I Have Drunk The iPad Kool-Aid, And I Like It

I finally succumbed and bought myself an Apple iPad a couple of weeks ago. I had told myself that I would resist until such time as Adobe Flash-based web sites could be properly viewed on the iPad, but my willpower was not sufficient to allow me to wait that long (which some have suggested might be around the time hell freezes over).

The real purpose, or so I convinced myself, of getting an iPad was to have an instant-on device on which I could comfortably write, organize, research, and check e-mail, as well as otherwise stay connected with the myriad projects I am always working on.

After two weeks, for the most part, that seems viable. In the process I have found some rather irksome things on the iPad, as well as some great ones. So, I figured I would share.

First, let me explain that I am not a Mac user. While I have an older MacBook, I use it merely for testing. I am a committed Windows users (it pains me to admit that though), as well as a user of Linux (but mainly via command line instead of a graphical user interface). And, due to my extensive commitment to various applications programs, scripts, hardware configurations, and work methodologies, I have no interest in switching to being a Mac user. Further, in the iPad, I was looking for a device that did not require me to be tethered in any way to another computer in order to be productive.

I mention that because there is a decidedly Mac-orientedness when it comes to the Apple-originated software that either comes with the iPad or is available at extra cost from Apple. And the Windows software support, namely Microsoft’s Outlook, is not something I care to use.

iPad users are strongly urged via a number of mechanisms to tether their iPads to an external computer running the iTunes application. That all comes as something of a disappointment to me, but is not wholly unexpected.

Anyhow, let me first share the things I really do appreciate about my new iPad (I got the 64GB 3G version, incidentally, as that’s the only model the Apple Store I went to had in stock).

1. Instant-On. It really works. After a couple of decades where Instant-On has been repeatedly promised, the iPad is a device that finally fulfills that promise.

I can put my iPad in standby with a simple press of a button or by just leaving it on for a while without any input. And, pressing another button followed by a short flick of my finger on the screen brings it all back to life, right where I left off, with whatever connectivity is available. From standby to usability in a couple of seconds. Even my cell phone (an Android-based G1 phone) is not that responsive. The battery life of the iPad while in standby appears to be extensive (I’ve been told that it could be as long as a month, and I believe it). Combined with the 10 hour or so battery life during active use, it makes the iPad a wonderful platform for being able to perform all the tasks I had set out to use it for, in places ranging from my perch high upon my, er, throne, to when I’m lying in bed and struck with yet another bit of ingenious insight, or even at the dining room table (obviously not during a meal – my wife would never tolerate that).

2. A great variety of supplemental applications, and the iPad will also run iPod Touch/iPhone apps too. I will post another entry with my top ten favorite iPad apps, because there’s a lot of detail to share there.

3. A good base set of applications. The built-in Safari web browser is decent, although it is also lacking in a few areas (see below). Same for the e-mail client. The calendar software is a bit weak in its features, but otherwise quite usable.

4. Instant-On. Okay. I really like this feature. Can you tell?

5. The ability to use an external keyboard, like the wireless bluetooth keyboard I’m using to write this entry. The touch screen keyboard is surprisingly usable too, something I had not expected.

Of course, there are a bunch of annoyances, as I hinted at above.

I’ll get to those in my next blog post.


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