Thoughts on the iPad

I was lucky enough to pick up an iPad 64GB WiFi last week from a friend who had just returned from the US. After spending the past week immersing myself in my new gadget, I think I’ve been able to shrug off enough of its Siren-like allure and gotten enough of it figured out to pen some meaningful thoughts down for the rest of you who are lusting after this game-changing device.

Love at First Touch (almost!)

Frankly, there’s very few things to dislike about the device itself.  The device had the right heft.  It’s obviously well-engineered, as we’ve come to expect from every single “Designed by Apple in California” product. The larger capacitive touch screen makes the iPhone screen look puny by any standards – I’ve found myself reaching for my iPhone a lot less than before, now that I’m lugging my iPad around wherever I go (in lieu of my Macbook Pro).  The viewing angle on this device is definitely as wide as Apple’s other products.  In some ways, I’m glad I decided to skip waiting for the 3G version and go for the WiFi version, lest I end up ditching my iPhone altogether.  The battery life is excellent, despite my sustained usage. The Apple A4 1-Ghz chip certainly felt much zippier.  I also found it a lot easier to type in landscape mode, as the keys were better spaced out.

I also don’t mind that there’s no Flash – I actively support Google and Apple’s fight against a proprietary and resource-hungry Adobe Flash.  HTML5 FTW!

Still, there were certain games that lagged, probably due to bad code. I couldn’t run Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone smoothly without a reboot. Pinball HD also had framerate issues when in landscape mode.

Pfffft!

As many before me have noted, the large glossy screen makes for one incredible grease-mark-magnet. The immense glossiness also makes using the iPad difficult in the presence of any light source (matt screens aren’t as sexy/smooth for gestures perhaps?). I wish the rotational lock switch was a gesture I could do on-screen rather than through a mechanical switch, as I often had to grope at the wrong corner of the device.

Also, am I the only one that thinks that there’s not much to be had on the iPad App Store? Many apps are a simple rehash in higher resolution of their iPhone brethren. I’d be curious to test this with the typical consumer on the streets, but I think we’ve gotten so used to the iPhone and the App Store, to the point that the iPad feels more like a mini evolution than a real revolution.

Many people will be discovering virginal joy in Computing as they embrace their iPads and fatten Apple’s cash-in-bank.  I think the iPad can also be an excellent device to engage the less computing-savvy populace and reduce the Digital Divide.  It was amazing for me to see my parents-in-law-to-be glued to their iPad 16GB (yeah, also from the same friend).

As for me, I’ll be pining away for some apps that will truly increase my productivity and efficiency, or games that really engage the user, beyond merely looking or touchy-feely good.

Productivity Apps List

Here’s what I got on my iPad so far:

  • TweetDeck: for all my tweeting needs
  • Penultimate: impulse buy that hasn’t seen much use. Rather cool for taking handwritten notes, although I’ve found it hard to decipher my own scrawling afterwards
  • Adobe Ideas: fun to sketch stuff, but I’m not much of an artist
  • BBC News, Bloomberg, WSJ, USA Today: news apps to start the day with; of the bunch, I love Bloomberg and WSJ best from an app design and UI/UX perspective, although the others do come close.
  • Epicurious: until I move into my own apartment, I don’t see myself cooking much.  Another one of those good-to-have-to-impress-relatives type of app.
  • JamPad: It’s free, though I’m not much of a musician.
  • WordPress: this I find really useful, and the larger screen makes blogging on-the-go feel a lot less constrictive.
  • Marvel: It’s free, though I’m not much of a comic fan.  I downloaded it to play around with the comic-viewing experience.
  • PhotoPad: pretty powerful photo editing app – almost a Photoshop-to-go.
  • WolframAlpha: I’ve always wanted to own it on the iPhone for the brainier moments, if it wasn’t so expensive.  They’ve dropped the price drastically since!
  • Keynote: I haven’t quite tried to build a presentation, but I thought Keynote would be a lot more useful than Pages or Numbers. I’ll reserve purchasing judgement on the latter two for later.

Gaming Apps List

  • GodFinger: cute Black and White like God game that has gotten most of my attention so far, but is fast losing my attention. I don’t have enough friends on it to interest me, nor feel like it’s going anywhere.  There’s got to be more built into this to engage users past the initial 10 levels.
  • Plants vs. Zombies HD: a rehash of the iPhone version, at least as far as I’ve replayed it to (Level 3-1).
  • Civilization Revolutions: has the most engaging gameplay amongst all the games I’ve curated, but the difficulty on “Warlord” seemed too easy.  I’m going to try “Deity” for my second game to see if it makes me sweat.
  • Harbor Master: decent equivalent of Flight Control, except it’s ships instead of planes.
  • Pinball HD: for some quick mindless time-wasting “fun”
  • Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone: I’ve always loved this genre of games, and the sardonic humor.  Pity I haven’t gotten it to run smoothly without a reboot. Code needs work.
  • Glee: pretty cool singing game with Smule’s fingerprints all over it; interesting music distribution model
  • Big Bad Sudoku: It’s free, and it actually works my brain

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.