What the iPad is and isn’t

After 4 hours of continuous use, I can confidently say that the iPad rocks in many ways, and fails in only a few. It’s a genius way to browse the web, to write short emails, to listen to music, to watch short videos, to use Facebook and Twitter, to give simple presentations, to read news, and to show photos. Theres literally no better experience out there for most of these activities. It’s also a great sketchpad — not as great as a real sketchpad, mind you, but oh so much easier to share and archive.

It fails in the obvious places. The onscreen keyboard is bearable. I can tye a lot faster than on my iPhone or any cell phone, but I’m not getting my typical 80 wpm. A wireless keyboard would make up for a lot of these limitations, but it sort of defeats the purpose of carrying something slim and lightweight. I’ve typed a lot on is in the past few hours and I feel a bit held back, but not so much that I don’t feel productive.

There are still some ways where multitouch is inherently limited. One out of every 10 times I tap or drag, it doesn’t do what I want. This is no different than on the iPhone, but I’ve noticed myself acclimate to the inaccuracy. The device hasn’t gotten any smarter, I’ve just gotten more tolerant.

The iPhone UI toolkit still breaks many pervasive web conventions. For example, I’m typing this in a text field in a WordPress page, and scrolling up to edit the previous paragraphs is incredibly slow, even with the two fingered scroll interaction, compared to a scroll wheel.

But I already love this thing. For all of the activities I mentioned earlier, the iPad is the clear winner. It’ll sit next to me at my desk and be a constant source of distraction during work. I’m thinking it’ll be a dedicated calendar while I use my laptop. Time to start exploring what else this form excels at! Like multitouch visual programming, hint hint…

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