Review: Apple iPad (16GB/32GB/64GB) - With Full Interface Videos
Pros: An impressively built tablet computer, featuring a clean industrial design borrowed from Apple’s MacBook Pro computers, internal components derived largely from its iPod touch and iPhone pocket devices, and stable, multi-touch software. Runs over 150,000 applications, thousands of which have been optimized for this device, offering iPod-equivalent sonic performance, better than iPod- and iPhone-quality visual performance, and 10+ hour battery life unmatched by any current-generation Apple product, or most competitors. Superb for book and periodical reading, strong for web and video viewing, more capable of content creation than iPods and iPhones. Supports 720p HD video playback.
Cons: Cannot serve as a standalone computer; in addition to iTunes dependence, horsepower is presently shortchanged by limited, iPhone-class multitasking that forces all third-party applications to occupy and waste entire screen; lack of camera similarly limits value for video communications. Screen dimensions are sub-optimal for movies, including HD content. Confusing battery charging requirements and slow iTunes synchronization. Initial iPad-optimized applications, as well as Apple’s strategy for performing and selling color digital publications on the device, need additional work. In addition to anti-glare, anti-fingerprint screen film, most users will need new in-car, docking, and/or speaker accessories.
Nearly 100 cases have already been announced for the iPad, and we’ve already been testing the first of them, including early designs from companies such as Griffin, Incipio, Hard Candy, Essential TPE, Belkin, and Vaja. Due to Apple’s decision to withhold detailed dimensional drawings from third-party developers until the launch of the iPad, companies were forced to improvise case designs based on rough estimates of the iPad’s size, leading many to create sleeve and folio-style holders rather than precision-fit skins and cases. Incipio’s Dermashot is the first skin we’ve seen that fits the iPad Wi-Fi model perfectly; more options will obviously become available over the next few months.
As noted earlier in this review, the iPad will require special home and car chargers in order to quickly bring its battery back to full capacity. A number of developers have been working on 2 Amp adapters; Apple’s home-only iPad 10W Power Adapter is the first out of the gate, with Kensington and Griffin car chargers following very close behind. iPad-compatible speaker systems have not been released yet, however, Vestalife has announced the first one as an enlarged version of its prior Mantis speaker for iPods and iPhones. It remains to be seen how future speakers adapt to the iPad’s shape, or whether the idea of docking such a large tablet in a speaker remains limited in appeal. Notably, iHome’s iA5, the first “app-enhanced” speaker for iPods and iPhones, properly synchronized its app with the iPad, worked as an alarm clock, and worked as a speaker, but didn’t charge the iPad. Car accessories we tested would not charge the iPad, but did provide audio out, albeit at seemingly non-optimized levels.
We also tested a number of Apple accessories with the iPad, with predictably mixed results. The company’s Composite AV Cable and Component AV Cable worked to output video from the iPad to television sets, and also charged the iPad, albeit apparently at half speed. By comparison, the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter offers no charging capability, and no audio out, but does connect to VGA cable-equipped monitors for output of videos and other apps with video-out capabilities. Apple’s Keynote allows you to output slideshows to a TV or monitor, use the iPad to control them, and even turns your finger into a laser pointer if you touch and hold down on the screen.
Apple’s iPod Radio Remote, the predecessor to the integrated FM radio tuner in the fifth-generation iPod nano, doesn’t work. Apple’s Nike + iPod Sensor—now supported by the iPod touch and iPhone 3GS—is not supported by the iPad, most likely because no one’s likely to carry this device on an arm or back while running. The iPod Camera Connector, a 2005 accessory developed to let color-screened iPod and iPod photo models download photos from digital cameras, doesn’t work at all. With the exception of headphones, it looks like new accessories will be needed across the board for the iPad.
Summary of Battery Performance Findings
Each of these summarized findings is discussed in greater detail in the appropriate hardware or application section above.
Web: 10 hours, 21 minutes on 50% brightness torture test.
Video: 11 hours, 34 minutes on 50% brightness, 50% volume with HD videos and Wi-Fi on; 11 hours, 43 minutes on same settings with SD videos; 13 hours, 22 minutes with SD videos and Wi-Fi off.
Audio: Approx. 6.25 continuous days on 50% volume, screen and equalizer off, through headphones.
Gaming: 8 hours, 33 minutes on 50% brightness, 50% volume with mix of 3-D HD and 2-D SD games.
Full Mixed Use Test: 8 hours, 59 minutes on auto-brightness, using Wi-Fi (802.11n) and all applications, including everything from video to web to games and productivity apps.
Recharging: Approximately 4 hours when used with included 10W USB Power Adapter, approximately 8-9 hours when connected to high-speed (1.2A) USB port, longer when connected to 0.5A USB port, no charging when connected to most past iPod/iPhone speakers and accessories.