OK now here is my review from using the Apple iPad 2 for 24 hours:
Apple iPad 2 Reviewed
Apple iPad is a rather strange device when you first see it. Its ultra thin, has a face side surface area which is roughly equal to that of a small 9" netbook, and has just one button and a screen apart from a couple of side controls. What does the iPad DO ? According to Apple, its one of the world's fastest tablet computers with an interface that anybody can pick up. What would you DO with such a tablet ? Well in my case, I tried converting it into a productivity unit - a Personal Digital Assistant. Bad idea it seems.
Well for starters, I decided to pit the iPad against its #1 rival when it comes to being used as a PDA - the humble netbook. Oops this is gonna get ugly. The right contender would be one of those 6-cell 10.5hr backup netbooks with 2-3USB ports, 160-250GB HDD and 1GB-2GB RAM and Windows 7 or (as preferred by me) some mobile friendly flavour of linux. Where I come from (India) on a cost to feature basis, the iPad 2 16GB WiFi only model costs 2x as much as a dual core atom netbook. There goes the whole notion of being cheap. Productivity apps - they're plenty on a netbook. There are just so many of them that I use on linux, it seems almost unfair to compare an age old desktop platform with zillions of quality free apps to a brand new tablet platform majority of whose good apps are paid and these too simply cannot compete with 20 years of time tested development work.
And now for the actual features when compared with the netbook - you cannot replace a physical keyboard ever, but the iPad does a decent job. The touch screen is a novelty, but I don't see it adding enough productivity points to the iPad. I mean its fun playing virtual piano on my iPad - I can carry it around anywhere and start playing and don't need to lug around my heavy casio keyboard wherever I go. But all those are just "toys" at the end of the day. I also have a synthesizer on my laptop which uses physical keys for input. Its good enough for composing songs. Resources - a netbook has bluetooth and wifi. This iPad has only WiFi. 160-250GB of disk space against 16GB on the iPad. Obviously a much faster system when running on a 1.6GHz atom dual core with 2GB of RAM the netbook beats the iPad on performance as well. I could buy an extra batterypack with the cash saved by buying a netbook, an android "feature phone" like the Samsung Galaxy Y, a couple of batteries for the phone as well and still have money leftover for a portable HDD. Could use the phone for 3G or EDGE based internet access by attaching it to the netbook when there is no wifi around. And all the extra batteries only make me happier when travelling.
iPad and gaming - this too is something which the tablet cannot compete with the netbook. Small fun games have existed on the netbook for long enough - you only need to visit miniclip.com for that. Apart from this it can also play some REAL games, like WoW/DoTA and CS:CZ. For console gamers, there are plenty of emulators of nintendo hand-helds, old atari and sega consoles as well as the PS1 for windows. Hmmm... tough luck netbook!
Finally for developers - I shouldn't even talk about this to avoid any further embarrassment for apple's latest toy.
So yeah, guys who wanted to buy an iPad for productivity - WOULD BE OUT OF THEIR MINDS. But I need to be fair - the iPad was never meant to be a productivity device, though apple tried to market it that way. Everything that does well in the market has a reason behind doing so, and the iPad is unbeatable when it comes to being a family entertainment device. Full fledged computers are simply too hard for the average tech-noob moms to comprehend. Whatever I said that can be done on a netbook - all that is for the tech minded. I don't see my mom or my dad being able to do all that. And man is sort of a social animal. We're surrounded by people of all types. So somewhere, certain kinds of people need to have their concerns addressed. The iPad does this beautifully.
Right now, the iPad is doing its rounds in my house and everyone's loving it. Its perfect in multiple ways. Dad can check email in less than a minute since the device starts up almost instantaneously. Mom can check recipes online while in the kitchen, since the iPad is so tiny and easy fit anywhere. Sis loves playing games on it, and everyone finds it convenient for almost every task associated with the iPad, be it watching movies while travelling or listening to music. It does its job perfectly as an oversized iPod. Being a tablet that's slightly larger than a paperback and slightly smaller than a magazine, its an amazing device to read books on. And its perfect for making Skype calls thanks to its dual front and rear cameras and the free skype app. With apple, everything is simple and easy for the target audience. I personally find iTunes to be a bloat, and refuse to use a media player that organizes my songs because I keep all my music well organized in folders following a strict hierarchy. But for everyone else, its awesome. Synching the iPad to iTunes is $#!^ easy on dad's laptop since everything is just point and click. For all the family moments, the iPad acts as an amazing digital photo album (though it could do with USB ports to support more memory...) and is extreme fun when travelling.
To conclude, I hoped to make the iPad my next awesome productivity device. And iPhailed. Instead I saw it fulfilling a role I never intended it to fill. Am I satisfied ? Well technically no. But am I happy ? Since it made everyone else at home happy, it makes me happy as well