I’ve had some time to play around with my friends’ Apple iPads since it was released. My initial impression? It’s gorgeous … but limited. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend on what you want it for.
Apple built the iPad as a consumption device, and it excels at that role. While some dismiss the iPad as little more than an oversized iPad touch, this misses its primary appeal: it’s huge, glossy screen. Yes, I can look at PDFs and comic books on an iPod touch, but what I see is a tiny fraction of what appears on the iPad. On a tablet, comic books loaded using the Marvel app display full-screen and are easily readable. You can zoom in if you like, but it’s not essential.
The same goes for PDFs — while there are several different ways to get PDFs onto your iPad, once they’re loaded they’re far easier to read than on a phone or a smaller device, like the Kindle or Nook. It surprises me that the iPad doesn’t do this natively – PDF support has always been strong in OS X – but perhaps the Adobe Flash spat is carrying over to this as well.
Web sites look great … unless they’re dependent on Flash, but honestly I dislike Flash sites and I already knew it would do that. My favorite sites tend to be blogs and text-heavy sites, and all displayed beautifully on the iPad. I see it as a great platform for casual reading with one caveat: weight.