The iPad has had a strange effect on my life. The first month as a tablet owner is a lot like being a new parent. There are soaring highs, as well as long periods of frustration and crashing lows. Apple’s new baby was a joy to welcome into my life, but it has also ushered in its own share of headaches and annoyances.
Using the iPad is a revelation. On the sofa, or lying on a bed, it’s a dream device. Nothing comes close to it for surfing the web, and reading books in the warm glow of its 10 inch screen has become a nightly ritual.
The weight of Apple’s tablet, while at first a surprise and slightly uncomfortable, has melted away. It’s now second nature to grab the iPad, throw it onto the bed and curl up with a website, book, or TV show.
What’s not natural, however, is using the iPad to listen to music. While my iPhone is stuffed to its shiny gills with tracks, the iPad is instead a repository for apps and video. In the last month my gripe over Apple’s stinginess in not including earphones with the iPad has given way to a dawning realisation that they’re really not necessary, at least not in the casual confines of the home.
And that’s where the iPad has resided for its first month of ownership. Maybe it’s the lack of 3G in my model, maybe it’s that I rarely commute for more than 20 minutes at a time, but the iPad has resolutely refused to earn a place in my portable tech arsenal. To date, its most daring outdoor adventure has been to act as an e-reader on the Tube.
I’ve long been a laptop-lugger, and for my day to day computing the iPad is still vastly underpowered. I had a hearty whinge about its dumbed down file system in our overall review, and those grievances still stand.
I’d dearly love the iPad to replace my bulky MacBook Pro, but without the ability to upload files to the web, add attachments (other than photos) to e-mails, and fling bits and bytes to the cloud, it’s too simplistic to be anything other than an entertainment machine.
I long for the day when the iPad can displace the laptop from my hand luggage. Its form factor is divine. The screen is a joy to gaze upon, and the speed at which certain tasks, such as navigating the web, sketching and re-touching photos can be accomplished makes me a true believer that for many everyday computing tasks, the days of the keyboard are numbered.
I’m sure, with the advent of iPhone OS 4 this Autumn, that will happen. Apple owes the iPad a true computing underbelly. Its shiny face and glistening apps have brought me untold hours of joy in the past 30 days, but its inability to perform as a business machine mean its critics are right: for the time being at least, this is an expensive plaything, and not yet the future of computing.