Hands-on with the iPad AND vacation photos!
Hello, all! I wasn’t able to post last week due to being out of town on vacation. (Yes, there ARE still places without internet service in the world, and I was in one of them.) Now I have an iPhone, and I could have finagled a way to post from it, but to be honest my brain took a little vacation as well.
At any rate, I’m back, and I did manage to do one productive (hey, I’m calling it productive!) writerly oriented thing: I GOT MY PAWS ON AN iPAD. Here’s what I think:
First, let me say that I approached my hands-on time with the intent of examining the iPad as an eReader. I’m definitely in the market for a reader of some kind as too many people have told me how much they love their Nooks, Kindles, etc., and I’m way beyond the point of running out of bookshelf space.
You library denizens out there, just simmer down. I know they exist, but I try to purchase as many books as I can to support authors. That’s another reason why I’ve decided to purchase a reader; I can help authors AND not destroy a rainforest.
Back to the task at hand. The first thing you’ll notice about the iPad is how bright and beautiful the screen is. The outward appearance is very streamlined with only a few buttons, so when you see the bright blue (or whatever color background the screen is displaying) with the little application icons, it’s quite visually arresting. When I’ve looked at/played with other eReaders, I’ve been underwhelmed by presentation. I know these ‘toys’ are for reading, but I’d like to see a little more in the way of eye candy on the dashboard/screen.
Regardless of how cool you look holding it, I know most people (myself included) are primarily interested in functionality. If you’ve picked up an iPhone or iPod touch, you’ll instantly acclimate to the iPad. It functions exactly the same way, so you’ll be able to finger swipe, pinch, and tap your way through features in no time. If you’ve never used either of the before mentioned gadgets, have no fear, because I can easily count them as some of the most accessible bits of technology to ever be created. I’m totally convinced that a blind monkey could use an iPhone to order pizza within five minutes of touching it.
The iPad in the store had several pre-loaded apps (think of them as programs on a computer), and I played with each of them. I can say that this thing plays games, music, and movies with the best of them. But how does it read, you ask?
The reader interface, cleverly dubbed iBook by those Apple geniuses, is very cool. When you open the iBook/reader app, you’ll see a virtual bookshelf (assuming you didn’t close the reader mid-read, in which case you’ll be brought back to the page you closed) with the cover of all of the books you’ve downloaded. Simply touch the cover of the book you want to read, and it opens. You can turn the iPad either horizontally or vertically. I preferred the horizontal (sideways) alignment as it read more like a physical book, displaying two pages at a time. You’ll find many handy reading features, such as bookmarks, dictionary lookup for words in the text, and you even have the ability to adjust the lighting of the screen.
That brings me to the real drawback as a reader: the iPad uses a backlit screen, not the passive screen technology used by the other dedicated eReaders. The good side of this is that unlike other readers, you could read the iPad in the dark without the presence of any external lighting. The down side is that this can sometimes cause eyestrain (think staring at a computer monitor all day). I had no problems reading on the device, and in fact, I would say I even enjoyed how vivid and crisp the text appeared. However, I only read for a few minutes, so we’ll just have to wait for some extended use reviews to surface on the web to learn just how bad the eyestrain problem will be.
In the end, I found it to be very high on my list in terms of readers. The interface is great, the selection is top notch (both Barnes & Noble and Amazon already have apps for purchasing content, and that’s in addition to the iBook store), and it does so much more than any reader currently on the market can do (fast web access, music, games, on and on …).
However, at this point I think the price is far too high to purchase just as a reader (starting @ $499). Although it does a bunch of other cool stuff, it has no built in camera (for the bloggers, Facebook crowd, etc.), you can’t multi-task (work multiple applications at the same time) as you would expect to be able to do for something that cost as much or more than many laptops, and it won’t play many web videos thanks to Apple’s reluctance to allow Java on its platforms.
Was it cool? Yes, and frankly it blew me away. Will I wait for the price to drop and for Apple to fix a few of the nagging issues before purchasing? Absolutely, but I think the key is that I do see myself buying one eventually.
Hope you enjoy the photos!