After a trek down to the States, the iPad is now mine. Yesterday I told you how and why. Today, we play.
The Machine Outta The Box:
The simplicity of the interaction is such that anyone can pick it up and start running with it, fresh out of the box, without the need for a manual. Not many devices can claim that. I didn’t have the patience (or the desire to let Rogers bleed me dry any longer), so I picked up the Wi-Fi version and it is fast. Damn fast. Internet browsing is only hampered by the lack of Flash support, but that’s a small sacrifice that I can live with (especially as more and more sites embrace HTML 5).
The display is gorgeous, and viewing photos has never been so fun and interactive, while still being stunning. The iPod mode has all the features of a portable MP3 player, with the addition of extra functionality, iTunes style. Movies look better on it than a lot of computers, and the battery life has been brought to a new level: the hater next to you on the ferry will be searching for a power outlet as soon as he boards, while you continue to finish watching ‘The Godfather Trilogy‘ that you started before your first ferry got cancelled, without ever even thinking about needing a charge. I watched two episodes of ‘How to Make It In America,’ listened to the iPod, browsed the internet, checked my email, downloaded attachments, all while connected via bluetooth to a keyboard, and never droppped below 90% battery power. A day later, I turned it on and hadn’t lost any life in the 24 hours of standby. Try beating that and weighing in at a mere 1 ½ lbs.
Oh yeah, and it’s sexy. Every detail seems carefully thought out. Yes, it runs on the same operating system as the iPhone, but, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The upside here: it isn’t a 1st generation iPad, it’s a 4th generation iPhone.
Here’s where I will point out some of my issues with the iPad. Yes, there are great games on it, they look beautiful and they’re super fun to play – highlights for me were Zen Bound 2, and Real Racing HD. There are a lot of games that have been revamped to run in HD on the iPad, and they’re great if they’re some of the select few that are free with the purchase of the original. However they aren’t revolutionary, just bigger and prettier, so avoid paying an extra $5 to get an HD game that you already play on the iPhone. (The iPad can also run iPhone games, but do yourself a favour and avoid it if you can. Using an iPhone sized screen just looks ridiculous, and if you do have one on there, make sure it’s not one that you show off when letting people see what it can do. They won’t be impressed.)
My biggest complaint is with the iPad being an extension of the iPhone, I find it baffling that some of the most functional “stock” apps are missing. Considering it has been billed as having productivity functionality, and the most popular case sold acts as a stand, why the hell would you get rid of the Calculator and Clock apps!? That is honestly one of the dumbest moves I’ve seen in a while. It comes with a built-in function to act as a digital picture frame, so it was obviously meant to be able to sit somewhere, so why get rid of a native clock that has proven to be immensely useful? (The only clocks you can get are third party ones that have to be left open and running if you want to use your iPad as an alarm. The weather and stock apps are also missing, but the third party apps do a better job anyways.)
In Canada, the iPad app store is still unavailable. You can buy a majority of the apps on your computer through iTunes, but you can’t download any directly from the iPad yet without a US account, and sadly some of the marquee apps have been held back until the iPad is officially released in Canada. The one I’m dying for the most is Apple’s own productivity suite, iWork. I got to play around with it briefly in the Apple store down south, and I was very very impressed. I will have to reserve my final judgement until I get to actually use it extensively, which I plan to do at school this summer. Some of the most anticipated, but not yet released in Canada, games are from Electronic Arts, who also seem to be holding out for some mysterious reason. The reviews from the States seem to indicate that Scrabble, Need for Speed: Shift, and Mirror’s Edge are all great, but we Canadians will have to continue to wait.
The most standout absence in the current Canadian access has to be the very hyped iBooks. In the meantime, Amazon has released their Kindle app in Canada, and I have to say that it’s fantastic. I’ve never been a Kindle user, but everything I’ve read seems to indicate that the Kindle app on the iPad is actually better than the Kindle itself. The first two books I bought through this app are ones that I’ve not been able to find in print – what a great way to keep books accessible long after they’re no longer profitable to publish! Reading on the iPad seems almost instantly natural, and the ability to highlight and annotate the passage you’re reading without it being permanent, is a great feature built into the Kindle app.
In another effort to save print from extinction, a lot of magazines and newspapers are embracing the iPad as a way to bring old standards alive in a new light. So far I’ve only looked at Time Magazine and Maxim. Both, were decent, and while Time used the iPad more inventively than Maxim, it was considerably more expensive and each issue you download is a seperate app (a pain in the ass, unless you plan on deleting them, or having a full page dedicated just to Time apps). Maxim, on the other hand, was less impressive in its layout, but set up to download future issues within the one app. Now, I’ve seen video footage of what Sports Illustrated has planned, and it could set the bar for what everybody else should strive for. Kind of like the iPad itself.