InfoWorld review: Apple iPad surprises, disappoints

The excellent iPad is a sleek media player and a highly functional tablet computer, but there's room for improvement

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There are a boatload of other iPad-specific apps in the App Store. I purchased a few, including the aforementioned Real Racing HD, and downloaded several freebies, including the USA Today app, the Marvel comics app, iBooks, The Weather Channel MAX, MLB At Bat 2010 for iPad, and several others. Pricing for these apps is generally higher than iPhone apps, presumably due to the enhanced capabilities offered by the iPad and the newness of the platform. It wouldn't surprise me to see price reductions on some of the higher-priced apps relatively soon.

Generally speaking, you're better off running iPad-specific apps on the iPad versus their iPhone counterparts. Though it's possible to run iPhone apps on an iPad, they seem tiny when run at their natural resolution and tend to look poor when run full-screen due to the nature of the pixel-doubling scheme used to increase their size.

iPad omissions: Multitasking, camera, and USB ports
Just about every iPad reviewer has decried the lack of camera and USB ports, and I'm no different. Apple has released USB and SD adapters for the iPad, but it's unclear if these are usable just for importing pictures from a camera, or if they will enable external storage devices to be used. Given the nature of the device and the reliance on iTunes for media delivery, it's unlikely that external storage will be supported. That's unfortunate. It would be a natural to plug a 16GB flash drive into an iPad and play back movies and other content, instead of having to dock and resync. The lack of a camera is also disappointing. It would be great to use the iPad for videoconferencing or even to take photos. The buzz is that cutouts behind the bezel seem designed to support a camera like the built-in iSight camera in MacBooks. Presumably, the next iteration of the iPad will include a camera.

[ Also from InfoWorld: Read Peter Wayner's "iPhone App Store roulette: A tale of rejection." ]

And then there's the multitasking issue. The iPad doesn't support multitasking in any real way. You can play music while using other apps, but that's about it. You must quit an app to use another. This limitation is somewhat annoying on the iPhone, but it's downright irritating on the bigger and beefier iPad. Rumor has it that multitasking support may be part of an upcoming version of the OS. If this does come to pass, it'll no doubt be hailed as miraculous, but multitasking should really be there now.

There are a few other oddities as well. For instance, YouTube search results appear to be different using the iPad and a laptop. Certain videos are present in a search from a MacBook, but fail to appear in the same search on an iPad. They're not random omissions; they're the same missing videos every time -- and they're the top viewed videos for those searches. For instance, the search results for "OK GO this too shall pass" omit the official videos that have millions of views. This same phenomenon occurs on the iPhone as well, so it's not iPad-specific, but it is troubling. It may be that YouTube will not show some content if they can't overlay the video with ads, which isn't possible with the iPad due to the lack of Flash support. Whatever the reason, it's a problem.

The iPad on the go
Apple claims that the iPad has a 10-hour battery life, and this appears to be mostly accurate. With normal use, the iPad ran for well over 24 hours (left unplugged overnight) and still retained 50 percent battery life. It certainly doesn't appear that it will require daily charging like an iPhone, which is a good thing. Note that only high-power USB ports can produce enough juice to charge the iPad. My MacBook Air will charge it, but my workstation won't. It will also be interesting to see how battery life changes on the upcoming 3G version, which will add a power-draining wireless radio.

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