iPad Review: Revolutionising the way we consume media… in small ways

by Randy Tsang

iPad on the shitter

Photo by: Edmund Henley (candid camera)

  • Although not without its shortcomings, the iPad is a fantastic media consumption device and looks set to revolutionise the way that we use the web.
  • 4 thumbs up!

From the point of view of a web professional, I approached the arrival of the iPad with an open and critical eye as best I could. Although some may have mistaken my previous post as the gushings of an over eager Apple fan girl, and despite not having laid my eyes on a real life iPad up to that point, I nevertheless believed that the iPad represented a paradigm shift in the way people interact with the web and other forms of media. Now that that I have finally laid my hands on one, I can safely say that although it is by no means a perfect device, the arrival of the iPad is significant.

I cannot understate how good the multi-touch interface is on this device. As an user experience designer, I have a passing interest in usability, and Apple’s implementation of multi-touch on the large screen is fantastic. Zooming in and out of webpages, scrolling, using the shift key on the onscreen keyboard and panning around in Google Street View are all slick and naturally responsive. Apple have worked very hard on this and even the Nexus One cannot compare to the iPhone in terms of the interface’s precision and attention to detail. The iPad takes this to another level, perhaps not so much due to any major advances in the design or development of the interface, but by simply applying multi-touch to larger screen. Just a bigger iPod Touch? It is a joy to use.

Over the last few months, plenty of naysayers and enthusiasts alike have had their say on the iPad, without having actually laid their hands on one. I include myself in this. Steve Jobs is a brilliant marketer of products (see video above. lol) and what he said about the iPad during it’s launch back in January must always be taken with a pinch of salt (best ever web browsing experience? Without Flash? Pfft), but one thing he said does ring true; it is like holding the web in the palm of your hands.

We don’t usually think about it because none of us really know any different, but when browsing on a computer, you are somewhat disassociated from the website, having to stoop to the intricacies of trivial physical barriers such as a mouse and keyboard. Surfing the web on a phone is even worse as we have to put up with a limited, small screen experience and farcical layouts and navigation. Interacting with the web through the iPad however, is a surprisingly intimate and tactile experience. Laying back on your couch or bed, pinch to zoom, rotate to landscape. It feels very natural and very much like you have the web in the palm of your hands. A superior web browsing experience in many subtle, but significant ways. But still no Flash :(

For technology enthusiasts or for people with money to burn, I would highly recommend buying an iPad as an addition to your normal computer and smart phone. For content creation, it’s not quite there yet. For content consumption, there are few competing devices that offer such a smooth user experience and the iPad offers a tantalising glimpse at the future of computing. For everyone else, it would probably be best to wait a while. The next version of the iPad or the multitude of copycat devices that are on the verge of being released may offer you more choice, a competitive price and maybe that elusive web cam, Flash support and multi-tasking feature that you crave.

Apple fan girls, you’ll love it. Sceptics, give it a try at least. 4 thumbs up!

Sent from my iPad

*Update* my flat mate’s mum just had a go on the iPad and she hates it.