Wednesday, June 2, 2010

iPad: Initial Reactions

iPad: What's Need Got To Do with It?

You know, it's pretty easy to fall into making conjectural evaluations of technologies that you don't own. When the blogosphere goes ablaze with legions of tech pundits bandying about whether or not you "need" something, it's tempting to jump in on the conversation by providing an intuitively-reasoned/anecdotal analysis: "The iPad looks cool, but why should I buy one if I will still need to own a laptop?," "It seems like just another device to carry around," etc. Well, while all of these arguments, vis-a-vis the iPad, make sense on paper, I refute them with this: it's freaking awesome, and it's place in your tech arsenal will become apparent once you own one.

As with many new technologies, I was skeptical of the iPad at first -- I can sometimes be a Luddite stuck in a technologist's body. "Yeah, but do you really need this thing? I mean, we have laptops; we have smart phones; what's the point?" Well, the opportunity to acquire one arose, and I pushed "need" aside. The result: awesomeness. After 2 weeks owing the device, I have to admit that I am now one of the multitude of educators teeming at the intersection of pedagogy and technology, salivating to use the device to enhance my course.

Things I like:
- multitouch interface and gestures -- not owning an iPhone, I wasn't previously familiar with the OS. It's extremely intuitive, though, and I love the swipes to turn pages and the pinch ins/outs to zoom.
- screen resolution -- high-res screen makes reading lengthy texts easier than traditional monitors
- app selection - of course (though there are still a few apps that are only available in iPhone format)

Things I don't like:
- looking like a fanboy with my Macbook Pro AND iPad (I don't have the iPhone)
- the screen gets really smudged with fingerprints
- not great for multitasking (OS doesn't yet lend itself to this)
- little bit heavier than the Kindle
- iPhone apps, by default, only fill an iPhone-sized portion of the screen -- it's possible to zoom to 2x, but then they get a little grainy

Uses I've found:
- I bring my iPad to meetings instead of my laptop -- it's great for taking notes and very portable. Lacking of multitasking ability helps to preserve focus, too. :)

- reading -- I read a lot, a whole lot, and having the Kindle app installed has been awesome. I also downloaded an app that contains the collected works for Shakespeare (plays, poems, sonnets).

- writing lengthier emails than I can on my Blackberry on the go

- keeping up to date on news

- catching up on the readings for my class so that I can prepare for course discussions

- getting walking directions with Google Maps/Streetview when I get lost

So, do you NEED the iPad? Well, who am I to determine need, but you should get one!

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