I bought an iPad pretty much on a whim (after months of considering it) at Best Buy last week, so I’ve been carrying it around for six days now. Initial thoughts: It’s kinda awesome, but does it add much to my work and play, at least in comparison to the cost? Well, at times. Overall, I like the device a lot. Here’s my initial reactions:
Mediated social play is so much more convenient
I had friends over on Friday night, and instead of the usual “lets look up a youtube video on a laptop” (usually Lady Gaga or another great music video and comic act), it was much easier to pull out the iPad and have people see it more conveniently. And the lightweight-hand-it-off’edness of the machine is super easy.
Having two screens is better than one
I’m finishing up grading my students e-portfolios and record keeping on blog posts. I’ve found it so much easier to have my spreadsheets open on my laptop and to read my students’ e-portfolios on the iPad. This is my grading workspace this morning:
Email is easy and I’m excited for portability
I resisted for a long time downloading my email to my iPhone — I didn’t want to be checking it while driving, talking with friends, and so forth. I figure I’m already too connected, and there are too many ways to get a hold of me as it is (sometimes, it’s just annoying that I can be called, texted, tweeted at, twitter direct messaged, emailed, or facebook messaged at any moment). Plus, the screen on the iPhone is just so small. So, I never downloaded it, even when it was annoying during travel because I might go three days without checking my email. However, I immediately set up my email on my iPad, and I feel that with the portability of the device, it’ll be great for checking email when I don’t have my laptop — and I have the wifi version (not the 3G version), so I can still only check it while in a wifi area. I think this will add a level of convenience to my email. Plus, since I used my gmail IMAP, it syncs well with my Apple Mail client, and prompted me to clear out my inbox considerably so it wasn’t all on the iPad as well.
The device draws the gawkers
Immediately, while using the iPad at coffee shops, people stop and stare — to the extent that some people at Starbucks watched me through the window last week. I get questions and people asking to play with it briefly, which is kind of cool. It’s probably my first device that people want to play with it, besides the iPhone (but I came to the iPhone considerably later, so much fewer people have asked to play with it).
The iPad changes the way I view my iPhone
Wow, does the keyboard feel small on the iPhone now!
I like the interface, the keyboard, and the battery life
A lot of people complain that the interface of the machine is poor: no multitasking, not as easy to make it a productive machine rather than a device for consuming, limited ability to change the interface, etc. I agree with some of the complaints, but if I want to be doing multitasking, I’d be on my laptop. The keyboard is easy to type on when the iPad is on its in landscape mode — my man-hands are too big to homerow type, but I’m getting pretty fast at typing with only my index fingers. In fact, writing emails and blog comments has been pretty easy. (I suppose I could be typing this on the iPad, but I’m not.) I like that I can’t multitask as easily — if I’m reading a student’s e-portfolio, I don’t go and check twitter. Of course, I haven’t tried a task that takes more time (like actually reading a book). And the battery lasts a long time (so much so that today is the first time I’ve really charged it since getting it).
Has it revolutionized your life?
A barista asked me this yesterday. No, it hasn’t. The iPhone changed my communication structures and information literacy habits quite a bit, but so far, the iPad’s influence hasn’t been that great.
Isn’t it a waste of money?
I’ve found myself defending my purchase a number of times, because many folk see it as a toy that “is somewhere between an iPhone and a computer,” and in some ways, it is. Is it a waste of money? Sure, in the same way that all these conspicuous consumption items are (fancy clothes, computers that are quicker than you need, purses, eating lunch at a coffee shop instead of at home, etc.). I think the cost is worth it just to experiment, and to see how new devices affect the ways I work and play.
And I’m still experimenting and spending time with the iPad to see how I can integrate it into my work and play. I haven’t used it as much as I’d like (mostly because I’m reading print books a lot and have been dealing with the end of the term).