March 21, 2011

The iPad and me

Although I use a Mac computer and much prefer its operating system to the Windows alternative, I am not really a fan in that I do not run out and buy the latest Mac gadget unless it has really useful functionality. I do not, for example, have an iPhone. I do have an iPod touch because it is functional. It fits in my pocket and enables to carry around my calendar and address book and sync the former with others in my office. If I am in a Wi-Fi hotspot I can check the internet, though I find the small screen wearying to look at for any length of time.

So when the iPad came out, it was not clear to me what additional functionality it provided. It seemed like a big iPod touch and why would I need that when I had a laptop? It is true that it is smaller than a laptop and so would be easier to carry around to meetings, but it was not clear to me that that was a sufficient advantage to invest in one. As far as I was concerned, it seemed like a solution to a non-existent problem.

But my university's technology department had a few iPads that they were passing around for people to check out to see if they had any ideas about how to use it at work and in teaching so I had one to play with for a few weeks.

My experience with the iPad has been interesting. Initially it was frustrating because I expected it to do everything a laptop did. In particular, I use my computer to write a lot even while reading. For example, I frequently want to jot down notes and ideas that occur to me while reading and the laptop enables me to go back and forth between reading and writing easily. The iPad? Not so much. You had to close one application to open the other and although it was quick, it was still awkward. The touch screen keyboard is big and easy to use but the keyboard being at the same angle of view as the screen made it awkward for me.

I realized that I was asking the iPad to do what it was not primarily intended to do. The iPad is great for receiving information but not so good for input. Once I let go of that expectation and worked with its strengths, it was better. I began to use it primarily as a reading device, to surf the web and read documents and that improved my experience.

One of the things that I was curious about was whether I would enjoy reading books on an e-reader. I had tried it with one of the earlier versions of the Kindle and had not liked it. I decided to give it another shot with iPad. There were five books that came with the iPad that was loaned to me. I had read four before but the fifth (The Count of Monte Cristo) was one that I had wanted to read for a long time, so clearly the anonymous person who had loaded these books onto the iPad was a kindred soul. This book is very long, over a 1,000 pages, and I figured it would be a good test of my ability to enjoy using an e-reader.

It is in reading this book that I have come to like the features of the iPad. The book features are easy on the eye and intuitive. The ability to search the book for events and characters that occurred before (important in long epic novels with lots of characters and complicated plot twists) and the built in dictionary and search features that link to Google or Wikipedia (again useful for a book set in another time and place and originally in another language so that there are many unusual words) are all nice to have. The Count of Monte Cristo has a complicated plot with many characters who take on different names and identities over time and whose stories intertwine. Characters whom one had encountered early on suddenly pop up much later. The ability to search the book made it much easier to keep track of things. I wish I had had it when I read other epic novels like War and Peace or Anna Karenina.

The deficiencies in the iPad as a book reader are the same as I had with the Kindle. One is that while you can change the font size, the size of the illustrations cannot be changed, which makes that feature irrelevant for technical books with lots of intricate figures. The other is that to give citations to things in books, you need to have the page number of a specific print edition. The books on the iPad have page counters but they are internal and vary with the chosen font size. Maybe there are ways to overcome these features that I am not aware of.

One big advantage is that with the iPad, you have immediate and free access to a vast array of classical literature that is now out of copyright. So with the purchase of this device, you had immediate access to all the old books you ever wanted to read without having to track them down. For someone like me who, when it comes to fiction, prefers to read the classics more than contemporary authors, this is a huge benefit.

I also played with some of the games that were on the iPad, including Angry Birds which I had heard so much about. They were ok but I am not a big fan of games and so soon got bored.

I found that I ended up using the iPad most in the last couple of hours at night in bed, reading the book and surfing the web before sleeping. It is much easier to use in bed than a laptop and the big backlit screen makes it easy on the eyes.

So my verdict is that the iPad is primarily an entertainment device and secondarily a work device because of the limited input capability, while the laptop is primarily a work device and secondarily an entertainment device.

Will I get an iPad, especially now that the new iPad2 is out? I've not decided but am thinking about it. Have any readers of this blog used an iPad? I'd be curious to hear your reactions.


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Not sure if you know but it is possible to connect a keyboard and mouse to your iPad.

