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…

Top 5 Things I Didn’t Know About Babies Until I Had One

5. Coneheads
I did know about this for several years before my son was born, but I still wasn’t really prepared for it. Naturally, since the plates of the cranium have not yet fused in a fetus, and the birth canal is fairly tight to negotiate, the head tends to get stretched like dough being rolled out. The result is a distinctively pointy shape. My advice… do not dress your newborn in a sleeper that looks like Beldar’s pajamas. It may seem funny at first, but it really only makes things worse.
4. The fountain (boys only)
When we learned we were going to have a boy, lots of people started warning me to be sure to “cover him” while changing his diaper. I understood the premise, but it wasn’t until I saw it in action that I really understood how important it was. Fortunately, no one was in the line of fire.
3. The smell of formula
Baby formula has a very peculiar smell. In fact, it seems to be an amalgam of many different smells, each of them peculiar in its own right. The only one I’ve really been able to differentiate is potatoes. I haven’t checked to see if any potato-derived substances are actually in the formula, but there is definitely a potato-like smell in the mix. One thing is certain though: once you’ve smelled baby formula, everything smells like it.
2. The umbilical cord
OK, I actually learned this about 6 months ago when my niece was born, but it was still quite a shock. I always had this impression that the umbilical cord was completely removed at birth, but in fact a little stub of it remains attached to the baby’s abdomen for several days to a few weeks. You have to swab it with alcohol to stave off infection, and day by day it gets more shriveled, harder, and discolored (not that it was a pretty color to begin with). Our baby’s umbilical stub fell off about 2 weeks after he was born, and SLP compared the detached remnant to a crusty bit of chicken that was stuck on our barbecue grill for a week.
1. Meconium
What is “meconium,” you ask? It is nothing short of incontrovertible proof that babies are aliens from a world far stranger than our own. Merriam-Webster describes it as “a dark greenish mass that accumulates in the bowel during fetal life and is discharged shortly after birth.” Yes, in fact it is a dense, sticky, green-black, tar-like substance that fills a newborn’s diapers for the first two days or so after birth. Its most distinctive trait, however, and one you don’t even really appreciate until the “regular” bowel movements begin, is that it is devoid of odor.