Sunday, April 04, 2010

iOwn an iPad - and now iReview (iT!)

Online retailers have failed to understand the complexity of the publishing business and meet the expectations of more sophisticated international readers. If I want to see a blurb for a book, if I want to see what I am buying, you are probably going to get a blurb of about two sentences ...
Louise Adler, the CEO of Melbourne University Publishing, March 2010

Had Ms Adler been around pre German Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press (1440) I suspect she'd have been bemoaning the demise of illuminated manuscripts, and scrolls!
Me, April 2010 2010

The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue
Yesterday I caved and went downtown to the Apple store on Fifth and bought an iPad.

Today I'm reviewing it - from the point of view of a non Apple user.

I'm glad I bought the iPad. It doesn't bring much new in the way of features, but it does bring in an ease of use and attractive design.

What it will NOT replace: It will not replace my Kindle. Although the iPad has an iBooks application, the backlit screen and the books' layout does not seem to provide the same ease of spending hours reading novels on the Kindle. Sure, it has color which the Kindle reader does not have, but as I am primarily a reader of novels, this doesn't do much for me. Kindle's Ink® electronic paper display is easy on the eyes and allows for easy reading in sunlight.

When you turn a page in the iPad iBook, the display shows an image of the page turning. It is therefore slower than the Kindle page turn which is done on the press of a button (one on each side to cater for both right and left handed people). The iBook looks pretty, but pretending to look like a paper book does little to take full advantage of the electronic media.

Then there's the size. The Kindle fits easily into my handbag. The iPad is a bit too bulky.

What is really nice about the iPad: The overall design of course. This is something that Apple excels in, so it comes as no surprise. But there ARE some surprises. The screen keyboard for example. It is really easy to use. I cannot imagine needing the physical keyboard accessory. There are some clever features - the ".com" key. And the way the enter key's value (the actual name on the key) changes contextually - to "search: when you've typed into a search box, to "done" when you are ready to submit a form, to "return" when you want to start a new paragraph in email, and so on ... So obvious one wonders that no one thought of them before. But isn't that what good design is all about?

The photo displays - I'm going to use my iPad extensively for storing photos. It is easy to scroll through hundreds of photos, organize them, enlarge them, copy them, email them, associate them with a contact.

Email, calendar and contacts. This took a bit of setting up for me, because I use Google mail with its web interface. To get Google mail, calendar and contacts to synch with my iPad I had to first set up Outlook on my PC and download google app synch. Now it's a breeze. Google apps synch all my calendars (work, personal), contacts (work and personal) and email with Outlook, and Outlook synchs with my iPad.

It only took me about 40 minutes to set up the basics on my iPad, and even while I was configuring preferences and internet connectivity, I had started using it for basic functions. The interface is intuitive and I expect it is even easier to get used to for MAC users.

Negatives: Why get one? It doesn't really do anything that your PC or MacBook can't do. It just does it in a more friendly and intuitive way.

The iPad is not a replacement for your PC or MacBook as you need the PC to set up and synch iTunes. iTunes is not just about music. Photos for example need to be on your laptop or desktop in the first place in order to copy them to your iPad.

First Day of the iPad - Fifth AvenuePrinting: You need a wireless printer. I have one, but it's an HP6800 and I ahve it hard-cabled to our home network - it is a horror to set up as wireless-enabled. When I next buy a printer I will stay away from HP.

Cost: Although advertsised as starting at $499, this price is not realistic. I bought the mid-range 32 gig version and I had to purchase a cover. As it has no 'lid' on the iPad, it is impractical to carry it around unprotected. I bought the Apple case as it was the only one in the store that opens like a book. With all the other cases and skins the iPad had to be placed in the case and then zipped up, thus requiring the iPad to have to be fully removed from the case for use.

All up including tax the cost was $622.15.

How will I use it? I'm starting to think it's for lazy people - so I am an ideal owner. If I want to check my email at home I needn't get up from the couch (or bed). I needn't bother powering up my PC which takes a hundred years to load everything and establish its internet connection. I'll take the iPad with me on vacation, instead of my laptop. But apart from taking it on vacation, I doubt that it'll leave the house.

Am I glad I bought it? Certainly.

And now I am really encouraged to develop my iPhone/iPad app. Watch out for it.

The Jo Factor

"Inspired by an elf"

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

You are truly a leading edge electronics consumer and I admire your boldness.
Kindle doesn't do it for me right now, but it could at some future date, however we normally use the library which serves our purposes very well. But sans a library, who knows. In the nursing home? God forbid, I wanna go without a fuss.
Interesting article in today's NYT about the 'green cost' of an iPad vs a printed page.
Do you agree?
I'll look forward to seeing how you fare with the Pad.

Anonymous said...

And more from Seattle on iPads

nautiaussie said...

Thank you for this review, it's exactly the sort of thing that we want to hear without all the techie talk and garble thrown in. It sounds like it is pretty much what I thought it would be and has the features I expected. From what I understand the apps will be the big thing and the money spinner, so chop/chop, get that Jo Factor up and running - I'll buy it!

Personally, being the one eyed, mad, loyal Apple fan that I am, I can't wait for the wi-fi/3g combo to come out so I can get one and start to play with it. Having an iPhone and using it extensively for so much already, the iPad will just make a lot of what I do now bigger, better and easier on my eyes. Also, everything is already set up in my iTunes account, so, buy, bring home, plug in, sync and I'm off and running.

Now I have to come up with a really good app that everyone will need and can't live without........

Terry said...

Thanks for that Kate. Still not for me, but a good review, well done.

Jaded NYer said...

To add my 2 iSense, this thing seems like a cool gadget. However, since I got an iMac couple of years ago for Christmas, after seventeen years of PC use, it was quite a transition adjusting to "WHAT, No PROBLEMS??.

The reason it is so hard for PC users to get adjusted to a Mac, is because the MAC is so darn simple. Your brain becomes so used to troubleshooting that it took me nearly a year to just relax and let the MAC do it's thing.

Another use for the iPad is illustrated in the below link to this you tube video.

Peter Green said...

When I have typed an entry into a Search box, on my Mac, and, I suspect, on a PC, I can press the enter key to start the search.
When there is a dialog box on the screen, I can press enter instead of clicking the Done button (like finishing a formula in Excel).
And of course, to add three paragraphs to the first in this comment, I pressed the enter key each time.
Someone has thought of these things before.

Kate said...

I understand what you are saying. I must not have made my point clearly enough. With the iPAD the name of the key changes. That is what is written on they key changes with context.

Ilze Dickson said...

As I'm a reader of novels,it's a Kindle I'll be purchasing next.

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