The Apple iPad is arguably the best gadget Apple has given us. Sure the iPhone was nice and I have one, but the small screen of the iPhone makes it certainly not suitable for reading books and watching movies. But the iPad, equipped with a 10″ screen of 1024 x 768 resolution is definitely adequate for such tasks.
So during my trip to Oklahoma, I managed to pick up an iPad for myself. It is currently not available from the Canadian Apple Store yet. Apple has already delayed the launch day from the end of April to end of May in Canada. Folks can start the pre-order on May 10 if you live in Canada and are not prepared to travel to the States to get your iPads early.
At first sight, the iPad looks like a big iPhone or iPod Touch. That is actually the most common comment I heard when people play with it. It is true that it can be thought as a larger iPhone or iPod Touch, but the possibilities of what it can do definitely escaped the bounds of small gadgets that fits into your pocket.
Firstly, from the hardware point of view, apart from the bigger and higher resolution screen, it also has a much faster processor. It runs the same iPhone apps that used to crawl in the iPhone fluidly in the iPad. One such app I have is the Jumsoft Money iPhone edition. I didn’t use it much on the iPhone because it was painfully slow (you literally have to wait for 10s of seconds to change from one screen to another on my iPhone 2G), but now I am actually looking forward to seeing if Jumsoft will release an iPad version of the application.
Secondly, with a new screen, you can do a lot more with this gadget. Reading PDF files on the iPhone requires some squinting, now the iPad will save my eyes. Playing videos on the iPhone requires you to let go of HD experience, the iPad has enough power and resolution to do it (though technically, 1024 x 768 is just a pseudo HD resolution). Also making illustrations on the iPad is also possible, thanks to some nicer apps being made available to the iPad.
Thirdly, with the new iWork apps that Apple created, you can almost be half-productive with just this little gadget. Of course, it is not the same as working on a desktop computer but if you don’t have a desktop or laptop with you, the iPad will allow you to make final changes to your iWork documents. This can make business travel a lot lighter.
Fourthly, I think the iPad will allow a much broader audience of users. For example, my parents who aren’t very computer literate will be able to pick up how to use the iPad in a matter of hours. The user interface is very intuitive and easy to use compared to a traditional computer. I am really hoping that the older generation of the population will be able to enjoy using a computer as much as our generation.
I am hopeful that with this new device, it will also transform how we consume information. For example, reading on the iPad is pretty natural. I have to say I would like it to be half the weight if possible, but as a 1st generation product, what we have is very impressive. Books and magazines are already having iBook format publications to be have on the iPad. Newspapers are having iPad friendly apps available. With such rich media support, and always connected option on the iPad, the possibilities of what you can do on it far exceeds what the iPhone or iPod Touch can offer.
Applications I have tried and like include the following:
ReaddleDocs – A PDF reader that has a lot of great features like download documents from any webDav servers or iDisk. ($4.99)
SketchBook Pro – A drawing program that is like a light version of Painter. You have to try it to believe it. ($7.99)
Epicurious – Endless recipes as long as you are connected online. Great UI as well.
Adobe Ideas – If you are not into illustrations but like to have a way to doodle something quick, this free app might fit the bill for you.
Akina HD – An interactive art experiment that is quite zen.
XE Currency – Quick access to Foreign Exchange rates on multiple currencies.
iBanner HD – If you have ever thought of having some scrolling LED panel that display messages but couldn’t afford one, here is a free app that simulates that on the iPad for you.
Feeddler RSS – A RSS news reader that integrates with your Google Reader account.
Bloomberg – Looks like a real Bloomberg terminal, except it is free!
The New York Times – A showcase of what newspaper would be like electronically.
iMahjong – Remember the Chinese Mahjong tile game “Shanghai”? This is the same game on the iPad. Time to get reacquainted with your old favorite.
Sudoku Tablet – Another classic game that is free. It has a pleasant UI, though I would have thought the Sudoku sheet could be a bit bitter on the screen.
Escape XL – A puzzle game that makes you want to try again and again.
So for users outside of US, the iPad App Store may not be available yet. To get apps, you will first have to download the apps from iTunes on your computer. Inside iTunes, go to the App Store, search “iPad” and you will be presented with a lot of apps that you can download (most are not free). After downloading them to your computer, you can then sync them to your iPad.