I had the chance to play around with an iPad recently.  The chairman of our company got one and liked it so much, he asked me to set one up for his wife.  It felt like Christmas opening an $800+ Apple package before anyone else got their hands on it, since I don’t get the chance to do that much.  The task was to get it working on AT&T’s 3G, to setup an iTunes account, and to add an Exchange email account.  Sounds easy enough.  I really didn’t run into any problems.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a 2nd Gen iPod Touch and now have iOS 4 running on it, so I’ve setup apps and added Exchange email accounts before.

I was suprised at how easy it was to get 3G running.  From the phones that I’ve had activated on Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, I was expecting this to be a little more tedius than it was.  Basically I just put in the credit card info and the rest took care of itself.  I wish there were a few more options so I could tell if and when it was going to renew.  Then choosing between the different levels of service was a pain.  It’s too bad there’s not 1 unlimited plan for a low price.

My first observation about he hardware was how heavy it was.  I never would’ve guessed from looking at it.  I think the size is a little awkward, it was tough to type with my thumbs in portrait mode and too small in landscape, but I guess my hands are probably a little bigger than the average person.  Once I turned the screen on I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the screen.  It is clear, vibrant and crisp.  I could see a use case for showing off photography if I was good at it.  The default wallpaper was so detailed a few of the lines on it looked like scratches at first glance.

As for software, this in my opinion is the only way to really get value out of the iPad.  There are some nice news apps that were specifically written for the size of the screen.  That part seemed nice, that I could look at a news paper and see a few headlines before I chose what to read.  But it actually frustrated me that Facebook and some other games had to be blown up 2 times to fill the screen. Then the resolution looked horrible and it took the value away from having a nice big screen.  

I’m happy with my iPod Touch and it was quite a bit cheaper.  It gives me my fill of the iOS and it’s apps.  I also have a Dell Mini 9 netbook, so I have a small device I can travel with if I want that.  So the only place an iPad would really fit into my lifestyle is for a couch device that turns on quickly and can find information fast.  I don’t watch enough videos that a need a new device to do it with.  I don’t ever read, but if I did, I could borrow my wife’s Nook.  As far as that goes, I could just go back to the 1 book I’ve been reading for a few years now and flip pages manually.  I can already search for info, read my email, and scan my calendar from my Android phone, so I just really don’t have a need for it.  i suppose if I had some expendable income that was burning a whole in my pocket I’d get one to show off to my friends, but only when they put a nice camera in it for “FaceTime” or taking quick pictures and videos around the house.  Oh yeah, and on Verizon.  So think about that Apple, you might be able to sell 1 more iPad if you found me some expendable income.

I’d consider something like this for my family members that aren’t so computer savvy, but the more I think about it, I go back to one of my principle technology theories.  If you can’t handle figuring out a new piece of technology, then maybe you shouldn’t be using it.  I’ve always thought people should embrace technology as it could make their lives easier.  It won’t make it any easier if you spend more time trying to figure it out or getting help than you would’ve saved.