Friday, April 9, 2010

A Week with my iPad

        While I’m trying not to gush too much over my iPad, after using it for the week I’m already beginning to see why it was created in the first place. There are several kinds of people in the computer world - those who have desktops and laptops, those who have laptops and smartphones, and those who have desktops and smartphones. One can argue that I have a netbook, but after over a year with my Wind, I realized that it served only one primary purpose for me: taking notes. The reason why I bought it and used it was specifically to take notes in class and to write papers on. I rarely used it for serious browsing, especially after I got my iPhone and Mac Mini.
        What I’ve come to realize is that I really enjoy using my 32” screen to browse the internet, watch movies, chat, etc., and that my sound system is the best possible experience for listening to music and watching movies too. My netbook was really just a means to take some computing with me on the go - computing that couldn’t possibly be done on my iPhone. What the iPad does for me, however, is enable me to enjoy the internet, video content, and productivity on a mobile scale, but with more panache and sophistication than my netbook ever could.
        I organized my iPad’s homescreen with the apps I use the most. And what’s great is that I really am using them far more often than I expected. What’s great is that there are 4 other pages of apps that I’ve been using with regularity too. In contrast, I have 5 pages of apps on my iPhone, only about 50% of which ever get used. You might say that it’s the “new shiny” factor, but over the past week I haven’t drained my iPhone’s battery once (and I haven’t been ABLE to drain my iPad’s battery). My favorite apps thus far have been:

SktechBook Pro: I got my Pogo Sketch stylus the other day, and have been doing some drawing using SketchBook Pro. I’m still learning with this interface, but here are some things I’ve managed to produce in a very short amount of time

We Rule: this casual strategy game is basically a kingdom simulator - build houses, farms, buildings, etc., and plant crops to make money to add to your kingdom. There’s social interaction so I can visit my sister’s and mom’s kingdoms, and we can do various tasks for each other with our different businesses. The game takes place in real-time, so you have to wait for those crops to grow for an hour or more (depending on the crop up to a day). It’s a good mix of gameplay and waiting so that I don’t spend hours on it at a time, but I check it a dozen times a day or so.

Netflix: It’s Netflix, on my iPad...All of the streaming content I can consume is there for me anytime I have an internet connection. Yes, this is totally possible on my netbook, but the screen on the iPad is so much nicer than anything my netbook can produce that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed viewing video content. Even, to some extent, over my actual TV, because holding the iPad in front of me in bed is a wonderful experience.

PacMan: I just bought PacMan last night, but what’s so great about it is that the app re-creates the table-top experience of the arcade cabinets almost perfectly. The joystick works really well; just swipe your finger in the direction you want to move PacMan and he goes. I actually think I got a higher score on the iPad than I’ve ever gotten in an arcade/console.

GodFinger: From the same company that makes WeRule, GodFinger is the same concept on a more global scale. You get this little planet with little followers and perform miracles for them (making it rain, bringing sunshine, etc), and give them places to live and work and enjoy themselves. The goal is to have a productive and peaceful planet. Sort of like a little ant farm with cartoon people in it. This is another real-time game, where events happen whether or not you’re actually playing. I don’t like this quite as much as WeRule because it’s a little more frantic, but the concept is so novel I’ll keep it for a while.

So there you go, the hardware is fantastic; see more on that at, but the software is really making the iPad shine to me. Next week I’ll get a better chance to try some school work with it by taking some notes in class with a keyboard and also test its potential as an educational aide.

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