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Entry 1211, on 2010-08-05 at 20:32:16 (Rating 1, Computers)

About 3 weeks ago I blogged about my first day as an iPad user. Now I have used one for a lot longer and two things have happened: first, the initial novelty value has worn off; and second, I have found areas where it is more useful than I originally thought that it would be.

So what novelty has gone? Well I don't get as many people approaching me and wanting to talk about it. Maybe that's because the iPad has been an unprecedented success. The local store I talked to the other day said they had sold about 70 of them (mostly the 3G model) in the last week. So there are more around now and the early adopters, like myself, are no longer anything too unusual.

I'm probably not spending much less time using the iPad now than I did when I first got it. In that time I have written 6 blog entries (including this one and my longest blog entry ever titled "is atheism rational") on the pad and only one one my laptop. I also do a lot of email and some web browsing on the pad, but my laptop is still my work machine: you just can't do serious web programming without a real laptop.

I spend more time playing games on the pad than on any other platform. The games aren't necessarily better because, although the iPad does have a good processor and a good graphics chip, it still can't compete with the extra power available on game consoles and real computers. But the games are very good and the convenience makes up for the lack of pure power.

In my original post I suggested about $100 as an adequate amount to buy apps but I have now gone significantly over $200 and I could have easily spent a lot more. iPad apps are more expensive than their iPhone counterparts even though they are essentially the same. Sure the most expensive one so far was only $14 but after buying a few useful apps at that price, a few games at $6, magazines at about $4 and cheaper programs and smaller games at just over $1 the total does start adding up.

But spending over NZ$1200 on an iPad and then not making real use of it by using good apps seems to be false economy. I'm just saying that if you get an iPad set aside some cash to get some good apps so that you are really making the best use of it.

So moving on, what are the good and the bad capabilities of the device? Well first, it's surprisingly good to type on. The keyboard in landscape mode is the same size as a real keyboard and, although the lack of movement in the keys feels a bit weird, I can really type quite quickly and accurately on it (and I readily admit I'm usually a terrible typist).

It's also very usable as a book reader. I have spent fairly long periods of time reading and have found it no harder than reading a real book. The only issue is reflections from the glossy screen. I realize that a glossy screen is almost essential for a touch device because it would be too hard to keep clean otherwise. I specifically got an anti-glare screen on my laptop and think it was well worth the extra cost, but I just have to watch the positioning to make the iPad easier to read. Its maybe a little bit heavier than it should be too, but that hasn't been too much of a problem.

As a basic internet device it's brilliant. I actually prefer to check and read my email and compose short email messages on it and it does web browsing really well because the screen is big enough to display the page just as well as many conventional computers do. The lack of Flash has been a problem only very rarely and I really think Apple has effectively killed Flash as a technology.

As a media device it's also very good. I still use my iPhone to listen to podcasts, simply because it's more portable, but I watch movies on the pad and it does that really well (except for the glare issue again).

I have some special purpose programs which I find very useful. Astronomy programs work really well. One of them allows me to hold the pad up to the sky in the direction of objects I want to identify and a map appears showing that part of the sky.

So that's enough good news, what doesn't work so well? I just realized yesterday that I can't print. That's not really an issue for me because I never print anything even form my real computers but some people might find it annoying. Of course you can email documents to your computer for printing but that's not very elegant.

As I have said in a couple of places above, the glare from the screen can be annoying. That can be minimised by positioning and turning up the brightness (which does go quite high) but it can be a nuisance.

Document sharing between the pad and the computer can be a bit clunky. I usually do this through iTunes and a USB connection but it would be nicer to have a more transparent system. Of course, it is possible to move documents through email too, but that's not ideal either.

Because the iPad currently only runs iOS 3 there is no multitasking for most programs and the mail program doesn't have an integrated inbox. These problems will be solved when the pad gets iOS 4 but they can be annoying at the moment. The super-fast launch times for apps makes the lack of multitasking a bit more bearable.

So overall I love my iPad. There are areas where Apple can make it better, of course, but for a new device it's very smooth, very reliable (it never crashes although some apps have crashed on rare occasions), and really fun to use!

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Comment 1 (2822) by Anonymous on 2010-08-25 at 13:31:21:

Any comment on whether a potential iPad buyer should get a model with 3G or whether wi-fi is enough? Also, if you were going to use 3G which network is best?

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Comment 2 (2824) by OJB on 2010-08-26 at 08:36:43:

I used my iPad without a cell connection for a few weeks but eventually relented and installed a SIM for Vodafone. It's handy to have 3G connectivity when out of wifi coverage but you can survive without it. It was easier for me because I also have an iPhone. If I didn't I think I would definitely go for the 3G model.

I did try to get my iPhone onto Telecom's network but they just weren't interested. That's why I just stayed with Vodafone.

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