I have used an iPad and you still shouldn’t buy one

Soon after the iPad was released, I wrote about how I thought Apple missed the mark with this product. Not everyone agreed.

Today I got to play with one for a few hours and I stand by my initial impressions.

Reviewing my original comments:

10. It doesn’t replace your laptop or phone. Definitely true. There’s a lot you can’t do with an iPad (yet). In fact, the first thing you have to do when you turn it on is connect it to a computer. Clearly, it’s not something you could give to someone who doesn’t already own a computer.

9. It doesn’t have a camera. I can’t understand why they didn’t include one. You can make calls with Skype on it, but it would be ideal as a video conferencing device.

8. There’s no keyboard. Typing wasn’t hard, but it was slow. There’s no way I could use it for any type of serious work. It’s awkward to try to rest it somewhere while you peck away.

7. The battery life isn’t great. In my couple of hours of use, the battery drained about 20%, so I believe Apple’s 10-hour estimate is accurate. Of course the battery life will degrade over time and you can’t replace it yourself.

6. It doesn’t multitask. This will be fixed soon with iPad/iPhone OS 4.0, but I was reminded of it as I tried to listen to NPR while I surfed the web.

5. 3G Internet access is expensive. I tried the Wifi-only version, but I still wouldn’t pay the $130 premium and $14/month.

4. The screen resolution is relatively poor. The screen is pretty nice and bright, but I really could have used more pixels for viewing whole web pages.

3. It’s twice as expensive as a Kindle. Yup.

2. It doesn’t support Flash. It was annoying when I encountered sites that required Flash and they didn’t work. That said, the iPad’s hype has motivated a lot of sites (including Yahoo!) to build HTML5 versions of their video pages. Well played, Steve Jobs.

1. You can’t run OS X software on it. There’s not a lot of apps built for the iPad, but I’m sure that will change quickly. That said, you’ll have to rebuy software you already have for your laptop or desktop. This $500 device might become a $700 or $800 device once you’ve got all the software you need.

Other observations

  • I was confused that the iTunes application is only for buying content. To play it, you have to use the “iPod” app. (Huh, I thought an iPod was a device, not an App?) People who have an iPhone probably already knew this, but I didn’t get it.
  • You can’t subscribe to podcasts, only download individual episodes, confirming again that you need a computer to own an iPad.
  • The bigger screen and touch interface was great for browsing maps. It felt much more like using a paper map. But it would be even better on a bigger screen like a real laptop.
  • If there’s a way to find text in Safari, I couldn’t figure it out. This was irritating on a big web page where I wanted to find a particular word.
  • There’s a noticeable heft to it. It’s not as thin or light as a Kindle. Holding it for a long time would get tiring.


The iPad is of course, a slick device. It’s well designed and easy to use. Would I take one if someone gave it to me? Of course. It’s a nice device for watching videos. But I would never attempt to write something like this on an iPad. As someone who uses their laptop 10 hours a day, I don’t see when I would use an iPad.

I’m sure it will evolve over time and add a camera, multitasking and more free and useful apps. For now, it’s a fun device to play with for a few hours, but not something anyone needs.

UPDATE: some supporting articles are at The New York Times and Walt Mossberg’s column.


  1. I got one on Tuesday (for free!) and I think I’d classify it as a hell of a cool toy. But just that.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to replace my Kindle; it could for everyday use, but not for sitting and reading for extended periods of time. If I traveled a lot, I have a feeling it would be great to have just for airports and planes, but I don’t very often.

    Several of my friends and co-workers seem to think it’s revolutionary; I’m still waiting for that feeling. I think it could be, but it’s not quite there yet in this iteration.

  2. Jeff, Mike:

    I actually paid for the 32GB version. I have it now with me in Paris. Cate and I have been using it.

    Cate has been using it to play games (Labyrinth using the accelerometer) and I’m getting her to use the touchscreen to write Chinese characters. Cate also used the freeEBook (not iBook) reader to download public domain books (Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland.. etc)

    I like the NYT app which downloads content and I read them offline. I am still looking around for a good PDF reader so I can read more using it in vertical reading more (instead of laptop’s landscape mode). So far the reading part it is worth it. Another good thing is the app that let me sync up Google Docs onto the device (for reading)


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