Product Review: The Apple iPad (Part One)

The date was April 3, 2010. It’s the date that Apple released the iPad. It debuted to Apple fanboys around the country, with FedEx deliveries taking place to homes on the same date as the Apple Stores opened the doors to the waiting hordes. So the product has been out just over three weeks, and there have been reviews on both sides of the fence. After having the opportunity to put the iPad through its paces over the past couple of weeks myself, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the pros and cons of Apple’s new “magical” device.

This week let’s talk about the negative points. I always like to look at the bad stuff first, so then we can at least finish on a positive note, even if the product sucks. So we’ll cover the positive points and my final thoughts on part two of this review, next week. The primary complaint that everyone has is that it still doesn’t support Adobe Flash, which means a lot of regular, everyday websites simply don’t display correctly, even on the iPad’s 9.7-inch diagonal display. Well folks, we all knew this going in, so this shouldn’t be a real surprise.

The second issue that most people have complained about is the lack of support for other products, like Microsoft Office, or the absence of an accessible file structure on the iPad, not to mention print support. While Apple appears to have given its iWorks suite a complete makeover for the tablet platform, they apparently left out a few details. One major complaint in the apps store (and from me!) is that the Numbers program will import spreadsheets from Microsoft Excel, but it will only export in the Numbers format. Hello? Does Apple realize that the majority of all business (presumably the primary users of Numbers/Excel) run Excel? Even educational facilities use MS Office products primarily in the training of office workers and business courses, although you will probably find a higher percentage of Apple products here than in the general population.

My biggest complaint, however, is that there is a lack of any real access to the iPad file system. Because of this, there are many telecommuting features that remain unavailable to the professional looking to use the iPad as a laptop replacement. It’s a nice thought, but it just isn’t there yet. Without the ability to view, locate, move and access all the files on the iPad, websites that utilize file system uploads, such as those running on WordPress, will not be able to upload pictures or files to their projects. This is a big deal for most people that I know who work as freelancers out in the field. At this time, I know of no workaround to this issue, and although there is a WordPress iPad app that will upload pics from your photo albums, there is still no way to determine where they go into the post — they default to the end of the text section. Fix this file structure issue, Apple, and I believe you will have a legitimate device that can compete on a broader scale with other tablets and even many laptop uses.

Since you’ve endured my lengthy negative review points, here’s a hilarious summary of the Steve Jobs iPad keynote from January of this year to give you a good laugh. Don’t forget to come back next week for part two of my review, where I point out all the good stuff about the iPad and why you should get one!