(Me and the Woz just after I bought the first iPad 2 at the Apple Store in Los Gatos)
Having carelessly left my iPad in a Southwest Airlines seat-back pocket in December, I’ve been waiting impatiently for this day to come for months!
I used TaskRabbit to arrange for a runner to wait in line on my behalf. If you haven’t used TaskRabbit yet, try it. Define just about any task — such as buy groceries, drop off donations at Goodwill, pick up dry-cleaning — or even wait in line at an Apple Store for 12 hours on iPad 2 launch day. Then, set a maximum price, and “rabbits” (runners) make offers for how much they’ll perform the task. If they bid under your maximum, you pay less. Pick a runner, and off you go.
Thanks to TaskRabbit, rabbit Katherine D. and her husband Brian lined up as first in line for me at the Apple Store in Los Gatos at 3:00 a.m. PT on the 11th. Which meant that I was first in line when I sauntered up to the store around 4:00 p.m. to join in the opening day spectacle. At the time I took pole position, the line stretched down and around several blocks and easily was 500 people long.
Apple’s launch day retail experience — especially for those first in line — was wonderfully warm, welcoming and whimsical. Just inside the window front, a black velvet curtain veiled the entire store. Waiting outside for that final hour, we heard repeated cheers from within as the retail staff psyched up for the opening. Minutes before the doors opened at 5:00 p.m., Apple folks spilled out the doors, asked those first in line which models they wanted and distributed small white reservation cards with specific SKUs written on them for inventory control. At 5:00 p.m., the curtain dropped, and Brian and I were greeted with a double line of 40 employees inside the store wildly clapping and cheering and high five-ing the first dozen customers permitted to enter the store. With classic Apple retail efficiency, a retail associate greeted me, hooked me up with a white 64GB wi-fi + 3G AT&T iPad 2 (plus another I bought for friend) and a navy Smart Cover, and I walked out the door 10 minutes later to the cheers and envy of the waiting crowd. Felt like Marky Mark in “Rock Star.”
The out-of-box was what we’ve come to expect from Apple: easy to open packaging, minimal contents (iPad, charger) and intuitive set up (plug in, connect to iTunes and follow the onscreen instructions). I haven’t activated the 3G service yet, but that looks to be very easy too.
So first impressions?
- As reported, it feels great. Thinner, lighter (although it’s only marginally so) and the tapered back is more comfortable to hold than the original’s.
- The white looks even better than I expected. From the images I’d seen online, the white looked too bright, and possibly cheap. On the contrary, the color is almost ivory and reminds me of Steinway piano keys. Gorgeous.
- So far, it does seem faster and the graphics look better thanks to the new dual-core processor. I’ve been playing Infinity Blade and Angry Birds on my iPhone 4 for months and didn’t realize what I’d been missing until yesterday. Fast switching is also faster than before and faster than my iPhone 4.
- Mixed feelings on the Smart Cover. Slick design and works great — but I don’t like that the back of the iPad is unprotected, and when using it to type on an uneven surface (my lap), the magnets and cover occasionally detach. I’m eyeing the bamboo and leather cover by Grove.
- The camera quality is noticeably poor as reported. It’ll serve for video calls, and I expect to continue to use my iPhone 4 for snapshots and short video clips.
- One note on FaceTime: Not sure about this, but it appears that if you’re already using FaceTime on one device, say a MacBook Pro, with one Apple ID, then you may need a separate, new Apple ID unique to your iPad. So far, I’ve been unable to verify my existing Apple ID to use FaceTime on this new iPad 2.
Overall, this is the day for which I’ve been waiting like a kid on Christmas morning, and I’m completely delighted with Apple’s latest offering. Fanboy I am.