For example:

Personally I am not an Apple fan but I do love my iPod Touch 4g. I would buy an iPad if the price point was a bit lower.

Posted by Henry on March 21, 2011 10:19 AM


I was aware of this option. But if I have to cart an extra keyboard around, it would make more sense to take my laptop which has more functionality and is one integrated unit.

Posted by Mano Singham on March 21, 2011 10:24 AM

Mano -

I expect that the work capability of the iPad depends a lot on what you're asking of it - several friends of mine work for a medical imaging company which has already released an app for viewing medical data. But I think your core assertion - that retrieving data on the iPad is much more convenient than inputting it, is correct. I'm looking forward to courtroom use for one - I think it has a lot of potential for document consolidation.

Regarding the page numbering, I expect that as e-books become more pervasive in academic areas, copy/paste citation software will automatically generate the appropriate citation with page number - you highlight the section you want to cite, press "cite," and it generates the right citation (based on the citation system you have selected in your preferences, such as Bluebook, MLA, etc). I think some e-book readers already have that feature, and expect them all to do so once the dust from the format wars settle.


Posted by Eric on March 21, 2011 10:36 AM

The apple ipad - seriously - is not a "Tablet PC" because the the very first thing it lacks is definitely an instruction set on the CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT to handle multi-media apps and multiple programs simultaneously. Those are a pair of points that all Computers (Apple and PC) can do, that the apple ipad do-not.

It is a really big smart phone, and should not really be called a Tablet-PC. it's just a big iPod Touch. That is really it - and the best part about an iPod Touch is that it's pocketable.

To be honest I am the wrong person to even want one of these as i'm 29 years old and, to be honest, don't mind lugging around my 17" Laptop because I always prefer speed... but i'm just the wrong demographic because I don't have a long non-car driven commute and thus don't use mobile internet as much as some... though the options out there seem to me that an iPad isn't going to do what it's marketed to do...

I also got an german website about the iPad, if you want to visit :)

Posted by Kadriye on March 31, 2011 04:15 PM

I've never been an Apple brand enthusiast. Now that things are shifting towards tablet pcs just like back in the days laptops were the next greatest thing, I still don't own any Apple brand products personally but we are using iPads here at work and let me tell you how good this gadgets are.

I'm just gonna say they are everything you want it to be. In the near future it will be everything you'll see at hospitals, restaurants and many other places. They are just awesome in every aspect.

Posted by Joe Mora on April 4, 2011 01:09 PM

I've had an iPad since it was first launched. I haven't owned many Apple products in the past but use an iPhone for lots of tasks and in particular staying up to date with a large selection of blogs. Unfortunately the smaller screen of an iPhone isn't great for reading so the appeal of the larger iPad screen really attracted me. On top of this I'm a bit of a tech-geek so the new form factor really excited me.

The core uses I now have for the iPad are surfing the web, staying on top of all the latest news on a large number of websites (I use an RSS reader app to get new posts as soon as they're published), watching videos (particularly web videos), checking and writing email, keeping up to date with social networks and a few other bits and pieces from apps I've downloaded.

Over that period I've also tried a number of other tablet PCs (Android and Windows operating systems) but none have come close to the polish and slickness of the iPad yet. That said, the iPad isn't perfect - it doesn't run Flash web videos and that can be frustrating when you're on the internet but can't access all the content as you would on a laptop.

The main selling point of the iPad for me is the ability to pick it up and immediately access the web/emails/news/videos etc. It's amazing how much you use the web when you don't have the 1-2 minute wait that a laptop has for getting booted up.

I think with the iPad and tablet PCs it's not immediately obvious why you might need one but once you have it, you really see the benefit. It just makes things simpler. Equally they're still quite expensive purchases so not everyone will be able to justify the cost.

Posted by Ted Summs on July 10, 2011 03:20 PM

I do not recomand you to buy an iPad, because is so useful, a smartphone has more utility than an iPad.

Posted by dizzyness on August 21, 2011 08:13 PM

iPad certainly had its limitation but as for my experience I can do my work with it. Documents, Reading files and of course for entertainment purposes.

Posted by mayrenissa on August 22, 2011 04:11 AM

I'm not really a fan of Apple so I was looking more into Android tablets like Xoom.
Android tablets are a bit more complicated than iPad but they are made more for work and then entertainment, so maybe you should look into some of them before buying an iPad.

