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Customer Review

76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended as a secondary device, 25 May 2012
This review is from: Apple iPad (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black) 3RD GENERATION (Personal Computers)
I bought the base 16GB WiFi-only model to complement a new Mac mini. I'd previously used a MacBook as a "catch-all" device and was missing having a something that I could use anywhere, so rather than spending loads on a new MacBook I decided the iPad fulfilled all of my needs and would be better in some respects. As I use my Mac mini for work it's quite nice having a device with a fun and different OS for recreational purposes.

Largely I use my iPad for three things: reading digital comics, internet browsing and watching videos. The retina display means it's very good at all of these use cases. Text and illustrations on comics look even better than they do on paper. Aside from the odd 1080p trailer on YouTube I've only really used 720p content, but the iPad upscales it very well and it looks great. As for browsing, text looks excellent and even very dense home pages on news sites are legible without zooming. The only real problem is that most sites don't employ high enough resolution images for this display so they appear blurry compared to text, which makes pages look quite messy at times.

Aside from the screen there are a couple of hardware features that I'm very pleased with. For one the backlight auto-dimming feature's pitched just right. I haven't ever owned a device that can do this so maybe I'm easily impressed, but I haven't needed to touch manual backlight adjustment at all. Its ability to strike the fine line between overly luminous and too dim means that it doesn't cause eye strain whilst it ensures that letterbox bars blend with the black surround. The other thing is battery life. I can read comics for about 3 hours and the battery will only have dropped 10% whilst a 50-minute TV show will only take about 5%. It's only really games that I've found to be a problem for battery life, as you'll be lucky to get 3 hours with something GPU-intensive. Nonetheless its longevity has definitely improved with a couple of cycles.

I do have a few complaints though. Firstly the screen's pretty reflective, which can be an issue in anything but dark conditions, and it takes a lot of concentration to focus on what's on the screen rather than what's up my nose. Secondly the screen smears easily, which is also distracting, and I generally have to give it a wipe every couple of hours (the smart cover works well for this). Thirdly it's heavy and I struggle to hold it one-handed for more than a few minutes at which time I end up sitting it on something or holding it two-handed. On the other hand I barely notice it's in my bag so it's far better as a mobile computer than my old MacBook. Lastly I don't really understand why it only has a mono speaker as it makes it pretty poor for watching stuff without headphones. The sound clearly projects out of one side when in landscape.

This is my first iOS device and it only took an hour or so to figure out how everything works and set up iCloud for syncing with my Mac, so I'm very happy in terms of software. I've downloaded a few apps and all in all they're pretty good, but I do find the iPhone/iPad apps tend to be geared towards the iPhone's small screen, and many of the dedicated iPad apps have yet to be updated for retina support. Hopefully this'll improve over the next few months.

I was a bit worried that 16GB wouldn't be enough, but I can get about 100 standard length comics on there and still have enough room for 6 720p TV shows (just over 1GB each), which is enough to mean that I don't need to constantly manage content to fit new material on. This is probably helped by the fact that I have an iPod for music and I'm not a photographer (on that note - why does this thing have a rear camera? It's not bad but sort of pointless). If I wanted to put music or a lot of photos on it I'd probably have opted for a larger model, but for my uses I couldn't justify the extra outlay and I'm happy I didn't spend more than I needed to. I feel professional reviews are a little misleading when they say 16GB isn't enough for most users - it definitely is unless you're going to use this as your primary device.

So essentially it's everything I hoped it'd be, with a couple of pleasant and a couple of unpleasant surprises (but none of them deal breakers). It complements my Mac mini very nicely as I now have a moderately powerful desktop with a big monitor for work and CPU-intensive tasks/storage and an ultra-portable tablet for use anywhere. Whilst the iPad is definitely a luxury item (for me at least) its use cases don't overlap with my Mac's enough to feel like I've thrown away my money for the sake of novelty. I'm not sure I'd recommend this in place of a full-blown computer, but it's certainly very good if you have a desktop and don't need a proper laptop as well.

I'm knocking a star off because the reflective screen makes it hard to use at times, but otherwise I'm very happy.
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