iPad Reviews – Part II: Physical observations

ipad01Before I purchased my MacBook Pro, I gave the Microsoft Tablet PC a serious look. I was intrigued by something physically narrower and with a touch-sensitive screen interface. The high cost of the available devices and my interest in switching OS platforms dissuaded me from the purchase.

Nonetheless, I still longed for a device that; offered more functionality and was larger than a smart-phone, and was smaller and lighter than a traditional laptop.

The wait is now over, thanks to the Apple iPad.

Physically, the device is lightweight and portable, and as I’ll discuss in another article, provides far more functionality than a smart-phone.

After spending a little over a week with the device, these were my observations.

  • Appearance. The device is 9.56″ tall, 7.47″ wide, and .5″ thick. The back of the iPad has a curve to it, which is slightly annoying; however, it can be mitigated by the purchase of a case — which is recommended. The front is coal-black and back is silver. Overall, aesthetically pleasing.
  • Weight. The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds, without a case or cover — again recommended. I usually put the device in my backpack, which is heavy to begin with, and it didn’t make much difference.
  • Usage. Unlike a desktop or laptop, the iPad is meant to be held often while using it. I found myself altering how I held the device quite often; first with one hand, then two, back to one, etc. I’d also shift from using it on my lap to another surface if available. The Apple case has a nice feature that allows you to flip the cover over backwards and prop up the iPad at an angle in landscape mode, and this became my ideal way to use it.
  • Display screen. Brilliant and sharp. Websites and apps look incredible on it. I don’t surf sites on my iPhone very often because of the display size, but with the iPad, surfing is actually fun again. The display size actually seems perfect. I never feel like it should be larger, and if it were any smaller, I’d probably end up two-finger zooming more often. Switching between portrait and landscape display mode is pretty much instantaneous. Smudges easily, but it’s not an issue using a cloth to wipe. Not that I recommend this AT ALL, but I have seen a video of someone trying unsuccessfully to scratch the screen with a nail.
  • Keyboard. The onscreen full-size QWERTY keyboard, while not perfect, is very useful and a marked improvement over the iPhone. The hard thing about it is the touch response, which takes a little getting used to if you’re like me who was taught to rest your fingers on the home keys. My technique improved over time, and is now an ad-hoc mixture of traditional typing and 2-4 finger ‘hunt and peck’ style.
  • Buttons and jacks. On the front of the iPad, there is only the single home button, and all input is done via touchscreen. Along the outside edge is; a cable connector port, an internal speaker, a volume rocker-style button, a display lock, an on/off button, an earphone jack and a built in mic.
  • Audio. Earphone and built-in speaker sound nice, but would’ve liked a little more output. Built-in mic use in the Dragon Dictation program seemed adequate enough for accurate transcription. Mic also performed well on a Shazam tag.
  • Battery use. Apple states 9-10 hours of use, and this seems correct if not a little conservative.
  • Here are the full specs.

Before the final specs were released, I had the idea that the Apple tablet device would be closer to a full-fledged operating system. I envisioned and was expecting a device much larger and heavier than what was finally delivered. I’m glad I was wrong.

For my next review of the iPad, I’m going to shoot some video of the iPad in action, and wrap up the series with a look at some of the apps.

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Author:Craig Berry

Craig Berry is a Catholic web developer and musician.
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