On The iPad Experience: A 2-Week Perspective

aka "All The Different Ways That I Use my iPad"

Meet Celebration, my iPad!

It has been two weeks since the international launch of the iPad. And yes, two weeks since I've been playing with Celebration, my cool new toy - my belated birthday present and my post-prac gift rolled into one.

I'm sure most people would be way over all the iPad talk by now. And, I can't blame anyone for that. After all, it seems to be dominating the media lately. But, since a few people have been asking me what I thought of my own iPad experience, I thought I'd finally weigh in and share my review.

And yes, I've read and heard all the arguments about it. I've definitely acquainted myself with all its limitations, which is something I'm sure a number of the "iPad haters" never even bothered to try first hand.

But yeah, I know what the iPad doesn't have and what it can't do.

Admittedly, I felt the "missing stuff" for a short while when I first started playing with this gadget. I even felt a pang of disappointment knowing I can't play DVDs and access Flash-based websites and do direct printing. Or even plug a USB directly in to it. And yes, it does get a bit heavy to hold with one hand while you're lying down in bed trying to read an interactive book to your li'l one. I'm even one of those people who isn't overly impressed with its given name. But, hey...

Anyway, the other stuff that some people complain about - the lack of camera, the lack of offerings in the international iBooks store, the on-screen keyboard, the not-up-to-par e-ink technology/ebook reading screen... They don't bother me all that much.

In fact, the more I use the iPad, the more I find myself not missing the other stuff that I felt bad about initially.

Mind you, I don't own an iPhone or an iPod touch or a Kindle or a pressure-sensitive tablet or a netbook. So, I can't exactly know what it's like for those folks who own those gadgets.

Me... Well, I'm happy to report that I'm one blissful iPad owner so far.

Sure, it's not perfect. And, if you're a heavy computer user like I am, it can't possibly replace an existing computer or laptop. But, the thing is, I don't think the iPad was ever designed as a replacement computer. That's why it was never a secret that it's meant to sync with iTunes on an existing computer. I think that made it pretty clear that the iPad is more of an extension of a current system, rather than a replacement. That's why the netbook and laptop or desktop computer comparisons never really made much sense to me.

But, isn't that a bit too frivolous, some of you might ask. What's the point of buying an iPad then if a netbook is cheaper and maybe more capable in some ways (USB ports, etc)?

Well, my answer to people who asked me these types of questions: It depends on what you want out of your tech set-up.

If you just want a replacement or another portable computer that's primarily for word-processing, browsing the web, etc, that's inexpensice and portable, then perhaps a netbook will suit you more than an iPad.

Although I don't know about you, but I've tinkered with a couple of those netbook computers and I'm pretty sure they won't make great ebook readers... Nor will they be any good in making digital art.

So, why not buy a Kindle instead? Well, if you're happy with your computer set-up and all you want is a nice ebook reader, then maybe you can forget the iPad. I heard the Kindle screen is kinder on the eyes and lighter to hold while lying in bed.

But, since I don't usually read lying down (I tend to read in bed either lying on my tummy with elbows propped, or I lie on my side with my arms/hands resting on the bed) --- unless I'm reading to my kids in bed --- the weight doesn't usually bother me, even if I don't exactly have strong biceps. And, seriously, with the kind of delighted looks that my kids have when I'm reading them an iPad children's ebook... I'd gladly endure the tiny twinges on my arms for a few minutes.

I don't think you'd get a Guided Reading version of kids' books on a Kindle. Not to mention, all those colours and interactive learning elements! This type of reading experience is definitely one of the reasons that I wanted an iPad from the start. It's really exciting stuff, especially considering that we've only just started exploring the possibilities. As a geeky mum, educator, and children's writer, I can't help but be thrilled.

I believe I will always love "real" books... In fact, even though I'm a gadget girl, and I've developed a certain interest in ebooks... I never got excited about them in a big way until now.

So, what about that tablet thing? Aren't we all better off with a Wacom or something?

