Paul McAleer

Two Months with the iPad

Paul McAleer

And here we are, two months in with the iPad. Much like last month, I’d like to start out with the negatives and work my way back around to the positives. One thing I can say, negatives aside, is that the iPad is my main computer now.

Speed

Something I certainly never expected to be an issue is: the iPad is a little pokey in some areas to the point of annoyance. Video must be mentioned. Video from the iTunes store, fully downloaded, plays beautifully and always has. But YouTube video on the web leaves a bit to be desired. I haven’t confirmed this, but it seems that the iPad always downloads the highest quality version of a video. If I’m looking at a tiny video on a blog, this is overkill. The tradeoff, though, is that I can then blow up that video to full screen with no quality loss. It’s a tough call, but I’d like to see a smarter solution to this. Sometimes I don’t need a full screen video and I don’t want to wait multiple minutes for a 30-second clip to load.

The other place I’ve noticed a speed issue is with JavaScript-heavy sites. The iPad is a touch too slow to handle them, in general. I’m hoping that iOS 4 resolves this issue.

These issues are both big enough to force me to change my behavior. If I’m looking to watch video or use a JS-heavy site, I’ll either slog through or just use my MacBook. The speed difference is remarkable. Of course, the Mac is a full computer.

Copy and Paste

Copy and paste is perhaps more cute than practical sometimes. I appreciate the level of detail and design that went into the solution, but I’m afraid it is simply too awkward for some use cases.

Copying and pasting URLs into blog posts, for instance, is a pain in the rear. I end up composing entries on the iPad and handling URLs on the Mac. Copy and paste on the iPad is the iPhone solution scaled up, and the iPad truly demands its own unique implementation.

Hardware

I’m happy to point out that the problems I’m having are all software-based. The hardware has been nearly perfect. Battery life is still really strong, with 8-11 hours being the norm. I generally plug in the iPad every 2-3 days for an overnight charge when the battery is empty. It’s swell.

I did finally order a case from Treegloo, and will report on that case once I’ve received it. I was on the fence about getting a case at all, but a big scratch on the back of the iPad convinced me otherwise. Plus, the thing is a little awkward to carry around, oddly. I trust my case will solve that problem and make me look hipper, as a side benefit.

The App Store

Last month I mentioned that the iPad is an effective tool for driving sales for the iTunes store. This is true. But it’s big to note that I’m still having weird consumer psychological issues around apps.

I went out for coffee yesterday. I paid $2 for a cup of coffee which I did not get to try in advance. I was trusting the vendor to represent the coffee fairly. It ended up being pretty good, and a little sugar helped. But I didn’t deliberate over the purchase as I have with an app of the same price. Why is that?

I suspect it’s a combination of factors. First, this hasn’t been the traditional way I’ve bought apps, and changing 27 years of behavior is hard. I’ve come to expect a shareware model and draw on extensive, professional reviews for an app. But with iPad apps, these are mostly not there. I have yet to find an app review site I can trust, and the reviews and sales charts within the store are useless. This adds to the uncertainty.

In addition, though, the app store model dramatically changes the perceived value of money. If I buy an app for a dollar and it’s useless or poorly-written or what-have-you, then I’ve wasted a dollar. But the transaction was so lightweight, and the installation process so smooth, that it barely feels like I spent any money at all. And if that’s the case with a one dollar app, what of a ten dollar app? A twenty dollar app? Where is the threshold?

I admit this is a bit of a tangent and perhaps more reflective of my fiscal sensibilities more than anything else, but I did want to bring it up since it has impacted the way I think about buying apps and interacting with the iPad. It has made me a little gun-shy on buying Scrabble, for instance, which is ten bucks. But I may get over it.

The Main Device

But as I said at the outset, the iPad is my primary computing device now. It provides a very pleasant and refined experience, software bugaboos notwithstanding. I don’t miss the nonexistent features such as FaceTime and an integrated camera, and I don’t miss the layer of computing cruft which traditional computers still force on users. It’s good. It’s really good.

Be sure to see One Month with the iPad and One Week with the iPad.