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The iPad Report Card
By Paul O'Reilly
The iPad is here
and first indications are that it got off to a great start, with Apple
selling over 300,000 units across the U.S. last Saturday, its first day
of availability. In a weekend press release, Apple claimed iPad owners
downloaded over a million applications from its App Store and more than
250,000 electronic books.
But it's still hard to get a
consistent read on the iPad. Reviewers are decidedly mixed when it
comes to Steve Jobs' claim that it's a "game changer", and emerging
reports of poor Wi-Fi connectivity by some iPad owners have done
nothing to alter opinions that it's a device waiting for improvement.
after five days of use, what do people like about the iPad and in which
areas does it disappoint? Here is The Online Mom's early report card:
4 – exceeds expectations
and foremost, the iPad is a fabulous on-the-go media player and
entertainment system. If you're into anytime, anywhere movies, photos,
games and apps, then the iPad is definitely for you. Its 10-inch screen
is ideal for two people to watch at the same time and generates none of
the eye-fatigue you get watching movies on an iPhone or iPod Touch.
Plus, the battery life (10 hours+) makes it ideal for long trips and
other factor that has to be taken into consideration is price. Although
$499 as a starting point seems reasonable, that's just for the 16GB
Wi-Fi only model. The 64GB 3G model, which will be available later this
month, comes in at a whopping $829, before the cost of a data plan.
Compare that to Acer's state-of-the-art Aspire One 532h 250GB netbook,
which retails for just $350.
The iPad also represents a serious challenge to the
burgeoning e-reader market. Not only can you download Apple's iBook
e-reader app, but you can also access Kindle's app for the iPad, with
Barnes & Noble and others sure to follow. The iPad's widescreen
format allows you to view two pages at a time and the page-turning
touchscreen software is a joy to use.
3 – meets expectations
is a lot about the iPad that meets expectations but doesn't exactly
blow you away. Some people have raved about its e-mail handling, but
there's nothing here that a netbook or regular laptop can't do.
iPad was never touted as an office or productivity tool but a number of
users have found that it performs basic work functions surprisingly
well, with the on-screen keyboard proving to be responsive and
However, one drawback for those with work on their
minds is the lack of multitasking functionality (see below). Plus,
consumers need to know that it doesn't come pre-loaded with any office
programs. Pages, Numbers and Keynote (the Mac equivalents of Word,
Excel and PowerPoint) can be downloaded for $9.99 each.
2 – below expectations
there have been a number of complaints about the iPad's screen. Not
about the size and picture quality, which are exceptional, but about
the glare and difficulty of viewing the screen in any kind of sunlight.
For a device that's main attraction is its portability, this is a
Consumers and reviewers have also complained
about the fingerprint problem that inevitably comes with a mouse-free,
touchscreen-only device. If you are looking at the screen in poor light
or watching a dark background, the iPad's surface is a sea of smudges
and requires constant cleaning.
The lack of any multitasking
ability is also a drawback. If you want to look at photos or play a
game, then you no longer have access to the browser or any other
applications. It's also impossible to say, stream music and read an
e-book, something that the cheapest netbook will effortlessly allow.
This multitasking problem is likely to be resolved with future releases
of the operating software but, for now, it's a big issue.
is also clearly some buyers' remorse from those customers that have
stumped up $500+ for the current Wi-Fi-only model, only to find that
they cannot access the Internet outside their own home or office. That
has a huge knock-on effect, disabling essential on-the-go functions
like Maps and Weather.
1 – far below expectations
consumers were well aware in advance that the iPad came without certain
basic applications – phone, camera, ability to play Flash video – their
absence still disappoints. If any device was perfect for video
conferencing, it would be the iPad.
Similarly, the stand-alone
nature of the iPad is more than frustrating. There are no USB ports, so
it's impossible to sync the device with a camera, printer, memory
stick, disc drive or any other kind of peripheral.
There's no doubt that the iPad's
price will come down – the original iPhone cost $600 and now sells for
as little as $199 – and the functionality will improve as Apple closely
monitors customer feedback. But for now, the iPad's overall evaluation
falls somewhere between a 2 and a 3, with a generous marker awarding
the higher grade!