Holding it immediately made me feel as though I had finally laid my grubs on a Starfleet PADD, but with an interface that actually appeared to function with some manner of logic. On the off chance that random and frantic multi-finger input truly could truly produce some technobabble direct from Majel Barrett herself I gave it a shot, but to no avail (maybe there will be an app for that?). What I did find was an interface that felt very much like that of its smaller and older sibling, but with plenty of enhancements that made the machine very much a unique experience.
My first task was typing. This device simply would not succeed if the input were not sound. To my delight it wasn't bad. As with any new style of input device it takes some getting used to. I prefer to feel the keys below me just enough so I know where my hands are in a the keyboard at all times. Parking my hands where I prefer elicits a bunch of garbled crap, and even as I type this entire article with the onscreen keyboard I am forced to be far more mindful of where and how I place my fingers. It is not unlike what I have been told to expect of the first several dozen piano lessons. Still, as an iPhone user I have learned to trust the software keyboard to understand me and my mistakes, and I am already well on my way to getting along well with this new manner of typing.
The larger screen meant that Apple's UI team could finally stretch its legs and flex some muscle. With semi-modal panes and dialogs, orientation-aware customized window layouts and an extremely responsive interface, this was already not a giant iPhone. I will admit that I was in that camp shortly after the announcement early this year, disappointed for a reason I couldn't quite explain. But as these few months have passed I have come to realize that for some the iPad could very well be all they need in a portable computer, and for others, like myself, it will fill a gap in my computing life that I slowly recognized these last few years.