iPad Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Installation/Setup 10
Usefulness 7.5
Appearance 9.0
Ease of use 10
Value 8.0
Distributor: Apple
Review Date:
July 2010
Reviewer:
James Wright

8.0


iPad

The iPhone is definitely one of the most revolutionary and technological savvy devices created. You just have to walk down the street and you’ll notice quite a few people using them these days. This also includes the iPod Touch which features most of the functionality of the iPhone. However, with so many features, the biggest issue with the iPhone and iPod Touch was the small touch screen and this is where the iPad comes into the big picture.

The first thing you will notice about the iPad is the impressive build quality which feels quite streamlined and relatively quite light at 730g. For those who have used the iPod Touch or the iPhone before, the iPad is basically like a giant version of it and measures at a respectable 243 by 190 and 13mm. The bottom of the device has a jack to connect your iPad to a dock or Mac/PC, a power/sleep button on the top, volume & screen rotation lock on the side and the only real button on the device is the Home button which is located on the front of the device. Last but not least is a 3.5mm audio jack to hook your device to an external speaker.

Apple should also be commended in the audio quality of the iPad because even the innate speakers of this device sounds very clear and considering how small they are, it’s quite impressive. For audio purists and as mentioned, the device can be connected to external speakers, headphones or even better, wireless Bluetooth headphones.

These are the official specifications of the iPad from Apple;

Size and weight1

Height:
9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
Width:
7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
Depth:
0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
Weight:
1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;
1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

Display

  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
  • Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Wireless and cellular

Wi-Fi model
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
Wi-Fi + 3G model
  • UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • Data only2
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Location

  • Wi-Fi
  • Digital compass
  • Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
  • Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Capacity3

  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

Processor

  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

Sensors

  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor

Audio playback

  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Audio formats supported: 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
  • User-configurable maximum volume limit

TV and video

  • Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable
  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Battery and power4

  • Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network
  • Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and output

  • Dock connector port
  • 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
  • Built-in speaker
  • Microphone
  • Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

Mac system requirements

  • Mac computer with USB 2.0 port
  • Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
  • iTunes 9.1 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
  • iTunes Store account
  • Internet access

Windows system requirements

  • PC with USB 2.0 port
  • Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
  • iTunes 9.1 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
  • iTunes Store account
  • Internet access

Environmental requirements

  • Operating temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
  • Nonoperating temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
  • Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

Initial Thoughts

Although I had a review unit, it took several hours to charge the device and I’m not sure whether this is the norm or not. However once fully charged, the iPad lasted for almost 10 hours of use which is very impressive and it does give laptops a true run for their money. Once charged, you'll also be pleased with the screen quality which is a 9.7-inch LED backlit IPS display. The resolution that this screen supports is 1024x768 as opposed to the iPhone 3GS which is 480x320. The image quality of the screen, even with its relatively low resolution is better than what I have seen on most laptops and it can be viewed from a variety of angles, 178 degrees to be precise. The colour and contrast is ideal for viewing pictures of watching movies.

The iPad uses the same O/S as the iPhone and is one of the most user friendly operating systems that I have ever used. As it is a touch screen device, you use your fingers to navigate (scroll) and to open the software installed on the device. Surfing web pages is a breeze as are playing games and even typing, thanks to the touch screen keyboard. By turning the iPad onto the side (landscape), it gives the user a larger keyboard as opposed to using the device in portrait view but either way, I had little difficulty at all.

Productivity & Touch Screen

Multimedia is a huge part of the iPad and Apple have released a variety of productivity apps available via iTunes. I tested Pages which basically gives the user access to a fully functional word processor thanks to the virtual keyboard. Typing an essay on the iPad would be a pain but for small articles, it works well.  The one issue I had with the touch screen keyboard was touch typing and it did not always pick up the letters I was “touching”.

Getting use to the touch screen keyboard may take some users a little time but with some practice, I was almost typing like I was on a regular keyboard and I even wrote a few reviews on it. This of course is where the Apple accessories come into play like the iPad Keyboard Dock which turns your iPad into a pseudo laptop. In terms of productivity and with the keyboard, you are really not limited at all with the iPad and with more and more apps being released a day, this device does become a real choice when you are deciding on what laptop or macbook to buy.

In terms of files, more specifically outside files, I wish there was a folder on the iPad called “My Files” or something where I could save excel spreadsheets or PDF files. That is a little annoying!

Video & Music

As mentioned, the video quality on the iPad is thoroughly impressive and there are a variety of ways of accessing videos on the device. The easiest way is of course YouTube but if you want higher definition (better quality), iTunes is the other way. Videos can also be copied from Mac/PC to your iPad via iTunes as well. Whether your relaxing in bed, sitting in a plane or wherever and if you’re a movie lover, than this is the definitive portable device, especially considering the long battery life which would easily allow you to watch quite a few movies or TV episodes without charging.

 

In regards to music, the iPad is also an oversized iPod which allows you to listen to music or audio. The only difference is that the music does sound better on the iPad compared to the iPhone or iPod touch. The sound quality is decent through the iPad speakers but for that real audio experience, external speakers are recommended.

