An iPad Road Test

AN iPAD ROAD TEST by Scott Budman

We’ve known for a long time that lots of people think Apple devices are cool.  New iPods and iPhones always get a glance when they’re spotted at work or in a coffeeshop, and we’ve come to expect a certain degree of “cool” to come out of Cupertino. 


That said, the response to the iPad has been different.  People will cross a room to ask a stranger if he or she can touch it.  Just for a second.  The iPad is, if you think about it, not a brand new category – we’ve had tablet computers for years.  They just haven’t excited people like this has.  If you walk into a building with an iPad, people will come to you.  You’ll wish you had one in high school, when you wanted to be popular.

Apple was kind enough to send me an iPad to review.  After a few weeks, I can say that it’s a hit.  Not a complete, perfect, across-the-board hit, but it delivers on its promise as a device that fits in between your smartphone and laptop.  It’s about the easiest piece of technology I’ve ever used, and I can see why it’s quickly become catnip for techies.

If you like your iPhone or iPod Touch, I think you’ll love the iPad.  It improves on those devices, largely because it’s bigger and easier to use, but also because of the new fervor felt by app makers to tailor apps specifically for the iPad.  A tip:  If you love an app on your iPhone, wait until it’s made specifically for the Pad.  iPhone apps don’t transfer all that well to the iPad.  They look small and out of place.  But get that game or newspaper up to ten inches, and it really pops.  For E-books, Netflix movies, and video games, the iPad is more than just a different platform, it’s a new one. Looks great, and you may never again go back to the small screen.

Travel, too, is changed by the iPad.  I’ve taken kids on long plane trips with laptops, and small devices.  They work for awhile.  But with the iPad, movies are bigger, games seem to last longer, and books become larger than what we’re used to on the printed page.  Taking the iPad on a cross-country flight recently, my two small kids shared the iPad, and were roped in from the start.  For the first time since becoming a parent, I actually watched the in-flight movie.


Here’s what happens when a young person is handed an iPad:

Now, the iPad is not perfect.  You may already have heard about problems keeping a WiFi signal.  My device had that problem.  Very frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of a surf session, or a video.  Speaking of video, you’ve also probably heard that the iPad does not support Flash.  Again, a hindrance.  While I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry eventually comes around to the side of Steve Jobs and Apple on this, it’s also a frustration, with so much web video leaning on the Flash platform.

Problems aside, the iPad is terrific.  It’s probably going to be a game-changer, especially in future models, where we may see a camera, maybe even a phone.  Is it worth the price, or just something better than what you’re already using?  That’s up to you.  Give it a try, take it somewhere, and see what happens.  I think you’ll like it, and you’ll feel popular, too.

Have you tried the iPad yet?  Let Scott know what you think on Twitter:   @scottbudman


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