Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sensualizing Information - My iPad Review

A quickly written assessment of the iPad after using it for 3 days while being sick...

The one thing about the iPad is to not think of it as a laptop. When I'm away from my main computer, whether it's while I'm sitting on my couch watching TV or when I'm away from home traveling, I feel like having a laptop is a little too much. The iPad is perfect for simply getting information and engaging in light interaction.

Besides just how handsomely designed it is, the first thing you're impressed with is just how amazing everything looks. Its 132dpi screen is so crystal clear with details that it seems like a crime to view images on anything less. One of my main uses for the iPad is to use it as a portfolio of my work. Not only do my images look amazing on the device, they surpass what they look like in print form (which says a lot!). It's truly astonishing. Navigating through photos is a tactile treat - swiping from image to image and having the ability to expand them larger for further detail. I know you can do that on the iPhone but being able to do it so smoothly in a larger format is beyond cool.

I used it off and on for 2 days, and only lost 50% battery power. This is going to be great on airplanes for reading books and watching videos. Speaking of books, the iBook store and app is exceptionally fun and useful. In addition to all the bestsellers and popular titles, there are thousands of free books. I'm currently reading Huckleberry Finn, and the virtual ability to turn the pages is very satisfying.

I've only begun exploring the thousands of apps, but these are my favorite free ones so far...
• New York Times - You don't get the whole paper, just a concise collection of newsworthy articles and op-eds. Reading this and other magazines on the iPad gives you the actual sensation of reading an opened physical newspaper on your lap.
• NPR - Like the New York Times, you get a concise choice of topics and news stories. Some are written articles and some are audio podcasts. You just tap on one, and it instantly plays. Very satisfying!
• IMDB - a completely different format than the website version. This version is very hands on (or fingers rather) and fun to explore with mini-windows and indexes.
• Netflix - I'm a huge fan of streaming live video from Netflix and being able to do it on this mobile device is wonderful especially watching movies in bed.
• iBooks - as mentioned above

The only real drawback I see (and it is minor) is the keypad. I don't intend on doing any serious writing on the device, so it's not really that big of a deal to me. But to type as you would on a regular keyboard (provided that you don't hunt-and-peck) is hard to do without the physical touch of keys to know where your fingers are placed. My need for typing on the iPad will be restricted to simple 2-3 sentences here and there, and in that case, the hunt-and-peck method will be fine. One more thing, fingerprints can look kind of annoying when the device is turned off. Simply breathing on the surface and wiping with a clean, cotton t-shirt works perfectly fine.

Overall, I do believe this is quite the revolutionary product, and I'm anxious to see where this format goes - both from Apple and other competitors. Information never felt so good!