iPad: First 24 Hours

If you've been following my Twitter account it should be very obvious that I purchased an iPad yesterday. The buying experience was pretty smooth despite the huge crowds that had turned out. I got there only about an hour and fifteen minutes before the 5pm release time and there weren't more than a dozen or so people waiting. There were quite a few people that had arrived after me, however. Many people walked by and asked me what we were in line for. One person asked if the new iPhone had come out, but I had explained that a newer version of the iPad had arrived. This particular lady looked relieved, perhaps because she had not been left out on the new upgrade.

The purchase was very quick and surprisingly non-chaotic.

Setting up the iPad is as easy as setting up an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Syncing with my first generation iPod Touch was not as easy. It took two attempts, but still not all my apps synced across. Many of my existing apps were iPad ready, but there were a few that have separate apps that are iPad specific. There is no indicator that makes this obvious, so at first I had resigned myself to using the iPhone only apps like, Dictionary.com, TweetDeck, etc. It was only when I did a search for them did I discover that there were free apps specific to this device. It would have been nice if there was some way to associate them in the App Store so that an update could be applied for those apps that you want to upgrade to the 'HD' version, even if there is an additional cost to use these enhanced versions.

I have already written some initial thoughts on the iPad when I took it for a spin at the Apple Store, but there I couldn't install any of the apps that I typically use, nor could I use other accessories with it. One of the biggest joys I have experienced so far is being able to use my Bluetooth keyboard with the device. Having not only a wider field of view, as well as being able to use the keyboard, definitely suspends your disbelief that this is a mobile device. I can type on a real keyboard when I want to do something intensive (like typing out this post), or use the onscreen keyboard for relatively simple typing tasks. This far into owning the device, I am still getting accustomed to the large onscreen keyboard, but with the capability of using a physical keyboard, perhaps I won't have to.

One of the other cool features that I didn't know existed until I began typing out this post is the presence of spell checking. I have always considered iPhone OS's auto correct to be somewhat weak, but there is a certain confidence now that the familiar red squiggly line appears for misspelled words. If I could only add words to the dictionary now...

My 1st generation iPod Touch has effectively gotten the boot and become the red headed step child of my mobile devices. I do not think I will be taking my iPad to work on a frequent basis (if at all) so I will still need the now neglected device, but it is definitely second string for doing anything when my iPad is available. The larger screen size and snappier response of the iPad is a welcome replacement to my aging Touch.

I have been reading eBooks on my iPod Touch pretty much since before applications were officially available (jailbroken apps were all the rage) so I am pretty well versed in differing applications that are out there for that purpose. If you were to look at my home screen, you see about four or five different eBook reading apps. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but iBooks, Apple's eBook reader, leaves much to be desired. It is nice being able to sync them via iTunes, but being exposed to other eReaders has definitely spoiled me. The margins on the pages are way too big. The whole 'pages of a book' metaphor is really silly and unnecessarily wastes too much space. This problem is further exacerbated if you want to turn the font size up. The margins stay the same, but the text get bigger, meaning that very few words actually end up being on a line which then becomes uncomfortable to read.

My favorite app on the iPhone/Touch is Stanza. Unfortunately, it was purchased by Amazon and I do not expect an iPad version of that app to appear. This is very frustrating because the margins for this app are very nice, there are more settings that can be customized, and is very comfortable to read. Amazon's app, Kindle for iPad, is OK, but you can only read Amazon purchased books with it which is silly, at best. Perhaps this should be incentive for me to write my own iPad app (not a bad idea, actually).

All in all this device is a joy to use. My wife may not think so much since it's pretty expensive. Is it a laptop replacement? Mostly. Is it a phone replacement? In some cases yes, in others no. For making phone calls this device is definitely not there, but for everything else that people expect to do with a mobile device, this far, far surpasses it. I have no intention of getting an iPhone any time soon (mostly because the wife already has one) but the iPad definitely delivers for a mobile device that has 3G network access on the go. I am very, very pleased.

Posted on May 1
Written by Wayne Hartman