Apple iPad review: it’s shiny

iPad review

Me and my iPad - check out those finger marks!

I’ve never reviewed an electronic product before. That’s partly down to the fact that this site is not really about reviews and partly also because it’s not about electronics. I also own very few gadgets. But seeing as the iPad has attracted so much hype and I happen to own one, I thought I’d make an exception here.

How/why did I come into possession of my iPad?

I would never ever pay this sort of money for a gadget, even if it made my coffee in the morning and delivered a packet of biscuits to my desk in mid-afternoon (although perhaps there’s an app for this that I’ve yet to find). Luckily for me I was pulled out of a hat after World Travel Market in November 2010. Not me of course, but my name. In fact I suspect there wasn’t even a hat. In any case I got an email about a week after the event with the subject line “Congratulations! You’ve won an iPad!”

Once I checked that it wasn’t part of the $50m estate of a long-lost Nigerian relative and in fact from the WTM press office, I gave them a call and they confirmed that I was one of six lucky winners. The magic box containing my 32Gb wi-fi and 3G iPad duly arrived by courier the next day.

What I like about it

1. It’s very nice to look at. It looks like it costs a lot of money, and this perception is considerably enhanced by a nifty logo showing a partly eaten apple on the back.

2. It makes a wonderful photo frame. When we visited our parents after our recent trip it was a joy to take such a lightweight device to show off our pictures. The quality of the image is superb and the ability to flick through the pictures with your fingers as if flipping pages in an album comes naturally to even the most technically challenged people.

3. It’s very handy to play games. When returning from the previously mentioned trips to parents my wife was happily playing chess or code-breaker for the duration of the journey. This has been a major breakthrough, as up to this point I have never found a way to keep her awake on a long journey. We also both enjoy playing games on it while the other one is watching a crap TV programme.

What I don’t get about it

1. The fact that I could find no additional positives to the three mentioned above.

2. Typing. Yes you can write on the iPad, but constructing an email or even a simple tweet is frustratingly awkward. If you want to place the cursor anywhere you need to zoom in to do so with any accuracy and then zoom out again. I brought it along with us on a recent weekend break and logged on using the hotel’s free wi-fi. Because the iPad seems to struggle in remembering passwords in certain programmes (I have the same problem with my webmail, although not with Facebook or Twitter) I had to zoom in, type the password and then zoom out every time I wanted to go online . Yes, I could get the USB keyboard attachment but isn’t it easier to just use a laptop?

3. Browsing the web.  Page loading is consistently slower than with my 5 year old basic outdated laptop. I don’t understand why, but it reminds me of my first netbook which I almost threw out of the window in frustration.

4. Flash. There’s still so many common websites where the iPad comes to a halt as it mockingly tells me that I need to download Adobe Flash Player. I can’t watch football highlights from the BBC site or any clips included in a news story. Yes I know it’s an issue between Apple and Adobe but I don’t really care about their political battles when all along I could just use my laptop and see everything easily.

How is it better than a laptop?

I’m not sure it is. Yes, photos look great on it – but loading them on via iTunes is a pain in the neck, when a simple USB drive would make the operation so simple. Even an SD slot for goodness sake! But I guess that’s not the Apple way.

It’s lightweight and easier to slip into a document folder for carrying around London than my laptop, but then so is a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate and I can’t store my Word or Powerpoint files on that either.

And for my next trip away from home? It’ll be the laptop that comes with me this time.

So why the hype?

I’m not a good Apple customer, I readily admit. I don’t carry music around with me when I travel and my heart rate doesn’t rise when I think about a touch screen. I have downloaded a couple of apps, but they have been basic games and have been free. I’m sure there are hundreds of amazing apps that I would find hugely impressive, but I’ve never been much of a shopper and I’m not in the habit of seeking solutions for problems that I don’t know I have.

I can walk past an Apple store in the high street without salivating and I look at the kids of all ages crowded inside who are staring in awe at the latest toys with a curious bemusement. I accept that I’d never make a good Jobs disciple.

And I guess that’s it. I don’t really buy into the Apple brand or have any strong feelings towards it. As a result I see my iPad for what it is to me – a fancy photo frame that doubles as a simple game board. Value to me? No more than £100.

