Everything I want you to know about the iPad - Macenstein

Everything I want you to know about the iPad

I love you.

You may recall when Apple first announced the iPad I was fairly dead set against getting it, more or less for one reason – no Netflix support. Well, guess who announced their iPad app a couple days ago, and guess who was waiting in line at Best Buy this morning? Yes, I’m not sure why I couldn’t get it into my head that Apple didn’t need to “build in” Netflix support – Netflix could at any time make an iPad app, but it seemed like a killer app Apple would have almost wanted to show off at the unveiling. Then Netflix came out and publicly said they had no plans to develop such an app… Anyway, they did, I got an iPad, and after playing with it I think I should share with you everything I feel you need to know about the iPad:

– Battery life lasts a very long time, but guess what else lasts a very long time? The CHARGING time. This makes sense, of course, but it’s currently 10:10 PM, and I began charging my iPad from 30% around 4 PM, and it is only at 83%. My iPhone would have charged TWICE in that time, so it seems like a full charge might be an overnight thing, unless I have a bum unit.

– The iPad seems to only charge form an AC outlet. I’ve heard some talk of it working off a new iMac or something, but when I plugged it into the front of my Mac Pro’s USB ports, the same ones I sync countless iPods and iPhones on, the battery indicator turned into a “Not Charging” bit of text. I hope Apple can fix this with firmware, but I guess the long battery life/long charge time means the iPad needs a significant source of Energon to charge those cells, and USB doesn’t cut it.

– It doesn’t come with earbuds. I Paid $750 for it.

– Netflix IS awesome. And free, assuming you have a Netflix subscription with streaming. The movies buffer very fast, look decent (considering they are being streamed and scaled), and I am so happy I can’t really describe the feeling. It’s like a hole in my life that I did not know was there has been filled.

– My kids keep stealing it. I would say out of the 12 or so hours I have been home with the iPad, I only held it for about 2 hours, most of that time was after they fell asleep. The iPad has introduced a huge problem in that our kids, who BOTH have an iPod touch, now fight over the iPad to play the same games they already have on their iPods. This brings me to my biggest dilemma, which I will revisit at the end of this article.

– All the HD versions of games you love are worth it. So far, the HD version of every game I love enough to pay twice for has been worth it. Flight Control has all the old courses, but a bunch of new ones, and some creative touches. Fieldrunners as far as I can tell, is just a pretty graphics and animation overhaul, but worth it, plus it appears the extra courses added to the iPhone version are “free” here, they just need to be unlocked. Plants Vs. Zombies is more or less identical, but the graphics are so clear, you’ll feel like you’re playing a new game.

– Typing is weirder than on the iPhone. I know you have to adjust to any keyboard, real or virtual, so I’ll tack this up to unfamiliarity, but at the moment I am not envisioning myself doing any serious e-mailing and certainly no Pages on this thing. We’ll see.

– The Weather HD app with the moving video background was a waste of money.

– Marvel Comics app is awesome. I haven’t really read a comic series in 10 years, but I could see doing this here. The problem appears to be each issue is $1.99, and there are no subscriptions yet, or discounts. But they give you 6 free comics you can try to see if you like the whole digital comics thing, and I apparently DO.

Apple seems to have skimped on that “anti-finger print” coating you’ve heard so much about. The iPhone 3Gs doesn’t look NEARLY as disgusting after use. Luckily it is only really obvious when it is turned off.

– Brushes is cool. I tried drawing a quick self portrait in brushes – here’s my “Oh my God Dr. Macenstein is a giant-eyed serial killer” first attempt, and your first glimpse at my horrible visage.

I suppose if I volunteered for enough scientific experiments, I would eventually look like this.

This drawing frightened my children. I assure you, I don’t look quite this weird. Drawing with a finger is hard, but I’m sure possible with enough practice. I guess the question is, will you practice enough to get good? I think I will stick with paper for now. The only problem with Brushes is after downloading the $10 app, I discovered the free Adobe Idea app. Not nearly as robust, but certainly decent for anyone looking to add a drawing app, very nicely done.

