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Sunday, April 04, 2010

My Precious: iPad Day 1

I bought an iPad at 9:30 am CDT 3 April 2010. I had to.

My nominal justification was to see if it would work for my dad. It absolutely will.

But really I just couldn't not have one.

Here are my initial impressions:

-typing is remarkably efficient. I am writing this on the iPad sitting in a comfy chair, pad in my lap (put it on a pillow after a while so cord would reach--battery finally running down). I am a fast touch typist and I can sort of touch type but really it's just fast hunt and peck. But I don't feel like it's slowing me down. I do miss arrow keys--finding navigating around in a multiline edit field a bit tedious.

- the response is very fast. Web pages load fast, apps load fast. Not like an iPhone at all.

- web browsing has full computer feel. Have not yet gone to site that didn't seem to work in safari (flash sites excepted of course)

- so far everything has just worked, which is a lot of the point of all apple products

- the only potential issue so far has been the volume indicator wouldn't go away watching some YouTube videos but it hasn't recurred

- everyone who sees it wants one. Badly.

- netflix app worked well. Punched up Willy Wonka and it played very nicely

- The Elements interactive book is a pretty amazing demonstration of what the device can mean for instruction and reference.

- I downloaded all the free newspaper apps I could find and they all provided a very satisfying reading experience. One of e things i was looking for was that Dave-Bowman-reading-the-paper-on-his-tablet-over-breakfast experience and i think we have it. Will definitely consider a NYT subscription--we get the Sunday times and usually buy the Tuesday edition. So $4.00 a month for full access would be reasonable.

- iBooks seemed to work pretty well although I'd really like to be able to add my own epub books to it. Not sure if there's a way to do that in iTunes.

- upgraded to plants vs zombies HD and have been having a hard time dragging the device away from my daughter (age 6). She also likes the drawing apps.

- mail working pretty well, but not that different from iPhone experience except for more screen space and easier typing

- battery life seems as advertised ran all day on a charge including video, lots of PvZ playing, and weak wifi signals

It definitely meets the pick it up and carry it everywhere requirement, which raises several practical issues:

- will I ever be able to put it down? There's a serious danger of always having it to hand which means always reading something or playing a game or whatever.

- where will I set it down? We have concrete floors so you want to set it in a relatively safe place, of which we have few

- how do you keep it from being stolen?

So far I can say without reservations that it has exceeded my fairly high expectations after a day of use.

Cory Doctorow has made an eloquent and principled argument against the iPad as being a closed system that is counter to the basic concept of freedom and access the Internet represents. I agree with Cory in principal. I have spent my entire career championing standards specifically because they protect against proprietary control and lock in. Yet I have a MacBook and an iPhone and now an iPad and would not part with them. Why? Because they fricken work. They are solid and beautiful and reliable. Even though Cory is right it doesn't matter because there are very few of us who can trade reliability for openness.

If Google can build a software and hardware platform comparable to the iPad then I'm there. But so far not even Microsoft much less the open source world has succeeded in building a device (since WebTV) that I would put in father's hands. Even my mother, who is quite computer savvy, has just traded in her dell for a Mac.

At the same time, the content standards my clients depend on are all well supported: epub for ebooks, HTML for web delivery, PDF for page fidelity. Lack of flash is an annoyance but not a deal killer since nobody should be depending on flash exclusively anyway.

There is the question of whether the App Store as Apple manages it is draconian or a necessary evil in order to have a system safe for unsupervised use by children. I'm sure I can form a useful opinion without a lot more thought. I'm not one for censoring children's access to information in general once they are old enough to understand what they might be finding, but 6 is not yet that age.



Blogger Unknown said...

Oh you fickle follower of fashion Eliot :-)
Bet you were there queueing with the best of them!

I'm jelous btw


2:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To load your own non-DRM ebooks just drag the files onto iTunes (the latest version) and viola, they'll be synced to the iPad the next time you sync.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Have you tried a Bluetooth keyboard? I have the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and love using it. Randomly figured out that the "Eject" key shows/hides the onscreen keyboard.

I downloaded "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" from Project Gutenberg ( in "experimental" ePub format. I dragged it into iTunes as Mr. Freese said and it synced to the iPad an looks fine in the bookstore (although no illustrations).

I don't have a kid but have heard there are some great interactive children's books available...

12:34 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I got the Apple iPad case and really like it (although it is a tad expensive to me). Allows good tilting options for sitting on the breakfast table, standing next to my desktop computer (great for Twitter and email while I'm working on other stuff on the desktop).

12:36 PM  
Blogger Eliot Kimber said...

I haven't tried the bluetooth keyboard. Normally my dad would be reclining on the couch using the iPad (instead of his current wireless WebTV keyboard) so I don't see him being able to manage a separate keyboard.

So far Dada hasn't been too interested in books--I got Elements. She's mostly interested in games and videos.

Kids today.

9:14 PM  

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