The Apple iPad

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So, it has finally been announced.

Now, what do I think about it? I have to admit that since it was announced, about 36 hours ago now, my opinion of the iPad has swung back and forth like a blade of grass in a stiff breeze. I sit here (on the couch no less) wishing I had an iPad to write this on while at the same time thinking the device is utterly frivolous. I have a Macbook Pro and an iPhone, why would I ever need an iPad?

But, who cares if I actually need one. What do I think about it? Here are the surprises, the bad, and the good.

The surprises

  • The price. I have to admit it. Even though I guestimated that a tablet device from Apple would debut at somewhere between $699 and $899 I never thought that it's base price would be $499.

  • The name. I've tried to let iPad sink in and I still think it will (it will have to) but I am still surprised.

  • The 250Mb per month limited 3G price plan. If you are of the sort that only sends a few emails or downloads an app or book a two a month - I suppose 250mb per month is enough. But I'm willing to bet that most will either go the unlimited 3G plan, for only double the price, or with no 3G at all (for no monthly fee and an even cheaper purchase price).

  • The reactions. Overall, I think the reactions I've seen across the Web are positive that the iPad is a very cool device. But as far as the device being an easy purchase the sentiment is anything but shared.

There were good surprises too but I'll just throw most of them into "the good" list.

The bad

  • The aspect ratio. It has been stated that they iPad's screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio and is probably the result of the device being optimized for portrait use. If I were to have an iPad I could see myself watching a lot of video on the device and so I would have liked to see the aspect ratio at 16:9.

  • The 3G pricing plans. Thirty dollars per month is a lot of money for me. Two hundred and fifty megabytes per month of bandwidth is no where near "enough" for my usage. That leaves me with no option to get 3G.

  • The number of native iPad apps (surprise). This will no doubt increase dramatically prior to launch. Apple obviously spent a considerable amount of time nailing the applications they showed in the announcement. iWork, Mail, and iBooks (and even the iCal redesign) are absolutely incredible UIs such the world has never seen. But I was surprised we didn't see a point of sale system, educational and healthcare applications, or any other application besides Brushes (which looks great though) and games.

  • That Steve Jobs didn't also announce a way to convince your wife that you need one.

I haven't had an opportunity to use the iPad yet - which I presume won't happen for months - but I didn't see much that was bad about the device. Nearly everything I saw was incredibly well thought out and looked easy and dare I say fun to do.

The good

  • The UI. Though some will say that the iPad is simply a big iPhone the user interface is obviously different given its specific size. Being larger means being even more precise and detailed. The UI, from what I've seen so far, is second to none. The best user interface for any device in the world.

  • iWork. The amount of work Apple put into bringing iWork to the iPad is obvious. Some of the gestures that Phil Schiller was using to create some quick iWork documents were - if I may say so - perfect and natural. To get a gesture to be perfect and feel natural is - for most people and companies - a near impossibility. Somehow most interface gestures miss the mark. The iPhone got more right than it did wrong but it still got a few things wrong (mostly related to the limitations of the device itself). The iPad leaves all of those mistakes at the door.

  • Typing. My main wish for the iPad was for much better input. Again, I haven't used the iPad yet but nearly everyone that has remarked that typing on the iPad was much better than they expected.

  • SPEED. Speed is so important. If pressed about what the most important thing in technology was I'd probably say speed. Computers, devices, Web pages, applications, - even cars - are nothing without speed. No matter how good something is, if it is slow, it won't work. The iPad is remarkably fast.

  • iBooks. I've wanted a Kindle from the very first day Amazon announced them. I haven't bought one because I, like Steve Jobs, couldn't see owning a device that only allowed me to read books. For the price of a Kindle I could buy 1,000 books at yard sales and give them to friends as gifts. But the iPad, with its incredible screen and ability to do just about everything else you want, is well within the right price range to make buying a Kindle look like a dumb idea.

  • The battery life. 10 hours on a single charge? My 15" unibody Macbook Pro gets around 6 to 7 hours of battery life right now - which is absolutely amazing. To have a device that you can actually use for 10 hours is remarkable.

All this and I haven't put so much as a thumb on the device yet. I can't wait to get my hands all over this thing though I'm still not sure I'll buy one.