– The running of native iPhone apps works great. The native iPhone apps look a bit soft, but otherwise run fine, including SlingPlayer, which is great. The softness of scaled native apps would not be an issue if you didn’t compare them to the native HD iPad apps, so if you want to save money on apps, don’t worry, you can totally get by with the apps you have. Obviously even native apps like YouTube that are using the same quality video as the iPhone will look crappy, but hey, it’s YouTube, the site that invented getting you to tolerate crap.

– iBooks is kind of cool and has a free books section. Yes, pretty much every book you were FORCED to read in school, you can now CHOOSE to read on your iPad for free. There about 70 or so “public domain” titles, or “classics”, as teachers like to call them, and they are a great way to try out the whole iPad book reading thing. I certainly do not see myself doing most of my reading on this (or ANY of it, aside from maybe comics) but mainly because if my kids keep stealing it, I would never finish a book. My kids do NOT try to steal my REAL books for some reason.

– The iPad gets a bit heavy when sitting and playing games. For some reason games seem to be more fun to play on the iPad, and I will chalk that up to the enhanced graphics and the fact that is a new toy, not even a day old. However, while you can sit and play an iPhone game in bed with no forearm fatigue, it DOES become an issue after awhile with the iPad, not perhaps so much due to its weight, but the size of it and the extra pressure your fingers need to apply to hold it with one hand while you tap with the other.

– Movies look good, but not awesome. You also can’t seem to play a movie in progress as it downloads from iTunes. I downloaded a couple HD free clips from iTunes, and they look great, but anything you ripped from a standard def DVD will look GOOD, but not GREAT. Even animated films which I figured would be the most forgiving appear just soft enough to make you notice. I suppose it depends on where you plan on getting the majority of your video material from, and the future is certainly HD, but who knows when Apple will finally give us Blu-Ray drives to rip from? The final verdict is video watching is a pretty sweet experience.


The iPad has three things going for it – it rocks, it’s awesome, and it kicks ass. The only drawback I can see at the moment is, I have no idea when/where I will use it. As it stands, I can totally see it being my home “gaming machine”. I will definitely use it at home for watching Netflix in bed, and playing games on the couch. However, it will not replace my laptop for even the most routine writing tasks. Thanks to IMAP mail, I will check mail occasionally on it, and surf the web, check Twitter and such while watching TV, but only if I am already holding it because I was watching a movie or playing a game. I will not be reading books with it, although admittedly I do not have a long train commute or any such thing. I will not be bringing it to work, and I certainly won’t be bringing it into the bathroom to play games while I take care of business as I do my iPhone (as I’ve said before, you do NOT want to borrow my iPhone). I suppose in a way I am a bit unusual in that I almost always have my laptop nearby so I can write stories at a moment’s notice.

So it appears my iPad is really going to end up being the “Family iPad”. The kids will continue to fight over who gets to use it, their iPods will collect dust, and I will use it at night to play games. Of course, I’ve had the thing for about 14 hours now, so this will probably change and there’s no telling what “killer app” will come out that changes the way I use the iPad.But if you were on the fence about buying one, those are my initial observations, for what they’re worth.

23 Responses to “Everything I want you to know about the iPad”
  1. ObamaPacman says:

    Heavy? Guess you haven’t seen me use 17″ MBP in line like a giant iPod. =p

  2. Justin says:

    I played with one for 15 mins or so in the store and I have to agree the keyboard just doesn’t feel right. I know it took me a week or so to get used to the iPhone keyboard, but the problem with this one is you can’t really type with 2 thumbs while holding it in the air.

    I think if I ever tried to type with this I would have to lay it flat on my lap or on a table and try to learn to type as if I was using a real keyboard. I think for any actually typing more than a quick email the bluetooth keyboard will be required.

    With the charging it seems the issue is with USB 2.0 ports that don’t put out enough amps to charge the massive battery in the iPad. Here is the Apple KB article on it: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4060

    Also, from what you are saying that it last a long time, but takes a long time to charge…seems to make sense to me. The battery is obviously a lot bigger than the iPhone so it should take longer to charge.

  3. dave says:

    Man, you totally nailed my creepy brother with that sketch. I’m faxing it to the police station now, because we don’t have a recent picture for the wanted poster.

  4. sfmitch says:

    I don’t think it is just you re: charging time. It takes a while to charge – good thing it lasts so darn long.

