Back when the iPad first came out Scott and I debated it’s merits. Scott (the artistic one) was bananas for the iPad, he loved that it was a portable media player, book reader and internet device. You could watch Doctor Who in bed! Read comics on the bus! Surf the internet on the bowl! I’m more of a tech nerd and kind of shat all over the very idea. What does it do that other devices don’t already do better? I have a 52″ TV, I don’t need to watch movies in bed. My laptop works fine for internet surfing, it has a real keyboard for writing, plays DVDs, Netflix, YouTube, etc. If I want to play games I can do that too; the iPad doesn’t even have Flash for cripes sake. I can read comics and books on the laptop too. On top of all that, I’m not a fan of the way Apple does business. Closed systems, tied to iTunes, the smug hipsters at the Apple Store, everything costs about 50% more than you think it should. I have a Droid phone and prefer the Google way of life; if Google made a tablet I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
Well, over the last few months I’ve tried doing some of the things they say the iPad is best at. Reading a comic or book on the laptop sucks. It’s too big, the screen is oriented wrong and it gets too hot. And it’s not really convenient to lug the thing around. As a severe introvert I felt like everyone was staring at me when I whipped out the laptop at my local coffee shop. All this started to weigh on me, not to mention my typical nerd affinity for gadgets. So I bought an iPad.
Since I’m such a skeptic I’ll break down the whole experience so far. I stopped at the local Apple store after work and after a a few minutes I was able to attract the attention of an authentic skinny corduroy wearing, scraggly goateed, shaggy haired, too tight for his flabby torso t-shirt wearing hipster. I told him I wanted the basic 16gb wifi iPad, he scurried off to the back room and returned with the box in just a few seconds. The cool thing is he processed the whole transaction from some kind of Super iPod around his neck, printing the receipt from a printer hidden under the counter. In and out with a minimum of fuss. I like that.
Registering the iPad was pretty painless, although I did have to install iTunes on my laptop. I’ll just mention here that I really don’t like iTunes. It’s one of those things you either like or you don’t so I’ll just leave it at that. The iPad was already fully charged, a nice touch, and I believe they will even register it for you at the store. That means you can buy an iPad and hit the local Starbucks right away. Using the iPad is pretty standard if you already have an iPhone or iPod Touch. It really is just an iPod Touch with a bigger screen but that bigger screen makes all the difference.
The first app I downloaded was Cloudreader, a PDF and CBR (comic book) reader. Transferring files wasn’t too painful; I had to use iTunes but there’s a drag and drop area where you just drop the files and they’re copied over. You don’t need to add the PDFs to an iTunes library if you don’t want to. I read some old Playboy magazine PDFs and read a few old Sgt. Fury comics. This is where the iPad really shines. The screen dimensions are tailor made for comic books and magazines, the colors are bright and the text clear and crisp. Reading comics, magazines and books was my primary reason for buying the iPad and I’m 100% satisfied in that area.
Next up was exploring the world of eBooks. Apple provides the iBook app and integrated store. I like the app because it gives you a few font choices where the Kindle app just lets you change font size. The store is a bit lacking compared to Amazon’s Kindle store, both in selection and price. The best thing about Kindle is they give you the first paragraph for free. I’ve already sampled a few books and will be buying one soon. Reading in bed with the lights out is no problem at all, I had no eyestrain problems and it was easy to hold the iPad or prop it up on a pillow.
I haven’t played any games, watched any movies, listened to music or used any of the cool apps. I’ll be posting more about it from time to time but as of now I’ll say I’m very happy with the iPad. That’s high praise considering I thought it was an overpriced toy without a real purpose. I still think it’s an overpriced toy but it’s a good one.