iPad Review

So the cat’s out of the bag: there is no iPhone Macro. I indeed purchased an iPad. Here is my review after having used it for the last few days.

iPad Models

There are six models to choose from, but the only factors of differentiation are memory size (16GB, 32GB, 64GB) and whether or not it has WiFi or WiFi + 3G. 3G just refers to the ability to connect to the internet when you are not in the range of a wireless network. Here are the prices in the US:

It should also be pointed out that if you want to take advantage of 3G services, you have to subscribe to a plan. Currently the only plans available are $14.99/month for 250MB of data or $29.99/month for unlimited data (this is through AT&T, the only service provider in the States). There are no contracts and you can activate the service right from your iPad – no need to call anyone or go into a store – and you can cancel anytime. Realistically, I can’t imagine these price points and non-contract feature will trickle through to Canada, but the Canadian pricing has not been officially released yet.

Do you need 3G service?

In my opinion, no. Think of it this way: do you have a laptop with wifi? It does the trick, right? Right. No need for the monthly costs. Stick with a WiFi only model and save some money now and forever. There are apps available that allow you to cache web pages for future offline browsing.

Do you even need an iPad, period?

Funny that you ask. Just yesterday I ran into an old colleague and he said he was due for a new desktop and laptop computer and was trying to figure out if he needed a laptop now that the iPad was available. After playing with the iPad he realized that it was capable of doing about 95% of what he needed a laptop to do while he wasn’t using his desktop. It would also be about 50-65% of the price of the laptop he was looking at getting. So to him, it makes sense. If you already have a laptop and desktop, you don’t need an iPad – it would be just for cool factor and nothing more.

What does an iPad do?

Where to begin. The entire interface is built on a touch screen which encompasses the entire front of the device. It really is just like a giant iTouch (aka iPod Touch). The main difference is that it’s much bigger which makes for a great experience. Any app you have for your iPhone or iPod Touch will migrate over once you plug it into your iTunes account, but the apps appear just as they do on your iPhone (i.e. small). You can double the size of these apps to use up the screen real estate, but they become pixelated. There is nothing different about them. The new iPad specific apps are gorgeous though, with much more functionality (hovering toolbars and pop-up windows).

One of the central apps will be the iBookstore application which is Apple’s ebook reader app. It is not available to Canadians yet (it’s turned off for Canadian iTunes accounts so far). However, you can download the Amazon Kindle app where apparently, the same books are cheaper anyways.

You can also plug it into your TV to watch movies and TV show you download from iTunes.

What doesn’t an iPad do?

Lots. And it was probably designed that way to get a lot of recycled sales for the 2nd gen models to follow.

It does not have a camera – so no video conferencing.

It does not have USB ports.

It does not work as a phone (out of the box anyways). You can simply get the Skype app and use it as a phone, but only as a speakerphone. I have a Skype Out account so I can make unlimited calls to computers and phone in North America for a whopping $2.95/month.  But since Skype In accounts are not available in Canada, you can only receive calls from computers, not landlines. The iPad has become our new home phone line and we don’t have regular home phone service anymore.

So what’s the verdict on the iPad?

If you are looking for a new laptop and you already have a desktop for the heavy lifting applications, I recommend it. It’s pretty rare that someone needs a full laptop and a full desktop.

If you don’t want a desktop and are wondering about laptop versus iPad: get the laptop.

It wouldn’t replace a smartphone because it is too cumbersome, and isn’t a real, fully functional phone.

So essentially, it’s a cool gadget but you don’t need one. Having said that, it is a dream to use and to surf the web with. It’s very intuitive and the ingenuity of the app designers is pretty much unlimited these days. I’ve been using it for meetings for presenting powerpoint presentations to small groups of people, or individuals – and it is very useful in this capacity. It turns on instantly and you can pull up a presentation and have it running in literally 5 seconds.

It’s definitely a winner.

But you don’t NEED it.

Perhaps you should just wait for my contest to launch for a chance to win a FREE iPad. Stay tuned… :)

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 16 comments
  • Potato

    “you can only receive calls from computers, not landlines. The iPad has become our new home phone line and we don’t have regular home phone service anymore.”

    Wait, what?

    I guess not having the ability for other people to call you takes care of that pesky telemarketer problem!

    • Preet

      @potato – yup! Not as many unwanted telemarketing calls. My girlfriend and I both have cellphones so we are still accessible. We get a tenth of the calls we used to (that were from telemarketers). Although I kinda miss it. I always had fun with them. For example when asked where we make most of our long distance calls I would always say “the moon”, totally deadpanned and see how long it would go. I love telemarketers! lol

  • Steve Zussino

    I tried one at the Apple Store in Vegas.

    I don’t like that it didn’t have any features that weren’t in the iPod touch (what I already have) – just bigger screen.

    As a developer not much innovation.

    I prefer the kindle to an ereader.

  • Brendan

    I will be buying one. Do I need it? Not really, but i can afford it so why not?
    I would be very disappointed if a similar rate plan for 3g was not available in Canada.

    I would gladly pay 30, even 40 per month for unlimited data with no contract. ANything more than that, or if a contract is needed, then i will pass. Sucks to be a wireless provider. Wifi will be enough.

  • Chris Bennett

    Ditto with Brendan
    I have two laptops, two desktops (in two residences), an sony e-reader which I love, but doesn’t anybody surf on the couch or in bed? A laptop is cumbersome and awkward. I think the ipad would be just the thing. I am of course in no rush to get it. I just got my first ipod last year, whereas I purchased one of the first mp3 players to come out 12 or thirteen years ago, followed by many more. Love the ipod for it’s intuitiveness, hate the software (itunes).

  • cannon_fodder

    I’m surprised that you felt it was a good replacement for a laptop yet didn’t mention any of the workplace apps that run on it. For example, if I wanted to compose an email, prepare a powerpoint presentation, edit a worksheet, etc. how would I do this effectively on the iPad? What s/w would I need to buy?

    These are daily tasks I do with my laptop. From what I was lead to believe, the iPad is not a PC but more of a media device. That being said, perhaps if one used Google docs AND got comfortable typing on the screen, one could function somewhat as long as connected to the internet.

    I think that the next generation will make it more functional and blur the lines between a media device and a tablet PC.

    • Preet

      @cannon_fodder – those apps (iWork) aren’t available in Canada yet (just like iBookstore). I can tell you that I use it for presentations though. I save all slides in powerpoint as jpgs and then just view a slide show – works like a charm. Can’t edit anything yet, will have to wait for productivity apps to be available to Canadians.

      You could use Google docs though if I’m not mistaken, but I think there are some functionality limits. On the road, between meetings, I can check and reply to emails, take care of tasks, work with my calendar, etc. Once the productivity apps are available, I would probably get the keyboard dock if I planned on doing any serious typing on it, but I would try to reserve that for my desktop at home…

      The next gens (which will be flooding the market in the next 12 months will be more geared towards productivity).

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