Sorry Apple, I’m never going to love your products. It’s me that’s the problem, not you; I accept that. But you don’t need to lose any sleep over me. There are plenty of others out there who will ensure your continued phenomenal success.


Author Information

Freelance travel writer

13 Responses to “Apple iPad review: it’s shiny”

  1. Great review Andy – it’s good to read a review from an admitted “non-fan” since most of the ones I’ve read are from people who would have bought whatever Apple was selling anyway. Even though I’m one of those weird fan-people who’s planning on getting one the next time I’m in the States (in the interest of full disclosure!! :)) I’m glad to know of some of the limitations beforehand.


    March 21, 2011 at 10:21 am
  2. I must admit i do enjoy gadgets. But the ipad has never appealed to me. Aside from what you have mentioned, i dont like Apples closed policy. I already carry a laptop. Yes, i would like a machine that boots like an i pad. But i would also like an ipad that can do more than just look sexy. For me, travelling the way i do, an ipad would not get used. I would rather upgrade my phone to a larger screen. That said, if i worked in an office, i would go for a galaxy tab 🙂

    March 21, 2011 at 10:50 am
  3. Natalia #

    I don’t think it is necessarily an Apple thing – I have a few Apple products, and really like them, but I can summon up no real enthusiasm for an iPad (even after playing with one in the shop). A Kindle on the other hand …

    March 21, 2011 at 11:04 am
  4. Ah, as I thought then – a laptop that doesn’t do any of the things you want it to do properly, sold at a hugely inflated price to people who would buy cat turds if Steve Jobs was pictured holding one.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm
  5. Haha, you’re quite funny my friend! Personally, I am an apple lover, but I see no need for so many to have the ipad. I have a laptop “Oh by the ipad is so small!”… Then I will bring my itouch if my laptop is to big. “But that’s too small!”… What? That makes no sense. 90% of people that own an ipad probably don’t need it. Alas, like you said, it’s just so shiny!

    March 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm
  6. Tell you what, Andy. If it’s worth £100 to you, can I give you £100 and I’ll take it off your hands. Whaddya say?

    March 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm
  7. Matthew, much as I’d like to oblige, my nephew is no.1 in line for when I get fed up with it. And despite my low valuation, I suspect the marketplace of eBay would bring in a few quid if I wanted to cash it in. But at least I know I have an offer if I need £100 🙂

    March 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm
  8. Simon Brown #

    Just one comment about the functionality. A simple purchase of a USB attachment and inserted into the apple slot will allow you to download your photos direct from your camera. Very good on holiday and you can email or upload to sharing site within minutes.

    March 22, 2011 at 7:52 am
  9. Despite all that you’ve said (and I get it), I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of mine (3 weeks to go, darn it). Perhaps I can buy yours? 🙂

    March 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm
  10. I bought an iPad for a project — I had a client who builds apps, I needed to be able to work on the thing. Sadly the project fell through, and there I was, with my damn iPad.

    I like it. I like it for Angry Birds, for random browsing crap, for reading. Recently, I used it to share pictures from a trip — I loaded a PDF on it and handed it to friends. “Here you go, it’s my slideshow. Ask me if you want me to say anything about it, but I’ll leave you to it.” It was GREAT for that. That was probably my favorite use for it since I’ve owned it.

    Truth? I waited too long to return it to the Apple store or I would have. It’s fun for some things. I don’t “need” it and I’m not in love with it. I like it. I feel like I should love it, and that annoys me.

    March 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm
  11. I like it too Pam. Same as you, I can’t bring myself to be any more enthusiastic though. Perhaps if I finally succumb to the Angry Birds then I won’t be able to put it down. Best keep away I guess.

    March 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm
  12. Interesting review – completely disagree though :-). I have my iPad for over a year now and it has all but replaced my laptop for many personal and professional tasks (for heavy duty writing I do use the Bluetooth keyboard though). As for the size – I do have a Touch as well, but usually that one is too small, and a halfway decently performing laptop is too big. The iPad is Goldilocks.

    I would second the previous comment though and suggest you sell it and give the money to your nephew. Surely then everyone will be better off?

    April 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm
  13. Thank you Thor – I’m just happy that my nephew isn’t reading my blog!!

    April 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm