3 weeks with the iPad

After 3 weeks with the iPad, I can report that it’s a perfect device for most tasks, but not so great for a few. The iPad is great for what you will do most of the time: surf the web, check e-mail, and use Twitter. It’s ideal on the couch, in bed, or in a car (with 3G). It’s perfect for sharing with others, like looking at photos, or passing it around to view someone’s Facebook profile. Kids of all ages love it, though it needs more parental controls and the glass screen makes supervision a must for the very young.

Right now, the iPad suffers a bit when working with Office files, mainly due to it’s cumbersome printing and file sharing. You can open .doc files from your DropBox account, for example, edit them in Pages, but cannot then save them back to DropBox. You must e-mail them to yourself. Lack of Flash support means viewing the web can sometimes be an adventure. Most sites work fine, but every now and then one doesn’t at all.

The iPad falls down with web video outside Youtube. Vimeo and many niche sites do not work, making video outside mainstream sources an iffy proposition. Also, the iPad does not support Photoshop files and other proprietary formats.

Overall, though, the iPad satisfies my needs 90% of the time. The most common question I get from skeptics is “Have you found anything useful to do with it yet?” The answer is: YES! It’s called the Internet! Just two years ago, the tech community was gaga over the premise of cheap, web-only tablets. Now we have the iPad, which supports the web PLUS iPhone OS apps. Most of the time, that’s plenty.

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What iPad can’t do yet: Edit Photoshop and Illustrator files, edit Video and Sound files, view AVI and WMV files on the web.

What iPad can do that still surprises me: Create music with the Korq synthesizer and a virtual piano, listen to NPR on demand, watch streaming Netflix in bed, draw with or without a stylus, GPS turn-by-turn navigation, deliver NYT headlines, build custom databases, control my Mac or PC.
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