iPad: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh - Macenstein

iPad: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh

OK, so I have given myself a whopping 7 hours to think about the iPad, and while conventional wisdom might say I need to wait 2 months and actually hold one to truly form my opinion of the device, my brain is so evolved, and my “Awesome detector” so refined, that I can render a final judgment at record speed. So sit back, and prepare to learn the Good, the Bad, and the Meh about the iPad.

The Good
• The Price is pretty good, at least for the non-3G versions. The entry level model starts at $499 for the 16GB WiFi only version. The only problem is that while 16 GB is more than enough room for a web-surfing eBook reader, it is really not even close to enough room for a music playing, iPhone game playing, video watching device. My iPhone currently contains 32 GB of memory, and I only have enough room to sync certain playlists of my 48,000 song library, 160 or so of my 600 apps, some photos and a couple videos. So if I were to get an iPad, I would think I’d want to get the 64 GB model which comes in at $699, which is beginning to make justifying the cost a little trickier.
• As far as an eBook reader goes, it looks very nice. I haven’t read a real book since my daughter was born 8 years ago, nor do I understand needing to carry 1000’s of books with you the way you might with songs, but if I had a long public transportation commute with 10 idle hours a week on my hands, maybe I would. The cost isn’t all that much more than a Kindle given all the extra bells and whistles you get with the iPad, so I could easily see the iPad dominating the eBook market, whatever that is.
• It can run almost any iPhone app/game natively. Granted only about 500 of the 140,000 apps out there are any good, and some of those use GPS and camera’s (which are lacking on the iPad) but in general this is pretty cool, and I would love to see how high a score I can get on Flight Control when my fat fingers have more room to navigate the game’s tight corners. This also means that I should be able to use the Remote app and walk around my house looking important as I change songs on my AirPort speakers.
• It should be Jailbreakable. We obviously don’t know for sure yet, but odds are the iPad is just as hackable as the iPhone, so hopefully an iPad Jailbreaking fix comes along soon that adds missing features like Flash and Netflix to the iPad.

The Meh:
• The iPad has video out, but you need a to buy a dock to do so. This means you need to carry the dock with you on trips if you plan to use it as a portable Apple TV.
• iBooks’s bookshelf interface is an exact rip off of delicious Library. I think I recall Delicious Library’s head muckety muck getting hired by Apple at some point though, so maybe that explains that.
• iWork: Well, honestly I don’t use these apps on my MacBook, so the odds that I would want to use them on a tablet are pretty slim. However I realize Apple felt the need to at least PRETEND that the iPad was more than an iPod touch and capable of some sort of “real” work. Yet while I suppose it is possible that someone might use Pages on the iPad, trust me, NO ONE will use keynote on this thing. If you think you will, it’s only because you are a keynote user who wants to buy the iPad and can’t think of a real reason to do so.
• I’m not loving the UI and interface of the native apps. People seem to be largely positive about the iPad UI, but I’m not really in love with it. First of all, the home screen looks ridiculous with those small app icons floating there so spread out. I REALLY hope you can tighten things up and have 40 icons on the home page if you want instead of spread out over three pages, but it didn’t look like it. And while the pop up menus seems nice, I am not thrilled with the “Santa Fe” Pages/Calendar color scheme and most of the UI bars and such. Mail was the only app that looked well put together to me. This might just need time to grow on me though.
• The dock can only mount to the iPad in portrait mode. This is perhaps the biggest physical design flaw Apple has made since the Squishy MacBook issue of the white and black MacBooks. The iPad appears as though it would make a very nice video viewer when in landscape mode, but by not also including a side-mounting dock connection, Apple has left creating a horizontal dock to 3rd parties who will have to make an odd “right” mounting dock connector.
• I’m not loving the bezel. Design-wise, I’m not loving the giant black border. People say it allows you to hold the iPad without covering content, but I say who cares? How much content is your thumb going to cover? This actually would matter much more on the smaller iPhone and iPod touch where there is really no border to speak of and a much smaller screen. If the border serves some other function, like giving the guts of the machine a place to go, that’s fine. But it looks more like a design decision to match the new iMacs, and MacBooks, and if so it doesn’t need to be there.

