Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Schnauzer Logic’s NoNothing Review: The Apple iPad

As with all NoNothing reviews, it's important to be clear right from the start. I don't own an Apple iPad. I've never touched one, felt one, lifted one, held one. I've never seen one in person and haven't spoken directly with anyone who has. Now, on to the review.

After months of delay, Apple's long awaited tablet computer, the awkwardly named "IPad" has finally been released, and much like Apple's previous tablet computer, the "Newton", this overpriced/under-featured bit of fanboy flotsam left me wanting. With its bright, clear, large flat glass screen, I was surprised to see that after picking it up, turning it over, and handing it around to all my friends, the iPad's display was covered in fingerprints. Cleaning the screen with the same lint free optical cloth I use on my iPhone, MacBook and Oakley sunglasses proved to be an unexpected source of irritation, especially when these same friends repeatedly asked, "how do you keep the screen clean?"

Equally troubling is its size. With a screen 5x larger than an iPhone, the iPad is far too big to put in your pocket. And while Apple "claims" that the WiFi version of the iPad weighs only 1.5lbs, after holding it at arms length for much of its 10-hour battery life, mine felt much heavier. Speaking of which, come on Apple… no user serviceable parts? This isn't like an electric toothbrush or an electric razor or hairdryer or the new Flip cameras or MacBooks or MacBook Pros or any iPod or iPhone ever? Its important to me to know that I –can- replace the battery myself, regardless of whether I'm ever likely to do so.

Turning next to the software, the iPad is severely limited to only those applications Apple, itself, decides to supply, or one of the few of third-party apps you're forced to purchase from Apple's iTunes store. And while Apple doesn't set the pricing for any third-party apps, I nevertheless felt ripped off when I learned that some developers are charging –more- for an updated/enhanced iPad version of the same app (some up to 300% more, charging $2.99 for a life saving CPR instructional app that previously cost only 99 cents).

Continuing to explore the software, while attempting to browse the web on the supplied Safari browser (the only browser available, by the way. Apple still won't allow Microsoft's Internet Explorer to run on the iPad) I was surprised to learn that the iPad does not support Adobe's Flash, making it impossible to view any YouTube videos, unless you use the supplied YouTube app that comes standard on the iPad. Begining with the original iPhone, first launched in June of 2007, and continuing through to today, Apple has refused to support Flash on the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch, making Apple's lack of Flash on the iPad all that much more frustrating. One wonders how much longer Apple can maintain this clearly untenable position.

Finally, no review of the iPad can be complete without a discussion of its durability, need for a 10 watt charger, virtual keyboard, case and how quickly its large flat display attracts fingerprints. So here goes: my 5 year old can watch all her Disney movies on the VCR in our family room, but I wouldn't let her take my iPad to her pre-school class, and you shouldn't let her take yours either. It's not clear what Apple was thinking, but this isn't a product aimed at the Ravi set. With respect to power, Apple supplies a specialized 10 watt charger, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't expect to be able to charge my iPad by plugging it into any USB port on any product ever made. As Johnny Cochrane might say, "If the plug does fit, you must charge it!" And last, but not least, no matter what you might have thought, typing on the iPad's virtual keyboard is simply not the same as typing on a dedicated, stand alone, keyboard, resulting in the unpleasant experience of getting fingerprints on the display.

While you may find the iPad a perfect complement to the web sites, magazines, email, films, tv, music and digital books you enjoy every day, in my opinion, if the unfortunate name isn't enough to keep you away from this $500 entertainment 'toy', the easily smudged screen should be.

Robin Diane Goldstein
Schnauzer Logic NoNothing Reviewer


Anonymous said...


Jim said...

You have a masters degree in city planning??

Boyana said...

I didn't get the part with the 5-year old kid, but... Wow! Good NoNothing review, Robin! ;))

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've read perhaps 20 reviews of the iPad and this is by far the most illogical. Why would you possibly be concerned about fingerprints ON A DEVICE THAT IS CONTROLLED SOLELY BY YOUR FINGERS? If you rubbed your fingers all over your windows, they would get smudged too. Your choice of words implies that Apple should have some kind of magic at their disposal that would self-clean it's own glass. Then you point out that you shouldn't let your child take it to daycare? What? I see nothing in Apple's marketing or design that even remotely implies that this device is designed for children. Would you make the same complaint about a canoe? Or perhaps a blender?
I'm not sure why you would bother to write a review of a device with so little knowledge of it's purpose or functionality. A 30 second google search will show you that law firms, higher learning, creative and medical professionals and many others are finding productive and pleasurable uses for this "entertainment toy", not to mention the huge cost savings of no virus threats, no IT support, no windows updates, etc. etc. etc... Apple has made no claim about the iPad replacing your typical PC, but your shortsighted review dismisses an entirely new computing platform without any real facts to back it up.

PS: Won't fit in your pocket? Why would (or should) it?

Ethan said...

Apple is already working on an upgrade that you won't have to carry. The iPad with wings.