Like all tablets, this device is basically a netbook without a keyboard, which allows it to be smaller and lighter without sacrificing much functionality.
The iPad is about as small as portable as a computer can be; at just 1.5 pounds, if I put it in a backpack, I can’t tell I’ve got anything in the bag.
It is definitely more portable than your average laptop or even netbook, but you’re going to need to add some bulk with a case. I can’t imagine anyone carrying this computer around without some additional protection for the display.
The centerpiece of the device is its 9.7-inch touchscreen with a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. It’s the iPad’s most critical feature, so it’s a good thing that it’s beautiful. Colors are vibrant, fonts are crystal clear and the support for a wide selection of viewing angles is amazing.
While this screen looks great indoors, outdoors is another matter. It’s fine in full shade, but if I go out in the sun I have to turn the backlight all the way up and carefully pick the direction I’m facing to be able to get anything done — it’s basically a hassle.
Orientation switches automatically, depending on how you hold it. Most of the time this is good, but if you are using the iPad flat on a table, the orientation will switch back and forth at semi-random. Fortunately, there’s a small switch you can flick that locks the screen into its current orientation.
Because we’re talking about a touchscreen, it’s inevitably going to collect fingerprints. Apple has included a coating that’s supposed to minimize them, and while it’s helping a little, I suspect most users are going to carry around a cleaning cloth.