Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First impressions of the iPad in Australia

B had to travel to the US for work a few weeks ago, and brought back an iPad.

Yes, an iPad. To go with our family iMac desktop, our work MacBook Pros, our iPhones and our iPod Touch. We are officially an Apple Geek Family.

My first impression of the iPad was that it is a giant iPhone. A big shiny screen with the single home button, and a few buttons and holes tidily hidden around the edges. I haven't fiddled around with it a lot so I can't comment on its technical specifications or setup. This post is about what I've seen of the iPad in action in our family's hands.

The operation is just like the iPhone- slide the menu to find the apps, touch to open. But, as lots of people have asked me, what does it do? Or, more specifically, what does it do that the rest of our Apple stable doesn't?

I have to say, not a lot- but what it does, it does really nicely. In true Apple style, the whole setup has that "wow" quality factor. The screen is crisp and sharp, and videos from iTunes look great. It's a bit too big for the resolution of a lot of You Tube clips, on the other hand.

The thing about the iPad is that it fills a gap I didn't know I had. For me, it replaces the iPhone and MacBook for on-the-couch surfing. Websites are heaps easier to read and use than on the iPhone screen (especially when entering text is required), but it isn't as clunky as having a laptop perched on your lap, despite having a screen nearly as big as a standard laptop. It is genuinely like a computer-in-a-book. Which brings me to my other favourite feature, iBooks. And Kindle. And Stanza. I am an eBook convert- they are really easy to read in any of these programs on the iPad (admittedly we are running the iPhone version of Stanza so it doesn't expand as well as the other two.)

Big Bro has been the biggest user of the iPad. As B posted on Facebook, "the iPad is a $600 toy for a 3 year old." Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, the controls are so intuitive that Big Bro has no trouble navigating. In fact, Little Bro, at the tender age of 18 months, can already scroll between photos (shhh, don't tell the American Academy of Pediatrics!) Big Bro uses the iPad for videos (dropping his tv use to almost zero)- we have held on to our US iTunes
account so we can access shows like Caillou, Super Why and Dinosaur Train which haven't made it to Australian iTunes. (And it's no coincidence that "pbskids-dot-org" is the first web address Big Bro knows...)

Big Bro also enjoys children's ipad software like Jack and the Beanstalk (which looks great on the big screen), The Cat in the Hat, and Drawing Pad, as well as his old iPod Touch favourites like Super Why, Toddler Teasers and Dora's Rainbow Ride.

I wasn't convinced that our family needed an iPad before we got one, but now we have it, I'm hooked. It will be released in Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland on May 28th, ready to fill a gap you didn't know you had.


allison t said...

This is great! I've been looking for a review of an iPad by a real person and here it is. I'm still not convinced. But then I haven't even got an iPhone yet - the reason being that I'm worried that I will NEVER be unconnected again if I do.

Just found your blog through my sister (maxabellaloves.blogspot.com), but I'll be back! My boys and I love to garden too.

_vTg_ said...

Welcome! Glad you appreciated my angle on the iPad- I feel a bit of a fraud reviewer as I don't even know what each of the few buttons do...!
I have love/hate feelings about the "permanently connected" issue. On the one hand I love being able to access information whenever I can, but on the other hand I don't want our family to end up all sitting in a row on the couch, living through our iDevices rather than each other. Somewhere in between, please!!

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