The world has been talking about this so called “magical” device for quite some time now. The rumors that have been circulating for almost ten years came to their climax when the very first images leaked into the net almost a year ago. Bloggers, journalists, developers and geeks couldn’t stop fantasizing and speculating over this quasi sci-fi gadget… no other electronic consumer product has encouraged such a devoted following and cult like mysticism. Today, it’s a reality. Love them or hate them, one thing we have to grant Apple, they sure know how to build up expectation.
The opinion is quite divided. Tons of reviews have discouraged its use stating the stupidity in buying an overgrown iphone, while others shout out with firm conviction that the world will never be the same.
One thing is true. We are not talking about an air puff product. Neither it is a giant iphone. If you read the specs, read informed reviews and even better, have the chance to test drive it, you will have to admit that there is something going there. The Ipad is a product half way between a smart phone and a laptop, but it’s not either one. If you are thinking that the ipod will replace your laptop. Think again. It won’t. The Ipad is a product that will generate a new set of needs by itself.
So... Do you really need an Ipad?
The intention of this post is to help you answer that question by confronting this info with the $500+ tag price. Is it a portable media player? An e-book reader?… an expensive web browser? Personally, I think its all of that and more. This is a device that is very difficult to classify. Its uses and miss-uses are still to be revealed as the apps will be the ones that will shape the product’s future. And that’s the genius of it. To me, what makes this “magical” and “revolutionary” as Apple states in their promo video, is that the Ipad is like an blank cheque. Anything can happen.
1. Can you use it as an automotive GPS?
The Wi-Fi only model does not have a built in GPS, but the 3G version of the iPad coming out late this month is GPS enabled. You'll also be able to use it anywhere, whereas with the wi-fi model, you have to be connected to a wireless network.
2. Can you use it to play Power Point presentations?
The iwork suite application called Keynote is the Apple equivalent of Power point. (Costs $10 form the istore) Keynote is designed to do elegant, jaw dropping presentations with incredible simplicity. Power point presentations can be imported to iWork, but beware, iWork presentations can’t be exported directly form the iPad to Microsoft Office. You will need to sync the iPad file to your desktop computer to make the export from that computer’s installation of Keynote.
Another solution is to convert your power point presentations into slides, so you can use the Photo app, that has amazing features of its own. Or you could screen grab your presentation and play it on your iPad as a video.
3. Can you open and edit Excel Spreadsheets?
iWork suite has a $10 application called Numbers, that does exactly that: spreadsheets. The Apple way of course. That means, easy, beautiful, and hard to share.
Numbers accepts excel spreadsheets, opens them and edits them, but you can’t export natively to Excel from the iPad. You have to sync to a desktop and export the file from your MAC installation of Numbers.
4. Can you view Flash elements in websites?
That’s one of the biggest flaws of the Safari Brower on iPad. Apple is eager to kick flash goodbye in order to standardize the HTML5 format, that promises to make rich multimedia content on the web less hardware hungry than adobe’s solution. But less than 1% of the web has adopted this new standard. So, the Apple guys have invented the most awesome way of browsing, but frustrated it by omitting the world’s most popular web app. Browsing on an iPad is like receiving a phone call during your best orgasm ever. This is not a minor glitch ladies and gentlemen, the lack of Flash support is a HUGE drawback. It is the only thing that avoids the experience of web browsing on an ipad to be THE BEST ever.
5. Can you play video?
Video will look fantastic on the huge iPad display. The crispness and vivid colours are one of their most solid features.
It will play H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats and Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second.
6. Can you use USB?
The iPad doesn’t have a direct USB port on it, but it includes in the box a dock port to USB cable. So… what’s the fuzz? You can certainly use USB connectivity with an iPad.
7. Can you play videogames?
Hell yes I may add. That crisp screen, plus the touch interface, will make it a gamers' paradise. EA spots and other big name companies are already in the fold, developing outstanding titles. And the best is yet to come.
