Apple iPad Review: The Tablet Revolution Begins

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Multi-Touch Performance and Usability



One of the things that makes Apple's iPhone and iPod touch such standout devices is the display. While many companies opted for the cheaper, more traditional resistive touchscreens (those known well to old Pocket PC users), Apple chooses capacitive touch panels. Much debate over which is superior swirls even today, as capacitive cannot accurately accept handwritten letters the way that resistive can. Special "capacitive styluses" are needed for use on capacitive screens, but there's no denying that capacitive is the way to go if your finger is your primary method of input. Given that the iPad is a touch-screen based tablet with no physical keyboard, it makes sense to think that Apple would go the capacitive route, knowing that you'll be using your fingers for the majority of the inputs. And that's exactly what they've done here.


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We knew going into this review that it would be critical for Apple to nail the multi-touch if this device had a shot at wowing anyone, and Apple did just that. The touch panel is easily the most responsive we have ever used, slightly edging out the already-great iPhone 3GS. It responds to any level of touch, and multi-hand/multi-finger gestures (like zooming into or out of a Google Map, or swiping a picture out of the frame) were handled beautifully. We never had a single problem with the iPad recognizing our hand inputs. Not a single one. No input was missed during the entire review, and trust us, we touched this panel a lot.


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The flawless multi-touch implementation has enabled Apple to offer up an excellent navigational experience. Whisking around from page to page was a breeze (fun, even), and zooming in/out of maps was something we simply sat around and did for awhile out of sheer enjoyment. Navigating webpages with just your hands has never been easier, and somehow Apple has taken a process that we never thought we'd enjoy (surfing the entire web with our hands alone, with no physical input devices) and made it into something we look forward to. That's how perfect the multi-touch experience is. You can visit any website out there (except Flash-based sites, which we'll touch on later) and easily scroll up/down/left/right, tap articles or links, zoom in/out on text and navigate around with just your fingertips.


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We think the design plays an important role here as well. Any larger, and the screen would be too big to easily touch from corner to corner without moving your hands from their "holding position." Any smaller, and it's really just an enlarged iPod touch. Steve Jobs was pretty proud of the Web browsing experience on the iPad, and we see why. Except for the lack of Flash support, it's stellar. And it's far and away the best web browsing experience we've had on something so portable.


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Touch inputs in e-mail, games and every other facet of the iPad experience was second to none; we couldn't find an app (first or third-party) that didn't pick up our finger inputs immediately, and the integrated accelerometer also deserves praise. It was extremely responsive and extremely accurate throughout our testing, and while working in conjunction with a flawless panel, we had complete control over the experience without a mouse and keyboard. And amazingly, it took 10-15 minutes to not only get used to, but grow fond of.

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