My week with an iPad

Expensive apps, software bugs, and fit-and-finish problems don't change the final verdict: the iPad is very useful (when the bugs are fixed)

When I wrote my review of the iPad last week, I'd had the tablet for only a day or so. It was enough time to evaluate the look, feel, and overall operation. But you don't really get to know a piece of gear like the iPad without spending some time with it.

So I spent the last week integrating the iPad into my everyday life, including work hours, because iPad system administration tools are already available. Here's what I discovered.

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The most noticeable problem with the iPad is the lack of multitasking. After decades of using computers that run more than one app at a time, I reflexively tried to use the iPad in the same way -- and got mad when it doesn't work.

For instance, I opened an SSH session to a Linux server with iSSH to check on some things, then received a colleague's IM, served up via push notifications. This required me to quit iSSH to return the IM, then go through the reconnection process to get back to where I was. The same thing happened with RDP sessions -- not cool at all. Apple's April 8 iPhone OS 4 event showed off multitasking features in the new OS version, but I'm going to reserve judgement until I can see it myself.

Also, several high-profile iPad apps are simply buggy and slow. One of the apps touted at the iPad announcement was MLB at Bat 2010. It was visually impressive and offered features, such as pitch trajectories, not found in the original iPhone app. Being a baseball fan, I bought it for $14.99 on the first day I had the iPad. Since then I've found it lacking in many areas. It's slow, it consistently fails to update game information, it crashed several times, and the video quality lacks luster. Oh, and there's no sign of that pitch trajectory feature demoed at the announcement.

Plus, it's expensive: $14.99 gets you the app for the iPad only. If you want the iPhone app, you pay another $14.99. And did I mention that it's good for the 2010 season only? Suddenly, it's not worth it. Shame on you, MLB. (Note: This app was updated after I wrote this, a few of the issues seem to be slightly improved, but it's still not fully functional.)

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