Books, Newspapers & Comics

The iPad comes with a new application called iBooks which will truly revolutionise the way people read books. There are some free samples available, including some free books on iTunes but for something decent, you will have to pay. Although I’m a huge fan of reading novels, the iPad has changed my tune on this, especially how easy it is and of course the quality of the text.

The only time my eyes became tired or stressed was when I was trying to read an e-book in the dark as the screen was a little bright but this can be adjusted. Apple still have a little catching up to do in regards to Amazon's Kindle but for a start, it works quite well.  Following the e-books are magazines and many of the larger companies such as Time Magazine or even The Australian allow you to access their magazines and newspapers for a small cost. This is ideal for people on the go and I’m betting that many distributors will move to this format and some new companies will probably opt for the electric format over print.

Reading books and magazines is good but where the iPad shines above others is with comic books. That’s right, reading comic books is a truly amazing experience on this device and as opposed to printed as the colours are much more vibrant. There are a number of comic book applications available for the iPad but for the main comic companies such as Marvel, there is a special application available to be downloaded. This apps allows you to download some free Marvel comics but for the majority, there is a cost involved. The cool thing about the Marvel app is the way it reads the comic by zooming in to certain panels or swapping to landscape format. Very cool! Just a few days ago, DC Comics released their own version of the app that allows you to access some of their latest comic titles. The one issue with comics is that the digital version costs the same as the printed ones.

E-mail & Web Browsing

The e-mail interface of the iPad has changed from what people are use to on the iPhone or iPod touch. It allows for a variety of e-mail accounts and setting up popular webmail providers is a breeze. We even setup a few Impulse Gamer accounts with no issues whatsoever. The best part was switching from one e-mail account to another such as Gmail to Impulse Gamer or even Hotmail. Replying to e-mails is so much better on the iPad than the smaller smart devices.

Web browsing is so much better than the iPhone as you use your fingers to do the walking. The biggest issue with web browsing is that the iPad does not support flash which is a royal pain. Hopefully one day... Apple and Adobe will kiss and make up. Once can only dream! Facebook and Twitter is perfect with the Safari browser on the iPad and is definitely better than the apps versions.

Gaming

The iPad is ideal for gaming but at the moment, there are way too many dodgy HD games available for it. Most are just re-released iPhone/iPod Touch games with higher resolution. Even though all the old games are backward compatible, when you make one of these games full screen, it becomes quite pixelated. The games I did try included Need for Speed, Asphalt 5, Bruce Lee, Plants vs Zombies and Metal Gear Solid. These games looked amazing in their native resolutions but the ones where I use the iPad like a wheel did become a little tiresome, considering the weight of the device.

However by opening the flood gates to all developers, there are far too many bad games than good and thankfully the rating system helps. Of course, many of the HD games that I tried had very little votes at the present which made things difficult. Unlike the PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS or Wii, games developed for the iPad are a little shallow and limited in terms of control. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some fun games but until the developers truly stick to the architecture and capabilities of this platform, it may be awhile until games start getting better. Let's hope so! 

Wi-Fi vs Wi-Fi+3G

There are two models of the iPad available, a standard Wi-Fi model or the Wi-Fi+3G that thanks to a SIM card, allows you access the mobile network. Unfortunately Australia has some rather dodgy plans and contracts available for the iPad... not all, but a few. With a SIM card, you can access the 3G capabilities of the iPad for internet access in quite a few places around this country. Although not as fast as Wi-Fi, the 3G was fairly good and does get the job done well, especially when accessing web pages.

Cons?

Although I'm a pro iPad kind of guy... there are a few things that I'm not too thrilled at. As mentioned, the iPad does not support flash which can become a royal pain while surfing the net. It does not have an inbuilt camera for internet talk which is a little shame, considering the portability of this device. The virtual keyboard is good but does not substitute a real keyboard and can become a pain typing on it, due to all the errors you make when you "touch" type. The multitasking aspect of the apps are a little bit of a hit and miss as not all programs can be left running in the background. iPad versus Macbook or Netbook?

Quite a few people have asked me which device is better and which would you rather own. This is a difficult question because both devices have their pros and cons. In terms of multimedia and ease of use, the iPad is definitely the clear winner but when it comes to productivity, a notebook is definitely the better choice. But what Apple has done is change the face of mobile computing, especially in terms of multimedia, gaming and connectivity. The last comment I’ll say about the laptop versus the iPad is that for the same price as a low-end iPad, you can get a relatively powerful laptop that does offer more storage. Storage is a critical aspect!

Don't get my wrong, the iPad is a great device, especially for multimedia and games but it does not replace the world of notebooks. It does some things amazingly though, like reading news, books or comics and of course browsing the web. Compared to the Kindle, the iPad will easily beat this Amazon device and where this device does shine is through the battery life and 3G system. It's definitely an amazing device but with that said, it's not for everyone but for me and the staff here at Impulse Gamer, it does get a big thumbs up!






 
 



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