Apple Stores and every Best Buy with an Apple Center released a stock of iPads today, and as of 10am this morning some were still available for sale. There were 2 left at the 86th Street store in Manhattan.
The initial reaction from many was that they had imagined it being larger. The overall dimensions are just under 7.5 by 10 inches with the display area being smaller within that (9.7 inches diagonally). People seemed to have assumed that it would be letter sized (8.5 x 11 inches) and one can indeed imagine a larger display working well.
The general look and feel is the same familiar interface as the iPhone which somewhat undermines the newness of the experience but nevertheless it seemed to work extremely well. There was a snappy response to the touch screen, and the improved viewing area provided an excellent effect with Google maps and the fantastic photo pile representation in iPhoto allowing sorting of piles of photos.
The onscreen keyboard won accolades from the majority of people trying the iPad. Several commented that they had worried about the keyboard size and people seemed to be using the keyboard in landscape (Where it is significantly larger) and in portrait orientation without a problem.
On one 16GB model there appeared to be a recurring problem with the accelerometer not displaying applications in the correct orientation. The display models were one each of the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models with all of them appearing to have equally excellent speed.
The iBooks feature was launched in the iTunes Store this morning and there is a free application to read them which can be downloaded (Presumably also on an iPhone), though it requires registration with an Apple account which prevented the iBooks feature from being demonstrable in the store this morning.
Video displayed smoothly without a jitter while streaming over WiFi. The display of video was nearly full screen in some cases but within a frame from others such as CNN. The 3G version of the iPad is not available until the end of April. Streaming video over 3G is likely to be more constrained by the network itself than the iPad.
Most of the purchasers had, of course, arrived when the store opened rather than being persuaded in the store. I have an idea that selling online in the same way as the Kindle is a better model than in store for some new devices as the actual usage, as in the case of the Nook, can give rise to further questions and indecision.
The iPad experience was definitely positive, with a lot of interest from random passers by. One visitor from Australia spent some time with the iPad but felt it wouldn’t be good for use in Australia because of the US branded applications for CNN and others that were installed. In reality the WiFi version should work well in any location and the promise is that the 3G version will not be locked to its SIM so would be usable with local SIMs when traveling.
Most people will probably have to imagine over several days how the device would fit into their lives. This ambiguity of purpose is likely to slow down sales and it isn’t clear how many people will want to put money down on the device if it doesn’t appear to be work or study related. In this respect devices like the Kindle have a simpler sales story as they have a single purpose. The experience for those who do purchase the device does deliver and we can definitely expect the models in stores this morning to be sold out by now.