I played with the iPad at home for 4 hours last night and formed some early impressions:
- It’s a bit heavier than you might desire when holding it on your lap.
- The Amazon Kindle is a better book reader for traveling because the Kindle battery will last a week or more and the Kindle is half the weight. (Kindle is 290g, iPad is 680g).
- The iPad is much more entertaining than a Kindle but for me most of the difference requires a good network connection.
- It’s hard to find a comfortable typing position. Caveat: I don’t yet have the case that would hold the iPad in a better typing position.
- The iPad is an enjoyable way to consume media (surf the web, read email, shop).
- The device desperately needs multiple login profiles. Unlike my iPhone, which is a personal device, the iPad is a shared device. It sits in the family room for anyone to play with. Hence, I need to be able to login and have my email, calendar, contacts and bookmarks. Whether the apps can be shared across the profiles is a matter of debate (one or multiple iTunes accounts).
My belief is that the ultimate success of the iPad will depend on whether mainstream consumers, who are not knowledge workers, can live within the constraints of the text input on the device and the body position required to use it.
Although many aspects of content creation are easy on the iPad, long text input is not one of them. So the question becomes how important is text input to the average consumer?
Does the average consumer write long emails, comment in forums, comment on blogs, and produce lots of text? If so, then lacking a higher rate text input method seems like a significant limitation. But this limitation can be overcome. New input methods will be invented and speech to text will get better and better.
For me personally, I still need to get to know the device better before forming a verdict. It is very nice to be able to sit down on the couch and surf the web and read email. But I don’t find myself much more excited about responding to that email with the iPad versus the iPhone. But then, again, when I respond to long emails, it is usually work.
If you want to work with a computer for hours at a time than there are few positions more comfortable than a properly aligned Aeron chair, 30 inch display, ergonomic keyboard and Microsoft mouse. Does the average consumer do that? I do that even when pursuing hobbies. For example, planning a big trip or organizing my photos. And I switch between work and play all day long. I will take a short break and read an article, and then go right back to work.
The iPad is certainly a more intuitive computing device than a computer based on the Mac OS or Windows. Hence, I think the consumers will prefer it to those devices. The only question is about whether the iPad touch-tablet form factor accommodates the body position of humans using a computer for leisure and their text input requirements.