My Day with the iPad

by Brian Blum on June 30, 2010

Totally drool-worthy

Last week, I hired a team to design and build a cool new iPad app for me (more on that in the coming weeks). The problem was that, at the time, I’d never actually held or used an iPad. So I was truly delighted when my friend Mitch Simon, who runs a successful coaching business in San Diego and was visiting us over the weekend, offered to leave his iPad with me for a day while he went out to tour the country.

Here, then, are ten comments from my day with the iPad.

1. First of all, it’s totally drool-worthy. I don’t know why, but when you pick it up and start to play with it, you immediately fall in love. Especially kids. I had a gaggle of children, ages 13 and under, begging to touch it, swipe it, shake it and turn it around so the screen reformats this way and that. I wanted it for business reasons; they were all about the fun. And Steve Jobs is right: it really is the best way to interact with the web.

2. I can touch type on it. Unlike the iPhone, where I’m all thumbs (literally), the virtual keyboard on the iPad in landscape mode is just big enough to let me type normally. That makes the iPad an ideal device to take to a lecture or conference. I found Apple’s Pages word processing program easy-to-use and intuitive (if not as powerful as Word on my Mac). Add in the long-life battery and the iPad is, as some controversial pundits have already claimed, a NetBook killer. And for all the naysayers who say you need to “feel” the click of a real keyboard, I say – get over it. You will get used to it.

3. Typing on the iPad has one big disadvantage over a laptop: unless you’ve attached an external keyboard, the iPad has to lie flat on a table or desk. That makes it hard to fully take advantage of the benefit of the screen – it’s angled away from you. It works OK if you have your feet on the couch, but didn’t your mother teach you never to do that?

4. As print newspapers begin to be phased out, reading the paper over breakfast is something the iPad will be great at. Although I’m not a regular reader of USA Today, the app version is superb and immediately intuitive. The fonts were big enough for even my middle-aged eyes. One disadvantage: if your fingers get dirty or sticky (eating pancakes or anything with syrup), that’s going to muck up your screen much more than a smudge on a printed paper.

5. It’s still too heavy for reading in bed. I want a device that’s as light as a paperback that I can hold in one hand (you know, like a Kindle). The iPad is somewhere between that and a hard cover book. But otherwise, the screen is brilliant and some of the tricks – like highlighting text and taking notes – are really helpful. And I know it’s just a “gimmick,” but the animation for flipping the pages really is fun

6. Despite the weight in bed, walking around with the iPad is a pleasure. My friend Mitch put his iPad in a leather case and it feels like one of those “old fashioned” diary books that I used to carry so long ago. Think of it as a slightly hefty yellow note pad. I found myself bringing the iPad everywhere with me.

7. The bathroom test – come on, you know at some point you’re going to want (or need) to hold the iPad while on the toilet instead of a newspaper or book. So, to be comprehensive, I gave it a spin. Here it works better than reading a book in bed: I don’t mind using both hands to hold it and it’s great having a variety of reading material in case your stay in the washroom is, um, a bit lengthy.

The kids can't get enough

The kids can't get enough

8. Pictures look fantastic on the iPad – so much so that I can’t imagine ever printing out photos and placing them in an album again. Before the iPad, it was a bit awkward having to pull out a laptop or ask friends and family to crowd around my desktop screen to see snapshots from our latest vacation. The iPad takes it to the couch. And it’s a whole lot more convenient than carting over 17 albums worth of photos (of course, digitizing all those albums will be a major undertaking).

9. Ditto for video – it’s like having one of those dedicated DVD players they used to give out in business class in airplanes before the built-in TVs came out – except a whole lot smaller. And it’s just big enough to share – at least a couple people at once (I wouldn’t try to watch Date Night on an iPad with the gang).

10. Biggest pet peeve – no front facing camera. Come on Apple, we know you’re just holding back until next year so you can generate more sales, but I want to be able to video Skype or FaceTime with my family when I’m on the road (or in bed – what is it that makes me want to snuggle up with the iPad). This may be the killer app…why do we have to wait?

So, did I add anything new to the discussion? What do you think? Please leave your comments below.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Steinberg June 30, 2010 at 8:03 am

Feel that I have to wait for the next one for the camera and to de bug what doesn’t work this time. What about a CD slot?

Jay Bailey June 30, 2010 at 8:46 am

I’ve had it for a couple of months now — first, comments on yours, then a couple of my own. Typing flat on the table – the $18 super-durable rubber case Apple sells with it (there are plenty of third party versions too), has a slot in the back so it folds back on itself and is propped up about 30 degrees. Make all the difference in the world. And like you, I can type really fast on it. Complainers just haven’t spent enough time. To save time typing, get the Free Dragon Software app and you can dictate to it with uncanny accuracy. As for reading in bed, it just means you need to change the way you sit. Try it on your lap, lie on your side with it on the bed, balanced on a knee, etc…it’s not that big a deal and I can read for an hour without it bothering me.

I think the reason i’m so wowed by it is that I don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch. So even the basic “magic” of the operating system is so refreshing that it’s hard to be too critical and nitpick. We have a netback and this is head and shoulders more effective — bigger screen, faster, battery life, and just… no Windows crap. The fact that it doesn’t multi-task really isn’t terrible…it means you can’t overload the CPU with simultaneous things going on. It’s always snappy, nothing annoying in the background…

Anyway, that’s my $.02. Yes, it’s a bit of a luxury — but in today’s plugged-in world, it’s a luxury I need. When I spend Friday cooking each week, I couldn’t think of a better companion to keep tabs on mail, look up recipes, and listen to music…

Carol Fox July 1, 2010 at 12:56 am

The IPad was my best friend during my long recovery from eye surgery. I was required to keep my face down for much of five weeks. Using a borrowed massage table and a stack of books, I was able to keep my head down and use the iPad to read and send e-mail, watch movies and five season’s of “Weeds”, listen to podcasts and audio books and read books.
The iPad helped me get through an otherwise very difficult time, so thank you, Apple.

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