Two very generous friends bought me a 32gb WiFi/3G iPad recently. I have thanked them personally for their generosity, but don’t feel it appropriate to name them here. You know who you are – thank you.

I had originally decided to wait for the next iteration of the iPad as I’m not a great follower of hype. However, the iPad did appeal to me in many ways: First of all, it seemed to be the fulfillment of everything I’d hoped for when the Asus ‘eee’ was first seen in Autumn of 2007. I’d wanted something small and manageable that I could work on whilst travelling. However, the ‘eee’ failed on a number of points – too fiddly keyboard, too small a screen (I can’t have it always, I know), crap battery life and a strange operating system (mine was linux). What’s more, my power pack failed fairly quickly too so my ‘eee’ has been redundant for a couple of years now.

I then tried the iPod Touch. Never mind the screen size (I know that I’m contradicting myself, but read on), actually working on it was ‘sort of’ ok. I couldn’t be too adventurous; it wasn’t a fully equipped laptop after all – and (unlike the ‘eee’) never tried to be. But the Internet, via WiFi was ok and I was at least able to communicate, make notes and access ‘stuff’ (and Apps etc.). I found the onscreen keyboard to my liking, so it worked for me.

Then came my love of the iPhone. My original comparison with the iTouch wasn’t good but with the advent of the 3Gs, it became a tool of choice. Because I’d mastered the onscreen keyboard earlier, there were no teething troubles either and the 24/7 (ish) access via 3G and/or WiFi made it a must have tool.

Now, before I go on, I have to say that much of this ‘Apple worship’ started in June 2009 when I got my first (there you go – I must be having another at some time) MacBook Pro. THAT is my first tool of choice. THAT is what I do real work on. But THAT struggles with the Vodafone 3G stick that I have (I blame Vodafone) – I still need something that keeps me in touch with the world when I’m travelling.

So – the iPad looked like it might be the tool I needed.

Part of me thought that it was a product that was rushed to market. Some things didn’t seem to add up. Anyway, my first touch was at Ashton Sixth Form College just before they launched their MoLeNET Academy. First thoughts: a bit heavy? A bit slippy? Brilliant graphics? Perfect size (this was what I’d hoped for – something with a reasonable screen) and – very Apple(y). Touch screen (yes please); finger scroll, two finger zoom, longish battery life etc. in fact everything I’d hoped for. But – (now I’m back to the iTouch negatives) no camera. This is a product that cries out for a camera. Open call to Apple – put a damn camera into iTouch and iPad – please.

Now, because I didn’t want to ruin the iPad before I started, I had to wait until I got the various covers and condoms required to protect it. Just why screen protectors are not supplied with the product I have no idea. But I bought one and had Sharon fit it (because [apparently] I am a fat fingered oaf!) I also bought a rubber condom to cover the slippery back surface, but have now discarded this because it was no less slippery. This is a fault. I know it’s cool and groovy (etc) but unless you have a tight grip it could easily fall on the floor (and break?). Older people, those with poor motability etc, may just find the product unusable. I replaced the condom with a leatherette pocket from Amazon:  and this was a much better choice although it does increase the bulk slightly. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41eceW9bm2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

So on Saturday last, I began my journey of iPad exploration.

It still feels a little heavy, but reassuringly so. It’s not that easy to just hold and work with, but with a table, or on my lap on crossed knees its fine. I’ve had to update many of my Apps (this was pretty automatic as iTunes recognised the new connection and the Apps that could be updated seemed to jump out and say ‘update me please’)! There are other Apps that sell iPad specific versions, but so far I’ve not seen the need to do this.

I think I’ll write a little more about the iPad and its use to me when I’ve had more time to play. But for now I’m neither underwhelmed or overwhelmed. Watch this space.