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Sitting Down with the Apple iPad

A hands-on review of Apple's latest game-changing device

by Josh Rubin in Tech on 28 January 2010

As you undoubtedly already know, Apple unveiled its wildly-anticipated iPad yesterday in San Francisco. I attended the event and had plenty of time to play with and talk about the device afterward.

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For his keynote presentation, Steve Jobs shared the stage with a vintage Le Corbusier chair and small Saarinen table. Beyond the aesthetic compatibility of mid-century furniture and Apple design, what makes the detail notable is that in past years Steve always delivered Apple keynotes standing. Here, each time he went to demo an aspect of the iPad, the CEO sat down—a subtle shift that speaks volumes about how this new device might fit in to our lives.

Not meant to replace computers used on desks or the phone that goes with you everywhere, it's an in-between device. The gadget's design makes it perfect to use in the living room, on an airplane or during morning commutes (as Apple illustrated in this video).

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At first glance, the wide, black bezel surrounding the iPad's screen perplexed me; it seemed to be a step backwards from my long-standing belief that the evolution of screen technology is full-bleed. Upon using the device, however, it became clear that that the edge necessarily gives you a place to grip it without accidentally touching the on-screen interface. It turned out that the 9.7 inch, 1024x768 pixel screen looks so gorgeous that I quickly forgot about this concern all together, instead immersing myself in content.

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For all intents and purposes, this 1.0 version of the iPad is a large iPod Touch, a development that lends the new device familiarity and ease-of-use. The iBook store and touch versions of iWork applications are a welcomed addition and the ability to run iPhone applications out-of-the-box is more necessity than benefit.

Pictures and videos really show off the beauty of the device's screen and benefits of its connectivity; the redesigned version of Apple's media apps are perfectly tailored to the postures and situations where we'll be using our iPads. And the touch-keyboard really does work well.

What I'm most excited about, however, is simply web browsing. While the lack of Flash presents an issue, sites built for modern computer-based browsers fit, look and perform beautifully on the iPad. Especially thrilling, was previewing how beautiful the upcoming Cool Hunting redesign looks on the device. (Pictured at right.)

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