Apple iPad: 7-Day Test Drive

That's not the only app that seems pricey. It's one thing to buy a few 99-cent or $1.99 apps from the App Store, but quite another when you shell out $9.99 or more a pop. A $1 app that's mildly useful or entertaining yet a little buggy is no big deal. If that app costs $10, I expect a lot more.

It's not just the expensive apps, either. I've found The Weather Channel MAX, a free app, to function only occasionally, and I experienced fairly significant problems with the AOL IM app, with ghost notifications alongside missing incoming messages. The ABC app is very polished and presents a usable interface for watching television on the iPad -- except for the sudden midscene ad insertions (even sentences of dialog), the sporadic video dropouts, and occasionally being forced to watch the entire episode of "Cougar Town" from the beginning to catch the last five minutes because you had the temerity to pause the episode to take a phone call. Not so cool.

I realize that due to Apple's tight security, most of these applications were developed on the iPad simulator and were not fully tested on a real iPad. I'm sure developers are feverishly coding updates to address issues. But isn't the main point of the App Store's policies supposed to be quality control?

Now, about the Apple iPad case -- as I noted in my iPad review, a case is a must-have, and Apple's is sleek and well designed. It solves the carrying problem, protects the screen when closed, and offers several comfortable angles to use the device while sitting or even reclining.

But I also bought the iPad dock, which is completely incompatible with the case. That's right, if you buy the case and the dock, you can't dock the iPad without removing it from the case. For want of a few millimeters, epic fail.

On the bright side, some people have complained about the iPad's Wi-Fi performance, but I haven't experienced that. I've used my iPad in several Wi-Fi hotspot locations without an issue (so far). In fact, using speedtest.net's app, the iPad consistently beat my iPhone when tested at the same locations.

Overall, I find that I continue to use my laptops and workstations for work, and my iPad for casual browsing, email, reading, and whatnot -- things I previously did with my iPhone, but with a far better experience. Except that I don't bring my laptop to the coffee shop anymore -- and I'll toss the iPad in the car when I'm heading to, say, the dentist, where I would never bring a laptop.

After a week of real-world use, I can confirm that Apple has won its bet that there's room for a new device between the iPhone and a laptop. The iPad fills that space nicely, despite various disappointments. But I need real multitasking sooner rather than later. And if the App Store persists in allowing buggy iPad software, do we need an Apple store, or should we all just go out and get jailbreak apps?

This story, "My week with an iPad," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile, Apple, and the iPad and read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com.

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