iPad notes and comparisons (part 1)

Saturday, July 31, 2010
I've been playing with my new toy, our 32g iPad. We have the one that's Wi-Fi only, because at home we have a wireless router.

Some notes - if you're like me and want to sync your Google contacts and calendar to it, don't set it up with the Gmail option, go to Google's site first and read up on how to set it up so it pulls all that information:

http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=138740

Here's another article about it:

http://www.gilsmethod.com/how-to-sync-your-gmail-google-contacts-and-calendar-with-the-ipad

You have to use the Microsoft Exchange option for email and plug your Gmail account in that way. It's kind of a pain in the butt, but it's doable.

Yes, you can (if you're like me) add several Gmail accounts to your iPad at once. The interface is a little bulky for my tastes, but usable.

If you're like me and you're a PC and not a Mac person, some things like the Safari (web browser) interface might feel a little funky. Personally, I'm not fond of iTunes as a vehicle for file syncing and transferring, because it always seems to want to re-sync stuff I don't want touched, etc. I wish Apple had allowed users to interface with the iPad quickly, easily, and painlessly with the same file management you have in Windows. (Which I've seen older versions of Mac and you can move files/folders that way too, not sure if newer versions of the OS took that away, but whatever.) There are some ways to transfer files via Wi-Fi, but if you're not a geek, chances are you might find yourself a little frustrated.

Ebooks, if formatted properly, look nice. Backlit, so those who want that can read in the dark, but to me it's hard on the eyes for long-term reading. I like the finger touching to turn a page. However, the screen gets marked up like crazy as a result and must be wiped down.

Battery life isn't as long as the Kindle or nook, and even my little Toshiba Satellite if I have the screen brightness turned down and I'm only running one program like Word is fairly comparable. The nook battery is replaceable, Kindle and iPad isn't. (Don't think my Sony is, but don't know about the newer Sony readers.)

Now, I play very few games on a computer, I don't do a lot of video watching or music listening (I have an iPod and use that). I can see where someone who does a lot of that would benefit from an iPad over another reader. You can download the Kindle app for the iPad (free) and read Kindle books on it, ditto the B&N app for your nook books. So if you have your computer, a Kindle (and/or nook), and the iPad hooked up to the same account, your family isn't fighting over the ereader. LOL

I don't like the layout of the iPad bookstore. It doesn't feel very user-friendly, then again like many people, I'm spoiled by the Kindle store layout.

Also, I'm a touch typist. I have to say that typing without a "real" keyboard takes a lot of getting used to and it's annoying being reduced to a two-fingered hunt and peck system. I'm going to have to look at the keyboard charger/dock they've got for the iPad.

Unlike nook or Kindle, you can load apps for various things including social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. So if that's important to you, you'll like that. But if you already have an iPhone, you're basically loading the same apps you use for that device. Since you can also get apps for things like Netflix (Did you know you can max out a Netflix queue? We did that. LOL) you can use it for things like home entertainment. Since we have a wireless router, that means hubby can be watching something through Netflix on the Wii in the living room and I can be sitting in the bedroom watching something else.

Unfortunately, when I tried to compose this blog post on the Safari browser, it wouldn't let me type in the text box, so there's some sort of conflict there. This means your functionality, while greater than on a Kindle or nook (which both have rudimentary browsers) is still reduced compared to a laptop or even some smart phones. (I've done some research, and apparently it's a known issue. You can set up your Blogger account to do the posting from email, but that means you can't go back and easily edit on the fly. So if you're planning on using the iPad as an on-the-go Blogger tool, think again. I don't know yet if there are workarounds because I tried one suggested one, using the Edit Html post mode, and it didn't work for me. Maybe if there was a Firefox or Chrome iPad app (hint to developers, please, thank you). I thought I might have a workaround with the browser built into the Readdle Docs app, but apparently it's Safari-based too.

I bought the Pages app and will test that as a back-up word processor. Supposedly you can export into .doc format, so it might be an option for me as a back-up, but if I seriously anticipated being on the go, I'd have my laptop with me.

I still have to say I prefer reading on my nook or Kindle or even the Sony because the e-ink screen is easier on my eyes. (I use a booklight like I would for a regular book.) The backlighting for reading isn't easy on my eyes.

If you want a dedicated e-reader, stick with Kindle, nook, or Sony, IMO. If you want a gadget, sure, the iPad is cool for that. And yes, you have the added bonus of being able to add the Kindle and B&N apps onto it so it's like three in one. (Sony doesn't apparently have a reader app for the iPad yet.) But if you have a laptop, or even a smart phone, and you're looking for an e-reader, you can save a lot of money and not need to plop extra money down for a 3G connection like you do with an iPad. If I go off somewhere and want an e-book, unless I'm near a Wi-Fi connection, I can't get squat on the iPad. But the nook and Kindle, usually you can (unless you're not in a service area). And there's no additional subscription for the wireless for the nook and Kindle like for the iPad.

On the iPad, you can't multi-task and there's no tabs for browsing which, I must say, I'm used to. If I want a computer for browsing, I want a laptop computer so I can really browse.

As I use it more, I'll post another review.

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