10 year review: the Apple iPad

When a colleague showed me his iPad around 2009, I was slightly disappointed by the glossy screen and weight but liked some of the apps, the device’s versatility, and its built quality. I bought one late July 2010, as soon as the iPad was released in Belgium. This page summarizes my experiences using iPads for the past 10 years.

2009: iPad 1

When I started using my first iPad, I liked the form factor and battery life and hated its lack of a proper file system and iTunes dependency.

One of the main goals of the machine was to use it as a document reader, mainly for PDF files. GoodReader was the app I used for this, combined with a DropBox folder called ‘To be read’. Technically this worked fine. I’d drop files in that folder while at work, with the aim of reading them in the evening. The main issue is one of discipline, as I’d often overlook the ‘To be read’ folder and spend my evenings surfing.

Another goal was to use the iPad for reading digital newspapers and magazines.

  • I regularly used the iPad to read the digital edition of De Standaard, a local newspaper. From the start their app supported both a print-alike version of the paper as well as a text version. Later years later I still prefer to read the newspaper using the digital equivalent of their printed edition. The main change is that I now have a subscription to read the digital edition during the week and only get the print version in the weekend. That feels a bit like cheating, since I work in the print industry, but it is practical and saves me some money.
  • Digital magazines were ‘hot’ during the first years the iPad was out. I regularly bought the digital editions of Wired and other magazines. I also used the Flipboard app each day to check news as well as Facebook and Twitter updates.

The real killer app proved to be Safari, a decent browser for which the lack of support for Flash was only occasionally annoying.

This is the only iPad on which I played games, mainly ‘Plants Versus Zombies’ and ‘Angry Birds’.

I attended art school so it seemed logical to try drawing applications. I toyed with Adobe Ideas and other apps but never did any serious drawing with the machine, even though that was one of my original goals.

I love photography and using the iPad as a photo viewer was supposed to become one of the system’s main tasks. Limitations in iTunes and iOS kept me from using that first iPad as a full-blown photo viewer. The only other picture viewer I used regularly was Eyewitness for viewing photographs published by The Guardian. For a few years I used AirVideo to stream movies and TV-recordings from my PC to the iPad.

After a while, I did find out that I would always return to my PC with its large monitor, 20+ FireFox tabs, and decent keyboard to actually get any work done. As many have already said: the iPad is for media consumption, not for creating content. In a way, the iPad is the computer equivalent of television. It lures you into wasting your time watching other people’s stuff, instead of encouraging you to do your own thing. Maybe I’ll end having to put myself on an iPad diet and limit its daily use to 2 hours at most to avoid becoming a couch potato.

2014: iPad 4

The retina display was the main reason for replacing the first iPad by the 128GB Wifi-only iPad 4. Great machine!

2017: 10.5 inch iPad Pro

Annoyed by gradually turning into a coach potato, I bought a slightly bigger iPad Pro and magic keyboard in 2017. I hoped that iOs 11’s support for files combined with the keyboard would allow me to use this iPad like a desktop computer.

This is still the machine I currently use and the first iPad that disappointed me. There are three reasons for that:

  • The larger screen is great but Apple hardly increased the overall size of the tablet. This was achieved by using thinner bezels, which annoyingly lead to accidental touches, even after using the machine for 3 years.
  • This particular iPad has a known issue called the ‘white spot’. On many machines a faint spot that is brighter than the rest of the screen appears about 1 to 2 inches above the home button. It is caused by a slight swelling of the internal battery that causes an internal connection cable to press against the backlight filters of the screen. My iPad has this issue, which Apple refuses to recognize as a manufacturing issue.
  • The Magic Keyboard stopped working after two and a half years. I had hoped it to be more reliable.

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