Jon Perks gets his hands on the latest offering from Apple and takes it for a test drive.
I’ve seen it all now. From kittens playing the piano to the latest episodes of Come Dine With Me, there’s not much you can’t watch on YouTube.
That now includes a raft of people who’ve filmed themselves unpacking their shiny new iPads. Opening the box and making the requisite murmurs of pleasure as they peel back the cellophane. It’s about as interesting as watching the Big Brother contestants doing the washing up. But more disturbing.
There are also videos of overviews on how to operate Apple’s newest arrival, how to plug in various accessories (of which there are plenty) – even a demonstration of how well one company’s screen protector works (scratching nails and grinding a stone cutter over the surface)... the list goes on.
This is how obsessive the world of Apple products has got.
The iPad is merely the latest chapter. Ever since Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer Inc in the mid 70s, there has been a buzz of excitement from their geeky band of followers every time a new invention hits the market. If it bears the unmistakable bitten apple logo, they’ll buy it. And they do.
Less than two months after launching the touchscreen tablet in the US, Apple have shifted two million of the things. It’s a triumph in marketing, but is the iPad any good?
Measuring about 7.5in by 9.5in, first impressions are it’s just a big iPhone or iPod Touch. Switch it on and that’s exactly what it looks like – the layout, navigation and appearance are all the same.
Happily there isn’t a phone on it – otherwise you’d risk looking likeDom Joly and his oversized mobile.
Said to combine the mobility of a smartphone with the speed of a laptop, the iPad falls between two stools – it’s neither one nor the other.
Happily, I didn’t have to camp out overnight on May 27 to get hold of mine; it came via one of the networks offering the 3G connectivity, which is essential.
While I resisted the temptation to video myself, I must admit there was a slight twinge of excitement as I opened the box of my 32GB model. And then promptly smudged finger marks all over the screen. Buy a screen protector, or it will quickly look smeary and second hand.
I found myself wiping it every time it came out of the case. Gadgets should be kept shiny and as new as possible – so a cover of some sort (like my leather one from Knomo) is also a must.
Pretty soon that £499 you paid for the iPad becomes £600... then £700... it’s a marketeers’ dream.
There is an onscreen touch keyboard, but being a flat screen and nothing else, typing on your lap is awkward; for £55 you can buy a keyboard dock (ker-ching) which also props up the iPad – but then if you’re only using it at home, you may as well buy a Macbook.
Where the iPad comes into its own is on the move; reading the news online during the morning commute; watching a movie on your budget weekend flight to Prague; as a quick visual aid at a meeting; playing sudoku or Angry Birds while you sip a latte in Starbucks.
The battery life seems to be better than iPod Touch, and of course the bigger screen is more user friendly – but it’s an expensive gadget if you’re only going to use it to watch YouTube, play games or read books. Give me a paperback any day.
Of course there are the Apps... 20,000 and counting for the iPad.
As well as the regulars everyone has on their iPhone – Google, Facebook etc – I came across some gems; How To Be A Sitcom Writer (£4.99); Egg Boiler (59p) and Air Guitar HD (free) just three ways to use your new gizmo.
Pick of the bunch, however, has to be Bankruptcy II – ‘‘the perfect and complete reference for the working bankruptcy attorney’’.
Yours for £17.99 – if all the rest of the iPad stuff you’ve bought hasn’t already bankrupted you. Oh, the irony.
So would I buy an iPad? Probably not – but I can see the appeal – if only to feel like you’re in your own version of Minority Report.
Doubtless, like the iPod, iPhone and branches of Subway, in 18 months’ time they will be everywhere...