Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 07:00 AM
Product Category: Tablet
Where to Buy: Amazon.com [Affiliate]
Price: $779 USD (tested)
System Requirements: iTunes 9.1 or later, MAC or PC with available USB port.
Specifications: 9.7-inch Multi-Touch display, 64GB, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, 3G GSM/EDGE ATT only, 1.6 pounds (0.73 kg), 9.56 inches by 7.74 inches. Features vary by model.
- Extreme geek appeal;
- Convenient, fun and easy to use;
- Mail, Synchronization;
- Great battery life.
- ATT fees;
- Limited productivity.
Summary: If you liked Star Trek, you had no choice, you had to get an iPad; and so did I. As I exited the Apple store with my big flashy bag in hand, I made the whooshing sound of the Enterprises' automated doors, and headed home knowing my life had just changed. 60 days later, I am left wondering - Now what? It's not that it's not a useful device - it is. It's not that it's not fun - it certainly can be. But I find myself constantly trying to justify it in a sea of laptops, netbooks, and e-readers. If this sounds like blasphemy, perhaps it is. Or, perhaps I've been able to avoid being sucked into the reality distortion field broadcast from Cupertino, and into space? Let's investigate.
After 60 Days, Here's What Sticks
So after two months with the iPad, what do I still do regularly? E-mail, E-Reading, and E...Surfing. It's become a ritual. I start every morning with a good cup of Joe in one hand, the iPad in the other, and I read my spam e-mail. It works well. I don't have to wait for booting, login, and application loading to get my messages; and early in the morning this is key. It allows me to browse instantly, scan the important messages, and discard the spam all while sipping on Jet Fuel (see Keurig). So put a plus one up on the board, e-mail on the iPad is great; it sticks.
What can I say? I sold my Kindle 2, and my Nook on EBay last week. The iPad is 9 of 10 stars for e-reading. Unfortunately, the iPad will never make it to the next star. It's just too heavy. After a half hour with the device you'll find yourself switching hands, resting it on your legs, furniture, bellies, or anything else just to relieve the pain in your wrists and forearms caused by the extremely dense iPad and Earth's gravitational pull. That being said, the reading experience on the device is superior to the other readers in almost every way; or at least three. One, it's fun. I like to see the pages lift, curl, and fold. Two, the backlight accommodates low light environments; and spouses. Three, on the iPad I have more than a complete library of books. I have all of my Apple Store books, Amazon Kindle books, and Barnes & Noble books all on one device; granted I just referenced three different apps, and reading experiences. But hey, I didn't have to re-purchase, go without, or change devices. I like reading on the iPad; plus 2, e-reading sticks.
Figure 1: The morning ritual.
The iPad is very useful for browsing the Internet (disclaimer below). Again, the instant on of the iPad is convenient, and getting around the web is simple and intuitive. Before I go off on the Jobs-ian philosophies of what's best for me, I'll emphasize, browsing on the iPad is more satisfying than on the iPhone or similar devices. DISCLAIMER: NO Flash is a problem; there I said it. Without arguing the topic of Flash vs. HTML5, any user benefit from the final winner is only found in the distant future. Right now, Flash is everywhere. It's helpful, interesting, and fun. But on the iPad, sadly, NO SOUP FOR YOU! I find myself regularly browsing the net in two progressions; 1) Morning Coffee iPad, 2) Real browsing on a real computer. This imposed transition is absolutely unnecessary, inconvenient, and absurd. That's all on Flash and the iPad.
Everything else regarding the iPad, is minor, and feels that way too. Yes, I have apps; more dollars in apps than I care to contemplate. I have Game, Utilities, Clocks, Weather, the usual suspects of time distractions and eye candy. But ultimately, if you have an iPhone none of these things is exciting anymore. They just aren't much more captivating or useful than the same apps on the iPhone. More on this later.
While we're on the topic of apps, I'd like to highlight one that does stand alone from the others in utility and practical use. It is Air Display from Avatron Software. This app allows you to use your iPad as an external monitor for your laptop; and it's brilliant. This app actually makes your iPad useful! I like to use it when cooking. I can browse the recipe on my MacBook Pro, Internet or MacGourmet, and slide the screen (AVATAR-LIKE) over to my iPad to view the ingredients and directions in the kitchen -- keeping my MacBook Pro safe from the crème fraiche! I also use it as a companion to my laptop's screen, allowing me to monitor my e-mail while working. If you have an iPad, three words, get-Air-Display.
Figure 2: A useful tool in the Kitchen thanks to Epicurious. Now if it only did dishes... (Some images courtesy of Apple Corp.)