OS Quest Trail Log

The OS Quest Trail Log #48: iPad Anticipation Edition

Apple iPad ImageThe iPad frenzy is in full swing. Shipments are being tracked, store reservations are being confirmed, Apple marketing is trying to set new records in superlative usage, and yes, my iPad is due to arrive on Saturday.

I did have an urge to cancel my pre-order. Mainly because the price puts it in the luxury category for me, even at the base version. I take issue with Apple’s superlative laden adds that keep calling it a “magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.” Ok, they don’t say “low price” but that’s their implication. And no, I’m not saying they’re overcharging for it. Like I said, I’d put it in the luxury category for me. But please stop implying this is a rock bottom price, especially considering this is a device Apple intends to use to sell us more content. All this hype is turning me off.

The hype I’ve been reading about seems to be emphasizing three uses: video, eBooks, and magazines/ newspapers. The main criticism I’ve seem is that it’s just a large iPod Touch.  I’ll start with the criticism. To me being a large iPod Touch isn’t a bad thing. I like my iPod Touch and just having more screen real estate would be a plus.

As for the three areas of hype – meh. I don’t see myself buying a lot of content to use primarily on the iPad (with one potential exception). I can see me copying some of my existing videos to it when I go on trips but I don’t anticipate a lot of that. I still using my Kindle for eBooks and I hope the rumored Kindle iPod app makes it through the Apple approval gauntlet. There are books that aren’t suitable for the Kindle’s e-paper screen so are limited to the Kindle PC (or Mac) app. Having them available on the a portable device would be a big plus. But I do like the Kindle as a book reader since it’s eeasy on the eyes. I’m skeptical whether I could read a book on the iPad without getting tired or a headache. Reference books or browsing on a PC screen is one thing, but reading a novel is another. So I’m unlikely to buy eBooks though Apple if they’re just limited to the iPad or my Mac. The Touch is to small for extensive book reading (too much scrolling required). Of course, it also depends on price and I’ll no doubt buy one book to try it out (then again, there will be the public domain books, just like on the Kindle).

It’s the magazine/newspaper area that may get me to fork over more money for content, at least the magazine area. The Kindle isn’t a great newspaper reader. It’s just not the same as a real newspaper, which is why my subscription never survived the trial period. It’s OK when I had time to read the content in a linear format. But the way the Kindle handles headlines (strange truncating) doesn’t make for pleasant browsing. The lack of any sort of layout also makes it difficult to notice which articles are intended to stand out. As for magazines, unless it’s a word intensive magazine there’s not much point. All this could be improved upon if properly implemented on the iPad. But then there’s price for this content, which appears to be all over the place. If publishers want to put ads in their magazines it’s fine with me, assuming they avoid intrusive tactics like pop-ups.

I currently use my iPod Touch for checking email around the house and a little web surfing and the iPad is a natural for that. But if I’m going to get my money’s worth out of the Kindle it’s going to be my own content (PDFs maybe) and some apps that haven’t even seen but will take advantage of the iPad in ways not possible on the Touch.

So the iPad should arrive Sunday. While I’ll be home to take delivery it’ll be a busy weekend and I might not have much time to play with it. On Friday and Saturday I’m stuck doing the weekend of work for a project and then Sunday it’s Easter with the family. So if the iPad lives up to its hype I may have to take time out of what’s usually reserved for sleep.

In other (non-iPad) news…

I upgraded my cell phone to a Motorola Droid last week. I’m still getting used to it but so far I like it. It doesn’t hurt that despite being a more capable phone I actually lowered my monthly bill.

It’s been a busy couple of months with the day job so even though I haven’t written much for this site, there’s not a lot I’ve been having fun with that hasn’t already been made it to the site. Hoping to get into having some fun with the computers real soon.


Apple iPad Pre-ordered

Apple iPad ImageWell, I went ahead and pre-ordered an Apple iPad on Friday. I usually don’t pre-order a $500 piece of tech site unseen. OK, I pre-ordered the iPod Touch 3rd gen when it was announced but I’d seen and touched the earlier versions and was simply waiting on the latest upgrades before buying.

So first I had to justify pre-ordering a new piece of technology. I trust Apple to have thought about the design and function of the iPad to create a usable interface. Sure it looks nice in the video but all the hype actually turns me off. Still, I have faith, while based on the iPod Touch I don’t see Apple simply making a big iPod Touch. I am concerned about bugs and manufacturing issues as they seem to be affecting Apple lately and this is a completely new piece of hardware. But the bottom line was I know I would be buying this version of the iPad and not waiting for the next version, so might as well get it as soon as possible.

So the next question was: Which model? I knew I didn’t need or want wi-fi. The AT&T link kills the iPhone for me as I won’t do business with AT&T due my own experiences with them. But even if I could use another carrier I don’t see myself needing 3G on this. So that eliminated the 3G models.

Typically with Apple I end up getting the fastest CPU and most memory I can afford, finding it easy to justify the extra hardware. In this case I couldn’t come up with good reasons to go above 16GB. It will be mostly used around the house or at least return home every night. Most of my current 16GB iPod touch is currently consumed by music. While I might keep a few playlists on the iPad I don’t see it containing a significant number of songs.

So I broke with tradition and bought the cheapest model.

So what will I use the iPad for:

  1. Reference – I have high hopes for  Evernote on the iPad and that’s my primary filing system. But I also hope to put my own PDFs that I use for reference.
  2. Books – I like the Kindle and enjoy reading on it. But there are types of books that aren’t suitable for the Kindle. While there are exceptions, books with a lot of charts and tables or programming books with code samples are usually hard to read. Things got a little better with the Kindle 2 but a nice color screen should be better. I suspect I’ll still read novels on the Kindle as I expect it to be easier on the eyes. I am concerned about book pricing through Apple but even if I stick with my own books already available on PDF or a non-DRM’d format I’ll be Happy.
  3. Magazines & Newspapers – While I’ve gotten away from newspapers and magazines I grew up reading them and still like them. I’ve drifted away from them because of the clutter they cause and my inability to keep them organized. I’m cautiously optimistic pricing will be in line with current subscriptions and not priced as a “premium service”. I kind of liked newspapers on the Kindle in that it was easy to go through the info. But it was a linear experience and I couldn’t flip through the paper to see what catches my eye. The headlines in a table of contents just isn’t the same thing. Sure, the iPad will have some demo friendly page turn animation but hopefully that can be turned off once it becomes annoying (which will be about 90-seconds in).
  4. Video – I’m hoping the video viewing matches the hype. It’ll be nice to be able to have a few videos on it and watch them.
  5. Readily available computer. Rather than grabbing my Netbook or going to my desktop to check out something on the web or make a note I’ll probably use the iPad. (Much of this has already gravitated to my iPod Touch anyway.)

I suppose it depends upon how you define success but I think the iPad will be a success for Apple. Mainly because it can be different things to different people. Despite Apple’s claim of reasonable pricing I do think the biggest question for someone is whether the planned use of the iPad worth the cost. I’m not sure I could justify the iPad cost against my planned usage, at least not until the iPad actually exists in public. And let’s face it, books, movies and newspapers/magazines are an added cost. But I’m a tech and gadget geek which goes a long way to justifying the cost. Adding to that is I’m sure I’ll still be using it in a year.

So it’ll arrive April 3rd and we’ll see if I regret the decision.