iPad: Best Gadget Evah
I'm not much of an early adopter but my lovely spouse surprised me with an iPad for my birthday last week (the $500 mini, as opposed to the $800 maxi). Like all Apple products nowadays it's a little marvel of design--extremely tactilely rewarding--and none of the early criticism holds much water, IMO. I should do the full disclaimer thing here and admit that I'm a total Apple fanboy--just about the only Apple product we don't have in our house is an iPhone, and that's mostly because I hate AT&T with a white-hot, burning hatred. Back to the iPad: first, the screen is bigger than you expect it to be, and very high res. It's a superb device for intertube surfing and email. In landscape mode the pop-up keyboard is very usable: fine for email and note-taking, posting to web forums, etc. I paid $10 for the Pages app and it works beautifully--took a bit of getting used to not having to save things, and there's a bit of awkwardness with having to shift to the .?123 keyboard for exotic punctuation like hyphens and quotation marks. I wouldn't want to try to write a whole novel on it, but very workable for roughing in scenes, say, or early drafts of poems, or letters, etc. Exports by email seamlessly, in either.doc, Pages or PDF format. The calendar and address-book apps are first-rate. iBooks is incredible--in portrait mode the pages are big and very book-like. The backlit screen is gorgeous and doesn't cause any more eyestrain than reading a printed book, as far as I can tell (all the "butbutbut it doesn't use e-ink" panic is goofy. Who cares?)--plus you can read without an external light-source, which will make spouses of nocturnal readers very happy. The Marvel Comics app has to be seen to be believed: if you like comics, it will rock your world. Great device for sharing photos, watching video, listening to music, etc. Excellent little gamer--I'm old, so I've only tried Scrabble, but it's superb. Yes you can read an ebook or do whatever while listening to iTunes. Free apps for Weather Channel, NPR and BBC, Epicurious, Netflix, eBay, etc. The lack of a USB port seems awkward at first, until you realize you can easily export photos or Pages files through email. There's also an inexpensive app that allows you to export files through your docking port, if you really, really want to. The lack of a camera and a phone seems like an issue until you hold the iPad in your hands, and then you think "this thing's way too big to be a phone--I'd feel like a complete dork trying to talk into it." There's no obvious place to mount a camera because the entire back surface is curved--plus if you use any kind of case to protect it the camera lens would be covered up. A pinhole webcam in the bezel would be nice for Skypers; look for it in the iPad.02, I'm guessing. In short, mega thumbs-up: if you're a gadget-lover like I am, you'd probably really like this critter.