On Getting an iPad


My iPad arrived the day before yesterday, making a UPS journey from mainland China to Hong Kong, to Alaska, Tennessee, and Ontario, where it was loaded onto a truck and driven to my door. Free shipping. Some day I must check out the itinerary of bananas from the plantation to my cereal bowl.

The problem is, there are no fresh words left to describe it. Awesome? Too 80’s. Brilliant? Too 90’s. Mind boggling? Too clichéd. Supercalifragilistic? Even the short form is too difficult to spell. The word that works best for me is the humble personal.

The term personal computer, in use since IBM launched the PC in 1982, may have at last found an exemplar in the iPad. When I hold it in my hands or on my lap, whether I’m reading an ebook or checking email, I feel it’s somehow part of me, like the clothes I wear or my hair style. Most computers, even netbooks, have a formality about them. Smartphones and iPods, no matter how cool or useful, feel like gadgets. Computers and gadgets. The iPad feels like neither.

Slightly more aloof than a dog, more friendly than a cat, cuter than a guinea pig, the iPad insinuates itself into your life before you’ve owned it 48 hours. I’ve never met another technology I’ve merged with so seamlessly. Even a new bicycle takes a week or so to become an extension of your legs and balance.

Let’s say the iPad was launched approximately five months ago and that Apple is selling, by most estimates, a million units a month. That would make me about the five millionth iPad owner. No wonder it’s hard to find anything fresh to say.

I already have some favourite apps. GoodReader is a better PDF reader than I have on my Macbook. The Kindle App allows me to move easily between my iPad and Kindle, on the same book. Elements gives me a text editor that syncs files with Dropbox. It includes a word-count function and a scratch pad for recording extraneous thoughts and ideas. The built-in Mail program is excellent. The Video program would rate an excellent if it supported AVI video files. With MP4’s it’s a great viewer. Safari is Safari. Relatively solid but unable to display the contents of certain sites.

Perhaps my most unusual app, to date, is a story. More than an ebook, even an enhanced ebook, it’s a multimedia presentation called Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross, created by British Columbia company Moving Titles. A modern fairy tale, delightfully written, narrated, and animated. It’s a showcase app for where computing might be headed.

Forty-Eight hours and I’m nearly purring. It’s that good.

8 thoughts on “On Getting an iPad

  1. Hi Gene,
    I’ll try to keep this short. We have an iPad. My wife, my 8-yr. old daughter, and I have used it for a couple of months now. Its nice. But..

    I’m not sure I want an attractive mobile device in my life. Its hard enough pulling away from the web and getting out for a walk to see the real deal.

    And when I saw the “Pedlar…” book trailer, I became concerned about my daughter’s life. Call me old-fashioned, but technology like that is mightily crushing in on the time she has to just… well… notice the world around her. I know its’ proponents would say that the apps like this instill her to read. But it does WAY more than that… it is so attractive that it pulls her away from the real deal.

    Hope all is well with you. How’s the digital photography going? Missing film yet?


  2. Hi Jamie,

    Very nice to hear from you! Well, every plus has its minus in the Tao of living. I’m a tech hound, pure and simple. But I don’t carry the iPad around with me. I use it at home. When I’m out, I often use fountain pen and paper. Lightweight, reliable, and satisfying in a way a keyboard can never be.

    Still loving digital, but about to slip some film in through the back door 🙂


  3. What about text entry? How do you find the typing and handwriting recognition, of which I know there must be a few apps.

  4. The iPad has a virtual keyboard that’s fairly large. For a two- or three-finger typist that’s probably all you need. Touch typing though is a little precarious on the virtual. I use an Apple wireless keyboard — a full keyboard with nice action. By using a rolled sock as a wedge in the iPad’s case. I can prop the iPad and keyboard on my lap, in an easy chair, and have an excellent writing session.

    The software I use is Elements. It saves to Dropbox wirelessly (cloud storage) and Dropbox syncs the files with my Macbook.

    I don’t know much about handwriting recognition programs, but I like the iPad for text entry.

  5. Gene, I have been thinking of seriously buying a Ipad myself. But I am a little confused as to size 16 gig, 32 gig or 64 gig ras to the ight for me.. Also have you used it for photo editing and posting to the flickr?

    I would appreciate any feedback you could give me.

  6. David, I’m probably not the best person to ask because I always like to max out RAM. I got 64gb with mine. For casual use I suspect 16gb wold be enough. I don’t use my iPad for anything photographic though, so can’t comment on editing photos and uploading to Flickr.

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