The Bad
• No Flash. This seems like an asinine move on Apple’s part, but one that could of course be fixed through a simple software update. It appears that Apple’s desire to make the iPad’s browser more or less identical to the iPhone’s instead of the MacBook’s will rank up there with the “no side mounted dock connector” as one of the biggest “What was Apple thinking” iPad moments. I would have thought that Apple realized people accepted the lack of flash on an iPhone do to the size of the screen and the power of the processor, but the iPad has neither of those limitations. The only explanation I can think of at this point for Apple’s dissing of Flash is that they are working on a Flash killer of their own in some secret lab.
• No ability to stream Netflix movies. This comes in a close second to the no-Flash thing. Now that even a Wii can stream Netflix movies, Netflix integration would have been a HUGE selling point and media buzz generating feature for the iPad, and I would have gotten an iPad solely for that feature alone. Luckily, like the no-Flash thing, this SHOULD be fixable if Apple gets off its ass and actually listens to criticism for once.
• AT&T is providing 3G service. I have AT&T, and it has proven 100% reliable where I live in NJ, but so many people have bitched about it that I can only assume that where there’s smoke there’s fire. I’m not sure why Apple would seek to create an iPad deal solely with AT&T, but obvioulsy this can change. On the plus side (at least for me) I would only be interested in the WiFi model anyway, so there’s no need to pay for 3G.
• No Camera. This is again, just plain silly. I would think Apple could have at least slapped a camera into the most expensive model to help distinguish it from the lower end models (and help justify the price differences, as there’s no way the increased memory alone is jacking the price up $200). I actually don’t think I would use the camera much, as I rarely ever do a video chat on my Mac, but Apple had about 5 years of internet rumors to learn that most people wanted a camera. The good news here is that assuming the iPad sells well enough to stick around for 7 months, Apple will likely add a camera to the next model.
• No multi-tasking. You may recall that I won an iPhone (with your help) by making a video BEGGING Apple to allow 3rd party internet radio apps to run in the background on the iPhone. Well, Apple has in effect released an iPhone with a MUCH more powerful processor and architecture that can surely let me lister to Slacker Radio while surfing the web, yet apparently the iPad is just as crippled as the iPhone. Too bad.
• It doesn’t stream video like the Apple TV does. At least I don’t think it does, and that sucks. I would care much less about the storage size if I could easily watch the hundreds of shows and movies stored on my Mac Pro wirelessly on the iPad. Hopefully Apple will fix this.
• It’s called the iPad. All tampon jokes aside (and there have been many) the name is lame. On the one hand, I haven’t heard any other name that is so much better I was rushing to embrace it, but at the end of the day, “Pad” means nothing in relation to what the device does. Sure, some 3rd party apps let you doodle on it, but it’s a websurfing, game-playing, eBook reader. I would have rather they bring back the name “iBook” for the device instead of their reader app. If anything, the iPad symbolizes the name “iPod” more than their other iPods. Even a “means-nothing” name like the “Newton” would have been nice. Let the thing stand on its own.

Final thoughts

So in conclusion, while most of us thought/expected/hoped the iPad would be an Apple tablet computer, it turns out it really is a giant iPod touch with an eBook application built in. The name alone should tell you it is only one letter away from an iPod. So, is it worth buying? Well, to someone like me, who’s house has 5 Macs, 2 iPod touches and 2 iPhones already, the desire to buy a big iPod is somewhat lacking. However, “somewhat lacking” does not mean I would not consider getting one.

I loved the iPhone because it combined two devices i already had (my phone and Mac) into one, and then threw in a PSP for free once the SDK was released. The iPad seems to combine an iPod touch and a Kindle, and I don’t personally own either. I haven’t read a book in 8 years, so its primary selling point is somewhat lost on me. However I find the idea of using the iPad as a portable video watching and game playing device to be attractive. I could almost see it as a “family” appliance more than a “Dr. Macenstein” appliance. I think my kids would like it, and the Bride of Macenstein might even enjoy reading books on it. The problem is, I don’t like spending $699 on my family. I’m all about me. I think that ultimately the fact that I have to wait 2 months to buy it even if I wanted it might help me resist the device.

So listen up Apple! You have two months to get Netflix up and running, or so help me… I will buy it anyway and bitch about it.

51 Responses to “iPad: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh”
  1. billy kidd says:

    just a thing about the camera. grab a web-cam, and hold it on your face for an entire video chat… not a good experience. real shaky, so it’s not that pleasant for your viewers, and you have to hold it up for a while. just try it and tell me if you’d really like to video conference with the thing…

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.