So I finally broke down and purchased an iPad.
For about a year I've been wondering if I should get an ebook reader like the Kindle or the Nook. When Apple came out with the iPad my curiosity heightened, but after a cursory review, I wondered what I would do with such a gadget. I mean, I already had an iPhone — wasn't an iPad simply a glorified iPhone without the ability to make phone calls?
I finally broke down when — after a recent trip — I decided it just wasn't practical for me to continue bringing a couple of books and purchasing magazines and newspapers at the airport stores for reading material. With its small screen, reading books on my iPhone just wasn't working. Although I knew it would cost a little up front, having a device with an ebook reader and big screen would allow me to bring my library with me in a small but usable package.
While the family and I were out shopping today, I slipped into the Apple store and bought the iPad with the 3G ability. Although I like gadgets, I'm not a real tech guy and I wondered whether it would be tough to set up the capabilities of the iPad. My fears were assuaged when the friendly "genius" at the Apple store helped me through a series of screen prompts and got me up and running on the iPad, with 3G capabilities, in less than 10 minutes.
For those who might not know much about the device, the iPad has a screen size a little smaller than an 8.5x11 piece of notebook paper and weighs a mere fraction of a typical notebook computer. With a cover for protection, it still looks and feels more like a small book, not a tech device. It is much easier to handle and tote around than a laptop and has a much bigger screen and more processing power than an iPhone.
After leaving the store, I headed over to lunch where I fiddled with my new toy in between wrestling the kids and dodging pizza particles and drips of drinks. The iPad worked very well and was an absolute beauty to look at. The screen was crystal clear and the touch controls worked perfectly. I answered a few emails while typing on the pop up touch-screen keyboard and it barely slowed me down at all. This device is much handier than an iPhone for larger emails and other documents that require more than simple texting.
Later in the day I checked out the iBooks application. It was awesome. I downloaded multiple classics of literature including The Art of War, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Great Expectations-- all for free. The reading was easy and the controls used to manipulate the ebook reader were very intuitive. My main concern with reading on one of these devices was whether I would be able to "lose myself" into a good book or would I be distracted by a bright screen and clumsy controls. Thankfully, I felt instantly drawn into the storylines and did not feel that the technology involved was in any way a distraction. Since this was my main purpose for purchasing the device, I felt relieved and extremely pleased.
A few caveats: When comparing the iPad to the Kindle or the Nook, it must be said that it appears these other devices are far superior to the iPad in terms of the amount of book titles available for purchase. The Kindle has around 800,000 titles available and the Nook — the reading device developed by Barnes & Noble — has a color screen now and approximately 2.5 million titles from which to choose. I'm not sure what the total title count for the iPad is just yet — and I'm sure this count is quickly increasing — but a number of texts were not available to me when I browsed for them. Two major disappointments were Concierge Medicine, by my friend Dr. Steven Knope, and The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss, mentioned on Dr. Arlen Meyer's recent Entrepreneur's Reading List.
Another downside was that I could not figure out a way to properly maneuver through the Freelance MD editor's website in order to write this blog post using my iPad (a major test). This could simply be that I do not have the tech know-how to accomplish the task on a new device like the iPad, or it could be a deficiency of the device itself. At this point I'm not sure, but since I hope to use the iPad as my primary travel computing device, I found this deficiency most disappointing.
The only other complaint I have is that the 3G network seemed a touch slow at times and it took a considerable time to load web pages that had a lot of graphics or other visual components. I'm not sure if this was due to poor reception or simply the speed of the network. Time will tell, I suppose.
In all, I am thus far happy with my purchase. I can read my books while I travel and carry a much smaller device through the airport. I can surf the web and respond to emails in an easier manner than on my phone and I have enough memory to download multiple movies and thousands of songs to take with me. Plus, I do not have to worry about the frustration of unpacking my laptop at every TSA security stop, and in this day of long lines and strip searches, this fact alone is enough to make me thankful for this sleek companion.
I'd be interested in whether anyone has any other opinion about the iPad or the other ereaders available. I've found that many owners of the Nook, Kindle, and Sony Reader quickly come to the defense of their little friends when they are unfavorably compared with the iPad. If any of you has feelings for one or the other of these devices, please let us know, and I'll keep everyone informed on how the iPad grows on me, or doesn't, in the near future.