first impression

What, no First Impression?

A few days after my iPad arrived, I started a blog post on my first impressions – but I was like a kid with a new bike – it was all shiny perfect – hard to find fault with anything. Any review would have been glowing, and ultimately useless. So I opted for a few quick Facebook updates on my new possession.

The iPad Takes a Vacation

Last week I took a much needed vacation, and though I declared that I was also taking a digital vacation, I couldn’t leave my shiny new “toy” home. So the iPad came along for the ride. It was good decision – I had a chance to spend some quality time with it and experience what it was like to use the iPad for different applications in different locations.

It’s not Heavy, it’s my iPad

My initial, out of the box impression was that the device was heavier than I expected. With additional use I grew more accustomed to its heft, but it’s not a featherweight. Some people may not like to use it unsupported. When reading items I found myself resting it on my lap, chest or seat-back tray.

I use the Acase Leather Flip Book for work and it worked just as well to protect the iPad on vacation. It also gave me a firm surface to grip and comfortable way to carry it around.

Charging and Battery Life

Charging the device was a little tricky. Since I was traveling, I decided not to carry the charging brick that comes in the box – too heavy for my liking. I opted for the Griffin PowerBlock Dual Universal Charger, since my Droid Incredible also charges via USB. The iPad seems to be somewhat sensitive to voltage (phone was not).  I had to plug the iPad in alone for charging to begin, then I could plug in the phone and charge them together. Weird, but workable.

Battery life is great – as long as you don’t turn it up to maximum brightness. I turned it up at the beach, and then forgot to turn it back down when I came inside. Battery drained at about 2X the normal rate.

A screen protector is a must, especially when taking it to the beach – sand and fingerprints weren’t a problem. I did have to wipe the screen off regularly (SPF 50 leaves a fingerprint trail). Having the case really helped keep it clean and protected.

There’s more

Check back on Wednesday to learn how the iPad worked in various locations and on different networks. Stop by on Friday to see what apps I came to use and love (and some not so much).

What do you think?

If you have an iPad, what do you think now the “newness” has worn off?

Full Disclosure: Expect some links in this post to go to one or more affiliate programs and know that I get paid a nominal fee for referring you to those resources if you make a purchase.

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Droid Incredible Smart PhoneI’ve had my Verizon HTC Droid Incredible smart phone for a little less than 3 days. After 20 odd years as a tech guy, I’m usually not an early adopter – but this time I took a chance on Android. Frustrated by my aging Blackberry and wanting to experience some of the new tools liked Google Goggles (see below), I was drawn in by the early positive reviews. And they were right – In general, I’m blown away by features and performance of the phone.

I only have 3 complaints, and none of them were a surprise after doing my research:

  • The battery life isn’t great
  • There’s no Bluetooth dialing support
  • The display is awesome but doesn’t do well in the sun (the screen is also a fingerprint magnet)

The phone– The phone itself is impressive. Lightweight, fits nicely in my palm, and the buttons and controls are reasonably well placed. I’ve hit the volume controls too many times, but am learning to avoid that area of the phone.  As you can see above, the screen is almost exactly the size of a normal business card.  And although the power drain is faster than I’d like, but it seems to be holding out for a reasonable day’s use. I’m not sure it would make it through an entire day of use on the road. I have Wi-Fi disabled, but GPS enabled. I understand disabling both improves battery life, but what’s the point of a smart phone if you can’t use the location aware applications?

User Interface – This is my first touch screen phone, but I really haven’t had any problems. I had the advantage of some “stick time” on my daughter’s iPod Touch, and the function of the interfaces isn’t that different. The new HTC Sense UI works well, and I’m getting use to hitting the right spots on the screen to make things happen. Typing is taking some time to get used to. The keyboard in the vertical position is fairly tight, and I have trouble hitting the right keys all the time. Right now I’m single finger pecking – fast, but not as fast at the two thumb mode. You can flip the phone into the horizontal and use the expanded keyboard, but you lose the context of where you are typing – you can only see the entry field – no other fields, labels or buttons are visible.

Calls – The call quality is good – I’ve had no complaints. The lack of Bluetooth voice dialing is a major hassle and in my opinion, a safety issue. The voice recognition applet provided with the phone is very rudimentary and not even remotely accurate. The UI does have a limited “favorites” page for one-touch dialing.

Camera – the quality is excellent for a phone. At 8 Megapixels, the resolution is more than adequate for most on the go photos. The built-in flash is great to have in darker areas. The camera also has the ability to capture video. I’ve taken some videos and the quality appears to be similar to most pocket camcorders.

Internet – On Verizon’s 3G network this is the fastest browser performance I’ve seen. It loads many pages as quickly as my laptop.

Email, Contacts, etc. – I have hosted exchange and several other POP email accounts. The setup is very straightforward and the mail application works flawlessly so far.

Social Networks – the available social networking apps for Android are good and getting better. Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook apps all work well, with some limitations. It’s disappointing that there isn’t a native LinkedIn application yet.

Cool StuffGoogle Goggles and Shop Savvy are two of my favorite apps right now. I’ve loaded YouTube, WordPress (not configured yet) and Skype. All need further testing.

If you don’t want to be on AT&T want a great smart phone and can’t wait for the next big thing (whatever that will be), this is definitely a phone worth exploring.

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