8. Can I use my iphone apps on it?
Almost each and every one of the 150.000+ apps available for the iphone will work for ipad. But you will really not want to use them. Besides looking very small or looking stretched at full screen, they don’t harness all the new features of the ipad UI. Hundreds of developers and software companies are creating at this very moment, apps specifically designed for the ipad. In the following years we will certainly see things that will blow our minds.
9. Can you use Firefox browser or Opera?
At the time being, Safari is the only browser available on the iPad. Opera submitted an opera mini version in a defying and interesting move to see if Apple will approve it. Opera even posted a page online titled: "The time since Opera Mini was submitted"
Update note: Apple finally approved Opera Mini on the 12th of April.
10. Can I play mp3?
Cover flow on itunes never looked better! Audio formats supported are HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. Not at all surprising, it does not support WMA, FLAC or OGG. It’s not a perfect world after all.
11. Can you drop it on the floor?
Ipad is not as sturdy as an iphone. That is, if an phone was at all sturdy. Apple products are very fragile and delicate, certainly a huge flaw for a mobile device. You will definitively have to buy it some sort of enclosure.
12. Can you spill coffee on it?
Liquid is like kryptonite to an iPad. If you want to waste $500 bucks, I could receive them with no problem.
13. Can you type easily?
Ipad without any accessories is an excellent solution for short and medium length content. When in landscape position, the area of your on-screen keyboard is near that of a small laptop. The only drawback is that the back of the ipad is not completely flat, so when you put it on a desk, it wobbles, making it a bit uncomfortable to type. You certainly can create long length content on an ipad with the use of an external keyboard. Apple has available a blue tooth cordless keyboard for $70 bucks.
14. Can you blog?
Not yet at least. I know many Apple addicts will want to crucify me for this asseveration, but I do believe the iPad can do many, many things, and serious blogging is not one of them. Sure you can answer to comments and make small, non graphic intense posts. But to be realistic, it’s almost impossible to successfully blog from an Operating System that doesn’t allow multitasking. Blogging is all about multitasking, it’s about having your RSS reader, your browser, twitter and your wordpress editor running at the same time. You have to copy a link from the browser, stick it in your post, and at the same time tweet about it. On top of that you must be able to edit and create graphics. There is currently available an app called twitepad
that allows twitter/browser integration, but for me, that’s not enough for serious blogging. iPad is sure sexy, but on the actual iPhone OS 3.2 it cannot blog, not even with the Wordpress free app available. It’s just ridiculous to close your writing app just to copy a link or to change the size of an image. Let’s hope the new iPhone OS version will remedy the lack of multitask.
15. Can you use a Calendar?
Besides using Online Calendars like Google Calendar and others, the ipad has its own improved calendar. In the iPad calendar, you can change view with a tap or a turn. In portrait view, you can see an entire month or the details of a single day. Rotate iPad to landscape, and you'll find a list of the day's activities on one side and your detailed schedule on the other. Incredibly easy to use tool.
16. Can you read PDF’s?
You can read PDF files through your web browser or in apps like Good Reader that can read just about any format. And we suspect there will be a mind blowing app specially designed for the iPad pretty soon.
17. Can you read Books on it better than on a kindle?
We think the iPad is the ultimate book reader. With ibook, you have the closest experience you can get to a real book. You can flip through pages, make annotations, search for words in the dictionary and more. You can also adapt the brightness to avoid eyestrain. A dream come true for casual and avid readers alike.
18. Can I copy files to my ipad?
Although here lays a great disappointment. You can’t copy anything to or from your iPad without the itunes app. While this makes the process “fool proof” and avoids newbies to mess up unintentionally with the operating system, It’s quite limiting too. There is no formal file structure “per se”, and everything is managed through the itunes app. With an iPäd, you do not copy, delete, or move files. You “sync” them. For example, If you do not have the numbers app installed on your ipad, itunes will not sync to your ipad any XLS file.
