So I’ve had an iPad for a week now. I’m one of those that pre-ordered the device shortly after they were available on the Apple store. I thought I’d take a moment and jot down my thoughts on the device in no particular order.
Context is everything with this device. If you were hoping to replace a laptop or skip out on getting that netbook by buying an iPad, I’m afraid you’re in for a rude awakening. I have gotten in the habit of reading technical manuals on my laptop prior to going to bed at night. I wanted to simplify things and purchase something smaller and lighter to let me continue my light reading in the evenings. I contemplated buying a Kindle at first, but decided to hold off after Apple first made mention of their device.
With that point of view in mind, the device has been quite successful in meeting, if not exceeding, my expectations. I have iBooks, Kindle for iPad, and GoodReader for iPad installed on the iPad and between the three applications, there is little I cannot read. I do wish that the iTunes Bookstore carried technical books, but I can always pull down the kindle versions of those, or buy pdf versions and view them in GoodReader.
Just a quick kudos to the GoodReader guys. The app offers almost a dozen different ways to get data into it from your iPad. When I first tried it, I was having issues with the iTunes integrated sync, but then realized that the app has an integrated webserver that can be connected to as a network folder (I’m on a mac) and then it was literally just drag and drop. I’ve also have yet to find a pdf that it can’t open and read. Well done guys.
So, using the iPad as an ebook works splendidly. The screen doesn’t require ambient light like the kindle does, and the controls on the various readers let you adjust the brightness/contrast as needed. I’ve already chewed through a few books in my nightly habit of reading for at least an hour.
As to the bonuses, the iPad is just the right size to comfortably lay in bed and watch content from iTunes U. Some of the Stanford lectures are outstanding and are free as an added bonus. I have also found its just the right size to keep up with my RSS feeds that I tend to consume as well. And when I feel like relaxing, the free Netflix client (account required) streams a decent selection of movies right to me.
There are a few downsides. The iWorks suite that can be purchased is tolerable at best on the virtual keyboard. I’m used to Excel and so caught a double whammy with the mind shift to how Numbers does things, and not having a full keyboard for data entry. Keynote was actually the best of the three, I was able to throw together a quick presentation without too much effort, and Pages works fine for a quick note, but I wouldn’t want to try and take notes in a class or a meeting on the device. I can almost touch type on the virtual keyboard until I hit a need for a special character. Then you’re flipping to another keyboard screen to get access to those. They should really move the apostrophe to the first keyboard.
So as I said, based on what I intended to use the device for, the iPad exceeds my expectations. I know there are other people whining about not being able to code on it, and/or it still being limited because its running iPhoneOS instead of MacOSX (which would have absolutely rocked), but frankly, at the end of the day I’d rather read a book than stare at more code.