iPad: First Impressions

Note: This post is 100% iPad, with Apple’s wireless keyboard.

I am currently using the WordPress app for iPad. Unfortunately it is not as robust as I would have hoped: it ate my rather long first attempt at blogging when I started messing around with adding pictures. I’m not going to do that again, not here anyway.

At 10AM I was one of a dozen people who entered the Apple Store. I promptly walked up to an iPad and started playing with it. It was certainly fast. The screen was beautiful. At 1.5 pounds it wasn’t featherweight but it was light enough. I then wanted to make sure I was able to type, well, on the virtual keyboard. I’m a touch-typist running at around 80WPM and I did not expect what happened. Typing on the landscape virtual keyboard was extremely difficult at best. I spent a good 10 minutes typing. I think there are two reasons why the experience was bad. First, there is no tactile feedback. When I’m using all 9 fingers (my left thumb doesn’t get much action) to type I need to feel the physical boundaries to the keys. Without that feedback I wasn’t looking at the content but at the keyboard and even then I wasn’t doing so well. Second, the virtual keyboard is small, around 80% of Apple’s wireless keyboard. Those two reasons convinced me that I wouldn’t be able to blog using the iPad without an external keyboard. Thankfully the Bluetooth wireless keyboard works with the iPad. I didn’t like the angle at which the iPad sat with the docked keyboard (too upright) so I decided to get the Apple case and the keyboard instead.

I wish I could show you a picture of my setup but I’m afraid: afraid that WordPress will eat this second version for dinner. The iPad is slanted up using Apple’s iPod case, but that’s not enough of an angle unless I want to strain my neck blogging. So what I did was use the wireless keyboard box to prop it up even more. Now it is angled just right, for me. I also use that box as a case for the wireless keyboard. No need to spend even more money on a keyboard case, though I’m sure some company will tempt me in the very near future.

The display is simply brilliant. 9.7 inches of supreme LCD technology. Gotta thank LG Display for what it has done with IPS (In-Plane Switching). Thanks to IPS viewing angles are extremely wide. Colors, contrast and brightness do shift but they are barely noticeable. Try that on your JooJoo. With an almost 132 PPI the modified iPhone OS UI is more than usable. The buttons and icons have been expertly tuned for the average finger.

Back at the store I wanted to import a chart made in Numbers into an email I was sending to myself. Actually it turned out it was Mr. Appleseed that sent that email. After experiencing it, I wouldn’t want to enter much data into Numbers. Creating a chart took many more minutes than I’m used to but then here’s the kicker: I could not, for the life of me, get the UI to pop up the thingamajig that allows me to copy it. I am sure many people walked by thinking I was a baboon in human clothing as I concocted my fingers every which way. Finally, after some bit of magic, I was able to copy it. Phew. I really don’t want to do that again. I’ll stick to text on the iPad for now.

I lamented the lack of tabbed browsing on Safari on the iPad and stated with confidence that blogging would not happen. Well, I was wrong. It is happening but you have to grind at it. Because you’re moving in-and-out of Safari and WordPress all the time it is difficult to have the source material in front of you. Always an optimist-wannabe I will take this opportunity to hone my memory skills. My wife will be appreciative. My short-term memory is terrible, and that is why you don’t see any hyperlinks in this post.

This is just a first impression of the iPad, especially as it relates to a bloggers primary tool. I must say the iPad is quite usable but in my case I must have a physical keyboard. Of course, the iPad is much more than just a blogging tool. I think I will enjoy the calendar: it has such a nice design you just want to look at it from time to time. Email will definitely help, but again, I’ll want my physical keyboard. The iPad does quite well as a surfer: the direct connection to the world’s information feels very different than when you’re mousing around. All in all, I look forward to spending considerable time with my iPad. One goal will be to use it as my primary blogging tool and a means to simplifying my life. I want less things to carry when stepping out the door.