Australia and The Rest of the World had their iPad launch day on Friday 28th May. Always a sucker for Day One launches, I went along with Jen to the Chermside Apple Store for an 8 am opening. We got there around 7ish and there were about 150 people in front of us.
As launch day line up crowds go, you always have to be a little bit nuts to do these sorts of things but the crowd for iPad was actually pretty normal looking. I remember being slightly uncomfortable at the Halo 2 midnight launch: Everyone was wearing trenchcoats and looked slightly pissed off. I don’t think anyone in Brisbane did the whole queuing up 24 hours beforehand thing that made the news in Sydney. Comparatively, I thought the number of people at the Tasmanian iPad launch was pretty funny however.
After having the weekend to play around with the device, my initial impressions of it are very, very positive.
What appeals to me about the device the most is its form factor. We have a netbook in the house which we picked up on the cheap in Hong Kong last year. Its alright but I find surprisingly uncomfortable to just pop on my lap and do something as simple as browse a website. And the screen is too small and in landscape format so if I’m reading a news site like Times Online or the Guardian etc., I’m constantly having to scroll to view a complete image or read the next paragraph of text. On the iPad, the portability of the device coupled with the fantastic screen quality makes it very easy on the eyes when I’m chilling on the couch with a cup of tea.
I also really enjoy the accessibility of the device. We had some guests over for dinner on Saturday night and they were talking about their recent trip to Cuba and Mexico. They wanted to refer to some photos they posted on Facebook. Now, with a desktop computer, everyone has to leave the dining room and crowd around a PC to see these pictures. Or you can view a postage stamp sized equivalent on an iPhone. With the iPad, its a handy and instantaneous way to very quickly view some photos or videos without having to wait for a laptop to boot up etc.
Naturally, this excellent screen quality and handy size lends itself well to not just websites but also books, comics and magazines. I’ve had a chance to read through all these formats and its been fantastic. I really like what Wired Magazine has done with making not just a PDF-equivalent of their print magazine but a full blown interactive digital version of their magazine which has embedded videos, interactive diagrams and so on. I really hope other magazine publishers jump on that bandwagon.
Likewise comics and books are a pleasure to read on the device. I have a whole other rant saved for another day regarding the rather shitty state of affairs that ebooks are in but thats more the fault of greedy publishers rather anything to do with Apple.
The best part of all is that the iPad itself will only grow in functionality from here. Right now there are only a handful of apps on the iPad store and the eBook store only has public domain Project Guttenberg stuff on it. I’m looking forward to see what becomes available down the pipeline but right now, I’m all aboard the iPad hype train.