Home Is the iPad Magical? Our First Impressions

Is the iPad Magical? Our First Impressions

After a surprisingly short wait in line at our local Apple Store, where about 100 people lined up for their reserved iPads – and another 100 who didn’t have a reservations – we finally took possession of our very own Apple tablet. We will take a closer look at all the apps, hardware and iPad-optimized web sites over the course of the next few days, but here are our first impressions after spending some quality time with the iPad.

It’s Very Fast, A Little Bit Heavy and a Little Bit Magical

Without a doubt, the first thing you will notice is the sheer speed of the iPad. Web pages render very fast, switching from landscape to portrait mode only takes a second – even in image and video-heavy apps like the Popular Science app or the ABC Player – and apps open extremely fast.

The device itself is light for its size, feels very solid, but still feels a bit heavy when holding it with one hand. Most of the time, we don’t think this will be an issue as you will probably hold the device with two hands – but if you have wrist issues, this is definitely something to keep in mind.

A More Intimate Experience

Apple uses the word “magical” whenever the company talks about the iPad. After using the iPad for a while, we can’t quite call it magical, but it’s definitely a huge step forward for personal computing. Being able to manipulate the web with your fingers directly on the screen, browsing through the New York Times or Popular Science app on the couch and checking up on your Twitter friends in the TweetDeck app just takes on another dimension when you are using the iPad. It is indeed, as Apple calls it, a more intimate experience.

Yes, the iPad doesn’t do multitasking, chances are that you won’t want to use it for heavy content creation tasks and the iPhone was more revolutionary than the iPad, but if you already use your iPhone to surf the web on the couch and keep up with email, the iPad is better at all of these tasks than the iPhone and more comfortable to use than a laptop or netbook.

Read on for more detailed impressions of some of the iPad’s hardware and software features.


Apple wasn’t kidding when it said that the screen on the iPad would be gorgeous. It’s not just that the extra screen estate allowed developers to build easier to use apps, but the screen really makes colors pop and the viewing angle is close to 180 degrees.

At the end of the day, though, it’s really the size of the screen that makes all the difference when compared to an iPod touch. While some developers have only re-purposed their iPhone apps for the iPad so far, some apps like the Epicurious cooking app are already making good use of this extra screen estate by putting tabs on the side and bottom of the screen.

We should note, though, that running iPhone apps that haven’t been optimized for the iPad isn’t a very magical experience. Regular iPhone apps work just fine, but the blown-up fonts look fuzzy and using those apps just isn’t a lot of fun.

Of course, we don’t have any hands-on experience about the iPad’s battery life yet, but we will update this post later today with more info once we get some more real-life data.

Virtual Keyboard

The iPad keyboard takes some getting used to. On a lap or on a table with the iPad in Apple’s nifty case, typing with two hands is easy. If your hands are big, you can probably use both of your thumbs to type in portrait mode. Typing in landscape mode with the iPad in your hands means that you can only use one hand, however, and the iPad can quickly feel a bit heavy if you are holding it with just one hand.

Apple’s Own Apps

We haven’t had a chance to fully appreciate Apple’s own email, contacts, calendar apps, but our first impression is that they are all well designed, work as advertised and – thanks to making use of the bigger screen – are generally much easier to use on the iPad than on the iPhone. Safari, of course, is the highlight here, where web sites render just about as fast as on a notebook and browsing even non-mobile optimized sites feels perfectly natural (though, of course, without Flash some sites just don’t work very well).

The iPod app now looks a lot more like iTunes, with a sidebar on the right (in portrait and landscape mode). Interestingly, Apple did not include cover flow here.

More About the iPad Launch

Click here for our full archive of posts about the iPad launch.

Come back throughout the day for more of our coverage of the iPad launch.


iBooks, Apple’s e-book app, is a very capable e-book reader. Prices in the iBook store are typically between $9.99 and $14.99 (we also found a few books for $16.99 and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged retails for $27.99). It’s worth noting that the store also features a huge selection of free books from Project Gutenberg. We will take a closer look at the iBooks app and compare it to the other e-readers on the iPad later today.

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