I’ve been meaning to get round to writing this blog post for so long but work projects and Christmas have taken over my life somewhat recently (I also think I’ve been putting it off because writing about it might make me want one even more!). I borrowed an iPad for just over a week (thank you BCU eLibrary team!) and I loved it. Unlike my experience with the Kindle, everything I tried to do on the iPad just worked or was even easier than I had expected. I’m going to try not to let the shiny shiny aspect of it overtake my thoughts though and give an objective view of what I liked and didn’t like about the iPad. NB: I wrote about the iPad as a reading device as a guest blog post for the eLibrary team, but this post is about the device more generally.

Mobile RSS on iPad

Mobile RSS on iPad (click for larger image)

Pros

  • Multi-purpose device – I loved the fact that with the iPad I had pretty much everything I needed for an office on the go. I had an e-reader, a web browser, a note taker, a document creator, access to my email and intranet (SharePoint), music to listen to, videos to watch, and games to play too. Some of this is native to the iPad, others required an app download.
  • Touchscreen – my biggest gripe with the Kindle was the lack of touchscreen; I’m so used to using the touchscreen on my phone that it just seemed weird to not have one. The touchscreen on the iPad was great to use, and really intuitive. Some people don’t like typing on the iPad but I liked it – particularly in landscape mode with the stand that holds it at a slight incline. I took it to an event and found it much less disruptive for note taking (my netbook had a really clicky keyboard!). Pinching to zoom was good too, and it’s responsive for playing games (though I did suffer slight friction burn when playing Air Hockey!).
  • Interactive reading – there are a number of magazines you can purchase specifically for the iPad, and some interactive picture books for children. The iPad I borrowed had Wired magazine on there, and the Alice in Wonderland lite version. I love the way that you can now read a magazine but follow up hyperlinks right away, or watch a related video embedded within the magazine. I even downloaded a cross stitching magazine so that you can use a digital chart instead of a paper one.  The picture books are incredible, I don’t have children to read to but my cats were fascinated by the interactive parts of the book!
  • Variety of apps – in addition to the books you can get from iBooks and the standalone interactive books you can get, there are so many great iPad apps out there. I tried out some of the productivity apps and was really impressed with some of the RSS and document readers (e.g. MobileRSS for easy sync with Google Reader, Flipboard for a different way of viewing your news, and GoodReader to save and read documents like PDFs) and document creation apps (I used PlainText to create files and folders whilst offline which then synced with my Dropbox account when I was next online and have played with the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps in the Apple Store which seem very easy to use).
  • Battery life – as someone who charges their iPhone every night and often carries around the charger to top up throughout the day, I imagined the iPad would have similar battery life. I was pleasantly surprised that after extensive use throughout the day I still had almost half the battery left. I certainly wouldn’t be worried about it running out throughout the day, unlike my netbook which lasts about 90mins on a good day. It’s not as good as the Kindle but for a multi-functional device I used so heavily I was really impressed.

Cons

  • Weight – I think this was probably the main downside for me. I love to read in bed, but there’s no way I could read from the iPad in bed because it’s too heavy. I did try leaning up and just holding it but it was still too heavy. I tended to use the iPad in its case which was angled and worked really well. I don’t think I’d like to have an iPad without the case as even just holding it to read whilst I was on the train was a little too heavy. It’s nothing silly, but it’s just that little bit too heavy to lift for a long time, and that’s a bit frustrating.
  • Size – this is a difficult one as I really liked have a decent sized screen for the keyboard and when using apps like Mobile RSS or Pages, but I couldn’t fit the iPad in my handbag. I guess in one sense that would just give me an excuse to buy a new handbag, but I do wonder if it’s just that little bit too big really. It could definitely benefit from being thinner, and having seen what can be done with the new Macbooks I imagine that’s something that will come in time.
  • Multi-purpose device – yes I know I had this as a pro too, but I am a serial multi-tasker and I get distracted far too easily. The problem with a device that enables me to do lots of different things is that I use it to do lots of different things, and find at times that I am distracted from what I should be doing. So if I’m reading a report but I also have my RSS reader or Twitter open, I’ll check those every now and again too. This isn’t a fault of the device so much as an issue with my focus – maybe I need to try unitasking.

So… iPad or Kindle?

Having now tried both out, I think there is a place for both an iPad and a Kindle as they are very different devices. The Kindle was good for solely reading, and the iPad was good as a mobile office device. The iPad meets so many needs, but I don’t think it would replace my paperback books due to its size and weight. A Kindle however I could see me using in place of my books, but not much else. At the moment I see the Kindle as more of a leisure device (unless they sort out the PDF problems I had in which case it could be also used for business purposes), and I see the iPad being used as a mobile office to increase productivity whilst away from a PC, but it also can be used as a leisure device too. If I could only choose one device, it would be the iPad, and I think I’d use it for keeping up-to-date (e.g. RSS reading, tweeting), and reading/writing/editing documents on the go. I am missing the iPad already; at an event I attended with my netbook I missed it when where I sat was determined by the proximity to a power supply and I was clicking away on my netbook, and I’m missing it because it actually encouraged me to keep up-to-date with my RSS feeds, which already I am way behind on.

It’s been really good to have the opportunity to try both of these devices out, but unfortunately it has lead me to the conclusion that I need far more gadgets in my life! Maybe they will have some in the January sales (I can dream!).

As this is my last post before Christmas (only 7 and a bit hours to go!), I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Has anyone got an iPad or a Kindle on their Christmas list? I hope you’ve been good enough to receive one if so!

  • New Blog Post: My thoughts on the iPad http://joeyanne.co.uk/2010/12/24/my-

  • Interesting review – thanks Jo. I pretty much agree with everything that you said, and in my own comparison my answer to the question ‘which one shall I get?’ was ‘Both’. The only slight surprise was your comment on weight – I really didn’t find it heavy in the slightest and don’t have any problems reading with it. Maybe I’ve got slightly stronger fingers? Anyway – I think you’re spot on and I found your insights very interesting – thanks for that. 🙂

    • Thanks Phil, I was particularly interested to hear that you’d decided to get a Kindle despite already having an iPad – definitely confirmed my view that they serve different purposes.

      I guess maybe I do have weak girly fingers/hands/wrists! Do you tend to hold the iPad with two hands or one?