I hope to look back at this post in a few years' time and think of the iPad as the Newton - really cool at the time but totally over-hyped. I fear that this will not however be the case.
It's a neat device like everything Apple does. The appeal of a $650 gigantic iPod Touch remains lost on me however. Yes, books and magazines look great. Yes, through WiFi, it's quick. Mostly. Yes, there's tons of unproductive stuff you can make it do. This should all be a given at $650.
Here's what's irritating me. The 3G service. AT&T's network double-live sucks. Period. I've not found a non-AT&T employee who thinks otherwise. It stinks on ice. It is biblically bad. Epic fail. I have a drawer full of retired BlackBerry devices and a building full of similarly disgruntled coworkers to prove it.
The 3G part of this iPad is so God-awfully slow, I've considered taking advice from Sleep Talkin' Man and eat a blend of razors & lemons rather than wait for it to load web pages or start Apps with an internet dependency. Again, on WiFi, it's quick. 3G, not so much.
What I find most interesting of all, is the signal strength meter. I've yet to see the iPad report anything fewer than five bars (5 bars for Googlers) of service. Ever. My BlackBerry shows between one and five most times, and it fluctuates a lot. It's hardly ever five, even right next to the iPad, which seems almost programmatically indifferent to the reality of long range CDMA radio transmissions.
Had I yet another device with the capability to quickly take an image of my BlackBerry and iPad together, or better yet, a video, I'd post it. But, as with all things, I realize I'm not ever going to be the first to experience something and be irritated by it if it's bad, so I don't even bother looking for other examples online. I just decide to let this post serve as a stand-alone testimony to the crappiness of the AT&T network, and the literally laughably optimistic character of the iPad when it comes to how good the 3G signal is. Everywhere. AT&T may cover 97% of the U.S., but the iPad has 5 bars of 3G coverage in 100% of places that have any 3G coverage at all. Remarkable.
Anyway, the experiment with the iPad is distracting and irritating because I don't want one personally and wouldn't spend that kind of money even if I did, and I know that the person who will ultimately use this will curse it to eternal damnation because it cannot read their minds and it is mediocre at best when it comes to brewing tea and they are already sick of bullshit, and it will undoubtedly be me who has to answer the "how do I do this" call from memory. Sigh.