Apr 042010

You need something to read on your new toy, right?Yesterday was my wife’s birthday, and we somewhat spontaneously decided on her birthday present the night before: an iPad. We hadn’t pre-ordered, so we stayed up all night and went to stand in line at the Apple Store at 6:30 AM. All went well, and we came home with a new iPad (Wi-Fi model) yesterday.

Many have touted the iPad as a “Kindle-killer” and the next big thing in e-book reading. Others say it’s just a big, overpriced Apple iPhone / iPod Touch. Others consider it aimed at a totally different market than the Kindle. So, my early thoughts (after only using it for a day):

So far, I like it more than I thought I would. It’s a good size for web browsing, pics, and stuff. And gaming on it is really fun (we did not have an iPhone or iPod Touch before). Now, we didn’t leave the house yesterday, so the size and weight and lack of 3G connectivity has not been an issue. And it’s still new and “cool” … will we still use it as much in a few months?

One big reason I like it is because the battery is impressive. Reviews said it gets 11-12 hours of movie watching, and with heavy use yesterday it lasted all day, probably 12 hours or so before we recharged it. That’s very good — although not Kindle territory.

As for reading books, I poked around on the Apple iBook Store (and was pleased to see Right Ascension and Declination show up on there, for just 99 cents each, on the day of launch!). I haven’t tried reading on it for any length of time (I’ve mostly been setting it up, downloading apps, and playing games). The bigger screen is nice, and a good battery is a plus, and the navigation seems simple (like the Kindle). Things like page turns, going to your library and picking a book, dictionary lookups, and changing font sizes are all easy and intuitive. On the minus side, it’s heavier than a Kindle and 12 hour battery life is a far cry from 2-week battery life. Also, there is no text-to-speech, as there is on the Kindle. And I still think it will be much easier to read on the Kindle’s e-Ink display.

Also, to compare apples to Apples (as it were, capitalization intentional), you’d have to compare the Kindle 2 (at $259) with an iPad 3G with wireless built in ($629 + $720 for 2 years of service = $1,349). So it’s really not in the same ballpark as a reader. Yes, you may be able to find other uses to justify the price differential, but I don’t really see them as direct competitors, even though the media is obsessed with the comparison.

Now, will people read on the iPad? That remains to be seen. I don’t really think so, although even a small percentage if there are tons of iPads out there could add up to something. I still think real readers will get a K2. I will say one downside for independent authors: Amazon is great at helping people find stuff with their “people who bought this also bought,” their genre best-seller lists, etc. But on the iPad, unless you’re one of their 5 or 10 “featured” big-name books, you gotta search for what you want. So, I wouldn’t expect nearly as many sales through the iPad as Amazon, since no one can “stumble upon” me … they need to be looking specifically.

Anyway, those are my early thoughts. I’m gonna take it down to my family’s place for Easter dinner tonight and see how it works on-the-go. I’ll use it for a while longer and try reading a whole book on it and give you my further thoughts in a week or so.

What do you think? Is the iPad a “Kindle-killer”? An overpriced, but fun, diversion? A laptop replacement? The future of all things? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts….

  3 Responses to “iPad: Hands-On Review (Early Impressions)”

Comments (3)
  1. I can definitely see the iPad stealing the magazine market share from the Kindle, given iPad’s glossy screen and fancy interface. As for the Kindle-killer reference peddled by our schizophrenic media, I’d take it with a grain of salt and a bottle of vodka. In my humble opinion, the iPad has as good a chance to kill the Kindle as the television’s had the chance to kill the radio. The iPad and Kindle are similarly shaped tools that serve diverging market segments: one designed for the ADHD magazine/web flipper, the other for the cerebral reader. Call me shallow, stereotypical, judgmental, or whatever you will. But the thought of Paris Hilton plowing through War and Peace on an iPad escapes me, despite my best effort to suspend disbelief.

  2. I like Whizy’s comments as well as your review. I’m a relatively new user of the Kindle and debated buying my wife an iPad (for mother’s day). The price drove me away. She already has a Dell netbook with a wireless card (through Verizon) so her mobile web access is already taken care of. The Kindle does well as a reader in bright sunlight around the pool. I’ve seen one review state the iPad does better then the Kindle in moonlight – a bit obvious with its lighted display. Staring into a light source as you are reading a book on the iPad sounds like a good formula for eyestrain. The e ink displays (such as Kindle) use reflected light and are more like a printed page. I think that if you want an eBook reader you are best to stay with Kindle. If you want a cool gadget that does all the stuff the iPhone does with more cool applications on the way, then maybe the iPad is a good purchase. I went ahead and ordered my wife a Kindle (we will soon have matching Kindles). Oh and Whizy, tequila would go better with salt then vodka. 😉

  3. Thanks for the comments! A couple of quick updates: I downloaded a trial magazine app and reading magazines is pretty good: it looks great, and you could even tap pics to bring up extra photos. But the text was too small to read comfortably and see the whole page, so you had to pinch and zoom and move the page around to read.

    I still haven’t read a book on it, but my wife tried a little and says she prefers the Kindle. I think it will be hard to beat the easy-on-the-eyes e-Ink display, 2-week battery life, 10 oz. weight (compared to 24 oz. for the iPad), and easy one-handed operation of the Kindle. More iPad thoughts to come in a later post…

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