Posted by Victor on August 22, 2011 10:15 PM

Well I love iPad but since I have a chance to hands on Android Tablet than I found that iPad's day is in number as Android tablets provide more features compare to iPad specially flash support and free to use which we miss in iPad!

I have no idea about iPad 3 but rumors suggest that it is coming with some excellent features so waiting for it when it will comes in market but right now Android Tablets is excellent for me

Posted by Rohit on September 26, 2011 01:08 AM

Hi Mano,
now that Amazon has four new kindles coming out, two are kindle touch and one is the normal ereader only cheaper than before. The other one is the kindle fire which is a lot cheaper than the iPad and may suit you better.

Posted by peter henry on October 30, 2011 10:16 AM

Hi Peter,

I bought an iPad2 and find that is is fairly useful, especially for relaxation activities and to take to meetings, since it is unobtrusive.

I don't think of it as an essential item like my laptop, but it is simply a convenient extra.

Posted by Mano on October 30, 2011 01:30 PM

I think the same, i love the convenience of my iPad, but i could still manage without it (would noty want to though) my laptop on the other hand is something i could never manage without.

Posted by Mike on November 13, 2011 09:28 AM

Mano, thanks for sharing. iPad is fun and being part of your life.

I totally agree that it's great for consuming content, but not typing as on my laptop.

Now, Kindle Fire is out and with this price point, it gonna be a great alternative for those who have lower budget right below $200.

For reading, I prefer reading on 10" screen iPad. For portability, definitely will go with Kindle Fire.

Posted by Ken on November 19, 2011 11:12 PM

The utility of tablet PCs goes way beyond surfing the net, playing games and reading books. Both iOS and Android based tablet PCs give you access to the app market and that is where the treasure trove is hidden. Apple definitely has an edge over Android as far as the app market is concerned, but Google is catching up fast enough. Data rates may be high, but you always can make use of Wi-Fi spots whenever possible. The biggest problem is - how do you determine which tab is best suited for you. My suggestion, just rent (yes, you can rent a tab) it for few days and decide to buy one when you are fully satisfied. That way you don't end up buying a wrong product.

Posted by Tom on November 20, 2011 11:56 AM

Nice Post and Mano, thanks for sharing. iPad is fun and being part of my life.

Posted by Marketing Tips on November 22, 2011 12:31 AM

Mano - thanks a lot for the article. I was never a fan of iPad earlier. But since I have bought and iPad - its changed totally :):)

I am just praying that Kindle Fire doesnt kill it :D Although the possibility of and product of Amazon taking over an Apple product seems very very low.

Posted by The Seeker on November 23, 2011 07:20 AM

I agree with your assessment. I bought an Ipad just because of the "cool" factor. I had a laptop and iphone alrady and I really didn't need it, but I just though was cool to have. Stupid huh?

Posted by Pajama Jeans on November 28, 2011 09:50 PM

Have you tried any android tablets? I was the same way and after testing, went with the droid (mostly because my cellular is a droid)

Also, I think if you jump into the app store you will find a LOT of organizational and productivity related apps that turn it into more than a large phone or portable video game :)
I think that we must also keep in mind stratification is impacted by socio-economic differences and in many places, nationality or heritage.

Warm Regards,

and REMEMBER to Picture Your Success!

Maurice W. Evans, Viral Marketing Expert
Certified Guerrilla Marketing Trainer
Certified John C. Maxwell Trainer
Creator of the Marketing Tips Video Newsletter.

Posted by Maurice W. Evans on January 5, 2012 04:01 AM

Your points make alot of since. In todays society alot of people, especially those in their teens and twenties tend to just buy things just to be cool. They care too much about what others think and tossing aside all common sense just to look cool in the eyes of their peers. It's really stupid the importance people put on appearing cool.

Posted by Kindle vs Nook on January 11, 2012 01:10 AM

Hi Mano,
now that Amazon has four new kindles coming out, two are kindle touch and one is the normal ereader only cheaper than before. The other one is the kindle fire which is a lot cheaper than the iPad and may suit you better.

Android Tablet | What Is Android Tablet

Posted by John on January 19, 2012 09:44 AM