Well, I am through my first week with the iPad, and I have been taking notes of my experience to share with you. Perhaps you will benefit from my experience or have some ideas for me to post in the comments.
The iPad’s Calendar and Contacts applications are pretty nice, and I have set them up to synchronize with my Google calendar and contacts. When I first synchronized the iPad with my Mac Mini I selected the options to synchronize my Google calendar and contacts. Selecting this option means that the only way to get new appointments on the iPad is to synchronize with a desktop computer, which is not desirable for a mobile device. Fortunately, there is a way to synchronize Google calendar and contacts over the air by setting up the iPad to synchronize with an Exchange server (Google actually licenses Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology.) and the instructions for setting it up are available on this blog. Now, appointments that I create on my Nexus One phone end up on my iPad, and vice versa.
I see myself potentially spending a lot of money in search of the perfect case for my iPad. When I ordered the iPad I also ordered the Apple iPad case, which is very functional as a stand, but I think it is not very attractive. For the money I spent on my iPad, I want to keep it in a nice looking case. During a visit to my local Apple store, which does not have many iPad accessories, I picked up the Incase Convertible Book Jacket, which looks nice and also functions nicely as a stand with the iPad in landscape. The downside is that the case adds a lot of bulk and weight to the iPad and it doesn’t work well while holding the iPad in portrait because the top cover does not bend back flat.
When I signed up for 3G service on my iPad, I decided to try out the $14.99 250 MB per month plan, mostly out of curiosity about whether I could stay within a 250 MB constraint. The first day that I took my iPad to work and used it on 3G for most of the day, I blew through more than 100 MB of data. I am not surprised that I used a lot of data on the first day because it was new and I was checking everything out. After one week of using the service I have 78 MB left for 23 days, and I am pretty sure I will be changing to the $29.99 unlimited plan.
I am disappointed and surprised by AT&T’s 3G service. In my office in downtown Detroit, MI Ihave seen from 70 Kbps down to 525 Kbps down, though upload speeds have been pretty consistent at around 300 Kbps. In comparison, I get consistently better than 500 Kbps down on T-Mobile’s 3G network with my Nexus One. The surprise is that in the basement of my home I have seen speeds of 1,110 Kbps down on AT&T’s 3G service. So, for me, T-Mobile is best at work while AT&T is best at home. Given the reputation that AT&T has with their 3G service, I am not completely surprised, though given the number of big events that have been in Detroit during the last three years (Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, etc..) I thought Detroit would be better covered than my home in the suburbs.
A benefit of having the AT&T 3G data plan on the iPad is that it comes with access to AT&T’s Wi-Fi hotspots. Included amongst the hotspot sites are most Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, and McDonalds locations. Over the weekend I went to my local Starbucks to test the Wi-Fi service and found that it just works. The iPad automatically detects and connects to the AT&T Wi-Fi network and it didn’t require me to log on via a web page, so I could immediately begin to surf the web and use any app that uses an Internet connection. AT&T charges $19.99 per month for full access to their Wi-Fi network from notebook PCs, so there is definite value from the inclusion of this service for the iPad 3G.