works great for holding the iPad at a angle in both the landscape and portrait positions. You can see it in the iPad photo.

2. How many smudges it gets.
The display is shinny and bright but after a few hours of use I was surprised how many smudges were on the screen.  The screen is large and when it off it really does show your finger smudges. I also noticed if you use it outdoors in bright sunlight the display is hard to read and the finger smudges show up even when the device is on.  This makes the Kindle a much better book reader if you like to read at the beach.

1. Missing built-in Apps.
The iPad comes with: Mail, Safari, Photos, iPod, iTunes, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, App Store, and Settings. What’s missing is: Stocks, Clock, Calculator, Compass, and Weather. I realize that these functions can be had with third-party apps for free or a small price but I was surprised when I went to check the weather and “couldn’t find the (built-in) App for that.”

The bottom line (here comes the mini-review): I was very impressed with the iPad and I do think it’s a game changer for comsuming media. I have more to say about the media aspects of the iPad, but I’ll save that for another time.

If you have a iPad let me know how you like and what surprised you.


4 thoughts on “10 Things That Surprised Me About the iPad

  1. #2 is the reason I have not bought an iPhone or any other “touch-screen” style device. I HATE finger-smudges. I hate how mucked up things look with even minimal use. Yuck. Just. Yuck. And I can’t count how many times someone has tried to hand me a device to look at something, and it’s covered in prints. Just ew.

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