The initial start-up I was greeted by a graphic of a USB cable and two eighth notes. Connedcting it to a Mac OSX-running personal computer and starting iTunes I was instructed to create a profile for the iPad device an to create an iTunes account. The latter failed, presumably because I said my iPad device was less than five years old (although the date of birth given in the account create screen was listed as either -1, 19354 or 1915 depending on the attempt).
Electronic Mail As work gave me the iPad device to play with, the first thing I did after configuring it to get onto the network was configure my work eMail account. The first page you get when trying to configure an account lists several account providers (GoogleMail, Yahoo! Mail, Apple's MobileMe, and America Online). As I was setting-up a self-hosted business account, I skipped past this setting and filled in credentials, and surprisingly, it wasn't until after that you are presented with a choice of protocol: either IMAP or POP3. (Usually, this is one of the first questsions asked, prior to providing credentials.) It was only until a second run through that I noticed that, in addition to the account providers in the first panel, there was a generic protocol listed as we ll, which was actually what I'd wanted: MicroSoft's ActiveSync.
Someone else pointed out to me later that I would have to individually select ea ch folder on the server which I wanted synced; there was also no way of hiding (unsubscribing) from a folder entirely.
The App Store Odds are that anybody who's familiar with the iPad is also familiar with the Apple App Store. After several attempts at registering (you need a credit card or gift certificate; but you can delete a credit card once you register; cypherpunks need not apply) I was able to create an account and begin downloading content other than from the web.‥
The first thing I noticed with my newly created account is how slow the app store is over my office's WiFi connection, which was a bit odd. The second thing I noticed is that the paid list of apps--the left column of the screen--actually appears pretty quickly, but the right column--containing free apps--takes a couple of seconds after to appear. Considering I didn't have a payment method attached to the account this seemed rather user unfriendly, and a case of the Apple upsell. Even more annoying is that the App Store app closes every time you select an application (there's no way of selecting multiple applications at once as far as I can tell), and if you've paged through several instances of "show more", you're reset to the top 10 meaning you have to manually page list by list until you return to your place in the list.
Finally, paging through comments has its problems as well. There are "previous" and "more" buttons, and it wasn't until several presses of the "more" button which given my scrolling was at the top of the screen) to realize that instead of adding items below--as the previuos page of the app store did--it replaced comments 1-5 with 6-10 above. Inconsistency, thy name is Apple.
General Complaints The UI is inconsistent and confusing within the first-party iPad apps; I feel like the people that laud it's usability must either ignore most of the features or have just gotten used to it. There's often no indication of what you need to do, so you're often forced to try different things until you figure it out. The "black on white" option in accessibility is misleading; instead of changing the default UI color scheme, it activates a negative filter on the entire interface, making photo viewing ridiculous. At leats some of the first-party apps (including the mail configuration) don't provide any indication that controls are locked (e.g. dimming input boxes) when actions are being performed. The WiFi reception is bad on the iPad. There's no way of storing the iTunes password, even if you have the device lock and require a passcode. Touch typing is a PITA , and the system is closed.
The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.