I came to this by way of a gift. I could have bought yet another camera or another watch that I wouldn't wear but I took the plunge and went for the ipad 3 with a smart cover and the wireless keyboard.
My computing background has been with windows since forever as both a user, fixer and programmer. I'd be less than honest if I said that I hadn't always viewed Apple products as best suited to the mindless and inept. Sorry but that's honesty for you :-)
I have always been a tinkerer and as we all know, with earlier versions of windows you had to tinker to get it to work the way you wanted. By with XP, and later Win7, I freely admit that tinkering became something to do for its own sake. I will also add that there are now more useful apps around than ever in the past. Like Dropbox, Phrase Express and Notepad++ to name but a few.
About 18 months ago I bought an iPod and was extremely disappointed that it didn't work straight out the box, in fact it took a few hours on the internet to find out that iTunes didn't like Win7 64 bit. Anyway, long story short, iTunes was a nightmare to use, the device was not "user friendly", so I sold in pretty quick. Bad experience all round.
So I came to the iPad with mixed feelings and tried not to let my previous experience with Apple pre-determine the outcome.
My initial experience of unpacking it was interesting, instead of the huge pile of polystyrene, plastic bags, cable ties, cardboard, CDs/DVDs, leaflets in various language that are left over after unwrapping a new laptop, the iPad was both simple, elegant and enviro friendly. Turning it on and within minutes it is working, simple, elegant and easy.
But then I tried to load some of my photos on to it. And there the problems started. I once again discovered that iTunes it still the biggest deterrent for a Windows person when confronting an Apple device. It is buggy, badly designed, bloated, etc etc. I did eventually manage to get a folder synced to the iPad but when I sync'd another the previous ones disappeared. Like a fool I was expecting the ease of copying stuff to non-Apple devices. Bad right there.
I ended up frustrated and cursing and revisiting the 1984 Apple Superbowl ad and marveling at the irony of it, for if ever there was a "Big Brother" approach to anything in this life it is Apple's view of their customers. "We know best and you will do things the way we want you to do them". I could go on.
But I persevered and soon realised that I had brought to this the expectation that the iPad was a laptop substitute. It isn't, end of story. So I had to shift my pre-conception around to accepting this device for what it was. So what was it? It was an iPad, duh!
So my frustration abounded around how locked down it is, no USB, SD or other open ports. Nada. I then found Dropbox and a text editor that would open and save files in Dropbox folders. I freely admit that the frustrations were greater than any perceived benefit at this point in my journey to the Apple World of the Brainless. But then....we had a 5 year old come to stay with us and we bought "The Wonky Donkey" a kids book for iPad. Wow, we laughed and sang and painted with our fingers and when you poked the donkey he farted!
This was my first realisation of just how good this was. There was no loading CDs or DVDs or waiting for it to load, you just click the icon and away you go. It invites participation in a way that no Windows program had ever done, at least for me, and apart from porn LOL.
I am now at the end of my second week and am starting to explore the many apps that are available. I am writing this with an app called "ia Writer" and apart from the fact that it wants to correct my spelling to US English instead of UK English, even though I have set the keyboard to UK English, it is bloody good.
I have come to appreciate one thing above all else, stuff just works here. You click and it works, it all seems to work the same way too. When it comes to usability this thing beats the rest hands down. I can appreciate why this is locked down, even though I resent it.
I did consider getting an Android tablet instead of the iPad but in some ways I think Android is worse. It is owned by Google and I don't trust them. On my smart phone I have seen the move to the next version of Android completely change the Contacts app to the point that it was almost unrecognisable as a Contacts app. It was that kind of arrogance that deterred me from an Android device, And sure Apple are just the same but they seems to go for consistency instead of novelty. I admit that this may seem unfair.
So what are my conclusions, if any? Well not having made the entire journey to the Apple World of the Brainless I still have some views of my own. On the iPad I can do most of what I previously did on my laptop. I can do it easier and for longer, the 10+ hour battery life is really good. I cannot do any programming and editing photos is unbelievably difficult and time consuming compared to my laptop. I think that Apple claims that you can multi-task on the iPad but either I haven't found the equivalent of CRTL + TAB or that is just more bollocks.
Would I recommend anyone getting one? Yes, with no hesitation. I have a Kindle and it cannot be beaten when it comes to reading books, sure, you can do that on a laptop or iPad but you really wouldn't want to if you have a Kindle. Likewise the iPad, it becomes a device in its own right with its own uses and limitations. It has a place in the stable. It is beautiful, elegant and every windows person should see what this is about. Am I giving up my laptop? no way, am I buying a Macbook, no way, am I getting an iPhone, no way. Do I appreciate the Apple consistency across devices, I sure do.