Ipad ReviewSo here I am, Apple iPad in hand. Yes, I was lucky enough to be loaned an iPad from Online Stuff to review. I must say, it is pretty amazing. The iPad is very responsive, and browsing the web is a joy. Downside – I cannot blog from it. That is true for most mobile devices that I have tried though. What does the iPad offer in terms of real world benefits then?

Applestuff homepage

Interface

Ipad Desktop

The iPad Desktop

Anybody who has used or owned an iPhone or late generation iPod will feel right at home. Apple has gone to great lengths to make the interface as user friendly as possible.

It is very weird to interact with a laptop sized device with nothing but your fingers, and typing on the virtual keyboard takes some getting used to as well.

There is one button on the bottom of the screen, and this returns you to your “desktop,” for lack of a better term.

Features

The iPad sports one speaker at the bottom, and an audio jack for your headphones. It has a port for a dock, and this is a must have.

The iPad I tried out does not have 3G, but it does have Wifi connectivity. I am afraid that you will find that without 3G your iPad is much less mobile since South Africa is not exactly the hotspot mecca of the world.

Actually Using It

The iPad is a great device. I guffawed inwardly when news first broke over the interwebs that Apple was planning something like this. To me it seemed as appealing as an oversized iPhone without the phone, a large and unwieldy iPod mayhaps?

Well it is certainly not small. It borders on “too large” for the frequent traveller, but when you get down to it, it is possibly just the right size.

This is not a laptop replacement. In fact, the guys at ThinkTank, who helped organize the iPad for me to review, use it together with their MacBooks. If you travel a lot and need to e-mail and do light work on the fly the iPad is for you. Do not expect to do heavy typing though, you will become frustrated very quickly.

Browsing on the iPad

Browsing SaGeek on the iPad

For graphic designers wanting to show their work to clients the iPad will be a great solution. If you want to demo a web-site with flash though you are out of luck. No flash on the iPad for you!

As an entertainment device there is no doubt, the iPad fits the bill. You can watch videos and listen to music on it, and you can play any of a myriad of games that is available through the Apple App store.

Accessories

To really complete the iPad experience you need to accessorize. There are a myriad accessories available for the iPad, these include keyboard, dock, camera connection kit and VGA adapter. Pricing will be at the end of the article.

Summary on the iPad

I did not have a lot of time to spend with the iPad. Not that I am complaining though – the time spent has convinced me that there is indeed a market for it. There are people out there for who the iPad will be a solution long sought. There are those who will need it for entertainment on the go – if you don’t need to do any work over a weekend dropping one of these in your luggage makes a whole lot more sense than logging that 17″ monster notebook around.

Are there flaws? Yes. No device is perfect. What I do believe though is that Apple has hit a perfect balance for the less serious mobile computing user. A little more than your PDA phone, and just a little less than your laptop.

I asked a colleague what he would have, basic cellphone and iPad, or iPhone and Laptop computer. He opted for the latter. I’d go for that as well, but I bet that if you think hard enough you will find a reason to buy one.

MiFi – Access Point on the go

MiFi Personal  Wireless Access Point

The Mifi Personal Access Point

I need to say something about one of the accessories that I tried with the iPad – the MiFi portable access point. Don’t have a 3G iPad, or need wifi on the go? You are in luck, Apple Stuff sells the MiFi, a portable battery powered wifi access point with 3G support.

When I tried it the iPad accessed the wifi access point instantly and 3G connectivity was achieved as soon as the internet APN was added. A must have accessory for anyone on the go.

This is a very cool accessory produced by Novatel. It has been available in the US since May 2009, and provides a cloud of high speed internet connectivity up to 10m around you. It is about the size of a fat Zippo lighter and sells for R2,999.00.

That App Store…

Remember that I said that I couldn’t blog from the iPad? Well there is a WordPress app for that. I tried installing it to give it a go, but I couldn’t create an iTunes account from the iPad. The South African iTunes store is really limited, and there are ways to create a US iTunes account, but that is outside the scope of this review to explore. Of note is that without the Apps, the iPad would be much less appealing.

Another thing that I find a bit of a compromise is that you cannot install anything that is not Apple approved. Having talked to quite a few iPhone owners I get the impression that this does not really bother them and I suspect that this will be the case with the majority of iPad users as well.

Rating

Rating the iPad is very subjective. For the right user it will score a 5/5 easily. For someone who doesn’t need one it is merely a gadget and will score lower. On build quality I cannot fault it, and as a piece of technology it is excellent.

Me? I give it a Q rating of 4/5, maybe lower because I wouldn’t buy one – I am a notebook guy. But since I have to be impartial here 4/5 it is. Pricing can draw it down to 3/5 though, but I will stick with 4 for now…

iPad scores 4/5

So Where do I get one?

The iPad that I used for this review was kindly provided by Apple Stuff. They sell Apple related products , you can access their online store by going to www.applestuff.co.za

Predictably pricing varies according to the Rand/Dollar exchange rate. Apple Stuff has decided to temporarily remove the iPad from their online store due to shortages. As you can imagine there is immense demand for iPads worldwide right now and Apple Stuff can barely keep up with demand from their existing customers!

Below is a pricelist for the iPad and accessories that you can get from them when there is available stock:

  • iPad WIFI 16GB – R7,799.00
  • iPad WIFI 32GB – R9,199.00
  • iPad WIFI  64GB – R10,599.00?
  • iPad WIFI & 3G 16GB – R9,599.00
  • iPad WIFI & 3G 32GB – R10,999.00
  • iPad WIFI & 3G 64GB – R12,399.00
  • iPad Keyboard  Dock – R1,999.00
  • iPad Case – R1,499.00
  • iPad Camera Connection Kit – R999.00
  • iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter – R999.00
  • MiFi Personall Access Point – R2,999.00

Be warned though, if you think the iPad was scarce – accessories are even harder to come by.

If you feel inclined to throw your hands in the air at the prices, bear in mind that South Africa is at the butt end of the market as far as electronics go. It is an open secret that import duties, taxes and the exchange rate combine to drive prices up to almost double what they are overseas.

I expect prices to drop in a year or so, and then more people will consider buying the iPad. Right now the price makes it very much a niche product.

A Word on the guys who made the review possible

ThinkTank

Thintank Corporate DesignI would be amiss if I did not mention Willie from ThinkTank who made a call to the guys from www.applestuff.co.za to provide me with a demo iPad. I was hoping to spend some time looking over his shoulder to gain some impresions for SaGeek and he went and organised me my own iPad to play with! ThinkTank provides branding services that range from designing a logo for your company, all the way to building a whole branded corporate identity. They also do website design and from knowing them personally I can recommend their services.

Check them out: www.thinktank.co.za

Apple StuffOnlinestuff Homepage

Apple Stuff is a subsidiary of Online Stuff Pty ltd. They specialize in providing Apple related products to South Africa and is the premier online Apple store around. Online Stuff develops all the systems that make online shopping available for your business. You can get hold of them via their websites:

Apple Stuff: www.applestuff.co.za

Online Stuff: www.onlinestuff.co.za

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