Blog Post

iPad: My Very Early Impressions + Your Questions

So I was going to go to the Apple Store and stand in line to buy an iPad — if I could. Instead, I ended up staying up really late, playing around with the review unit I received from Apple and as a result, didn’t get to sleep till 3:30 a.m. And now I’m extremely tired. So I will get to the Apple store a little late, check out the retail display and if I can, will buy an iPad.

So much has already been written about the iPad that I wonder if my review will really say anything new. I mean, what’s the point of repeating the feature-oriented stuff that’s already been written? Most of it is banal and predictable. Instead, I wonder if you have any questions I can answer. If you do, please leave them in the comments and I will try to respond as quickly as possible. Now remember, this is based on less than a day’s use of the iPad.

Now let me give you some of my impressions of the device. They may seem a little disjointed but bear with me, for it will be a while before I can make up my mind. One of the hardest things about the iPad has nothing to do with the device itself — but rather is about the legacy of computing we have in our head. (Related: Why I Am Excited About the iPad.)

Almost inadvertently, you will start out looking for the keyboard, the mouse and essentially a less interactive experience with this device. This isn’t going to change anytime soon — don’t let anyone tell you it will — because our brains have been programmed to type on a keyboard and use a mouse/trackpad to navigate through the computer. It will take a long time before we are completely de-programmed. Perhaps that’s why it will feel absolutely normal to kids and others who don’t typically use computers all day.

Since I like to store bookmarks, PDFs, photos and videos — everything, really — in Evernote, it was the first app that I downloaded. I started writing my blog post in Evernote — a very typical thing for me to do. I wasn’t sure how I would take to the virtual keyboard on the iPad.

[related-posts align=”right” tag=”iPad”]Sure, I can type really really fast on the iPhone keyboard, but the iPad keyboard was an unknown. In the past, when using virtual keyboards on tablet-sized computers, I’ve been disappointed. So with some trepidation, I tried typing on the iPad. So far, what was virtually impossible for me to do on other devices feels almost natural on this one.

To be honest, I haven’t spent much time creating content — instead I have been consuming content voraciously. I have downloaded about 25 apps so far and most of them are oriented around reading, watching and entertainment. The vivid colors of the gorgeous 9.7-inch screen do actually make a lot of difference and make consuming content more enjoyable. Among the apps I’ve downloaded:

* Kindle for iPad: I think it’s a great substitute for those of us who have invested heavily in the Kindle ecosystem. I have been buying fewer and fewer books on Kindle lately, mostly because I prefer the old-fashioned book format. But I see the iPad as a perfect way to carry my Kindle books when traveling.

* Netflix for iPad: Even though it has some rough edges, Netflix for iPad is a perfect app for this platform. I normally stream a movie or television show to my laptop before falling asleep and I can easily see iPad becoming an even easier way of watching movies. Last night (or was it this morning?), I watched the BBC show “Wire in the Blood” (season 5) before I got some shut-eye. I felt more immersed in the show compared to watching it on my laptop.

* This morning, I read all the papers I normally read on my laptop on the iPad: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Guardian. Now this is where things get exciting. With a few taps and a little touch, I am interacting just with the story on a one-on-one basis. It does feel more personal. I am not yet convinced why I should really pay for the apps for these outlets, though.

That’s it for now. I will be back soon with further impressions.

Related iPad content from GigaOM Pro, including our exclusive forecast of iPad sales and sales of iPad-related applications

121 Responses to “iPad: My Very Early Impressions + Your Questions”

    • Varun

      reading emails is a great experience and frankly you can get through a lot of email very quickly. I still wish there was a unified inbox.

      The google mail html5 version is pretty awesome and easy to use.


  1. “One, it will re-define how we consume information and how we interact with information. And two, it will surely make us think differently about the very idea of computing.”

    (1) Aren’t you hyping too much? (Yes you hype very very effectively. I fall for it)
    (2) Isn’t it true for any new device? I mean, desn’t any new device chagne the way we consume info and computing services?

  2. Dr. Lightmare

    I have an iPad and I like it a lot. I am looking forward to an Android tablet with this sort of experience but without the walled garden.

  3. Brian H

    This product(which I do not have or plan to buy) has a few big problems for me
    1)non replaceable battery
    2) being wired irrevocably into apples ecosystem

    • Johnng

      I can understand the first 2 complaints. The “hype” problem I just don’t get. That is more of “I don’t want those grapes anyways” type issue.


