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Old 10-13-2010, 03:00 PM
Eric Juillerat
Thoughts Media Review Team
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 15
Default 60 Days With The iPad; Now What?

Product Category: Tablet
Manufacturer: Apple
Where to Buy: [Affiliate]
Price: $779 USD (tested)
System Requirements: iTunes 9.1 or later, MAC or PC with available USB port.
Specifications: 9.7-inch Multi-Touch display, 64GB, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, 3G GSM/EDGE ATT only, 1.6 pounds (0.73 kg), 9.56 inches by 7.74 inches.  Features vary by model.


  • Extreme geek appeal;
  • Convenient, fun and easy to use;
  • Mail, Synchronization;
  • Great battery life.


  • Expensive;
  • Heavy;
  • ATT fees;
  • Limited productivity.

Summary: If you liked Star Trek, you had no choice, you had to get an iPad; and so did I. As I exited the Apple store with my big flashy bag in hand, I made the whooshing sound of the Enterprises' automated doors, and headed home knowing my life had just changed. 60 days later, I am left wondering - Now what? It's not that it's not a useful device - it is. It's not that it's not fun - it certainly can be. But I find myself constantly trying to justify it in a sea of laptops, netbooks, and e-readers. If this sounds like blasphemy, perhaps it is. Or, perhaps I've been able to avoid being sucked into the reality distortion field broadcast from Cupertino, and into space? Let's investigate.

After 60 Days, Here's What Sticks

So after two months with the iPad, what do I still do regularly? E-mail, E-Reading, and E...Surfing. It's become a ritual. I start every morning with a good cup of Joe in one hand, the iPad in the other, and I read my spam e-mail. It works well. I don't have to wait for booting, login, and application loading to get my messages; and early in the morning this is key. It allows me to browse instantly, scan the important messages, and discard the spam all while sipping on Jet Fuel (see Keurig). So put a plus one up on the board, e-mail on the iPad is great; it sticks.


What can I say? I sold my Kindle 2, and my Nook on EBay last week. The iPad is 9 of 10 stars for e-reading. Unfortunately, the iPad will never make it to the next star. It's just too heavy. After a half hour with the device you'll find yourself switching hands, resting it on your legs, furniture, bellies, or anything else just to relieve the pain in your wrists and forearms caused by the extremely dense iPad and Earth's gravitational pull. That being said, the reading experience on the device is superior to the other readers in almost every way; or at least three. One, it's fun. I like to see the pages lift, curl, and fold. Two, the backlight accommodates low light environments; and spouses. Three, on the iPad I have more than a complete library of books. I have all of my Apple Store books, Amazon Kindle books, and Barnes & Noble books all on one device; granted I just referenced three different apps, and reading experiences. But hey, I didn't have to re-purchase, go without, or change devices. I like reading on the iPad; plus 2, e-reading sticks.

Figure 1: The morning ritual.

Surfing, Safari

The iPad is very useful for browsing the Internet (disclaimer below). Again, the instant on of the iPad is convenient, and getting around the web is simple and intuitive. Before I go off on the Jobs-ian philosophies of what's best for me, I'll emphasize, browsing on the iPad is more satisfying than on the iPhone or similar devices. DISCLAIMER: NO Flash is a problem; there I said it. Without arguing the topic of Flash vs. HTML5, any user benefit from the final winner is only found in the distant future. Right now, Flash is everywhere. It's helpful, interesting, and fun. But on the iPad, sadly, NO SOUP FOR YOU! I find myself regularly browsing the net in two progressions; 1) Morning Coffee iPad, 2) Real browsing on a real computer. This imposed transition is absolutely unnecessary, inconvenient, and absurd. That's all on Flash and the iPad.

The Rest

Everything else regarding the iPad, is minor, and feels that way too. Yes, I have apps; more dollars in apps than I care to contemplate. I have Game, Utilities, Clocks, Weather, the usual suspects of time distractions and eye candy. But ultimately, if you have an iPhone none of these things is exciting anymore. They just aren't much more captivating or useful than the same apps on the iPhone. More on this later.

While we're on the topic of apps, I'd like to highlight one that does stand alone from the others in utility and practical use. It is Air Display from Avatron Software. This app allows you to use your iPad as an external monitor for your laptop; and it's brilliant. This app actually makes your iPad useful! I like to use it when cooking. I can browse the recipe on my MacBook Pro, Internet or MacGourmet, and slide the screen (AVATAR-LIKE) over to my iPad to view the ingredients and directions in the kitchen -- keeping my MacBook Pro safe from the crème fraiche! I also use it as a companion to my laptop's screen, allowing me to monitor my e-mail while working. If you have an iPad, three words, get-Air-Display.

Figure 2: A useful tool in the Kitchen thanks to Epicurious. Now if it only did dishes... (Some images courtesy of Apple Corp.)

The Best (Office) Intentions...

When I purchased the iPad, my hope was that it would do, say, 85% of what my MacBook Pro does for me in the office. I purchased Pages, Numbers, ToDo, PaperDesk, and more. I continued with the iPad external keyboard, stands, special cases and totes. I literally set up an office around the iPad. And, I actually did work on it through two projects; well one...or so. In the 60 days I have had the iPad, I have not visited those apps but a few times, and I still find myself going to my MacBook Pro for business and writing. Thinking back, for the price, I could have purchased a MacBook. Even a MacBook Air wouldn't have been inconceivable given the price of the iPad with apps and accessories. But, sigh, in the end the iPad just doesn't do real business.

iWork - Just Not On An iPad... Why?

