Apple iPad Review: The Gadget of the Year?

[Review] My notebook is too heavy to bring it out often. And it's battery life is not too good for me to lug it around my house to read a ebook. Reading an ebook on my mobile phone makes me stare so hard at the screen that my mum thought it was photo of the girl of my dreams.

Surely you know where this is going. Yes, I joined millions around the world to purchase arguably Apple's product of the year (or is it the iPhone 4?). Does the iPad need more introduction? Not this device that sold 3 millions in 3 weeks and featured in every tech (or non- tech) sites worldwide. I think iPad rings more bells among the Singaporeans than anything else, judging by the rate iPad got sold out on the first day of launch in Singapore.

But the hype surrounding the device is clearing up now and it is about time to gauge how practical is the iPad as a computer slash media tablet. It is the device in general that most be useful as a computer that we use in real life. 

So I am going to dive in and give you a glimpse of how I use my iPad and what are the things that I like and what THE thing I don’t.

Battery Life: For me, tablets needs to have sufficiently good battery life and in this case, a minimum of one working day without charge is necessary. Why you ask. Well, the underlying meaning of a commuter tablet is the fact that you will be carrying it around and it should not be used too often at the table or PowerPoint. So my conclusion is that, currently, a Windows 7 tablet will not be able to achieve a 10 hours battery life.

While I am not a engineer, I know for a fact that the longest lasting net book in the market is the ASUS EEE PC. And it is on a 9 cell battery. Strong battery life meant I am willing to bring it out everyday to work. iPad's battery life is pretty amazing. To drain it completely, i had to use it for 3 hours a day and after about 4 days, it is about 10%.

Web Surfing: looked like models on the Victoria Secrets show, just damn modern and hot. A 10.1 inch does provide a more comfortable mobile web browsing experience, meaning pinch and zoom is largely not needed. But ultimately, without flash, it still seems like something is missing. In particular, my sister totally adore Facebook on iPad, there is no need for an app and you get the full experience. But flash games aren't playable on the iPad. For Facebook gamers, it is a very compelling reason to look beyond the iPad.

Reading ebook: With the exception of our national library, Singapore does not have an ebook store. Which translate to me owning more PDFs than actually ebook. Reading PDFs on a mobile phone, normally about 3 inches to 4 inches, is not a pleasant experience. Especially, if there is a lot of graphics. What’s more, the zero lag time in flipping pages in PDFs is simply unrivaled by other ebook readers. Add a full colour and high resolution screen to the mix, reading will never be the same again. Did I mentioned that attachments in email can be added directly to the iBooks app so you can read it even after the mail is deleted?

Hence, iPad is a great device for me to read books, reports and magazines in a superb fashion. And as a departing shot, the battery life of iPad allows you to treat it like a book; to leave it around your house and pick it up to read something like a magazine.

iPad is NOT a computer: This is probably the single most troubling factor for me. When I want new songs, I need a computer with iTunes. When I want to rename my PDFs, I need a computer with iTunes. It is not so much that I cannot install the regular applications, it really that this tablet is very limited as a computer.

The lack of USB direct access is another issue but that is less critical when there is the SD card connector that allows transfer of images directly into iPad.

Wrapping Up… For what iPad is meant for, it does a brilliant job. And that means reading (websites or ebooks) and watching videos. Games are excitingly innovative and refreshing with the huge touch screen but games aren’t my cup of tea most of the time. Beyond these, whether or not you like find iPad a useful device depends on the apps. For instance, the Bloomberg app and OCBC trading app has been extremely useful for me. I don’t have switch on my PC just to check the charts and prices. I can do the same on mobile phone but iPad appears to be a luxurious yet better alternative.

It will serve as a great device for media consumption but when in comes to content creation, even blogging will be consider tought by today standards.

In the end, it is clear that nobody really need an iPad. This latest invention from Apple is indeed a product that anyone can live without but it certainly raised the bar in making computer tablets despite its limitation.

In a way, the same can be said for the iPhone. Nobody really need the iPhone but without it, we could probably still be struggling to use a smartphone today.

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