  4. Tony Vitale

    Hi Om
    Thanks for asking for questions, Heres Mine
    As you sit with the IPAD on a lets say living room chair , is it awkward to hold and type on at the same time? When standing is it difficult to type as you hold the unit with one hand and type with the other or can you type while holding with two hands iphone style?
    thanks om
    tony vitale

    • it is a little awkward at first to hold and type but then the two thumb typing takes over. secondly in portrait mode, you can do full keyboard typing as long as there is a surface to place it on. such as knees.

  5. Chris K

    Got mine.

    Big screen makes a big difference. If you like the iPhone experience you will love the iPad experience.

    Some software doesn’t feel quite complete and/or made for this device. Mail wasnt intuitive.

    Touch typing is ok, but requires a very steady hand and iPad. It doesn’t
    feel like something you want to do for more than short bursts at a time.

    Device doesn’t get warm to the touch.

  6. After coding an iPad version of my app yesterday, running it on the simulator, I just had to go get one this morning. After waiting in line for 2 hours at the Palo Alto store, I was able to score a 32GB model. There was a father/daughter team ahead of me in the line who had flown in from Australia.
    I would have liked a 16GB model, though.

  7. Om,

    This device has been placed between the phone and the computer, which I think is a great way to look at it.

    However with the ABC, Netflix and other apps, I have a feeling this Product can sit between the Computer and the TV as well. If I am sitting on the couch and want to browse Video content in an interactive way, I might use the iPad.

    What is your opinion from that perspective? Would this device impact the set-top box market?

  8. Steve Kuker

    Hello Om,

    What are your thoughts of later generations of the iPad having USB connectors? Do you think eventually that an iPad could fully take the place of a MacBook Pro?

    Thank you, Steve Kuker

  9. Okay, I’ve been playing with mine for a few hours now and it’s hard not to think that everyone one of us from this day forward should tell our parents to not bother buying a computer, just get an iPad.

    So, now that you’ve used it are you (already) thinking of revising any 2010 sales estimates?

    • So, you told your parents not to bother buying a computer, only an iPad, only a iPad. So, lo and behold, they first time they turn on that iPad, Guess what?: The iPad asks to be synch. (There’s even a picture on the iPad screen of some cable) Synch to what? Synch to a computer, that is. Whoa, but your parents did not bother buying a computer. There’s no computer around, since you did tell them not to bother getting one. Bazillions of your parents are gonna be mad at all of you’s and Apple. Those 2010 sales estimates need to be revised way downward.

      • Funny. Troll or not.
        Yeah, gotta be synched. Seems odd that’s the case. But it’s just remarkably so much easier and better than the parental unit’s existing computer. Or anything I’ve ever used. I’ve already started lobbying to buy a second.

      • sfmitch

        If someone buys an iPad and doesn’t want to sync it to a computer, I would recommend connecting the iPad to a computer at the store where it is purchased.

        Otherwise, you would need a friend or relative to help you out.

      • My parents already have a PC, but I would tell them not to bother getting a replacement. iTunes only requires a 1GHz Intel/AMD computer, so it will be at least a few years before their PC won’t work with another iTunes upgrade.

      • Thomas Wood

        Tim, the friendly folks at the Apple store offered to (and did) SYNC my iPad for me. It is possible to use this stand alone, especially if the user is not computer friendly anyway. I can see alot of first time users (children and seniors both) using this device stand alone. (Of course they will need wifi).

    • Jacob Varghese

      Today, it requires a computer. Tomorrow, possibly with the Apple Cloud/Enhanced Mobile Me, no computer is necessary. Synching of files and media is done in your online storage space.

      Apple never releases the complete product in Version 1. Apple needs feedback from the early adopters.
      Btw, mine is on the way. I can’t wait.

  10. ronald

    How’s the integration with the rest of your local network? Sooner or later you might want to exchange data and a cable(?) seems a little off.

    What would you change on the backend infrastructure to make the experience better, email server, contacts, web site org (to mouse oriented (?), …. (?).

  11. Muneeb

    might be stupid to ask but do we really need to connect to our computer to transfer stuff into it? I mean is there an iTunes app for iPad?

  12. nice review anyway.can you please post some more picture of your ipad then.a picture of apps that being used in the ipad.that would greatly help me understand what it’s like to use an ipad.

