hands on with the iPad

April 16, 2010 | 8 Comments

In the first week or so after the iPad was released, I tried one out, whether a store demo or a friends, four or five times. This week, I became an official, and pretty gosh darn happy, iPad owner.

There have been a lot of reviews written, mostly favorable, and many saying the same things. Personally, I enjoyed Andy Ihnatko’s the most. All that to say, what follows is not a review, but a bucket of thoughts and impressions about how I might be putting it to use.

  • My first impression, when I picked one up in the store, was not favorable. I’ve been using a Kindle for two years. I knew the iPad was heavier, but didn’t realize how much heavier until I lifted it up.
  • One of my primary uses for the iPad will be a book reader. I’m intending to replace my Kindle with the iPad, but I will miss it. The first time I used my Kindle after spending sometime with the iPad, I had nothing but admiration for how light and easy to hold it is.
  • I will likely keep investing in Kindle books for my library, rather than iBooks. But iBooks will serve as a great reader for public domain texts or longer documents converted to .epub format via Stanza.
  • My second main use will be for writing on the go. I haven’t bought Pages, and I don’t know that I will need to. I want to be able to write, and I’m not so concerned about laying out a document. For now, I’m using an app called Notably, which looks great. In fact, I drafted this post on it.
  • Moving documents on and off the iPad is one of the primary hang-ups. All of the writing apps I found require the text to be emailed when you are done. I emailed the developers of Wwrite and Notably, and they say other sync options are on the way. I’m hoping, most of all, for something that will sync with SimpleText.ws so that content can easily be imported into Scrivener. I’m sure WriteRoom will be along soon enough (right, Jesse?), but I’d like to see a few other options too.
  • The Apple case is backordered for a few weeks, but I’ve yet to hear a raving review of it anyway. I spent $10 extra to get the Moleskine inspired case from DoDoCase.com. It’s backordered too.
  • I’ve removed any native iPhone apps. I’m hopeful that OmniFocus and SimpleNote will be along soon, but in the meantime, they are more functional for me on my always handy iPhone than the iPad.
  • Many reviewers said they got used to typing on the screen keyboard, but I’m not so convinced. I set up an old USB keyboard at my desk so I could convert my Apple bluetooth keyboard for iPad use. The only hangup is that I can’t find a way to open the onscreen keyboard when the bluetooth keyboard is connected. This isn’t so handy when I leave the bluetooth keyboard on my desk and move to the couch with the iPad. In fact, it’s a hassle.
  • Love, love, love Mail, Safari and Instapaper. Oh, and MLB At Bat (my one luxury app purchase).
  • I probably won’t interact with Twitter much on here. Somewhat for distraction sake, and mostly because none of the Twitter clients have built in Instapaper support.
  • No multi-tasking is a benefit for me. Writing on this is less distracting than writing on my MacBook Pro. I would have absent mindedly switched over to Twitter or email or just about anything 3 or 4 times right now if I were writing this on my laptop.
  • Unlike my iPhone habits, I’m trying to keep it streamlined and not load a bunch of apps on here. I have to be fairly convinced that even a free app is worthwhile before I will download it.
  • Multiple user accounts would be a great feature, even if only for MobileMe synced data. I don’t think I will carry the iPad all the time, and it would be nice if my wife could pick it up at home to check her email and calendar easily too.

I’ll have some more iPad posts to come. In the meantime, if you are considering one and you have questions, or you have experience with one you’d like to share, drop a comment below.

  • got the ipad a week ago also, and i’ve also got to have it replace my kindle – since i need to sell my kindle in order to afford it. for the most part, i’ve been really happy reading on it, although it’s a bummer to deal with the weight and also the glare that i don’t have with the kindle, but those same books from the kindle look really good in full color…

    gonna have to check out notably…looks nice.

    i’m also enjoying carbonfin’s outliner, and have talked with the developer of ithoughts and am expecting a good mindmapping program from him after the ipad gets released in the uk

  • oh yeah…i had also ordered the dodo case…funny…i thought i was getting a unique one that no one else would have. at least you’re in texas

  • john chandler

    Mike,
    In these parts, or at least in my house, we prefer to say we’re in Austin, and leave the Texas bit out.

    Enjoy your iPad!

    John

  • Try the Eject key to show the on-screen keyboard when using the Bluetooth keyboard

  • John

    Jack,
    Thanks for the comment. My issue is that the bluetooth keyboard is in the room next door, but still connected via bluetooth. I don’t have access to the eject button!

  • Ah yes, that would be a problem. Powering off the keyboard before walking away works, but I often forget that.

  • I’m definitely getting on well with the onscreen keyboard of the iPad, especially in landscape – only issue is that typing fast, it starts to miss presses (presumably if one finger is still touching when another hits down); I’ll use the onscreen for email and WordPress entries, but revert to my desktop machine for more serious effort.

    The iPad case is not perfect, but I do like the “stand” feature it offers, making it much easier to view and type on. My big complaint is that it seems designed “upside down”, so when the iPad is in it and placed down / in my lap, the volume control is at the bottom, not top 🙁
    The DODO case looks nice, but doesn’t appear to offer the angled stand feature.

  • John

    Ian,
    I ended up picking up the Apple case today since my local store had it (briefly) in stock. You’re dead on…the ability to prop it up a bit as a built in feature makes a significant difference.