Random observations about the iPad now that I’ve actually used one

Tonight I visited the Apple Store at Mall of America (and, while I was at it, the Best Buy at Mall of America), and here are some things I observed or thought about during the experience:

I expected the Apple Store to have maybe 3 or 4 iPads on display. In fact there were at least a 16, and there were still crowds gathered around them waiting for a turn. The Best Buy had 3 of them, and a proportionately smaller crowd of waiters.

It’s simultaneously smaller and bigger than I expected. The physical form is maybe 80% of the size I envisioned, but the screen seems bigger, and the bezel is less… erm… excessive than it seems in photos.

The screen is just… wow. It’s a thing of beauty. Even though the ppi is lower than on the iPhone, it seems higher. The extra screen real estate makes an incredible difference. I played a round of my favorite iPhone game, Plants vs. Zombies, and was totally amazed at the difference visually.

This is how a touchscreen interface should be. The iPhone was just a warm-up.

When I first lifted it, I was surprised at how light it was, but before long it started to feel heavy. If I were to use one regularly, I’d definitely want to prop it up in some way.

iPhone apps look surprisingly good in double resolution. They’re intelligently anti-aliased in a way that reminds me of the DVD “upconvert” process on a Blu-Ray player.

Both the Apple Store and Best Buy had the demo units displayed on clear, angled, cylindrical acrylic blocks with a white rubberized ring on top. It put the iPad at a perfect angle for viewing at demo stations, and the rubber kept it in place while still allowing it to be lifted easily. They should sell these.

Apple might be singlehandedly responsible for another H1N1 outbreak. Just think about how many hands are touching these things. They should’ve had Purell dispensers at the front door.

This feels like a new beginning. Sure, the iPad has flaws. But this is the first of something new, and I think it’s an order of magnitude bigger than either the iPod or iPhone. (And not just in terms of the physical dimensions.)

I know it’s too early for me to get one — I want a camera, or at the very least 3G (the latter of which is actually coming, in a few weeks). I also don’t want to pay $829 for a 64 GB, 3G model. But I know by now that eventually… eventually… I will own (or have owned) multiple iPads. I can see buying the $499 entry-level model now, and then buying a higher-end model in a year or two, when the features I want are available at a better price, and keeping the old one around the house too. I bought an original iPhone 9 months after it came out, which I passed on to SLP a little over a year later when I upgraded to a 3GS. I can see the iPad following a similar path — but one slightly less painful, since I paid $200 more for the original iPhone than for the 3GS, and I don’t see the iPad following the same rapid price reduction path.

I cannot put into words just how much it pains me that I walked out of Best Buy, not with an iPad under my arm, but with DVDs of High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel along with two reams of printer paper. These are the sacrifices we make as parents. (Granted, if I were really being a good parent I’d refuse to let them watch this tripe — the Chipmunks movie, anyway; I have to admit I actually kind of like the HSM trilogy — but… well, OK, I won’t try to justify it.)

More to come…