Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life with an iPad

I purposefully haven't gone on and on about having an iPad, partly because not everyone is interested and partly because I don't want to sound like a Mac-junkie drooling over the latest offering from Apple Corp. But I've had it two weeks and I'm settling down to using it.

The wow factor hasn't really worn off, and most of the people that have shown interest in it are equally wowed by how it does some things. In terms of mobile computing, I don't think it will be long before we see more of these kinds of devices. They are lighter than traditional portable computers, the screen is easier to read than most portable computers I've seen and functionally they do what you need them to do. Okay so currently the iPad doesn't multitask, but I sometimes wonder what we mean by multitask. Usually it's about having more than one document open at a time and flipping between them. Rarely does it mean having two programmes running at the same time doing two different tasks. Having said that, I know it's important and for some a let down that iPad doesn't.

So how have I been using my iPad? So far it's been about notes. I used to carry an A5 version of a Filofax system around with me. The iPad probably compares quite well on weight, but it wins hands down when it comes to carrying it. The Filofax was quite thick and therefore awkward to carry in your hand. The iPad is quick and easy to use to make all sorts of notes, and better still, organise those notes. I use Evernote for this and it works well. I can review my notes by tags or date.

Secondly, if I want to write I can do that with Pages, the Mac word processor that has an iPad version. It's neat, easy to use and you can share your documents via I'm awaiting delivery of iWorks '09 which is designed to work with the iWork cloud. I recently did a a sort discussion paper for the local minister's group. I did it on the iPad and used the iPad at the meeting. No paper! Could it be that the long promised days of reducing paper use have actually arrived? The text is so clear and so readable I didn't feel the need to print out my two sheets of A4, one of which would have had about three lines on it.

Which brings me to book reading on the iPad. Clear text, bright colours, easy navigation. Finally I feel able to read e-books without ruining my eyesight or needing to carry another single function device around with me. Okay so I'm not about to stop buying printed books any time soon, but I'm very impressed with the iPad's reader interface.

My personal let down? Well that would have to Keynote. Looks very easy to use, but it is let down when you use a projector. For some reason, I'm sure someone will say a good reason, once you begin a presentation on an external monitor, the images disappear from the iPad. Why? I don't know,but it seems obvious to me that anyone doing a presentation needs to see what they are presenting! Maybe there's a setting I've missed, but given that most Mac software and hardware seems to do exactly what you expect it to do without fiddling about with settings and control panels, I think this is a major flaw in Keynote.

I think that by the time we reach the third or fourth generation of iPad and iPad derivatives, we may well see the end of the either the desktop computer or the traditional portable laptop. But while we wait for that day I'm really pleased I've invested in the iPad, especially when i walk out the door without a briefcase weighed down with a MacBook, a diary and a good book to read. Lightweight and paperless. Do you think there's at least an advertising jingle in that?

1 comment:

Chuck Warnock said...

Richard, I'm envious. Okay, with that confession out of the way, let me say I agree with your conclusions. These handheld tablet devices are going to multiply faster than rabbits because they make much more sense than a netbook or laptop. I live in an area without ATT wireless service, so no point in my buying an iPhone, or wireless iPad. But I did buy an iPod Touch (iPhone without the phone) and I love it. I would much rather read on it and my 13" macbook. It fits in my pocket, and books are available without a wifi connection, so I have some of your experience without the larger screen.

Your frustration about Keynote is not unique. There is a setting, which geekier people than I wil have to share, that allows the presenter to view the screen while presenting. I've had that same problem with my macbook, and the solution is not intuitive, but there is one. Thanks for sharing your iPad experience...I'm still envious!