If you're planning to create digital art seriously, then a decent Wacom tablet's definitely the way to go. Goodness knows how much I've been lusting after an Intuos. I just couldn't justify the expense, as I don't know how much I'd be using it. That's why I only managed to buy myself a cheap Wacom Graphire tablet a few years ago. But, I never quite got the hang of it. So, I still didn't make as much digital art as I'd like.

Besides, even if I did want to try and practise sketching, it isn't easy to sketch ideas on the go while lugging a laptop and a tablet. Well, that's what moleskins and pens are for, you might say. And, I would generally agree, as that's one of the reasons I often have at least a pocket moleskine and a couple of pens in my bag. Not that I take them out that often. And, even when I do take them out, I still have the issue of having to scan them, if I ever want to use those sketches for some purpose.

Just the other day, however, whilst I was on the train... I got inspired to do some life sketching... With no sketchbook or pen or coloured pencils, I just decided to take out my iPad and do a couple of quick sketches of my ideas (in colour!) using a couple of favorite art apps. Afterwards, I could even decide just to email myself a copy of the sketch so that I can work on it more using a more sophisticated art program. No need to scan or take photos to turn my quick sketching session in to digital format.

And yes, I think I've done more digital art in 2 weeks than I have done in 5 years since getting my Wacom. It's just so much more fun and easier on the iPad!

Other than ebook reading and digital art making, I found myself using the iPad more and more for note taking and organising. When I get a writing or blogging idea while I'm on the go, I just take out my iPad and start working on an article, story, or blog post. In fact, the beginnings of this blog post was started while I was on my way home on the train. I've continued writing it while I'm lying in bed, unable to fall asleep.

I can even record voice messages on it (my voice or other people's - for meetings, lectures, interviews, etc) for personal use... Or to send as voice emails.

I also find it so much easier to use the iPad for organizing my calendars (even syncs with Google Calendar!)... And my To Do List... Because the iPad is ALWAYS with me now. Especially since it fits snugly in to my little pink bag inside its fitted purple Belkin soft case. Plus, it turns on and off instantly! I can't do that with my laptop. I only take my laptop with me when I really have to.

I have also been using my iPad for some reading and writing practice with my kids. I'm even using a couple of handwriting apps as part of a case study that I'm currently working on for uni. So yes, I'd be writing an academic paper with an iPad mention in it. Heh.

I am also able to check and send quick emails while I'm in Wi-Fi hotspot cafés and malls. Like the other day, when my daughter was happily playing in a playground in the mall, I was able to send off a couple of rush emails when I found out that I was able to connect to the internet for free on my iPad while I was watching her play.

And yes, I have even learned to enjoy "letting my hair down" a bit, as I started playing some games again during my down time. Even playing some games with hubby and the kids. Something I haven't done in a loooonnnggg time.

Some people might say the productivity apps, email checking and games are old news. They've been available on smartphones and iPods for a while now. But, as I said, I don't have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, so the iPad has a place in my set-up.

Although, having said that, even if I did have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, I can't imagine the experience being the same. Like, when I was playing this 2-player game on the iPad with my family. That experience can't possibly be done on a small screen. And, since I've never been a fan of SMS/Text messaging, the idea of writing and reading emails on small screens just don't appeal to me.

And yes... probably the boldest thing I've done with my iPad to date was to use it as a tool during a work-related presentation (yep, plugged it in to a huge plasma screen with a VGA connector). It was definitely useful to have an iPad while trying to deliver the message that when it comes to online content, mobile devices and apps are key. I think the message wouldn't have been as clear had I been using a USB stick or a laptop. 🙂

So yeah, the iPad can't take photos or videos. It can't make calls, print directly, run DVDs, or plug USBs. There are a lot of other gadgets out there that can possibly do things better on an individual app level.

But, for ALL the things that it CAN do, I doubt if there's anything quite like the iPad right now.

And like any True Love, it's easier to get past the iniquities because the rest of it is just way too good to pass up.

For me, the iPad's definitely keeper.

- Blogged from my iPad

About the Author Shai Coggins

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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