Apple iPad review: First look

Is the Apple iPad really any good or just a lot of hot air? We review it to find out.

Apple iPad

is useful as a portable device is an entirely different issue, but we'll get to that later in this review.

In the hand, the iPad feels like a million dollars. The contour of the case is comfortable to hold in either portrait or landscape orientation, and just like Apple's aluminum MacBook line, the iPad build is simply a cut above the rest.

The glass display is LED backlit, packs a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and, of course, it supports multi-touch. It also features the same oil-resistant oleophobic coating as the iPhone 3GS and the latest generation iPod touch. In a word: stunning.

It will certainly be a while yet before a web tablet will sport a more impressive display and steal Apple's crown in this area.

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The UI

The problem with the display, unfortunately, is the UI behind it. On the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPhone OS is fantastic and minimal. However, attempt to use the same OS on a device with a 9.7in diagonal display and you've got a user experience that can often be pretty awkward.

Take the home screen, for example. Plainly put, it's ugly. The iPad home screen is nothing more than tiny little icons spread across the display with way too much empty space around them that could have been put to great use.

How? One example is widgets - always-connected portals that can actively provide a host of information. Consolidate those tiny app icons to the bottom half (or even three quarters) of the screen and allow dashboard-like widgets in the top portion.

Instead, the iPad home screen looks like an iPhone home screen that someone attacked with a rolling pin.

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