Hands-On With the Apple iPad

An in-depth review of Steve Jobs's latest creation

Handling the iPad for the first time is quite an experience.

Maybe I'm too caught up in they hype field of Steve Jobs's keynote, but as soon as I was holding the sleek tablet in my hands, I've never felt a greater wave of "I want this."

The weight feels just right, slightly more than a Kindle, and the big screen is simply inviting. "Touch me," it says, just by existing.

As Jobs mentioned, since I know how to use an iPhone, playing with the iPad was simple. Pressing the home screen takes you to your home screen, and sliding your finger to the right calls up the Spotlight search engine.

Apps launch by touching them, expanding from their icons. Things like Maps, Calendar and iTunes work just like you'd expect them to… except faster. Apps launch quickly, the screen responds instantly when you touch something, and there are no annoying delays when you key something in. That 1GHz A4 processor really works.

Continue reading for more first-hand impressions — including the most confusing thing about Apple's new toy.

There are also a couple of touches — like the way the iPad turns pages, or reveals the menu underneath the maps app — that separate it from the iPhone. The page moves with your finger as you swipe, following it on the screen rather than going to a predetermined position. It's all very organic.

The iBooks app works well. The "bookshelf" home screen couldn't be more inviting and easier to use (at least, with the dozen or so titles on the shelf of the iPad I was using), and turning pages is fast and intuitive. Pages looked like, well, pages, but I wonder how people will like reading on the iPad screen, which has a backlight, for long periods.

YouTube looks incredible on the iPad. The menu, video screen and interface are the most suited to YouTube I've ever seen — you almost think this device was built specifically for that site. The only downside: Sound is mediocre. Granted, I was in a room filled with press people all clamoring for the thing, but you can see from the pictures how small those speakers are.

The calendar app looks as good as Jobs said, though I spotted some areas where it needs work. After creating an event, I found it unclear how I was supposed to simply save it and close the drop-down menu for entry — he Save/Return button wasn't highlighted at all. Perhaps little bugs like this will be fixed by the time the product is in stores in a couple of months.

I can't say anything bothered me from my 10 minutes playing with the iPad, but I was unexpectedly perplexed when the onscreen keyboard came up. I wasn't sure how exactly I should type: The way I was holding it, it seemed intuitive to do it one-handed, but I generally never type that way. Doing the two-thumb thing seemed weird on such a large screen, and putting it in my lap and typing normally was out of the question. In the end I decided to type one-handed, but it'll take practice.

Until recently I'd probably say there wasn't a place for the iPad in my life. But after going to bed on too many nights with my MacBook Pro propped up on one side on my nightstand after watching a bunch of video, I'd probably say yes. This is definitely something I would use, even if sometimes it would be just for the sake of touching it. Damn it's hot.

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