I purchased an iPad on day one (roughly minute 3), without much assurance as to how or why I’d use it, or even if it would be a “keeper” in my digital lifestyle. Here’s a recap of my feelings over the past two weeks:
Let’s be honest, the first day of any new toy is either “wow this is awesome” or “gosh I’m disappointed”. Most products don’t get well-tested in their first few hours of use, and it’s generally hard to evaluate the real-world practicality of any device. For example, a digital camera will take good pictures, but you might not try it in a fast-action setting; similarly a GPS device will get you to your first destination, but you won’t evaluate how rapidly it finds the signal when you are lost up in Tahoe. My day one was a lot of fun. I didn’t really “do anything” with the iPad, other than try downloading stuff, typing on the keyboard, doodling in one of the (way too many) doodle apps. Good times.
Within three days I had sync’ed my email, contacts, and calendar to the device, and all worked quite smoothly. I copied some photos, videos of the kids, some Arrested Development episodes, and some music from my library. I also experienced my first real “use” of iTunes as a sync platform – it’s okay, but has some bizarre shortcomings that I was quite surprised about. I downloaded a few apps (all free ones, didn’t want to buy anything yet and still haven’t bought one yet to this day actually), played with them, kept some, deleted others.
Most of my time in week one was spent using the device in three settings (well, kinda four – read below)
- On the bus
Media device: Watched videos, wrote a blog post, listened to podcasts
- At the office
“Accessory” computer to my iMac: Mostly light email, calendaring, some Harbor Master.
- At home
Laptop replacement: light-to-moderate email, Web surfing, lots more Harbor Master.
- Demo to others
My fourth scenario was simply showing the iPad to anyone around – lots of inquisitive folks wanting to see it in use. I wish I was getting a commission.
The second week of use was my true “now how do I feel” week with the iPad. Was it actually better/easier/more convenient than my MacBook? Did I really want to carry this on the bus or other places? Would a murse fit into my lifestyle okay (separate post of iPad cases & sleeves coming)?
The above answers were all “yes”es, and more. The only three uses of my MacBook last week were: watch NHL GameCenter (Go Habs!), sync and backup digital pictures, and charge/sync content to my iPad. For literally everything else I used my iPad in lieu of the MacBook. And not only did I use it, I found myself preferring it for most casual use. But then this weekend got even more interesting.
On two different occasions this weekend (at a movie theater and while touring farms North of San Francisco) we had the iPad handy to look up long lists of content. To be perfectly clear, we opted to carry an iPad rather than print out Web pages. This was a conscious choice, and not in any way for “show off” factor (don’t worry – that was accomplished through plenty of other methods). It was just an easy way to bring content along with us AND have our calendars AND have email history AND have contacts/address book information. Things we obviously could do with smartphones (but generally choose not to), paper (ugh), or laptops. But I’d *never* throw my laptop in the trunk on a day trip – something that just felt natural with the iPad.
It ain’t all kool-aid!
There are certainly flaws with the iPad. In fact, my evernote-based list of likes/dislikes actually has more entries on the dislike list (future blog post). It is, unquestionably, about the least ergonomic device I’ve used (the lap-pad pics from their ads are great, but radically unrealistic). The lack of even simple multi-tasking (mail + calendar anyone?) can be annoying. They could even take a cue out of Android and include a “back” button that spans multiple apps. More on this in a future post. But most importantly…
It’s not a replacement for any computer. Just some.
As much as I believe the iPad has major impact in regards to light/casual/home computing, I don’t think most households could get by with “only” an iPad. The lack of ability to effectively handle one’s digital camera needs is a “killer feature” for having a computer. Further, no businessman could possibly exist on the iPad alone, though it’s an amazing complement to one. I will say that I believe mail on the iPad vastly outshines any other non-computer device, specifically including BlackBerries, and that’s an important piece of ground for Apple to break.
But it is game-changing, and almost definitely not a bread machine.
I like having the iPad around. I like turning it on, using it, then knowing it’s still there. It feels like everything the original PalmPilot put into my hands (though unfortunately not my pockets), only in context of computing and the Internet in 2010. I believe my use will only increase, and intend to start purchasing apps now. It’s probably the most interesting digital accessory one can purchase, and unquestionably dabbles in “computer turf”. I thoroughly enjoy using it, and find that it is helpful (not harmful) to overall productivity. Except, of course, when I play Harbor Master.