The Apple iPad Review (2012)by Vivek Gowri & Anand Lal Shimpi on March 28, 2012 3:14 PM EST
Over the last two-plus years, I’ve had an interesting relationship with the the iPad. I never intended to buy the original iPad, but I ended up getting one simply because the "oooh shiny" factor was too much to resist. It was a little buggy, a little slow, and mostly useless. In a footnote that may or may not be related, I returned it 12 days later.
After my experience with the original iPad, I was keen on revisiting the experience a year later with the iPad 2. I appreciated the industrial design and performance boost, along with the thriving iPad-specific application ecosystem, though I noted that the XGA display wasn't aging well. I said I wanted to give it a shot at being a real productivity device, and bet that I wouldn't end up returning it. Thankfully, I'm not a betting man, because if I was, I would have lost my money. I used it a lot the month I got it, as well as the month leading up to my iOS 5 review, but other than that, it ended up sitting around my house until I sold it in December. It just didn't function properly in my usage model, nothing about a tablet fit into my workflow.
And it wasn't just the iPad; I had more than a dozen other tablets go through my hands over the last 12 months. iOS, Honeycomb, webOS (R.I.P.)...it didn’t really seem to matter, I just couldn’t get a tablet to feel like anything other than an accessory that made my computing setup that much less streamlined. I've heard Anand and Brian convey similar thoughts multiple times over the last couple of years. We're writers; as devices without keyboards, tablets work for us as laptop replacements roughly as well as wheel-less bicycles would do as car replacements.
Regardless of that minor concern, I ended up at an Apple Store on the launch day of the new iPad for the third year in a row (at 6AM, no less). And for the third year in a row, I ended up purchasing the latest and greatest in Apple slate computing. It's relatively rare to see Apple compromise form factor in favor of more screen, more GPU, and more battery, but Apple breaking from the tradition (philosophy?) of sacrificing anything and everything at the alter of thinness has resulted in a device that's actually very interesting.
I liked the iPad 2 hardware. It was a better tablet experience than the original, and the new iPad builds on that. Adding the Retina Display and LTE gives the form factor a breath of fresh air, but there’s another 16,000 words describing how and why. The main points: it’s new and it’s great to use, but the question is (also asked by Anand), will I be using this in six months? The answer for the original iPad was a resounding no; for the iPad 2, the answer was still no, but getting there. The new iPad? We’ll see.
The new iPad comes into my life at an interesting point—I got rid of my MacBook Pro because I felt like changing things up, and since then I’ve been bouncing from notebook to notebook (mostly review units) for the last eight weeks. With my mobile computing situation in flux until the next MacBook Pro launch, what better time to see if the iPad can really fit into my life?
To find out, I picked up a Logitech keyboard case for it, one that turns the iPad into something approximating the world's greatest netbook. Early returns are promising, I've gotten more written on the iPad in the last two days than I did in the entirety of the 9 months I owned the iPad 2. Shocking, that having a keyboard would make it easier to write, but in all seriousness, it allows me to be as productive on the iPad as I might be on a netbook. Probably more so, in fact. Also helping the case: dumping Google Docs Mobile (mostly terrible) for Evernote (less terrible). Multitouch gestures make switching between tasks less of a pain and the screen is finally crisp enough for the iPad to be a viable ebook reader. The new usability enhancements and the keyboard have significantly changed the usage model for me, now to the point where it has a daily role as a primary mobile computing device.
I don’t know how long it’ll last, but finally, the iPad is actually playing a meaningful part in my life.