Monday, April 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm.

30 Days With The New iPad

Dan Frommer iPad

We've all made some big changes since 2010. (Even Lou.)

After a month with Apple’s new iPad, it’s easy to see why this is the future of the personal computer.

It’s not all the way there yet, but the original vision behind the iPad — combined with some upgrades in this latest version — make for a really compelling product. I highly recommend it.

  • The best feature is the new iPad’s speed. I was upgrading from an original, first-gen iPad, and that had become uncomfortably slow after two years. I know that some the stuff I do on my Mac isn’t stuff most people would ever do, but with the new iPad, I’m almost fast enough switching between apps to be able to work on it. Now I’m running into the problem where the iPad versions of my apps aren’t powerful enough to handle the work I want to do with them. (WordPress, for example.)
  • LTE wireless is amazing. If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that I originally bought a wi-fi-only iPad on launch day, but after a week, took it back to get a Verizon LTE model. That was a smart upgrade. Verizon LTE is impossibly fast, and that I can tether my MacBook Air at no extra charge — that’s how I’m writing this right now — is just awesome. I often don’t even look if a café has wi-fi anymore, because my LTE connection is faster and always available. This is finally a mobile Internet revolution that I can get behind — 3G just wasn’t fast enough for anything bigger than a phone, at least in my experience. But with LTE, I think the mobile Internet is really going to explode in usefulness. I don’t want a mobile device without LTE anymore.
  • Apple TV is a must-have accessory. We’ve barely cracked the potential for AirPlay. One thing we did the other night that was fun: Played a bunch of YouTube karaoke videos on the Apple TV, using AirPlay and multiple iOS devices to switch between songs. (When the iPad was playing, we used an iPhone to find the next song, then switched off, etc.) At $99, it’s a no-brainer add-on. Some games are playable via AirPlay mirroring, but there’s a bit of a lag still, which makes things like steering a race car a little tricky. Real potential there, though.

What’s that? Oh yes, the retina display. How could he forget that?

Right, yes, the retina display is pretty great. But it didn’t hit me over the head like it did when I first switched to the iPhone 4 from the iPhone 3G. Maybe because a bunch of apps (and almost all websites) still don’t support it yet with retina-tuned graphics. Maybe because it actually makes my old SD videos look like garbage.

Or maybe because the retina display just seems like the way every screen should be now. And that’s where it’s actually hard to be in Apple’s position: When your best seems like what’s natural, it can get lost. But yes, I wouldn’t trade the retina display for the old one. Reading books/documents is particularly great. I just wish my Macs had it now.

Which iPad to buy? If you can swing it, the 64 GB Verizon LTE version in black — the one I have — is the one I’d recommend. If you need to save some money, I’d drop down to 32 GB of storage capacity before I let go of LTE. (Although there will probably be an LTE iPhone in a few months, so that decision could be different then.)

Bigger picture, it has been interesting to see how the iPad has evolved over the past two years, and especially to see many people using it in public — at cafés, on planes, on the subway, everywhere.

Apple was right with the idea that this thing — as powerful as a laptop, with incredibly natural feeling touch-based controls — is finally the computer that people will want to carry around with them. And it has been amusing to see the competition fail to understand or replicate the iPad’s magic — not one particular feature or quality, but the entire story — and flop in the market.

For Apple, the iPad is huge and is only going to get bigger. And I don’t see anyone catching up for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I’m going to be betting the next several years of my career on making software for the iPad and iPhone. (More on that later.)

But wow, what a fun, useful little tool. It’s really getting good.

Also: 500 Days With The (Original) iPad