  13. Hi, there are still some Q that I am missing in all reviews/previews:

    First, how does it work with files? I got known that there is an extra option in mail app to open office docs in iWork apps. Will it be allowed for other, non-apple apps? Let’s say QuickOffice, or other potential extenders? I can imagine open a picture in photo editing app, etc..

    Second, what is the sync possibility on PC? Namely pictures is a big question. I heard picasa is out.. so just only photoshop elements or a folder? Which would mean no faces/places/albums through PC sync? This would cause I would have just one folder as I got on iPhone right now with no option to create albums, etc.. This frustrates me so much!

    I hope I would get answers someday :(

    • VFvisa

      Can you explain the question about files a bit more. For now you can transfer files via the iTunes sync process. There are separate folders created for those which allow you to sync files and even Word/Excel/Powerpoint are read by Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

      On the PC — since I don’t have one, I can’t tell you though will be able to let you know when one of my colleagues brings his PC laptop to work.

      • Dear Om, thanks for reply.

        I am curious about the possibility of opening files ON the iPad, for example from mail, as it is possible by iWork apps. So lets say, I got an email with pdf file and it allows me to directly open it by pdf reader (for annotation, backup, or just save) from mail. Preview from mail is not a solution according to me. It would be great to have the option to open word in lets say quickoffice, image in image processing app, etc. It would make sense then to me to use laptop for less and less..

        Because I hate the necessity of syncing files with computer.. there is simply no option. Dropbox needs connectivity, as well.. When I want to save the file from email, I have to forward it to special mail-in address of ReaddleDocs, or Quickoffice if I want to edit it. I hate this! I do not want a file browser, I just want to work with files..

      • VFisa: I haven’t had the occasion to try this out on the iPad yet, but here’s how I understand it to work: iPad apps can register recognized file types with the OS, so if you receive an email attachment, you can long-press on it and receive an “open with X” option. Not sure what happens if you have multiple apps that can read the same file type, or if you have an app that reads a natively-supported type like PDF. Maybe someone with GoodReader can confirm that this works?

  14. I haven’t used a touchscreen since 1985. I was selling/training AutoCAD on HP Vectras, then.

    I’m usually very keyboard shortcut-oriented with my left hand and mousing with the right; so, the iPad touchscreen will be a completely new experience. That will be the decider as my wife and I swap the first iPad we get to try – between us.

    I work from home; so, wifi, 16gb, will be fine. Just as I do with the first-gen AppleTV, I can move needed content forth-and-back over wifi. No need to store everything on the iPad.

    My wife may want the 3G [and larger drive] model to take to her IT gig in town. Not a lot of wifi in banks. :-]

    1. Have you tried Skype on the critter, yet?

    2. Are you using the iPad version of WordPress, yet?

    Enjoy the weekend.

    • Amit

      I have not tried it so can’t say. Will do later today and report later.

      By the way my tip on this ins pretty simple: drop PDF in ever note and we are good to go.

      Hope that helps

    • sfmitch

      I downloaded GoodReader for Tablet Edition –

      It allows you to drag PDFs into iTunes (new feature that exists on the Apps Tab of the iPad in iTunes). The PDFs look really good. Organizing the PDFs looks like it will be a bit of work.

      I think the App is a $1. It is definitely a solution I will be using.

      I, also, want to look into turning PDFs into ePubs and using iBooks as the front end.

    • The iPad does support PDFs. I think the easiest way of getting them on the iPad is sending them to the mail account you have set up in the mail app on the iPad. From there on you can open many types of documents including PDFs

  15. Did you read the newspapers on the browser or thru’ their apps? is the WSJ app a better experience than the browser version ?
    Doe it ge hot when playing media ?

  16. I so miss not being in US at this time. I would love to be in one of those lines for buying apple products and this would have been the perfect occasion. Michael Arrington says it is a perfect device for business use too, do you agree?

  17. Om – how is the sound? We all know that sound on iPhone is not gr8. Curious about ipad sound. Also, how is the book reading on the eyes in the night?

    • thanks
    • I would say it can easily siphon away about 3-4 hours of usage for me. I typically use computers for between 14-16 hours a day so from that perspective i see it becoming a pretty important device for me

  18. Michael

    At least one reviewee suggests waiting for the next version (next year, perhaps) when the price should be lower and the features more robust. What do you think?

  19. Dear Om,

    Can you pick one up for me when you do manage to leave the house and send it to the UK please? I don’t think i can wait another month. Its killing me :-(

    (more seriously, now that you’ve used it which is the model you think most should go for storage wise?)

