Hands On with the iPad: First Impressions

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I've made posts about the iPad way before it was even the iPad, starting back in 2008.  When they announced the iPad, I was excited, impressed, and a little disappointed.  But since then, I've been converted.  Why?  Because it seems almost like Cupertino had been reading my blog posts, and built the thing just for me.  But that was from looking at videos and reading the keynote address.  What about real life?  How would it stack up?

Well, I haven't purchased one yet, but I have played with one at the Apple Store, and at the University of Utah's bookstore.  Here are my impressions:

The Keyboard
Unlike a lot of other people out there, I like the keyboard.  It's big enough in landscape mode to type with, and I was pretty proficient with it when typing.  I can also type well without looking at the keyboard, which is a bonus.  The only thing is the shift keys don't seem to be in the same place, so I would need some practice with it.

The Real Estate
I love the large screen.  It's actually smaller than I thought it would be, though it's about the same size as my 12" Powerbook G4 I purchased years ago.  While I can't yet replace a laptop with it, I can definitely replace what I've been using my laptop for, and leave all the heavy lifting up to my iMac at home, or my Mac Pro at work.  I can't wait to see all the awesome Autism apps that will be coming to the iPad. 

The Need
Yes, I think I need one.  Why?  Because I want a "computer" that is easy to use and gets out of the way when I use it.  I need something bigger than my iPod Touch to type on while on the go while still fitting within my seat space while commuting on the bus and TRAX train (those seats are not very clamshell-laptop friendly, let me tell you!). 

So, all in all, I am a happy camper, and look forward to the day I get one (which will be soon, I hope).  Do I think it will be the best tablet out there?  I think it will be for me, but I'm also excited to see how the HP Slate and various Android devices will act when they are released in the future.  The tablet format has finally found the technology and the uses that it needed to be useful.