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Thoughts on the iPad August 11, 2010

Posted by Ken in Uncategorized.
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A couple weeks ago I bought an iPad, despite my opinion that it was a fairly limited device. My opinion of the iPad hasn’t changed much, but I can easily say I don’t regret deciding to buy it. Let me explain…

My thoughts when the iPad first came out revolved around the fact that it looked like a massive, almost cartoonish, version on the Apple Touch, and that it is geared more towards content enjoyment, not creation. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is a “thing”to be aware of. And, of course, there is the ‘no flash’ kerfuffle – much WWW content is flash-based, to the point that it really does impact your ability to enjoy a fairly large chunk of web sites. Sure, Apple/Steve Jobs has decreed that flash is no good, but that doesn’t change the reality of the web as it is today and for the next little while.

So what is good about the iPad? Well, the battery life is great – mine gets used sporadically, but I’ve never been surprised by the battery suddenly going dead on me. The battery life of this device suits my usage patterns, but I don’t really push the limits of this device, either. The display is glorious, the resolution and brightness never fail to impress others, and while I mainly use the iPad in dimly lit rooms or in an office environment, I can say that it serves my needs well. I honestly have no idea how well it would work outdoors, I assume it would be similar to an iPhone. The actual size of the iPad isn’t as big an issue as I would have imagined, but I must confess I tend not to take my iPad out on the town – it is used mainly at home or in an office. I wouldn’t want the iPad to be any bigger (then it would be like a clipboard), and any smaller and it starts to resemble my iPhone (which goes everywhere with me BECAUSE it is so small).

So then, what’s wrong with the iPad – not a lot, once you understand what it is (and is not). The iPad is NOT a laptop or a netbook – it is a tablet, with no dedicated keyboard (and the on-screen keyboard is only good for hunt-and-peck typists). To fully exploit the abilities of the iPad, you also need to buy in to the Apple iTunes/Store model of buying content from Apple to load up your iPad – there are other methods, but you can’t for example, save a PDF file from a website on the iPad by simply selecting and holding on it on a web page (like you can with, say, a picture). Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but a ‘thing’ to be aware of.

Then there are the Apps. Now understand, the iPad, like the iPod/iPhone has an app to do almost anything, and many are free. I like free. I like free so much that I refuse to pay for them – not for any reason other than I just don’t like buying apps when there are so many free ones available, and I really hate buyer’s remorse – that sinking feeling you just wasted $2.99 on a bad app with no real recourse. I’m not saying my feelings about paid apps make any rational sense, but they are my feelings…

It can be used as an iPod, but the form-factor precludes it’s use as such in nearly all contexts imaginable, save two – on a plane and to provide background music while using your ipad to enjoy non-audio content (ebooks, webpages, etc.).

In the final analysis, I don’t view the iPad as a ‘game changer’ or a ‘paradigm shifter’, but it is an answer to that desire for a bigger screen on your iPhone, with all the strengths and weaknesses of the iPhone remaining.

The iPad I bought was the 64 Gig non-3G model (no cellular hardware built-in), because I envision loading this up with content for family trips, and the storage will come in handy (I imagine). I chose not to buy the 3G model because I don’t like the idea of buying hardware I might never use, since I also don’t like subscription fees for service. For ‘on-the-go’ Internet browsing my iPhone with it’s data plan usually suffices – when it doesn’t I can usually get on a real computer (net book, laptop, desktop) without too much effort. I decided to invest the money I would have spent on the 3G hardware ($120 -/+) on greater on-board storage.

As for traveling with the iPad, I feel pretty confident this would meet nearly all my computing ‘needs’ for several days, but I would have carry a so-called travel router, a device that plugs into an Ethernet Jack and transmits the Internet connection over WiFi. I’m not sure how I would get through a Terms of Service click-through screen, maybe it will just workout (the ToS screen might just make it through to the iPad browser).

All things considered, I’m happy with my decision to buy an iPad, but as I said earlier, that’s because I knew what I was buying, I understood it’s limitations, and I had a need I thought this device could satisfy. It is my hope that this brief write-up will help you, the iPad-curious, to come to your own conclusion.

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