By now, you’ve likely read a bunch of iPad reviews. There’s no point in reading another review outlining every dimension, spec and feature. That’d be pretending that the iPad is like any other product you’ve seen before, and therefore can be reviewed using the same template.
To start with, ignore the specs. Like the iPod and the iPhone before it, the iPad has specs, but it’s not about the specs. The iPad is about what it does, the experience. And the iPad is an alien device that takes functions, features and a user interface we’re familiar with, repackages them and creates new usage paradigms. As app developers begin to grok these new usage paradigms, even more will emerge.
That’s why the rhetorical iPad review question we keep hearing and reading – “Why do I need it?” – is irrelevant. It’s the wrong question. You don’t need it. You don’t need most gadgets out there. You either want it because you sense it’ll somehow positively improve how you use your leisure time, or you don’t want it. But you don’t need it.
You don’t need it because, first and foremost, the iPad is the best time-killer ever devised. But in an age with increasing leisure time (desired or not), maybe that’s the number one reason you do need the iPad.
Using the iPad
Rather than specs and a pedantic description – let’s face it, you know what it looks like and the basic specs – let’s list what the iPad does. In many ways, the iPad is a high-tech version of the do-it-all devices you see hawked on late night TV. It “comes” with tens of thousands of apps, with a lot more to come. As such, it combines a lengthy laundry list of capabilities into one handy portable gadget. The iPad is also fast, extremely fast, especially when compared to netbooks, smartphones or e-Readers; it feels like something out of the future.
It’s the best e-book reader. In fact, it’s multiple e-book readers. Not only can you download Apple’s iBook e-reader app, but Kindle has an upgraded iPad app and the iPhone Barnes & Noble app, as well as the half dozen or so other iPhone e-reader apps such as Stanza, Course Smart’s eTextbooks, Google Books and Wattpad. Unlike other e-reader apps, iBook let’s you see two facing pages when turned to widescreen mode. Yes, the iPad works for “just” 10 hours compared to the Kindle’s days-long battery life, but you’re likely already used to plugging in your cell phone every day.
…As a Gaming Platform
It’s a great portable gaming device, thanks to iPad’s large 9.7-inch screen (there, you got us to list a spec) and a snappy accelerometer, eliminating the need for separate navigational controls or joysticks. Thanks to the iPhone, there are more games available for iPad than for all other portable gaming platforms combined.
…As a Browsing Device
It’s the best portable Web surfing device. The initial Wi-Fi version sort of limits where you can use it, though. You can wait for the 3G version and its $15-per-month AT&T 3G service, or get a MiFi from Sprint or Verizon (which also can be used with your laptop). Slip the MiFi in a pocket or backpack and you become a walking hotspot. We’ve been using Sprint’s, and it works perfectly.