    I thought Movies (ripped from DVD) looked awesome. I rip from DVD and then Handbrake to Apple TV setting.

  5. A. Emre Ünal says:

    Doc, you kinda look like the korny version of Gordon Freeman 😀

  6. You just made brushes actually look quite good.

    Also good to finally see the Apple-hating stop and the fanboyism come back to ya dock.

  7. gewappnet says:

    You should try the Comics app by comixology to get more than just Marvel comics on your iPad. I use it on the iPhone and they have some great stuff – often just for 99 Cents.

    This Netflix thing seems to be interesting. It’s a shame that there is nothing like this available in Europe.

  8. Chris Leither says:

    hahaha Gordon Freeman… SO true. And I knew that face right away.

    But now I certainly understand lots of things. Doc… the Mac… Valve… it’s now like a riddle solving itself…

  9. Nicklas says:

    1) “The iPad seems to only charge form an AC outlet”: it’s because it needs more electricity than a usb-port can deliver, which is why it comes with a wall charger 🙂

    2) “It doesn’t come with earbuds. I Paid $800 for it”: did your computer come with earbuds? Did your netbook? No.

  10. Darren says:

    Totally agree. 1. It’s heavier than expected but still I think it’s light for what it can do.

    2. I didn’t forsee the iPod collecting dust but my 5 year old and myself are going to prefer large format games.

    You did a great job on the brushes artwork! Check out http://drawingpadapp.com for your kids (it’s like “Brushes for kids”)

  11. Boesvig says:

    About the charging:

    According to Dan Frakes (Macworld.com) it isn’t something that can be fixed with a firmware update – the iPad battery holds a lot of juice so it takes a long time to fill it. Also, even though it says “Not charging” when plugged into low power USB, it does apparently charge when the screen is turned off.


  12. Dave says:

    “Luckily it is only really obvious when it is turned off.”
    it turns OFF? Why?

    Isn’t filling a “whole” really trivial? I find holes much more tedious, but how else do you hide the bodies?

  13. Ed A says:

    whole in my life –> hole in my life
    which I take care of business –> while I take

    Great article. Thank you. I can’t wait to go get mine now.

  14. Joe says:

    Did you plug it in with the charger that came with it, or one of your old iphone/ipod touch/ipod/etc. chargers? The charger that came with it generates more power and charges it faster.

  15. Glenn Sidney says:

    I can’t imagine anyone who buys one of these doesn’t already have at least 2 sets of earbuds already… I personally think it would be silly if it came with new ones!

  16. Jonro says:

    Try it with a Bluetooth keyboard. That should change the typing experience for the better.

  17. Min says:

    Out of all the recent reviews on the interweb, this is the best iPad review ever!

  18. Jonro says:

    They could probably make it charge much quicker, but that might raise the internal temperature to a dangerous (for the iPad) level. While battery technology has improved in recent years, it has not nearly kept pace with the technological innovations in the electronics industry.

  19. KenC says:

    Okay, I think this requires a little math. The iPad battery is 25 watt hours. The charger, I vaguely recall can output 10 watts per hour, meaning that it will take 2 and a half hours to go from zero to 100%.

  20. Andy says:

    Ok, now you better show us what you really look like. Do you really have blue eyes and red hair?

  21. audioeric says:

    It charged fine for me using an older iPhone cord, on my iMac 27″ Core i7.. It definitely took longer than my iPhone to charge, but not more than a few hours.. I just did it over night and it was fine.. Considering that it lasted the entire weekend on one charge, an overnight thing isn’t bad at all…

  22. bookophile says:

    “…won’t be bringing it into the bathroom to play games while I take care of business as I do my iPhone (as I’ve said before, you do NOT want to borrow my iPhone)…”

    Note to self: Burn iPhone won from Macenstein :p

  23. Rob says:

    A little late to the game, but hey, I just got my iPad yesterday. Anyways, my 4 year old daughter loves it even though I wasn’t really fond of her holding the iPad and possibly dropping it. Along with the missing earbuds…I was pretty bummed to not find at least a cheap Apple cleaning cloth. Come on , I can buy a iPod Touch cheaper and get the earbuds and cleaning cloth.

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