19. Are there viruses for the ipad?
There isn’t a single virus to worry about. Yet.
20. Can you multitask?
Absolutely not. You can only open simultaneously Safari, ipod, and Mail. Everything else you use on the device is a jump-into and then jump-out experience, which means that for things like IM apps, you're either having a conversation or you're not. Even updating settings or downloading software is a chore due to the stop-start nature of the OS. You just have to go one at a time. HUGE DEALBREAKER!
21. Can you Tweet?
You can tweet from your browser, or from one of the many twitter apps available, like Tweetdeck. (by far the best) But to be honest, unless Apple introduces some multitasking anytime soon I think tweeting is a useless chore in an iPad. Tweeting is conceived as an activity to accompany other activities. You tweet while you eat, you tweet while you work. In the gorgeous and minimal iPad, you can just only… tweet, then work, then browse, then tweet. It’s ridiculous. Tweet deck and other apps have browser integration, but it’s not compared to what you can do in a notebook.
22. Can you watch youtube videos?
Despite not having flash support, Apple has managed to make a deal with Youtube to make all their content available throughout an app. You will find everything that makes us love Youtube, but specially re designed for the iPad UI and multitouch screen.
23. Can you Watch tv?
The ABC video player is one of the most surprising third party apps available. The video loads with no hiccup whatsoever in a crystal clear quality. This iPad app does a perfect job of managing the network's online video assets. Netflix is also available.
24. Can you make calls?
Although the iPad cannot make GSM calls you can still make VOIP calls with free apps like Skype and Truphone. The iPad, like the iPhone or the iPod Touch can be paired with your bluetooth headset and utilize the mic/earpiece during the call.
25. Can you blend it?
With a little effort, anything can be done!
26. Can you play Baseball with it?
Besides the fantastic app game “At Bat 2010” by the Mayor League Baseball electronic gamming division, other conscientious users have found alternative ways to practice America’s favorite sport.
As a side note, I must say it’s incredibly stupid and irresponsible to do such a thing in today’s economy. Society should ban this kind of imbecile behavior.
27. Can I buy apps and other stuff from the U.S. itunes store from outside the U.S?
As you might now, all content is not available for every geographical area. If you live in a country that doesn’t have support of the complete catalogue of the itunes store, there is a way to set up your itunes account, but I have to say this is not very orthodox. I even think this is illegal. Nah, just kidding. What is true is that you could get your account disabled if Apple finds out.
So… if you want to take the risk, you first have to set up a US iTunes account. At the iTunes store, Click on the little flag link at the bottom right of the screen, then choose U.S. Sign up for a iTunes account while you are at the US store. You will need to provide a US address, but I do believe Steve Jobs will never notice that you don’t live there. This is never verified so you can use any address you like, as long as it exists. Then, you can only purchase content using a US credit card, or a US iTunes gift card. In case you’re wondering, ebay is a good place to buy US iTunes gift cards.
Your existing content will still work just fine. An iPad can use content from several iTunes accounts, provided the computer it syncs to has proper authorization for those accounts.
Buying content this way is a real hassle, because you have to buy gift cards for every purchase you want to do, but that’s the price we have to pay for not living in an electronic shopping haven like the U.S. Many people does this every day... just the rest of the world.
28. Can you read normal PDF’s on ibook?
Well, sort of. epub is the format used by the ibook application and other readers to display books. What’s the difference between reading a normal PDF and an ibook? That the ibook has additional interaction, like flipping pages, dictionary and notes. You will have to convert your PDF with a program like “Calibre”
, but at the moment this has its glitches. Not a perfect solution. Lifehacker.com
has more info on this.
29. Can I print from my Ipad?
Apple didn't build in a printing function. Unfortunately, you can't tap a menu button to print an email, nor a document. However, there are a few third-party apps that allow printing of some items from an iPad to a networked printer. One is Print Online
. But these apps are complicated and are nothing more than limited substitutes for an obvious function that to my opinion, should be included urgently. The only way to successfully print a document created in an ipad is to sync it to a desktop computer and print it from there.
