Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Me And My iPad

by Lamont Swittenberg

After Two Weeks Of Living With The iPad In The Real World, The Device Proves To Be Worthy of The Hype

So I’ve been living with my iPad for a little over two weeks now and to quote Justin Timberlake, “I’m lovin’ it”. For a status-seeker like myself, it feels great to be the ultimate early adopter. I haven’t felt this popular in years. The device has been with me everywhere I’ve gone over the time period and I’ve truly soaked up all of the “ooh’s and ahh’s”. Those first few days were particularly gratifying. Every time I took it out, whether on the train to work or in a bar or at my local Starbuck’s, people just wanted to strike up a conversation about it. “Is that the iPad?” they would ask. “How is it? Can I touch it?” I even noticed people out of the corner of my eye, elbowing each other and pointing — “Look hunny, that guy has an iPad”. Even my seven year old son got into the spirit. He loved carrying it around with him while we were running errands that first Saturday, giving out demos and lapping up the attention. When a teenager spotted him playing with it at our local pizza parlor and remarked simply “Sick”, he really started to believe he was a coolest seven year old in town.

Beyond the ego boosting however, I am still having a hard time truly justifying the purchase. As I suspected, it hasn’t replaced any of my other gadgets (too big to trump a smart phone and too limited for word processing). So I can’t seem to shake the nagging guilt that has followed me around since making such a self-indulgent and unnecessary purchase. I also know deep down that my first-mover cred is coming with the additional burden of having paid more for the gadget than my later-adopters will, and that I am working through some of the bugs (crappy wifi, no Flash Player) that those folks won’t have to deal with.

But make no mistake about it. This thing is a joy to behold. All in all, the benefits still outweigh the costs. The screen resolution and user interface are just stunning. It’s a whole different computer experience from anything I’ve ever known. Around the house, I find myself thinking of things to look up, information that I need to know right now, just so I can whoosh away on my iPad screen; breezing through Google, and YouTube and the Weather Channel with the greatest of ease. Want to see the photos from our last ski trip? I hope so because I can’t resist showing you how great they look on the device.

And what a nifty travel companion this thing is. On our recent spring break beach vacation, the iPad proved be a durable and stupendously handy sidekick. At the airport I had all the entertainment I would ever need at my finger tips (and I didn’t even have to remove it from my bag to go through security). No more loading up on reading material, The Journal, USA Today, New York Times and GQ Magazine were all just one tap away. On the flight itself the only problem was that I had promised to loan the device to my son for a couple of hours so that he could watch “Where The Wild Things Are” (in crisp HD I might add) while other passengers craned their necks to sneak a peek. Finally, and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say this, but what has become most apparent is that the iPad is simply the greatest portable gaming device ever. As proof, during that entire vacation trip, my son barely removed his beloved Nintendo DSI from its case. He was too busy fighting me over access to all the many cool, clever, eye-popping apps that I had loaded up on the iPad.

So what drawbacks have I experienced besides guilt? Well, as I mentioned above, the lack of Flash can be a bit of a drag, and I did have all kinds of issues getting the wifi to work as I travelled about to different hot spots. The Flash problem isn’t going away, but the wifi thing seems to be less problematic now that I am back home. Also annoying is having to make do with iPhone apps that have not been optimized for the iPad. They look fuzzy when blown up to fit the device’s massive screen.

And sure, the iBooks application is amazing, I don’t think I will ever be able to fool with a paper back again. But one thing I noticed while trying to enjoy a novel by the pool is that the glare from the sun renders books unreadable. After trying to defeat the sun by cranking up the screen resolution to max brightness, the device actually gave me an “overheated” message, then shut itself off (Meanwhile, my wife’s Kindle was working just fine).

Other than those minor grievances however, my only problem will be trying not to blow too much money on the App Store, which is way too accessible. Maybe I need to put down my iPad for at least a few minutes a day so that those nagging guilty pangs don’t start to get the best of me.

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