My Thoughts on the iPad


Although I have on not seen or played with Apple’s new iPad, conceptually I find it very appealing. Now I am fully aware of the criticisms:
1. DRM (of course this applies to Kindle/Nook stores)
2. e-Ink is better for reading/easier on the eyes/can be seen in direct sunlight.
3. No open application loading (you must go through iTunes Store).
4. No multitasking
5. No camera

But, here is why I think this is the device I have been waiting for:

1. DRM does not bother me since the Kindle and Barnes and Noble apps run on the iPad along with Apples iBooks. Plus, unlike the Kindle, the iPad supports the open ePub format.
2. While e-Ink is definitely better for long-term reading, I am interested in doing more than simply reading on a tablet.

3. In the three years I have owned my iPod Touch, the lack of multi-tasking in third party apps has not been an issue. I can listen to music while running nearly any other third party app, and that is generally enough for me.

4. I don’t want to take pictures with a tablet, and I am not concerned with people seeing me on Skype. While a camera might be nice, it is not a deal-breaker.

So, what niche does this fill? Here is an example day that show how this device could streamline a number things I do everyday.

7:00 AM – Wake and immediately go to computer to check email and download podcasts for my commute.

8:30 AM – Check weather online and do another email check before leaving.

11:00 AM – Class (attach computer to projector to display keynote slides)

12:00 noon – Check email, eat lunch while watching video on laptop in office.

1:00 PM – Research (journal articles .pdf, take notes, revise paper etc.)

2:00 PM – Pack up laptop and take to second class (attach computer to projector to display keynote slides)

3:00 PM – Return to office, check email, check the status of my online course (answer emails, post updates etc).

5:00 PM – Leave for night class

6:30 PM – Class (attach computer to projector to display keynote slides)

8:00 PM – Check TV schedule for the evening online

9:00 PM – Check and update personal and course Twitter feeds and check Facebook.

Everything on this list could be done with an iPad (with or without the optional keyboard—which would be nice for writing). I wouldn’t have to carry an iPod and laptop around campus. Plus, I could carry 1,000+ books and journal articles without breaking my back. Of course, I would still want my MacBook Pro for heavy writing, audio/video editing etc. But, my day-to-day work could easily be done on an iPad. Additionally, while a separate eBook like the Kindle would be nice (I would probably get both if I had the money) the advantage of the iPad for book reading is I can do it in bed with the lights off so I don’t disturb my wife. I have read books on my iPod Touch and I have not found the experience bad at all (particularly when I change the view to white text on a black background, or use Classics/Stanza parchment background).

The appeal of an iPad is even greater for traveling to conferences. The last trip I took required that I bring a laptop, iPod Touch, and cell phone. All three could be replaced by a iPad since I use Skype when traveling to talk to the family; the iPod to watch videos and listen to music on the plane; and only do minor editing of papers at the conference. Plus, I would have had a great device for taking notes, reading my paper, or do a presentation.

So, conceptually, I don’t view the iPad an an ebook killer (though it may force the $489 Kindle DX price down). I don’t view it as a laptop replacement (still love writing on the MBP). Finally, I don’t see it as replacing my iPod which is great when I really need to be on the go (exercise, shopping, directions, to-do list etc). The iPad really is like an iPod Touch on steroids—bigger work area, more powerful processor, 3G capable, real business apps (iWork), full iPod functionality, email, internet browsing, VOIP, and gaming.

Do I need an iPad….no, since I can do all of these things with the devices I currently own. Is it as “open” as I would like it to be, no. But, it would be nice to be able to do the vast majority of things I do each day on a single 1.5lb device that is as dependable as my iPod Touch, and that fits easily into a small briefcase.

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