iPad Welcome Here

So, you’re probably wondering, “Is this guy a lousy stinking liar?”

Yes, I did post that I would pass on the iPad, but now we own one.  Well, actually my wife owns one.  Two weeks ago her netbook died.  I had every intention of waiting until the Slate came out to get her one of those as a replacement.  Friday, they announced that the Slate project had been killed.

I am not exactly a hacker.  I think I would call myself a computer tinkerer.  I’ve built my own HTPC, written tons of amateur code, entertain myself with post-processing photos and producing videos, etc.  Steve Jobs wants to protect my wife’s computer from being fouled up by shade-tree geeks exactly like me.  No professional mechanic enjoys taking over the mess made by a failed shade-tree mechanics project.   Computer guys like me know just enough to be dangerous.  My wife, on the other hand, is a consumer and the iPad is doing an excellent job replacing her netbook.

As with my iPhone, I am once again forced to interface with a device via the means of iTunes.  I love hate tolerate iTunes.  iTunes is also consumer oriented.  If you buy from the company iTunes Store exclusively it probably is just peachy keen.  But God help you if you have metadata to doctor.  There is practically an industry made up of software to help those of us that play off the Apple reservation.  But for those who play by Steve’s rules of all-Apple all-the-time, it is a slick and easy interface.  Since we got the Wi-Fi iPad, at least I don’t have AT&T as part of this deal.

With no Kindle app for Android, all android tablets were out.  With the Slate biting the dust, it did not appear that a Windows 7 tablet was on the horizon.  Plus Windows, with its constant system updates, grows like Topsy.  This is a problem on a tablet with only a few gigs of memory.

As a media consumer, I wanted my wife to have access to email, her Kindle book collection, games, photos, and the internet.  As an iPhone user, I knew that Apple had mastered touch navigation and that she would pick up the interface intuitively, which she has done.

I wasn’t thrilled with the 4:3 aspect ratio.  However, I have to admit that it is probably better for the internet and ebooks.  We streamed an IMAX movie off of Netflix, which filled the screen and looked awesome.  Even their regular movies are so brilliantly rendered that one loses any sense of deprivation at the wasted real estate above and below the active area.

We had a family gathering this weekend and the iPad was in high demand.  Even so the battery was only depleted about 40%.  Games and family photos were the favorite activities.  I’ve always been a big fan of putting slideshows or videos up on the big screen TV for us to watch together.  The downside of that is that one person controls the remote.  With the iPad folks quickly swipe through pictures of people they don’t know or subjects for which they don’t care.  The viewer controls the pace.  When they want to talk about a picture, everyone instinctively just flipped the screen around toward the other person showing them the picture and relayed their commentary.  It might be the best way to share albums with friends and family ever.

Loved the sample book in iBooks.  The full color illustrations in Winnie the Pooh show off the iPads ebook advantage.  iBooks has a clear edge when it comes to children’s story books.  The page flipping gimmick is something that I think is kind of fun for twenty seconds.  The Kindle app works very well on the iPad, and for our books will continue to be the first option.  It is cheaper and the quick page change is so seamless you forget you’re doing it.  Glare makes this a primarily indoor ebook reader.

Real Racing HD was a hoot and even non-gamers could just grab it and go.

The email client worked well, with the GUI optimized depending on whether one is in portrait or landscape mode.  The Safari browser worked in a manner very similar with the iPhone’s Safari browser.   Apple has not been able to properly cope with plug-ins on their computer and have given up trying on mobile platforms.  (Jobs posts tend to make it sound like Apple’s crusade to save the world rather than a failure to cope.  Make of it what you will.)  However, YouTube, Vimeo, and blip.tv have already adapted and we were able to enjoy videos from all three of those sites.

If someone in your family is looking for a low-learning curve interface with which to consume media, the iPad should be right at the top of their list.  However, you’ll still need to set up their email, their sync settings in iTunes,  and the OTA syncing of their Google calendar (assuming you are your family’s designated geek).

On the other hand, I’m not ready to give up my netbook.  Even in the field, I want to be able edit photos and videos, download pictures directly from my camera without extra gear, and run software and applications even if they’re not Jobs approved.

On a final note, I am not so conceited as to think that my wife couldn’t pick her own computer.  She could but she wouldn’t.  Computers aren’t that important to her and she would never voluntarily spend the money on herself.  She is really enjoying the iPad – just like over a million other people.

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