Sunday, March 14, 2010

iPad, You Pad, We All Pad . . .

Ok, so I've become a slave to trendiness, and I've reserved an iPad for pickup April 3 at my local Apple store. I'm convincing myself that it's less of a commitment than actually buying one online; after all, I can simply not show up before 3 pm that day, and my reserved iPad will be thrown to the general population. And I did reserve the cheapest model, the 16 gig wi-fi-only model, which is all I think I'll need for it.

I do have a rationale. I'm receiving an unexpected honorarium for my work on the law book I update every year; and I figure I should plow the money into something that will help me in future work. I often have to read piles of documents (court papers, appellate records, cases) for work; and I'd like an easy way to read them when I'm away from my computer. I have a netbook, which is handy for creating documents when I'm on the run; but I need a surface to set it on when I'm using it, so it's not so handy for reading documents in, say, court, or when I'm traveling. I have a Nook, which I initially bought in part because it handles pdf files. But while the Nook is delightful for reading books on, it's proven deficient in handling pdfs, for a variety of reasons: non-searchable pdfs are too small to read; searchable pdfs don't flow right; and ocr'ed pdfs show up as junk characters. Plus, they take a long time to load. I'm hoping the iPad will be more useful for that purpose.

But who am I kidding? I'm buying it not only for that, but because Apple has managed to make it look so darned cool for reading magazines, watching videos, light Net surfing, etc. Just hook me and reel me in.

1 comment:

Donald Burr of Borg said...

I too reserved my iPad, and sold my Kindle DX (surprisingly I managed to sell it for $400 + shipping).

I love the Kindle as an e-book reader. The screen is clear and with decent enough lighting is easy even for me to read. The epic battery life is, well, epic. It's great for reading novels, nonfiction, etc. - which typically is consumed in a linear fashion. However, both the reference books I frequently deal with, as well as most periodicals (newspapers/magazines), are NOT consumed linearly - you look stuff up, you jump around, etc. This is where the Kindle and e-ink devices like it fall short. And I was also disappointed at its lackluster PDF handling.

The iPad I think will remedy alot of these issues. Whether the device has good PDF support built-in has yet to be seen, but even if it doesn't, there are plenty of good PDF handling apps for the iPhone/iPod touch available (which, I'm sure, will be updated for the iPad if the need arises). As for ebooks, with Amazon's Kindle app (which I'm sure they'll update for the iPad), I still have access to my Kindle books. (Even in the highly unlikely event that they don't update it for the iPad, I can still use it in iPhone compatibility mode.) I also have access to the Apple iBooks store, and since the device supports ePub, I can presumably put my own content on it as well. Plus I have all the same Internet, email, media, etc. functionality of an iPhone or iPod touch.

That leaves the issue of the screen. I won't be able to read in bright sunlight, but I usually don't read in bright sunlight, so that's OK. And the new LED-backlit LCD screens that Apple has been using in their notebooks lately are MUCH easier on the eyes, and so I think the iPad's will be OK. That leaves the issue of battery life. I believe Apple quotes a figure of "up to 10 hours." I usually don't read for anywhere near a 10-hour stretch at a time -- no flights to Tokyo in my future, sigh -- so as long as i remember to plug the thing in every night, and bring my charger with me when traveling, I should be ok.

So I'm looking at the iPad as a replacement for my Kindle, to hopefully correct some of its deficiencies. I'll also admit that having a nice large screen for web browsing, email, etc. will be quite nice. Since I have my nifty little MiFi portable hotspot, I don't really need the 3G, so I'm just getting the WiFi-only version.

It'll be interesting to see what other uses for the device I can come up with. I have to admit that these days, most of the time I carry my laptop around, I don't really use all of its capabilities. 99% of the time I'm either just reading email, catching up on RSS feeds, or web surfing, and the iPad should do these tasks beautifully. This used to not be the case; when I used to do my own consulting work I'd sometimes have to drop what I'm doing and log into somebody's server or whatever to fix it, so having a reasonably powerful machine with me at all times was a necessity. These days I'm not really getting very much "on call" work of that nature. And probably some of that kind of work can even be done on the iPad as well - I believe there are both command line terminal login programs as well as Go To My PC-style apps available for the iPhone, and I'm sure the developers of those are feverishly working on iPad-ready versions of those.

So this should be interesting. Definitely looking forward to getting one in hand...

(wow that was long!)