Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Extended road-test part 1 : iPad

At the beginning of this year i got my hands on two hip gadgets : an iPad and a Kindle (one was a present the other i bought myself). Contrary to what people might believe about me i don't tend to buy that many electronic toys and don't have a house full of the latest gadgets (though i do have a lot of junk). So getting two funky gadgets in quick succession was rather novel.

When i got both i blogged and tweeted about them but those was just first impressions, now we are a few months down the line with both devices i thought it would be interesting to write down some further thoughts on how i have found these two devices now the novelty has worn off.

So the iPad, can it change your life? I don't know about you but it has changed my life. Its the first properly "personal computer" i have had (and i date back to the ZX-80 in 1981 in microcomputer terms) indeed since i have got my iPad, which is never far from my side at home, my Macbook has seen a lot less usage. Of course this depends on what you consider a personal computer to be. I consider it to be a computer you can have on or near your person at all times. Otherwise its a microcomputer and i've had plenty of those pal.

A measure of an item's success is that if you didn't have it anymore you would miss it terribly. I feel that way about my head and also about my iPad. So why is it so wonderful. Maybe its because it is just so quick and convenient to use.

If i want to check a webpage its so fast to turn it on and load that page. No need for waiting for it to boot up, loading various hidden and mysterious processes into memory and so on. Its great for surfing while watching TV though i have found tweeting on the iPad somewhat poor. The official Twitter client is adequate but others like Tweetdeck which i use on my home and work computers just unusable yet. So i have not live-tweeted Masterchef this year as i have in the past but instead live-Facebooked it. I'm sure my FB friends have been thrilled by that.

So that is what i use the iPad for: surfing, email and the occaisional game of Solitaire the iPad is perfect. I have yet to go out on the road much with it though, mostly because there is no wireless at my office. I did take it to London with me to visit the in-laws a few months ago and it was much more convenient than taking down my laptop. There was no wireless on the train though and i got bored of Solitaire by the time i got to Leamington Spa. So its pretty useless without an internet connection.

Its not perfect for everything so my Macbook can breathe a sigh of relief as it won't be consigned to the Apple museum in my house anytime soon. For instance i wouldn't bother writing a long blog entry like this on the iPad. The virtual keyboard is ok for Facebook statuses and tweets but using it for anything longer than that would drive me to murder. I've bought a few apps but most leave me cold and remain largely unused, the Teletext viewing app was quite cute though.

In summary the iPad is an information appliance and a truly personal computer. Its wonderful and can be life-changing but you still need a microcomputer too. I still don't get why people would queue for hours outside the stores to wait to get version 2 though.

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