30. Can you use external speakers?
The Ipad has a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. (Did you expect anything less for $500?) If you have the extra cash, you could do fine with those high fidelity sets like those made by Bose or Altec Lansing.
You can also use Bluetooth wireless speakers.
31. Can I start a dJ party with my ipad?
The iPad has a great potential to revolutionize the DJ industry. A decent DJ set could cost no less than $4000, not to mention backpacks and cases full of gear. With an app like the upcoming Mixr
, the only thing you will need to start a party will be your $500 iPad and your tight t-shirt. (plus a mixer to connect to the speakers)
32. Can you use Google Docs on the ipad?
You can access Google Docs on the iPad; however, you may not be able to edit documents. To edit them, you may have to transfer them to the iWork suite.
33. Can you web surf on multiple tabs?
Safari has multi site web browsing.
34. Can you have remote control over other machines?
you can use an app like LogmeIn
to access other PC and Mac computers remotely from your ipad.
35. Can you make presentations?
You can use the iWork app named keynote to create stunning presentations in a very easy way. You can import Power point presentations form Mac or Pc, but you cannot export them. You can only save in the keynote native format and in PDF. ($10)
36. Can you create word documents?
You can use Google Docs, or the iWork app called Pages
. This app is the only one in the set that has Microsoft Office document editing and export capability. I guess it’s meant to be available on all three apps, but they only got it in time for Pages. The export functionality is sure going to be added to Numbers and key note in the following months.
37. Can you use the iPad as a secondary monitor?
It can be done. The solution is not without cost though. No matter how cool the idea of having a secondary multi touch screen can sound, I personally think it’s useless and kind of stupid. But if you insist, here is how you do it.
First of all, get your hands on a copy of ScreenRecycler
software in itunes. ($29.90). Then install a VNC client like Mocha VNC Lite
(Free) or VNC Viewer
Now run the ScreenRecycler app on your Mac, and then run the VNC client directly on your iPad. Now connect to the IP address of your Apple Mac. It is important to set the port to 6900. You may need to tweak the configuration settings to get the most optimal performance possible.
You should now see that the ScreenRecycler app will recognize the second connection. A broadcast will commence to the second screen. Open your Apple Mac system preferences and re-configure your display settings. First of all, set your resolution to match those required for your iPad. Then go into the arrangement section within your Display settings and select the arrangement of the monitors you would prefer. Voilá! The iPad should now be acting as a second monitor.
This is a solution we know works, but by no means is discriminatory. The same can function with other software. You just have to experiment. Check out this other solution I found on the net:
38. Can you use the ipad as an external drive?
There is a neat free app called Discover
that gives you the full functionality of a wireless hard disk, allowing you to transfer files to and from any Linux, Mac or Windows computer.
You can either use the WebDAV protocol to connect to your iPad via Finder, Windows Explorer or Nautilus (Gnome) or use the Web interface and connect to it via your browser. If you are a Windows user, there is even a Discover Windows client that you can use to connect to your iPad.
39. Can you connect external cameras?
You can connect USB cameras, through the $29 bucks “ipad camera connection kit” that allows you to input data through the USB or through an SD card reader.
40. Can you make hand written notes?
Of course! It will be almost a crime not to have apps for that with a screen so huge. The best options we have seen out there are Evernote
, a free app that will let you do a lot more than handwritten notes, and the $2 apps Notes
41. Can you draw?
Four apps really caught our attention, all of them outstanding pieces of software that can turn the iPad from a passive consumption gadget to a real artist production tool.
($10) Takes full advantage of the iPad’s enhanced processing power, zooming, panning and swapping colors seamlessly without a glitch. The feature that makes this app unique, is its capability to replay in a video how your creations came together. This app is famous for being used to create a series of covers for the New Yorker Magazine.
