Not quite an iPad review - my initial thoughts

You may have noticed a few iPad articles creeping into my writing recently. I made a conscious choice to avoid the iPad when it first came out. At the time I didn't see how it fit into my computing habits. I love reading on Amazon's Kindle, so I don't need an e-book reader. I already go back and forth between several different laptop computers of various sizes, so the iPad didn't really seem like it would fit. What made me decide to buy an iPad? My major motivation became a fear of falling behind on covering a growing segment of computing usage. It's hard for me to stay on top of computing solutions if I don't use the source of the questions.

Now that I have one, I'm finding I really like the iPad for a number of things. I like it for reading anything that isn't a book. While I installed the Kindle software on the iPad, I still like Amazon's Kindle better for reading. There's something about the backlit screen that I still don't like as much as I like the Kindle's text. I do like reading all the blogs I subscribe to using an app called NewsRack. Flipboard looks pretty for reading things from Twitter and a select number of blogs, but I think the effect of reformatting content into a magazine style wears off after awhile. ReaddleDocs works great for PDF, Google Docs, and a bunch of other online document storage solutions (including my personal favorite, Dropbox). The iPad is an excellent way to browse photos and share them with other people. Watching video on the iPad is an outstanding experience when compared to other screens of the same size. It plays music too, but so far I haven't used the iPad as a music player.

What about productivity? As long as you install TextExpander to autofill frequently typed phrases, the iPad works great for jotting down notes in your favorite note taking app (I use Evernote). It's handy for responding to emails that only require a sentence or two. I've written a few 500+ word files on the iPad, but I'm not sure I would continue to do that without a Bluetooth keyboard connected. I've already tested out connecting remotely to a Windows desktop from the iPad, which works great but seems largely unnecessary. And for the serious geek, you can still get shell access to do command line work on remote servers.

If you publish content for a living as I do, you could do far worse than the combination of Photogene for quick photo editing and upload to Flickr, BlogPress for publishing articles, NewsRack for reading feeds and sharing the good stuff out to Twitter, and ReelDirector will work to edit some types of movies in a pinch although I don't expect it to replace desktop editing ever.

My two biggest gripes about the iPad relate to interacting with Google-owned websites. Google Docs is basically a read-only site in Safari on the iPad. The vast majority of apps are read only two. Fortunately, I found a workaround and figured out you can edit Google Docs using Office2 HD. The other thing I haven't figured out is how to reply to comments on YouTube videos. Commenting seems like a mundane task, but if someone comments on one of my videos, I get an email notification and would generally like to respond when appropriate. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe these are both the result of competition in the cell phone space between Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android OS, but I think it's just because Apple dumbed-down Safari for the iPad. I also find it annoying that Apple still doesn't offer an easier way to get non-Apple video content onto their devices.

Does this mean I think everyone should rush out and buy an iPad? No, many people simply don't need it. If you are considering buying a Netbook, I would strongly consider buying an iPad instead. Overall the iPad performs better than any Netbook I've used from a computing power perspective. If you're worried about the ability to type, get a Bluetooth keyboard to go with it. If you commute on a train, bus, or ferry, the iPad is a far better form factor than a laptop for most forms of media consumption. If you don't type much but want to have the convenience of a computer you can take with you, the iPad is an excellent option, because it does a great job of stripping away all the stuff you wouldn't want from a computer without leaving you with any features you really miss.

How about you? Do you own an iPad? Are you planning to get one? Why or why not?