iPad Initial Impressions

iPad Initial Impressions

Although I put off buying an iPad until recently, I’m glad that I finally bought one. Now I understand why there have been so many rave reviews of it and why over 3 million units have already sold.

Although I primarily got an iPad for its reading experience, one of the things I wondered about was whether it would work okay as a portable computer. It seems to me to be very functional in that regard. I wrote the initial draft of this post using the iPad with an Apple wireless (bluetooth) keyboard and the WordPress iPad app.

If I want to edit documents or spreadsheets with it, I can easily do so with my Google Docs account. Alternately, I could purchase the Documents To Go, QuickOffice, or Pages apps for editing such documents. I just don’t see the need to at this time.

One thing that really sells me on the iPad as a portable computer is the incredible battery life: it is every bit of the advertised 10 hours, which beats the heck out of any laptop I’ve ever worked with.

Of course, if I need to use Microsoft Access in any consulting work, the iPad would not work for me: I’d have to fall back to using a laptop that has MS Office installed. Otherwise, anything I need to do on a portable computer I could do comfortably with the iPad. And, the experience of using the iPad is one heck of a lot better than using a laptop.

I click the home button and it turns on instantly. Apps open instantly (or very nearly so … some big apps take a little bit of time, but not much). The overall experience of using an Ipad is very satisfying. It’s like computers should have been all along.

The reading experience on the iPad is the best of any device I’ve ever owned. The Kindle App for the iPad absolutely puts the Kindle itself to shame. It provides an incredibly good reading experience, and I expect to use the iPad for reading all of my Kindle ebooks.

iBooks also works very nicely for PDFs as well as ePub books. The only thing I dislike about using iBooks is that I have to load the PDFs or ePubs using iTunes (I just open up a folder that contains them and drag them into the “Books Tab” within iTunes when my iPad is syncing), except for the books I buy directly from the iTunes store.

I would really prefer to be able to just upload them to my Dropbox account, or some other cloud-based account, and open them from there using iBooks. [That way I wouldn’t have to sync twice if I also wanted the books and PDFs to be viewable on my iPhone … I could just open them all from the Dropbox account.]

The iPad can also be used as a PDA. Its calendar can sync with a number of calendars (I sync to my Google Calendar), and the same with the Contacts. The Calendar and Contact displays are gorgeous and very functional. I am still experimenting with To-Do apps.

Right now I am transferring all of my tasks to Toodledo (from OmniFocus), as the Toodledo iPad and iPhone apps are very easy to use, and sync perfectly with my Toodledo online account. (The Toodledo iPad app is really superbly done.)

I’m moving from OmniFocus because I really just want a simple, no frills To-Do app. I may even be ready to just use a simple text-based list, such as the one within Google Calendar or the text editor being developed by Hog Bay Software. The latter sounds like it will suit me the best, and it will be set up to sync with Dropbox.

My app list so far is as follows:

Built-in: Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Settings, Safari, Mail, Photos, iPod

Purchased/Free: Dropbox, Evernote, Google Mobile, Google Earth, GoodReader, NYT Editor’s Choice, Huff Post, Reeder, Mashable, Financial Times Mobile Edition, NPR, Pulse News, The Weather Channel, USA Today, Bloomberg, Accuweather, WebMD, iBooks, InstaPaper, Kindle, TaskPaper, Toodledo, WordPress

My favorite apps so far are: Calendar, Contacts, Safari, Mail, Dropbox, GoodReader, Reeder, TWC, USA Today, iBooks, InstaPaper, and Kindle.

Some apps have a little too many frills for me. In particular, the very popular Pulse News app was a disappointment to me, not because of the substance of its content, but because of the horizontal news scroll “feature,” with lots and lots of pictures so that I have to really focus to read the titles. Here is a snapshot:

(The fuzziness in the text is due to my shrinking the picture down to fit within this post … the text on the iPad is very crisp and clear, as it is in every iPad app I’ve used.)

The NPR News app is similar. Now, this may be the “in thing,” but it doesn’t work well for me. I like to be able to quickly scan titles to find womthing of interest, and I prefer an overall vertical orientation to a horizontal one.

For this reason, I much, much prefer the Reeder app for my news feed (it syncs with my Google Reader account). But, you may prefer the horizontal approach, with lots of pictures, so it is nice to have some variety in the app store.

Overall I am delighted with the iPad. If you are also an iPad user, I’d love to hear your impressions and what your favorite apps are.

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