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Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Impressions with the New iPad

Talk about lucky. My wife took note of my recent obsession with the new iPad and somehow came up with the money to buy me a new iPad. Even though my birthday isn't until Thursday, Amy went ahead and got me a 16 GB white wifi model. I've never had a tablet before so I wanted to share my initial thoughts both as a new iPad user and as an Android power user.

First of all, your mileage will vary, but at the Best Buy that I bought the iPad at, there were plenty of iPads to go around. This confirms what I was reading in various blogs, and the Best Buy employee I talked to said the launch wasn't as big as he thought it would be. So what I am saying is that there should be enough iPads to go around, so don't worry too much about running all around town looking for one.

There is also a little bit of confusion over the name. This is not the iPad 3, it is the "New iPad." However I heard "iPad 3" a bunch of times and the Best Buy employees were calling it iPad 3 also. I guess it makes sense to drop the number-- my iMac is just iMac, and specifically iMac (2010) so I guess that works. However people like numbers, and the iPad and iPhone are very much used by what I would call the 'general public', so I wouldn't be shocked to hear iPad 3, iPad 4, etc.

Unboxing the iPad

There isn't really a whole lot to the iPad unboxing. Apple does its part to provide just the minimum amount of packaging needed. Once you figure out the box-- it opens like a shoebox, the iPad is sitting there on top, wrapped in plastic.

It kinda took my breath away, but that's just me being cheesy. I also didn't take the plastic off right away. It took almost 2 hours before I peeled off the 'new.'

Under the iPad is the typical Apple cord with the 30 pin connector and a wall charger.

Nothing really special, unboxing Apple products are typically minimalistic when it comes to packaging.

iPad First Use

We bought the iPad from Best Buy in the middle of Saturday errands, and  luckly for me, Caleb fell asleep in the car seat just as we pulled up the grocery store. Perfect for me because I was able to stay in the car and watch the baby while he slept, rather than deal with a screaming, tired toddler in the middle of the store. Yeah, we try and not be that couple with the screaming kids. Trapped in the car with a new toy for an hour? I sucked it up and turned my new toy on.

When it first boots up, it asks for your apple id, which I had because I had a couple of iPods in the past. Oh yeah, and the iMac. So I was already in the ecosystem so to speak, but it's only a matter of signing up for a free account at Not a big deal.

What's cool is not having to hook up the device to a computer to get the thing going. I was able to get the iPad up and running with the help of my Galaxy Nexus hotspot. Thought that my Nexus was going to blow up in smoke and flames proving internet to my iPad. Downloading apps through the App Store App was super easy and decently fast on Verizon 3G.

There were things like photostream and other location options to click through, but it wasn't too bad. Yes I don't mind if you know where I am, sure I agree to your terms of use. Ya ya ya, click click click. Legal mumbo jumbo. Bleh.

My first impression picking this tablet up is how heavy it is. Picking up an iPad in a store is almost impossible considering how they are anchored down most of the time. The screen is set kinda low out of the box, dig in the settings menu to turn up the brightness.

Josh over at the Verge says it might be the best screen he's ever looked at, and I know that he has looked at many more screens than I have. The screen is really something to behold. Screen shots don't do it justice, you have to see it for yourself. There is new technology in play here, and it really shows.


Whenever I hook up an Apple device to my iMac I imagine a family reunion going on inside there somehow. The native experience is one that is so much better than a Windows machine. Hooking up my iPad to my Mac and opening iTunes brought up a prompt asking me if I wanted to sync my iTunes library and my iPad together.

iTunes is a bit, clunky, but it works well with the iPad. I wasn't able to sync anywhere near my full library of movies, videos, photos and music on a 16 GB iPad. (FYI there was 13.3 GB available out of the box.) So I took some time to figure out what I needed on the device and what I could live without.

There is a home sharing option that's handy. This means that as long as my iPad is connected to the same network as my other computers, I could stream whatever I wanted from those iTunes libraries. So I can watch Zombieland on my iPad without having to copy it over to my iPad. The movie is on my Mac, and it just streams over to my iPad. Kinda neat.

Also I figured out that iCloud means I don't have to connect the iPad to the iMac. When I download an app on the iMac, it appears on the iPad. One of the confusing things about the iPad are the apps. Apps come in a couple of different flavors. There are apps that are designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Some are for iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad. Some are just for the iPad. Then there are apps that are updated for the new screen on the new iPad. About 80% of my apps were just for the iPhone, and while they work fine on the iPad, they just use a tiny portion of the screen. They appear as they would on the little iPhone screen.

What made me mad was most apps that I had paid for required a small fee, usually 99 cents, to upgrade to the iPad app. Also there were some iPad apps that just looked terribad on the high resolution screen on the new iPad. Complaints aside, the app store has a bunch of great apps for the iPad and you don't have to worry about if the app is going to work on your device.

Wrap Up

I think that I was up until 3 AM playing with the iPad. It is going to take some time for us all to learn to really use it for what it is intended for. It is a powerful little computer in your hand, and the big screen and processing power is amazing. My first 24 hours with the iPad left a favorable impression on me. Having come from Android, I kept trying to pull down a notification bar that isn't there, and there isn't a menu button to speak of. Quite a few times I hit the home button, using it as a back button. Overall it's going to take some getting used to, but I think that I have something that's going to age well.