    • Haha. Well hopefully I think you guys get one soon. I would say the 32 Gb is the perfect model in my opinion. Price wise. I do want a 3G version though — I am not sure if WiFi one is enough ;-)

      • I was toying with the 3G but i have an iPhone which i use constantly when I’m on the move, so can’t personally justify spending an additional $130 (or rather the pound sterling equivalent) plus the monthly rental.

        You’re right about the 32gb – that seems to hit the right spot, although the 64gb is so so tempting.

        I’m now going to go away to an ashram for the next month to avoid more heartbreak as I watch all you Americans cavorting with the device. And I thought the US and UK had a special relationship. Pah!

        Give us our Jonathan Ive back thats what I say! :)

      • Lack of Flash for consuming content is just one of the many missing features that makes the iPad fall short of being a really useful device. It’s larger, netbook-size, an oversized iPod Touch, and does the same things as a Touch. As for a really revolutionary machine interaction experience, maybe Apple should push the wearable technology envelope alot more. A virtual keyboard on a larger device is a poor mimic of a physical keyboard and mouse. For convenient information snacking on the go, just whip out the phone from your pocket. For more content consumption, and creation, there’s the netbook or laptop, and the desktop. The iPad just doesn’t fit the space between a Touch or a phone, and a netbook or laptop.

      • So many people seem to point to lack of Flash support as a killer, which I continue to not understand. There isn’t a single site that I use on a regular basis that relies on Flash. There is no important content-rich site that requires Flash. If you want games, then of course, but the iPad concentrates on native-app gaming, for obvious reasons.

    • Good point. One of the biggest strengths of the iPad is that it DOESN’T support Flash.

      It already has YouTube, as well as Hulu, plenty of music streaming and Netflix as I hear. Who needs Flash, again?

      • Josh, here’s the thirty million netbooks answer: It’s Saturday, April 3, 2010. You should go down to an Apple store or Best Buy and use the iPad to check out the bazallion websites that use Flash.

        Didn’t think so.

      • Tim raises a good point, but not a good argument to back it up. 30m netbooks weren’t sold because of Flash. More important factors caused the sales, chief among them, the long battery life and portability of a usable mobile computer. Those happen to be two primary aspects of the iPad. Lack of Flash will bother some, but it clearly didn’t hurt iPad sales, just like it hasn’t stopped Apple from selling more iPhones than netbooks from all PC makers combined.

      • RattyUK

        You guys are kidding yourselves. The only reason netbooks sold were because of the price. And you know what? Once you actually played with them you found that they were underpowered and not really very good.

        30,000,000 netbooks sound like a lot. But not a huge figure when you split that across all the companies that sell netbooks. If you look at the iPhone however it has now cleared 42.48 Million units as of Quarter 1, 2010 which tends to cut down the success of netbooks buy over 25%.

        So Tim, keep telling yourself that the iPad is going to fail because of the lack of Flash and then consider that the iPad can view all the web sites that the iPhone can access.

        Flash is dead. It’s just thrashing around.

      • They have sold more like 100 Million netbooks thus far. The netbook is about to be about 50% of the global laptop market. The main reason netbooks are popular I think is because they are cheaper than previous laptops. More than 60% of laptop and netbook users never take it outside their homes, so battery runtime is not an important factor.

        The ipad is not cheap at all, especially compared to the upcoming Android tablets that are going to sell below $200 and not come with any of the camera/usb-host/video-codecs/Pixel-Qi hardware problems of the ipad.

      • Lack of Flash for consuming content is just ONE of the many missing features that makes the iPad fall short of being a really useful device. Steve Jobs compared the iPad to the netbook, and the netbook does more and cost less than the iPad. As important as long battery life and portability of a usable mobile computer (by the way, it can be said that iPad isn’t a computer when the iPad needs to be synched to a computer to even get it started for the first time), is also the more affordable price of netbooks. The 3 years of constant Apple overhyped hasn’t stopped RIM from selling more Blackberries than iPhones, nor has the iPhone OS toppled Symbian as the most dominant smartphone OS on the planet. And here comes Android.

      • On a netbook, using the Chrome browser, since app version is inferior experience compared to using Chrome: Farmville, 2 of top 3 would be unusable on an iPad. Number 3, of course, is Apple fan, By the way, not very likely that Chrome nor Firefox will be on the iPad soon.