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iPad 2

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Tried out an iPad 2 in the store a few weeks ago, shortly after it came out; liked it a lot. I think what I really want is an iPad 3—rumor has it that's coming this fall, possibly with a smaller size and higher resolution screen. But I've been thinking lately that it would be really nice to be able to read subs on something more portable than my MacBook Pro, and although I read novels on my iPhone, for various reasons reading subs there doesn't quite work.

So I ordered one from Apple online, but it was backordered until April 20.

But early last week, it occurred to me that Apple Stores in less techy regions might be less likely to sell out. So on Wednesday morning, I called the one in Lancaster, and lo! they had the model I wanted! So I bought one.

I got the 32GB black one, WiFi-only. In the long run, I want a tablet or tablet-like device with 3G (or 4G, or whatever) capabilities, 'cause I want network access while I'm out and about; but I view this iPad 2 as a placeholder until what I really want comes along, and for the time being I don't expect to use it much outside of home.

Some thoughts so far:

Cons

  • In portrait orientation, thumb typing is awkward, though not impossible. In landscape orientation, typing on the full keyboard is way better than thumb typing, but the awkward layout of the non-letter keys still means many mistakes. Also, typing in landscape orientation more or less requires setting the iPad down—I can't easily hold it and type that way.
  • A surprising number of apps are not yet available in fullscreen format. They'll run on the iPad, but only in a small box in the middle of the screen, or else in pixel-doubling mode. Hmph.
  • Relatedly, I have to buy iPad-specific versions of some apps I already have for iPhone.
  • It's still bigger and heavier than I would like. (Though noticeably lighter than the iPad 1.)
  • The screen resolution is fine, but noticeably not as good as the iPhone 4.
  • JavaScript doesn't always work perfectly—for example, I apparently can't use the rich text editor in Movable Type. (I typed a fair bit of this entry on the iPad, in MT's HTML-editing mode, which is what I usually use anyway.)

  • I'd like cursor control arrows on the software keyboard.
  • The Mail app is noticeably slower than the iPhone's.
  • The Smart Cover works fine in its tilt-up-for-reading mode, and works fine as a picture frame in its nearly-vertical mode, but in that picture-frame mode the iPad is slightly too close to vertical to work well as a screen with an external Bluetooth keyboard. If you fold the Smart Cover the other way around (with the colored side out), it does put the iPad at a good angle for use as a screen—but then if you nudge it, the Smart Cover folds up and collapses and the iPad smacks down hard on the table. An unfortunate design flaw.
  • Minimum screen brightness is still too bright for a dark room late at night or early in the morning.
  • I find various things about the iPad Safari interface annoying.
  • Pairing with a Bluetooth keyboard has been a huge pain, though I'm hoping that'll be fixed by putting fresh batteries in the keyboard.

Pros

  • In most things, it's much much faster than the iPhone, and the speed makes the touch controls amazingly nice. Google Earth is a delight, for example. (This was true of the iPad 1 as well.)
  • The full-screen versions of apps that have them are usually much nicer than the iPhone versions. The Twitter app, for example, took a little getting used to, but now I like it a lot. In some cases (like Osmos), the iPad version is even nicer than the Mac version. The iPad version of iBooks is my favorite ebook reader, except for that annoying slightly-lower-than-iPhone resolution issue. (If they come out with a 7" iPad with Retina Display, I may never buy another paper book.)
  • It's gorgeous. I find it significantly more physically attractive than the iPad 1.
  • It feels really nice in my hands. A little heavy, but plenty light enough to hold for extended periods while reading.
  • The Smart Cover is nifty, especially the close-cover-to-turn-off-iPad trick.

Unfortunately, so far the main purpose for which I wanted to use it (reading subs) isn't as smooth as I would like. The Mail app is slow and awkward in various ways, and usually I'm reading subs that came in a week or two ago, which are semi-impossible to retrieve in the Mail app with my current setup. (I have got to figure out a better mail setup.) So I'm now trying to read subs in Gmail in Safari, which works okay but Gmail's default font size is too small and there appears to be no way to change it on the iPad. I think I'll be able to figure out a way to make this work (possibly a script that takes the RTF files and dumps them into iBooks?), but it may take a while.

Still, there are various nice things about the iPad that I wasn't really expecting. Among other things, my morning routine often includes reading Google News, Twitter, and Facebook before I get up, which has previously meant either awkward maneuvering of my laptop, or reading on the small iPhone screen. So I guess for me, the killer app for the iPad is reading in bed.

4 Comments

You might find GoodReader useful for reading your submissions - not sure if it'll help, but among the various online accounts you can add to it is any IMAP account. So you can hop in and find all attachments in your IMAP inbox (say). I'm not sure whether you can see the content of the emails in question though, so it may not be quite what you need...

I'm also keenly awaiting the iPad 3, with (hopefully) Retina Display, but have been enjoying the #2 anyway. I appreciate your overview!


I keep going to the Apple Store and becoming convinced anew that the 11" Air is the right solution for me given what they have. But what I really want is a hybrid that looks like the Air where the screen is a detachable iPad. (Or an iPad where the cover is an Air keyboard and trackpad.)


Peter: Thanks for the suggestion! Didn't know about GoodReader; will look into it. But I think first I need to figure out how best to use IMAP; I'm still using POP, but I think it's clear that I need to switch to IMAP. Except that that means I need more space than I have in my web-hosting account, and I don't like the Gmail interface so I'm reluctant to use their pseudo-IMAP. But maybe I should. Not sure.

Michael: I really like the idea of an Air-like system with detachable pieces. But I prefer OS X to iOS. Maybe an Air with detachable touch-screen, running OS X with some kind of touch extensions?

Both Logitech and Kensington make devices that double as iPad keyboards and covers; I think Kam has the Logitech version. No trackpad, but if the screen is an iPad, you have no pointer so you don't need a trackpad.


Hey Jed,
Yeah, I think IMAP might be a good idea... but that said, I just checked and GoodReader's happy with POP3 as well as IMAP, so it might still be worth trying in the meantime :)


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