Well, for one, the Apple iPad iWork apps (Pages and Numbers), as capable as they are, just aren't really compatible with MS Office apps. Converting and formatting problems exist (think MS Office Docs and MS Mobile Office Docs and you get it). If you have a large spreadsheet or complex document, you will lose function and or performance working with those docs on the iPad. Transferring files is cumbersome at best. If the iPad had a USB port transferring would be much easier, but - it doesn't. When I first wrote this, the iPad documents had to be sent to the user via e-mail to retrieve on a real computer to print, reformat, or integrate with other business apps. That was a deal breaker. Today, as Apple has just released an update to the iWork apps, you can connect to your MobileMe account to retrieve your documents; and I like this. Still, MobileMe acts as a 3rd party, and uploading working docs gets old pretty fast. Things are just more difficult in iWork, and quickly I stopped forcing the issue.

Forcing It To Work

Having the external iPad keyboard for work with the iPad is a must. But alas, Steve deemed my 10-Key not necessary for me to be happy and functional. When using Numbers I miss the 10-Key. I did resolve the problem somewhat, with NumPad by Edovia Inc., but it just isn't the same (I can recommend this app - which works well with your laptop by the way). Perhaps you can start to see the problems stacking up. Let me paint the picture: iPad, stand, keyboard, iPhone (for NumPad), and finally my mouse...I mean finger. It's just a lot of separate devices pretending they're as useful as your laptop! And if you can actually get all of these devices on your lap, just don't breathe or make sudden movements as the slightest twitches can send devices hurling over the abyss of frustration and angst. Oh, and don't press too hard or you might just move your stand, which is holding your iPad mind you. You see, for normal work, the iPad just requires too many separate accessories, including my real computer, and is just too awkward to be acceptable, or useful, for business.

App Integration... Missing

As far as the other business apps go, they are really neat but too discordant. There is no integration or harmony between the apps. You can forget about having multiple windows open to monitor reminders or project lists while working, because nothing runs in the background on iOS. You can forget about receiving a reminder in one app while working in another. Calendar will solve this, but now how many calendars am I managing? I am going to have to look for another app to help me out with this!

Nope, despite my best intentions - and investment, the iPad just doesn't do real business real well. If I want to view documents for reference, iWork is acceptable; and it's nice. If I want to use the iPad for real business, iWork and Apps really don't work so well. In the end, it's just a great companion for my computer. But, I already have one of those. I call it the iPhone. And do I really need a big iPhone?

Who Needs A Big iPhone?

The iPad is great for E-Mail, E-Reading, and Internet Browsing. Yes, I have numerous apps that convert things for me, tell me the time in cool ways, provide weather forecasts, and distract me from making meetings, and life in general. The problem is, I also have an iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you really have a small iPad; it's just better. Let me explain.

If you have an iPhone, you already know about apps. You have experienced the excitement of downloading the app and emptying your wallet at the same time. You have already burned through all the FREE apps; or most all of them. You already have a unit converter; cool clock, sunny icon thingy, and a bunch of other stuff that take up room on your iOS pages. You may have a better screen, front facing camera, and you probably have iOS 4 with its folders and multi-tasking capabilities. And then there's ATT. If you have an iPhone, you already have excessive data fees. Oh, and it's a phone!

With the iPad, you have all of those things, (minus the phone) and you don't get a retina display, camera or iOS 4 with its multi-tasking capabilities. And those are the things you really want on a device like this. I know -- wait. Problem is, they took my money, and I can't repurchase the iPad every twelve months; like I have with the iPhone. And then there's the size and girth of the iPad. Yes, it is svelte, but wow is it dense! A hundred pounds of feathers or a hundred pounds of lead - they're the same, they're heavy, and that's that. You won't find me hauling around my iPad to external business meetings, seminars, or fine dining establishments. Why? Because I have an iPhone that does basically the same exact things, is smaller, lighter, and less obtrusive. It should be noted that I want to do those things with the iPad. No, I really do, but seriously it's too inconvenient.

So Now What?

Well, for me, the iPad is relegated to an E-Mail, E-Book, and Internet browsing machine, sitting somewhere in-between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro. Is this any different than any of the many hundreds of devices that have been labelled PDA since the early '90s when the Apple Newton and SONY MagicLink roamed the earth? The Cassiopeia, or Compaq Aero? No. I can argue the cool-ness, Apple-ness, and new-ness, but in the end, it's just useless (as in USE LESS - than I want to).

Figure 3: All the right apps, limited productivity.


60 days with the iPad has been an infatuating experience. In the end though, despite all the promises, good looks, and pedigree, it still doesn't make me want to give up my phone, or my computer. Worse, it still doesn't replace one or more of these devices. In fact, I find myself hard-pressed to identify the places it really does make absolute and practical sense. Medical applications? Higher Education? Government? Perhaps. Look, if you ask me if I like the iPad, I'll say I do. Is it worth the money? I can't honestly say that it is. Is it the next evolution of computing devices? It's not. Is it a same old, repackaged in a new and exciting façade? Yup. And for some, that's enough. As with most Apple products, 3rd or 4th generation units will bring it all together. Can you wait until then? I couldn't. Well, I gotta go, a new update for Solitaire is showing up on my iPad App Store radar.

Eric Juillerat is a technologist, geek, and all around admirer of anything with silicon, buttons, or touch screens.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Eric Juillerat is a technologist, geek, and all around admirer of anything with silicon, buttons, or touch screens.
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