Drawing Pad kids coloring book
is for $2 a kid’s dream come true. It's the childlike wonder to be able to flip through boxes upon boxes of crayons, markers, stickers and paper, more than you could ever afford, all tucked away neatly in your $500 dollar device. Please clean your kids hands before letting him loose with this app.You don’t want any peanut butter to adorn your one week old multi touch screen.
Autodesk SketchBook Pro
($8) is simply amazing. At the time being, this is as far as mobile sketching can get. It can export to PSD, handle vectors, work in layers and counts with tons of professional brushes.
Adobe was not at all indifferent to the ipad market, and they delivered their own sketching software called Ideas
(FREE). One of the most easy to use and clean apps out there.
42. Can you watch photo slides?
The iPad has the ultimate photo viewing app called “Photos”. You can resize, animate, turn, categorize and do more than you could ever imagine to do with your images.
43. Can it be used as a cash register?
Store owners will be blown away with this an app called Square,(FREE) which was initially developed for the iPhone, and now has an iPad version. I might say this is one of the most professional and robust apps for the ipad and iphone.
comes with a peripheral credit card swiper (sold separately) that lets any store or business person take credit card payments. It uses iPad’s multi touch screen to take finger signatures, generates email and SMS receipts, calculates sales tax, and comes with an online accounting dashboard to keep track of your sales. Just incredible. Who said the iPad was just for fun?
44. Can I make music?
There are many instrument simulation apps like Nota piano trainer
that sound incredibly realistic or like Korg ielectribe that turns your ipad into a pro beatbox.
There are even apps like StudioTrack that can turn your iPad into a mobile music studio. So when you say that an iPad makes music it really does. iPad can turn into an incredible tool for any musician on the go, making it possible to write, record and mix demo tapes as easy as never before.
45. Can I use anti theft software?
Apps like iHound
and Bar Heist
can track and pinpoint your lost or stolen device making use of GPS technology. (Assisted GPS in the case of the only WiFi version of the iPad.) But beware that thes apps are not perfect, and the best way to avoid relying on your luck is to keep an eye at all times on your $500 investment. Specially if you live in New York or Bogotá!
46. Can you connect an external keyboard?
Apple has a dock and a cordless version available for $30 dollars each.
47. Can you connect the ipad to a TV or a projector?
You have to purchase the handy Apple dock to VGA cable for $30 dollars. If you want more compatibility, for $50 dollars more, you can buy a dock to AV connector so you can plug it to almost any Standard definition TV or media output device.
If that isn’t enough, and you just need to burn a few dollars more, you can buy the Atlona VGA to HDMI Scaler/Converter for $119.
48. Can you buy a 3G+Wi-Fi Ipad without a data plan?
You can buy the ipad without any data charge and access the Internet with the Wi-fi until you're ready to use a 3G service of your choice.
49. Can I use the iPad with my voice?
You can use on the iPad every voice recognition app available for the iPhone. There is a neat App called Dragon dictation that turns your iPad into one of those memo secretaries we’ve seen in the movies.
50. Can you Jailbreak an iPad?
But let’s keep it a secret ok?
So… Should I buy an ipad?
The device is really marvelous. No doubt about that. But what really annoys me is that apple creates trends and makes their way through the market by obliging users to do things their way. And I think the correct way of doing business should be adapting to peoples way of doing things. Not the other way round. Yeah, the iPad is a mobile device. You don’t need to print from it. Granted. But hell, it wouldn’t hurt Apple to let the USERS decide if they will print form it or not! Am I the only one feeling the mischievous stench behind this? What about avoiding third party apps to do multitask? COME ON!
But besides those hideous commercial moves by Apple, the truth is that this product is really, really revolutionary. (notice the double “really”)
I was a skeptic at first, but became a true believer writing this review. All the glitches and flaws this model has will certainly be forgotten in a couple of months with the Operating System upgrade. I hope this list of questions really helps you make your mind on whether you need this investment or not. Feel free to tell us if this review convinced you or made you detract form the idea of buying one.