After over a day of usage, I think now I can review iPad.
The hardware itself is very nice. It may feel heavier than expected, but I do not think it is a problem. As long as you don’t use single hand to hold it for extended period of time, it would be fine.
The anti finger print coating on the screen is ok but not as effective as expected, which would cause the viewable angle to be worse than expected for an IPS panel. But I guess for any touch screen device out there, iPad is already pretty good.
The basic 16GB model may show its limited storage capacity after a few months of use. And especially if Apple doesn’t allow iTunes/Lala streaming over Wi-Fi, putting music on iPad is something that will consume the most capacity for me. I hope this can change once iTunes in the cloud is available.
It has been immediately confirmed by me once I got the iPad, that there is only 256MB RAM for both OS and apps. This is totally unexpected. I thought there would be 512MB. I understand that the performance is the most important thing rather than specs, and iPad perform really well, but this is just a bad news for people expecting multi-task function in iPhone OS 4.0. I will also talk about this problem in the software section.
Audio quality wise I haven’t really tested.
Charging the battery on when it is connected to a computer is really slow. Connect directly to power outlet make it faster.
My first test of battery life gave me roughly 8.5 hours. It could be that it was not well fully charged. I am going to test this again. 8.5 hour batter life is achieved by 50% brightness, auto correct brightness, WiFi on all the time, playing games and also playing videos, music, and surf internet, installing apps, switching between apps very frequently. The screen is on all the time, therefore the battery life is still very impressive even if under very heavy use we can only get less than 10 hours.
Most softwares look really nice. But I am also worried that this new trend of emulating real texture is a little big too much. I like the simple and elegant interface on Snow Leopard maybe a little better. Plus because the RAM is only 256MB, these textures definitely are wasting RAM.
Most things works smoothly and fast. But I think the Safari performed especially poorly. This is totally in contrast of other reviewers who claimed the Safari is very smooth and fast. I think that is totally not true. However I believe Apple will continue improve Safari performance on iPad, just like they did for iPhone.
But it is the limitation of RAM that makes Safari a little unpractical for intense web browsing. If I open a couple of web pages with a lot of graphics, it is almost for sure when I switch tab, the activated tab will have to reload. Why? Because Apple is unreasonable about local cache of web pages. When Safari run out of RAM, it will just kick the previously loaded tabs out of memory, instead of storing it on the NAND flash drive. Therefore it takes time to download again that web page, and rendering. This is such a waste of bandwidth and time and battery. I do not understand but I hope Apple will improve this. Because of the constant reloading of tabs, this surfing experience is in fact much worse than on my laptop. Steve Jobs claimed that the surfing experience on iPad is the best, but I do NOT agree. Unless you fix that reloading issue, it is really worse than laptops.
iBooks performance is ok when reading books. However other times I can feel the lag, and I do not have more than 5 books in the library.
There is no easy way to subscribe to Podcasts in the iTunes.app on iPad. This is a little bit sad.
I heard there will be a centralized mechanisms to manage files. Unfortunately most apps have not been taking advantage of that yet. I hope I can open PDF in a different program other than Papers, for example. But Papers doesn’t allow other programs to have access to those PDF files. And the PDF annotation software Aji PDF annotator doesn’t try to do that either. Hopefully these can be fixed by different developers.
There are a lot of media apps, such as NPR, which is very nice app. But the problem is there is no background playing. Apple should allow these content providers to do this easily. Because I do not always want to be listening to my iPad.app when doing other things on the iPad. And 16GB really doesn’t give me a lot of room for music either.
The iPad does that it is designed to do pretty well. And there are indeed quite a bit advanced apps on there already. This could indeed be the future of mobile computing. Windows XP/Vista/7 or Mac OS X by themselves could not perform at all on a 256MB RAM machine. iPad can, perhaps, make developers write more efficient code, and that’s good. Right now most apps on the desktop are bloated and use way too much RAM, including Safari and iTunes.
Doing some things on iPad is easier than on laptop or desktop. Its performance is good, but of course will not be able to compete with laptops. The App Store is what makes iPad great. All the applications on iPad can make it more useful than laptops and netbooks.
Because of 256MB RAM limitation, I do not see much hope for multi-tasking. But on the other hand I plan to use iPad together with my laptop sometimes when reading some research papers, so it is not that bad. And perhaps it may help people concentrate on one thing at a time? But it is still ridiculous for Apple to sell $800+ machines with 256MB RAM in them.