One Week With the iPad

I’ve been using my iPad for a little over a week now, so it’s time for some impressions. Before reading onward, it might be a good idea to read a previous post of mine where I laid out my potential use cases for an iPad. Much has been written concerning the pros and cons of the various iPad configurations. Ultimately I ended up pre-ordering a 32 GB WiFi+3G model.

I chose 32 GB as a compromise between the low end and high end models. In regards to storage, I have far too much media to ever hope that a mobile device would be sufficient to handle it, and I already carry a 16 GB iPhone 3G with 8 GB dedicated to music. Instead I created a 2 GB smart playlist based on my iPhone playlist to sync to the iPad.

I ultimately chose to wait for a 3G model in order to maximize flexibility. Given the very reasonable pricing of the AT&T data plans, it just makes sense to purchase the 3G models if you can afford it (not that I can afford any of this)

So, the burning question is: what do I think of e iPad now that I’ve had a chance to use it? I’m not going to give an in-depth review, as that has been done to death. Instead I want to comment on a few areas that have stood out to me.

The first area that I’d like to comment on is iBooks. As I mentioned in the afore-linked post, reading on the iPad is something that I was extremely interested in. After a week of reading on the iPad I have to conclude that, as an e-reader, the iPad is a qualified success.

To provide some background I was an early adopter of e-reading. I have an extensive library of ebooks, mainly from Barnes and Noble and their subsidiary Fictionwise. I have read those e-books using software running on Palm PDAs, Mac OS and the iPhone. The iPad trumps all those devices.

I decided, even before I received my iPad, that I wanted to avoid using multiple different e-reader applications on the iPad. Happily I have been successful in that goal. My e-book library initially contained approximately 400 titles already available in DRM-free EPUB format. The remaining 150 or so titles were in various different DRM encumbered variants of the MobiPocket and Fictionwise/Barnes & Noble eReader formats. A bit of judicious googling will reveal simple methods of removing the DRM from those formats. (Note: The legality of removing DRM may vary based on location. This is not a recommendation to do so.) Once that is done they may be converted into EPUB with the truly horrifying open-source program Calibre. Once in non-DRMed EPUB format, transferring to iBooks on the iPad is as simple as dragging the EPUB files into the Library in iTunes and configuring the appropriate sync setting.

I do have to agree with those that claim that the iPad is not a perfect replacement for dedicated e-readers. No one in their right mind would claim that the iPad’s LCD screen is better for reading text than the e-ink screens in the Kindle or Nook. However, I’d like to see someone play Plants vs. Zombies on a Kindle.

That takes us to an area that I had honestly not even considered when debating whether to purchase an iPad: gaming. I’m not much into gaming to begin with, but I’ve always carried a few games on my iPhone in order to pass the time. On the iPad, though, gaming truly shines. The larger screen makes even pixel-doubled games more enjoyable to play than on the iPhone.

Another task that I’m enjoying on the iPad is watching video. Shows that I’ve purchased through iTunes, YouTube and Netflix have all worked flawlessly.

Finally, I’d like to comment on the final task that I anticipated using the iPad for, blogging. I suppose that the best commentary on this topic is the fact that this post has been primarily written on the iPad using the Blogpress app. It ain’t perfect, but it’s doable. Hopefully Automatic will update their Wordpress app to be actually usable (seriously, no copy and paste?). Or, ven better would be MarsEdit for the iPad. One can only hope.

At any rate, there you have it. My rambling thoughts after one week of iPad ownership. Maybe I’ll revisit this in a few months when the powdered unicorn horn in the case wears off.

Pre-publishing update:

I (wisely) chose to check this post in Wordpress’ web editor before the final publish. The formatting as sent by Blogpress was horrible. Seriously, someone needs to make a decent blogging tool for the iPad.