Life with the iPad (After 48 hours, anyways)

So – being a developer of mobile apps (see my company’s website or search for “GeekUtils” in the Apple App Store), I was pretty excited for the arrival of my new iPad on Saturday.  I must say that after watching Steve Jobs’ keynote about this new device, I was initially less than impressed.  I found myself, at the end of the keynote, glad that the new device was coming but kind of “up in the air” about whether I saw the value.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought the pricepoint was great – for all intents and purposes, the initial sticker price is actually lower than a similarly equipped iPhone purchased “out of contract”.  So, with a screen that is 6″ larger – that at least got my attention.  But I just didnt see enough “coolness” in the keynote to make me want to immediately jump up and wait for the preorder line to begin.

So, when the preorders started, after much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and pre-order the base model (16GB WiFi only).  I need the device for development, so it was a given that I would be buying one – but choosing the model was much more difficult.  I really didn’t see the value in the 3G versions, because WiFi hotspots are all over and I really don’t plan to travel much with it.  Despite the attractive form factor, I just don’t imagine myself carrying around an iPad everywhere.

I chose the 16GB model because, in typical Apple style – I am sure there is going to be a refresh that includes more cool features – namingly, a camera.  So I placed my preorder and then anxiously awaited for the April 3 deadline.

So… this past weekend, it arrived.  I must say that I still now totally agree with my previous statement that Steve’s keynote just didn’t do the device justice.  It’s pretty amazing.  Sure in hardware form it’s just a big ass iPod Touch…  but if you go past the surface and actually use one – it’s amazing.

If your main computing experience is to update blog posts, surf websites, and monitor twitter or other social networking sites – this device could clearly replace your computer.  It turns on instantly, the screen is beautiful, the apps that are coming out (Netflix streaming, ABC, CBS, Yahoo) are all amazing and the device runs quickly and smoothly through all of these mundane tasks that netbooks were “designed” for.

Only it does it better.  The screen is of usable resolution (1024×768 instead of the weird 1024×600 common on netbooks) – they keyboard on screen is usable, and, for those who update blogs or type alot – you can easily hook up your favorite bluetooth keyboard or even get the integrated dock/keyboard combo.

If you want to waste time playing great games – that’s an option too.  Already, I’ve wasted too many hours playing Flight Control HD and Plants vs Zombies.  They look incredible and run so smoothly on this device.  The fun part is to use the iPad for a few hours and then go back to using my iPhone – holy crap does it look small 🙂

Now – where I am still on the fence is for usability as a book reader.  Sure, the Books application looks awesome.  The page turn animations and attention to detail make you almost feel like you’re reading a paper book – except for one issue – you’re not, and it’s obvious.  I also own a Kindle DX and initially I was thinking that the iPad would out and out eliminate the Kindle.  I’m beginning to think differently – mainly because:


  • The iPad has a beautiful glossy screen…. but that beautiful glossy screen looks absolutely horrible in direct sunlight, or in the glare from a bright window.  The kindle, on the other hand has a screen that looks beautiful for paper-type content like books, in any standard “reading” light condition.
  • The iPad screen is backlit.  Sure – this means you can read in the dark, and they even include a brightness control right in the books app to let you adjust the brightness – but for some reason I still have trouble reading on backlit screens.  I hate reading on my computer screen – and this just feels too much like a computer screen.  The Kindle, on the other hand, looks like paper, and it just looks better for reading, to me.
  • The iPad is solid.  While it comes in at right around lightweight 1.5 pounds and the Kindle DX isn’t much lighter (only a few ounces) – the iPad just feels heavier.  When I am lying on my back holding the Kindle up in the air to read – it doesn’t seem to strain my arms.  The iPad, on the other hand, gets tiresome to hold.  If you go from the original Kindle to the iPad, this difference is even more obvious.
  • The iPad just doesn’t like heat.  Last year, I visited Myrtle Beach and spent quite some time reading on my kindle on the beach in near 100 degree temperatures.  In April, in Texas, one user has already reported that a session of using his iPad out in the Texas sun caused it to shut off with an overheat warning after just an hour.  Seeing as how many people relax in the summer months outside reading a book – this just isn’t good.
Overall, however – I am extremely impressed with the device and can’t wait to get to developing some apps for it.  In addition, I cannot wait to see what is “next” from the other developers out there and from the mother ship, Apple themselves.  I think once this thing gets a camera, it’ll even be that much more breathtaking – imagine videoconferencing….
I think I’ve said enough – did you buy one yet?  Why not?
Follow me on twitter – @deniolan
Follow my company on twitter – @geekutils


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