Tech consumers are awash this week in pronouncements about the Apple iPad. You know how it goes. The iPad is either a technological marvel – a game changer – or it’s a hood ornament wrapped in media hype.
You’ll get no pronouncements here. Will this new device transform the way people use computers? I don’t know.
But I like my iPad. After three days, nothing has diminished the gee-whiz enthusiasm I felt when I lined up Saturday morning at the Apple store. In basic terms, the iPad works, and it’s a pleasure to use.
If you’re looking to write the great American novel, you should stick to a machine with a real keyboard, as opposed to a virtual keyboard. If you want a device that fits in your jeans pocket, you should stick to your smartphone.
But for e-mail, Web surfing, playing video and music, browsing photos and reading, the scale and the design feel right. I think it’s because the touchscreen makes certain jobs more natural and enjoyable, not to mention easier to perform.
In the first 72 hours, I’ve started reading books, using the iBooks and the Amazon Kindle apps. Both work fine. (Since I’ve never used a Kindle reader, I can’t say which is better.)
I’ve also experimented with multi-media software developed for the iPad.
The NPR app combines news and audio. USA Today looks great (if you like USA Today). Time magazine is slick (but if the company expects to get $5 for each and every edition, good luck with that). The New York Times Editor’s Choice is fine but limited (a paid app will come later). I like the Wall Street Journal a lot (though not everybody will be keen on the monthly subscription).
The Elements, a multi-media “exploration” of the periodic table, is cool in a nerdy kind of way. So is StarWalk, an astronomy guide that will plot direction and identify what you’re seeing in real time.
I’ve just started fooling around with Pages, Apple’s word processor for the iPad. It seems well thought-out, but the virtual keyboard on the iPad won’t be confused with the real thing.
Other programs, adapted from iPhone apps, look and work better on the iPad, among them: Twitterrific, Shazam, Bloomberg, Weather Bug Elite and Pandora.
I’m intrigued by the SketchPad Pro and Magic Piano programs, but I can only try so many things in the first week. Plus, I don’t have a clue how they work.
Of course, some of the most anticipated apps are yet to come.
Video looks great. Minus headphones, the sound is better than on an iPhone, but only OK.
I wish the iPad allowed for multi-tasking. I suspect it will one day. Note, too, that a touchscreen gets touched, which means it gets smudged with fingerprints. It goes with the territory.
Conclusion: I like my iPad, and I suspect it will persuade many users that the mouse and the touchpad are clumsy and non-intuitive – which is to say, old technology.