Update: This article is not intended for the Irony challenged.
So I’m a hypocrite. After swearing that there was no way I’d ever own a tablet with a phone operating system, I broke down and got one. At this price point, I don’t see how I couldn’t. The wife couldn’t be happier, one needs just look at my bathroom above to see why. Gone are the endless stacks of magazines and books. Gone, is the image of her husband stuck behind his desk, nose in the computer (now, I’m on the couch, nose in the iPad, but at least being in the same room gives the impression of being engaged with the family).
Follow me after the jump for my impressions after week one.
I feel like I’m gonna break this damn thing, the polished aluminum back is too slick. One drop and poof seven hundred bucks bye-bye. Fortunately after my case arrived a few days later, it provided me with grip so I could really get down and use iPad.
First off, where the hell is the back button? Seriously, you can’t tell me that if I’m reading a magazine, and an notification comes up, I click to dismiss, and poof, I’m gone. To get back to where I was I gotta go all the way out, and fire up the magazine reader again? Seriously? The company known for its usability though that was a pleasant user experience? There are a few other things that caught me by surprise, but the no back button, multi-tasking thing is taking the most effort to get used to.
EMAIL, CALENDAR, CONTACTS
As you’d expect the iPad’s collaboration plaform is pretty, and very functional. The calendar application on iPad looks and works significantly better than even it’s OS X counterpart (on frustration: can’t swipe to change “pages” and move to the next day, how crazy stupid is that). What is unexpected is that iPad’s collaboration apps actually work with Microsoft Exchange BETTER than MS Entourage on OS X.
This isn’t a look and feel issue, it’s plug it in and make it work issue. iPad’s apps, work with Exchange servers back to 2004, including global address book look up over the web, something I wish Entourage did. Even though the iPad’s applications are all separate, each is just incredibly functional, and they work together behind the scenes, in short I don’t miss Entourage at all. This experience was good enough to get me to ditch Entourage on my desktop, and give the native applications as second look –It’s that good.
I went with Zinio, since it’s a widely adopted platform for most of my subscriptions. What’s I was able to move most of my print subscriptions to Zinio, at no expense. This is very much the way to go, since there is no point in my mind to a separate application for each magazine / news paper.
Absolutely beautiful. For me this is iPads “Killer App” allowing me to get rid of massive stacks of magazines. Unfortunately, today it’s half-baked. As I found out too late, magazines in your subscriptions don’t download until you open them and wait for them download completely. This is a stupidly frustrating “feature” included presumably to help you conserve space. Like most iPad apps, there are no options to configure, which too is crazy frustrating.
The iPad interactive magazines are nice, but they still play way too much like websites. This is not the “Total Recall” multi-media experience I’d been hoping for, instead it’s switch to pretty page, Click to Play, Switch Page in short it’s not any different than the experience you’d get surfing this website. If this thing is supposed to help magazines compete with a free web, they’re gonna have to change the way they present information to users.
As a magazine reader, it’s nice, and alludes to the promise of the iPad, but doesn’t deliver completely. Since you have to be connected to read your content unless you manually pre-downloaded your library, it’s littler better and a whole lot slower than just reading articles on the web. I’m dying for version 2 since I moved all my subscriptions to this platform.
Choices, Choices. –Nor not. Actually there’s no choice at all here, because to put it simply, you don’t have to choose. Got a Kindle library? Fine, use the Kindle App. Want to load your own library of ePub docs (DRM free only), drag them to “books” in iTunes, and they’re in iBooks. I have both, and use both, and I love I don’t have to make a “rest of my life” decision on which platform I’d prefer to have my library on.
As far as reading goes, it breaks down like this: For illustrated works, cookbooks, etc. iBooks is your only choice. For actual, bed-side reading, I prefer Kindle. I find the glamour and sparkle of the iBooks UI is distracting when I’m just trying to read. Your mileage may vary. Good news is, again, you don’t have to choose.
Suggestion to iBooks software engineers: version 1.1 should include a lights out mode, where the UI disappears and you just have a page.
My gripes: I can’t imagine a large library on this device. Today, this is not a platform for every book I own. In short if I tried to bring my whole library with me, both applications would be utterly unusable, and cluttered. If there is an ability to have stacks by author, genre, or other consolidation and browsing features in either app, I’ve not found it yet.
I am a gamer. A real gamer. A ‘Meet me in Bad Company 2, and I will have your dog-tags’ kind of gamer. That said I haven’t yet played any real games on the iPad, yet. Part of this is availability; part of this is, you guessed it, no trial mode. Ten bucks wasted five times on mediocre games, is just as bad as fifty wasted on a play once console title, except I can’t sell it back to Gamestop.
That said, I have developed an obsession for Finger Art’s Hangman HD. It’s basically hangman, they present you with a current headline pulled from RSS feeds. It’s really a perfect game for the platform, in that you can have a short game over a coffee / toilette break, and are quickly back to work. Moreover the use of news as the clues provides an added layer of interest.
1000 Ultimate Experiences
Absolutely beautiful. If you’re into spur of the moment adventures, or just wish you were, Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences is for you. The home screen of the app is a deck of cards you flip through, allowing you to select various adventures. Picking one takes you to a playing card notation of the adventure in question. Going back from there you’re presented with all the experiences in that category. Simply put it’s a fantastic way to browse and get ideas for different adventures. The photography is beautiful and the categories are well thought out. While not a comprehensive reference, it’s just enough to get the juices flowing as you plan out your own adventures.
There’s some humor there too, my favorite, listed in “Best Places for a James Bond Foot Chase”, lists Mogidishu Somlia, including humorous references to equipping yourself battle in Baakara market. It’ closes with the caveat: For real Bonds only. Too true.
Gripes: Only one. The app bombs out frequently. This has happened to me close to 15% of the time, and it’s very disruptive to what is essentially a fantasy adventure browser. For ten bucks, they need to fix this fast.
Update: I got word that folks at Lonely Planet have updated the app. Should be good to go now. More detail in comments as I experiment with it.
CONCLUSION – WEEK 1.
A desktop replacement? No. Would I take it instead of a laptop on a day trip? Perhaps. I need to give iWork a genuine try before I make that decision. I’m using it less than I thought I would, because desktops, laptops, and paper are hard habits to break. In the coming weeks I hope iPad and I will venture out of the toilette, and see some of the world. I got tethering working on my Nexus One for just that reason.