Way back when on January 27th, I got out of bed got out of bed while vacationing in Kauai, poured a cup of coffee and fired up my laptop. I immediately went to Engadget’s live blog of the Apple announcement regarding the much rumoured iPad.
My first thoughts on seeing what the iPad could do was that while it was a cool device, I really didn’t think I would get one anytime soon. To me it was just an overgrown iPod Touch. With it you could read eBooks, play music and video (not high def though), show photographs and use iPhone Apps. All in a device that weighed 1.5 pounds.
I use a Sony PRS-600 Reader and really like the experience of reading on that device (although the screen is not as good as my older PRS-505). It is fairly small, easy to handle and comfortable to read for long periods of time with it’s E-Ink screen.
As time went and more specs on the iPad were released there were a few things that really started to make me think it wasn’t the device for me. Apple was saying it would get 10 hours of battery life and I have come to learn with most manufacturers, you can take that number down by 20 or 30%. I think the real turn off in regards to this device was the fact that it wouldn’t support ePub books using the Adobe Digital Editions DRM scheme which is most of the books in my library and that Apple would have it’s own fairplay DRM on eBooks. Once again Apple was putting it’s users in a closed system and forcing users to buy from them alone.
One of the things that I really like about my Sony Reader is the fact that it does support the ADE DRM scheme. Last fall Sony’s own book store went all ADE ePub from a proprietary format and they have been supporting the ADE format on all of the readers since July 2008. This is very important to me as I am not tied to the Sony Store to purchase my eBooks! In fact I have bought books from Sony, booksonboard.com, Dieselebooks.com and Kobo as well as renting them from my public library. This open system has not tied me to one book seller and I can shop around for the best prices on my eBooks.
So what has changed over the last few weeks that I have re-sparked my interest in the device. Well there are several factors. I do have a iPod 3rd gen Touch device that I carry for pocket computer use more than as an iPod (I use a Microsoft Zune 120 and a 32 GB Zune HD hooked up to a Zune pass for music and podcasts). I have found several apps though for the Touch that I use frequently and that I feel would work very well on an iPad. These apps could also allow me to use the iPad instead of my Asus 1000H Net Book.
One app I use is from Kobo Books, Chapters\Indigo Canada EBook store. I have been buying more and more books from them as they work on my Sony Reader, on my Blackberry Bold, my iPod Touch and any of my computer systems. In addition, they have created an app for the iPad so I will be able to read books that I have purchased on that device as well.
Zinio – I don’t read a lot of magazines, but I do have a couple of subscriptions through Zinio. Their iPhone/iPod app that was recently released does a good job of displaying my magazines and they have already released an iPad app as well.
Txtr – This is a little app I found that allows me to transfer my ADE ePub books to my iPod and read them although it is a clunky procedure. To get books on my iPod Touch I have to upload them to my txtr account then download them to my Touch via the app. I am sure they will be writing an iPad app when they can get their hands on one (they are located in Germany). This will allow me to move some of my eBooks to the iPad and read them there, In fact I can move virtually my entire EBook library to the iPad.
Kindle App. While I don’t have a Kindle I have purchased one book through Amazon that I couldn’t get anywhere else as an eBook. The Kindle App for the iPad will let me read this book as well I can purchase other Kindle books if I want to in the future.
WordPress App. Using the WordPress app I can post blog entries via the iPad.
Smugmug has developed an iPad app which allows their users to show off their photo galleries on the iPad. I really like Smugmug and have been using them for a couple of years to publish my pictures too.
If OnOne Software comes out with a version of DSLR Remote for the iPad that would be really nice to use. This software allows owners of DSLR cameras to remotely control the camera hooked up to a laptop and see the live view image on the device as well as make adjustments to the exposures etc. It works very well on my iPod touch and seeing this on the larger screen of an iPad would also be nice.
I am also hoping the Dataviz will release Documents to Go for the iPad. I use this application extensively on my Blackberry Bold and iPod Touch to edit and compose Word and Excel documents.
Some things have also come about about in regards to the hardware itself also make me want to go ahead and use the device. Reports are that the screen is gorgeous although highly reflective and nearly unreadable in bright sunlight. As a photographer I still think that this would be a great platform to show off some of my favourite digital pictures.
People who got the iPad in the US have been reporting outstanding battery life and in most cases they are finding that it is well in excess of the 10 hours Apple is claiming. Even movie playback has been very good with some people reporting that after playing a full length movie that the battery only drops 10%.
Bluetooth – The ability to hook up my Apple Wireless Keyboard or my Dell travel keyboard via Bluetooth to the device is a step forward. While I hear the on screen keyboard is usable for short periods of time, doing more on the device would be nice with the ability to hook up a regular keyboard. This has been one of my biggest complaints about the iPhone since it was released and that is also finally changing with the release of iPhone OS 4.0.
There is enough in what I have heard and read to make we want to reconsider getting the iPad. It could replace my net book for some uses, would make a great browsing device while watching TV or being away from my desktop and would be a great travelling device. I could even use it to take meeting notes. There are still some negatives but I think I can overcome them.
Highly reflective screen – While the screen is great for most indoor uses reports are that it is nearly unreadable in bright sunlight. I will more than likely use the device mainly indoors.
No multitasking. This is something that I could use however it is coming with the release of OS 4.0 sometime in the fall
Lack of forward facing camera. Not a big deal for me as most Skype calls that I do are not video anyway (at least not yet).
No Adobe Flash Support. This could be a big factor, however this will change over time as Apple is supporting HTML 5 which allows for Video and content delivery without the need for Flash and most website designers are scrambling to have HTML 5 sites ready.
1.5 Lbs – While I will do some reading on the device, my Sony PRS-600 will still be my main eBook reading device. The 1.5 Lbs however is still lighter than my current laptops or net book.
No USB port – Everything is transferred to the device via one of my least favourite applications (iTunes). There are some workarounds that I can use and online services like Dropbox come in very handy.
A release date has not been officially announced in Canada yet although Apple’s web site indicates late April. Rumoured dates seem to be April 24th and Canada will have the Wi-Fi version as well as the 3G versions being released concurrently. I am interested in seeing the 3G Plan pricing that will go along with the iPad and who the carrier will be. It will also be interesting to see what the battery life will be like with a 3G radio in it. The original specs indicated that the 3G version would be unlocked so that might be the way to go and just move my SIM card from my Rogers phone over to the iPad. Alternatively I have a Cradlepoint router that I can use with my Bold’s data plan to share wi-fi with other devices and Rogers has also started to sell a MyFi device on their network which I have considered getting.
I will more than likely choose a Wi-Fi 16 or 32 GB iPad and will be keeping a close eye on Apple’s website watching for the release dates.
If I do get an iPad watch for my review of it here!