Diary of an iPaddict – the Day One experience

The iPad cometh. as April 3 dawns, the hopes and dreams of Apple acolytes all over America are set to be fulfilled by “a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price”.

You may have seen the launch event and read the early reviews, but now for the story of how ordinary Americans, and one FT reporter, ventured out this spring day on their own voyage of discovery of arguably the most-hyped product in Silicon Valley’s history.

Follow our constant updates as we queue, buy, unbox, admire, dislike, sync, play and probably end up sleeping with the iPad on its first day of availability.

4pm Friday Pacific time (midnight British Summer Time) – Just a few more hours to go, 17 to be precise, until the iPad is at last in my hands. 1,564 hours since I last stroked its delicate form factor at the launch, that brief shining moment in January. all is ready. ITunes 9.1 downloaded and installed, iPad store accessed, row upon row of sparkling new iPad apps added and now just waiting to be loaded onto the “Jesus tablet”. How will Netflix video look? a Lost episode on the ABC player? what about the games’ resolutions? can I get the novel I want in the iBookstore? Will my concept of newspapers be forever changed with apps like that of the new York Times? Will there be growing disillusionment as website after Flash-enabled website fails to load properly? Despite all the answers out there, still so many questions. Steve says you just won’t understand the possibilities of the iPad until you’ve experienced it yourself. Here’s hoping.

11.30pm Time for bed, but I may not sleep. I’m  filled with nervous excitement ahead of tomorrow’s long-awaited event. the trouble is I’m not sure whether the event causing the nerves is Manchester United versus Chelsea, the clash of the English Premier League season at 4.45am my time, or the availability of the iPad at 9am. maybe it’s both. whichever, my wife says I am a doubly sad individual. Speaking of which, I wonder what venture capitalist John Doerr’s wife thinks of him? “I hope I can sleep with it Saturday night. It feels gorgeous,” he said this week.

6.30am Wake from a fevered sleep. I dreamt last night of a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price. if only dreams could come true. WAIT a MINUTE! IT’S IPAD DAY!

7am Breakfast – tea and toast. the DVR failed to record the game – it says it was “not a new event”. well, compared to an iPad launch, I suppose it isn’t. I look forward to Sunday morning and watching soccer on the iPad and imagine how the pale slices prematurely ejected from the toaster will then emerge golden brown after I’ve installed my iPad perfect toast app.

7.15am of course, lucky Apple fans on the East Coast will already have their iPads given the time difference. the queues are growing longer here at stores in the San Francisco Bay area. Harry McCracken tweets about hearing “war chants” emanating from his local store ahead of the 9am opening. Better be on my way to Apple’s Corte Madera store here in North Bay.

8.45am in line outside the store, about 35 ahead of me in the reserved queue, and 25 in the waiting to purchase line, not as many as the 99 I counted the day the iPhone went on sale, but there were no pre-orders then.

9am Store opens to much whooping. I’m writing this on a netbook, which is of course extinct now.

9.08am Apple Genius says they got a free iPhone when that launched, but no word yet on the iPad,

9.11am Getting near the front of the line, coffee and water offered, constantly apologising about my netbook, do you do trade-ins?

9.15am Nearing front door, will have to shut down, approaching netbook-free zone, see you on the other side.

9.20am That was quick. Genius swipes credit card, hands over iPad. Emerge to cheers. I thank you. Quick unboxing, very simple stylish packaging, just the iPad, charger, USB cable and instruction booklet packed neatly inside. starts up. Plug into PC and connect to iTunes instructions. Hurtle to car and head home.

10am “Sync in progress”. COME ON! COME ON! Battery fully charged though and it’s found Wi-Fi.

10.15am all synced. but my 12-year-old son has just run off with it. he says Cro-Mag Rally for the iPad looks way better graphically than the iPod touch version he blew up 2x. but is it worth the extra $7 you pay for the “HD” version of the racing game?

11am so, I’ve finally had chance to play with it, in fact I just tried to update this post in WordPress in the Safari browser on it, but it didn’t work. Then I tried going to some of my favourite sites to see if video played – foxsoccer.tv, ESPN360.com, BBC. none of them worked unfortunately – no video, no audio, error messages. However, the new BBC app for the iPad did play video and the Netflix app was a bit of a revelation. I was streaming a movie in no time in great quality and able to scrub – fast-forward -through it in a way I can’t do on the PC, my Roku box and Xbox 360. Hope to have some video up here soon of the experience.

12.30pm Just editing video. not on the iPad. PCs still have some use. so far, really impressed with the iPad’s hardware, it’s a great consumption device – decent speakers, nice screen and plenty of options to get round the lack of Flash – if websites don’t convert to HTML5, they’ll probably come up with an app anyway. Pleasantly surprised with how I can get some work done on the iPad though, I’m a two-finger typist and the onscreen keyboard works well in landscape mode.

1pm the Kindle app was a late entrant to the iPad store. I downloaded it and got a sample of Ian McEwan’s new novel, Solar. Checked for it on the iBooks store and it wasn’t there to buy. Fail. Winnie the Pooh does come free and pre-installed though, so I have a bear instead of a bare bookshelf. Its page turns animate beautifully, while the Kindle app can only do crude swipes. so Kindle wins for content, iBooks for style.

2pm our media editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson reports from new York: “It’s pretty bustling mid-afternoon at the Upper West Side Apple Store on Broadway. No queues, but a scrum around the four tables with iPads to play with. a British couple is debating whether to buy one to take home before it hits UK stores, asking their 12-year-old son Max ‘is this just like your iPod Touch’? There’s a smattering of people at the tables with desktops and MacBooks on them, but mostly watching the iPad demos playing on their screens. No-one is at the iPod, iPod Touch or iPhone tables.”

3pm the existing iPhone/iPod touch apps imported to my iPad look pretty ropey when blown up to twice their size and a little ridiculous when kept at their original size surrounded by an ocean of blackness. another problem – I’m rapidly running out of battery life. I’ve had the iPad plugged into a USB port on my PC for some time, but it’s not charging. Apparently, you have to use the power adapter that comes with the device.

3.30pm YouTube has finally processed and published my amateur video review. Quality’s a little ropey to begin with – it takes longer for them to process the HD version, but the sound and shaky camera at the start are all my fault.

5.45pm off to dinner at some friends. I’m taking the iPad of course. I may even ask for a chair and place setting for it. We received a may wedding invite from some other friends this week and checked out their registry – they wanted two top-of-the range $829 iPads. I’m sure they’ll like the food mixer we chose just as much.

Midnight in bed with the iPad, but working! Time to put it down and go to sleep. It’s on the bedside table, honest. Goodnight.

Diary of an iPaddict – the Day One experience

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