Despite comparisons to netbooks or being referred to as a large iPod touch, the iPad is a new category of computing device. It blends the usability of the iPhone and iPod touch with the convenience and big-screen pleasures of a laptop to create something that's intuitively easy, and fun, to use. And it's also something that has the potential to go beyond being simply a tablet computer; it may fundamentally change the way we compute.
Identifying iPad models
iPad Hardware Features
The iPad offers a 9.7-inch touchscreen that employs multi-touch technology. Multi-touch allows users to control items on the screen with more than one finger simultaneously (thus the name). It's multi-touch that enables some of the features made famous on earlier Apple multitouch devices like the iPhone and iPod touch, such as tapping the screen twice to zoom in or "pinching" and dragging your fingers to zoom out.
The iPad comes in two versions, a WiFi-only version and one with an always-on wireless 3G data connection. While the iPad 3G sports a slightly different back (to make room for the 3G antenna), the models are otherwise essentially identical. Both models use sensors like an accelerometer to produce some of their best usability features, but neither offers the ability to increase memory.
To understand the full set of buttons, ports, and switches on both iPad models, read the Anatomy of an the iPad. Other hardware features include:
Screen - A 9.7-inch multitouch screen, oriented vertically. It is not oriented for a 16:9, HDTV-style image, though, so video playback often includes letterboxing bars.
Mute Button - While this button used to be a hardware-based screen orientation lock, as of iOS 4.2, this switch became a volume mute switch, like on the iPhone. The screen orientation lock is now software-based.
Memory - The iPad uses solid state Flash memory to store music.
Camera - Starting with the iPad 2, the iPad offers two digital cameras, one facing the user, one in the back of the iPad. Both cameras can take still images and video, with the video being 720p HD quality.
iPad Software Features
Since it's built on the iPhone OS, the iPad offers many of the same features as the iPhone and iPod touch, including:
Web browsing - The iPad offers the best, most complete mobile browsing experience. But, just like the iPhone, it doesn't support the standard Flash browser plug in.
Calendar/PDA - The iPad is a personal information manager, too, with calendar, address book, notepad, maps, and related features.
iPod - Like all iPhone OS devices, the iPad's music player features offer all the advantages and coolness of iPods.
Video playback - With its gorgeous 9.7-inch screen, the iPad is a great choice for mobile video playback, whether using the built-in YouTube application, adding your own video, or buying or renting content from the iTunes Store, or using the Netflix or ABC video player apps.
Apps - The iPad's capabilities are made even more compelling thanks to the App Store, which lets users add all kinds of third-party programs, from games (both free and paid) to Facebook and Twitter to restaurant finders and all kinds of other apps.
Buying an iPad
People don't tend to need a lot of convincing to buy an iPad. If you're going to buy one, or are on the fence, read these articles:
- The 6 iPad models
- Features: iPad vs. iPhone/iPod touch
- Price: iPad vs. iPhone/iPod touch
- eReader Comparison: iPad vs. Kindle & nook
To help you in your buying decision, check out these reviews:
Set Up and Use
Setting up an iPad is pretty easy and quick, and once you've completed it, you can get to the good stuff, like:
- Adding your own music
- Adding apps
- Buying music at iTunes (or other online music stores)
- Getting online via WiFi
- Adding 6 Apps to iPad Tray
- Backing up iPad
Using the iPad as an eBook Reader
The iPad is a strong competitor to the Kindle and nook eBook readers. To use the iPad to read eBooks, check out these articles:
While the iPad works very well most of the time, you may need support for it from time to time for issuses like: