iPad Update – Where we learn if optimism be virtue or vice

Two weeks ago I wrote of how boundless optimism and a bit of research was helping me avoid worrying about the 10 most common iPad complaints and make the deal.  I promised to post an update on whether my optimism was misguided.

Before addressing each of the 10 iPad complaints and whether they proved valid or significant, I’ll say as a general matter that my optimism has been handsomely rewarded.  The iPad is a great device.  Simply put, I knew within about an hour that I’d need to get another one for The Beverage’s better half (mother’s day provided the perfect opportunity).

The iPad does not lack for people extolling its virtues, so I won’t linger here over the more common “wow” experiences on which others have reported at length.  What I’ve not seen discussed much is how good the email client is.

I found reports here, here and here that refer to the great email experience, and the people who design marketing-type emails for a living (who knew?) are apparently psyched.  Notwithstanding, email remains, in my view, the most under-appreciated aspect of the iPad.

Since it first emerged ten years ago, the blackberry has always been tolerated, not loved.  It offered the promise of mobility and ease of use at the expense of a decidedly limited email experience.  I killed my old blackberry account (and threw the device in the river – sorry manatees) the Monday after I got the iPad.  Just don’t need it anymore.

“How am I going to check my emails at the ballgame when I can’t fit the iPad in a pocket,” you ask?

I’m not.  Never should have been in the first place.  If people urgently need something from me when I’m at the beach on a Sunday afternoon, that’s what my cell phone is for.

Email on the iPad is so much better than either the laptop or smartphone that I find myself using it even when I’m sitting at my desk in the office.  The standard Apple Mail programs on the desktop and iPhone both have their shortcomings, but somehow Mail on the iPad hits the sweet spot.  It is big enough to read, you can see embedded graphics and attachments in vivid detail and you can manage everything by touch.  The feeling of being like John Anderton in the opening sequence of Minority Report comes on very quickly and is intoxicating.

With the extent to which we’ve come to fetishize email in the modern business world, I’m a bit surprised that email on the iPad hasn’t received more attention, but I think we’re likely to find in a few years that the iPad (or something like it) has become a mobile email client of choice for many professionals.  And for those who’ve found the ease of handheld email a vice – using it too much in the car or the meeting or at dinner – the iPad can put a healthy physical circuit breaker on the urge to slake the blackberry thirst.  I’ve found that social norms are evolving around blackberry use very quickly, and, depending on where and how you work, your blackberry fetish may have become gauche without your knowledge.  The iPad offers a nice middle path.

So now, the updated list of debunked iPad drawbacks…click here for the original post.

  1. WiFi Connectivity – As noted in the original post, really two alleged problems here, signal strength and IP leasing.  For me, wifi signal strength was immediately obvious as a problem in the home network.  The iPad doesn’t appear to be a whole lot worse than the iPhone in this regard, but I’ll admit to having had a few minutes of fairly extreme frustration over this on iPad day one.  But, as predicted, this was limited to far flung reaches of the home network, and it was quickly solved with some wifi signal boosting work with a previously underutilized old Airport Express.  On the other hand, IP leasing has not been a problem at all, even in my highly-structured office wifi environment.
  2. Overheating – Can’t say that I’ve really tried hard to test this, but it hasn’t turned up once in my normal use.  It is not precisely cool here, and we’ve been routinely iPading out on the deck with no problems.
  3. Can’t Print – The urge hasn’t come up.  Although, I have had occasion to use a deck of slides on my iPad and avoid the need to print something.
  4. Can’t Type – Pleasant surprise.  As some had reported, I’ve found the soft keyboard on the iPad comfortable and easy to use.  When emailing, if you type with purpose like me (think Up in the Air) there is a satisfying thump sound produced when you hit the imaginary keys, and I find it much more appealing than the click of a laptop or the stony silence of desktop quiet keys.  I haven’t used the iPad with an external wireless keyboard once, but I am also typing this on my laptop.
  5. No Multitasking – Honestly, kind of a bummer.  Especially with respect to audio, like Pandora or NPR, it would be nice to have something running in the background while you email or surf the web.  Having said that, buying a second iPad solves this problem nicely.
  6. No Flash – In the original post, I poked fun at this guy for saying that his iPad was useless because all restaurant menus are in flash, but, sure enough, I’m ordering pizza online and you can’t see the magical graphic showing what your pizza will look like.  I was able to imagine what my pizza would look like anyway, but you really can’t look at most restaurant menus on your iPad (today).  I’m exceedingly confident that the market will solve this problem in due course, but it is real right now.
  7. No Camera – I’ll repeat here, “just what I needed, a giant camera.”  The thought hasn’t even crossed the deepest synapses of my reptilian brain to want to take a picture with this 9.5-inch object.  We spent a century getting the camera down to a size that will fit comfortably in your swim trunks, and people apparently want to roll back the clock.  There will almost certainly be a camera of some kind on this thing eventually for video conferencing and the like, but, try as I might, I just can’t summon the visual of someone holding an iPad up in front of their face to snap a family portrait at the Mall of America.
  8. Won’t Power Up – The on button has worked without fail so far.
  9. USB Charging – Hasn’t posed a problem, although I did notice that it stops charging when plugged into a MacBook Pro if you close the lid.  In the helpful technical evaluation that my company put together for the iPad, they ominously report that it can only charge with a “proprietary charger” supplied with the device.  In fact, if anything charging in my life has been simplified because the same cord can serve to hook both the iPhone or iPad to the laptop, and I’ve shed all those (damn proprietary) blackberry chargers.
  10. Too Salty – I’ve actually found it sweet.

In the end, the apps make all the difference, but didn’t we know that already?  Some favorites of mine are MLB, Pandora, NPR, Epicurious, IMDB.  Armed with the right apps, the iPad is the mythical internet appliance for the kitchen, patio, family room, etc.  It makes a fantastic and attractive digital jukebox when running iTunes or Pandora, and it is great for playing Scrabble.  It isn’t for everyone, especially those who think they’ll replace all of their other computers, but it fits perfectly in my life (if not in my hand).

2 Responses to “iPad Update – Where we learn if optimism be virtue or vice”

  1. 1 Telly Fathaly May 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks Beverage. Well thought out, TF

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