news and views from michael rollins in tokyo

Beautiful iPad Life

I waited a while before getting an iPad. From the pre-release hype right on through the orgiastic post-launch buying frenzy I kept thinking, “now here’s a device that’s getting waaaay more attention than it deserves.” I mean, let’s face it, the way things are these days Apple could announce an iFlowbee and Mac fans everywhere would be as giddy with excitement as a Japanese schoolgirl queuing for an Arashi concert.

Apple iPad

Truth is, for me, a long time Windows user, I’ve come to think of new product releases more as cause for trepidation than celebration. And anyway, I already had a MacBook and an iPhone, so what was the point of buying something new that’s sort of like both yet… somehow neither? A keyboard-less, limited capacity iPhone Grande-type affair that can’t make calls or take photos or run normal apps? Meh. The last thing I needed was some new identity crisis-afflicted gizmo to keep me shackled to the internet for even longer each day. No thanks, I scoffed, and resumed waiting for Outlook and GMail to stop bickering and let me get back to work.

And then one day the following week I was wandering around Bic Camera and I spied an iPad on display. I had to wait a couple of minutes while two teenage girls (who apparently thought it was a mirror) used it to apply makeup. When they finally flitted away I approached and carefully picked it up. Shiny, I thought. And Sleek. Sexy. I ran my fingers across its smooth surface. I measured its heft, traced its curves, and imagined it… close to me. Then My fingers located a button, and I turned it on.

And so it was that the seeds of iPad desire were planted.

But I bided my time. Fifty thousand yen, give or take, so why rush, right? Some weeks passed. A background process hummed along in my neocortex, sampling at regular intervals bits of data to juxtapose with this new “iPad” concept. Before long it began producing useful output.

I started to see the real potential–the “game changing” potential–of the iPad. Beyond its obvious consumer-centric applications, such as being exceedingly nice (dare I say, almost perfect?) as a digital media consumption device, or mobile game platform, I began to imagine various business opportunities, ways the iPad could be the centerpiece of all manner of new solutions we could offer our clients. All manner of possibilities soon emerged. Oh, the possibilities, I thought…

Thus armed with the necessary justification I zipped on down lickety split to the local Apple store and bought one. (Why not Bic Camera? Try 5000 yen more expensive, and no points!) Here are my impressions after the first week.

It’s super portable.

Small, yes, but not too small. I’m used to lugging around a MacBook, and the iPad is by comparison almost unnoticeable. Drop it in the bag and off you go, with nary a thought of how “this is probably good for my biceps.” And if you want to whip it out on the train, or platform, or in the queue, or in a meeting, or wherever, it’s out and on in seconds. And putting it back of course is just as easy. For pure speed and ease of bag-to-bidness I’ve never seen anything better.

It’s fast.

I had only recently upgraded to the iPhone 4, with it’s predecessor being a 3G on iOS4, which–anyone who knows will tell you–is a computing experience a whole lot like watching a pensioner cross a busy street. Lots of hanging back and waiting for the right timing before lurching forward with all the stability and poise of drunken salaryman on ice skates. With the iPad there’s no waiting for anything, really, save the occasional game pre-load. Responsiveness and satisfaction? Highly correlated to say the least.

It’s a joy to type on.

This perhaps surprised me the most. Compared to my previous keitais, the iPhone is a real drag when it comes to inputting text, and I guess I just assumed the iPad would be the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I actually like typing on the iPad more than with a regular keyboard. Granted, were I a touch typist this might not be the case, but as a keyboard gazer I find the iPad keyboard extremely easy to use. Add in predictive text and corrective typing and you’ve got yourself a veritable typing machine.

Having iA’s Writer installed (what I’m using now) certainly helps as well. For writing on the iPad nothing (that I know of) beats it. Don’t get me wrong, Im not talking about this “distraction free environment” business the creators tried to sex it up with. (Okay, fine, so it’s a text editor. I suppose you have to say something provocative to generate interest in it. Still, if a distraction-free environment is the goal I’d suggest they rename the app W.C. Writer…) Marketing pretense aside, the app just makes the writing process fast and easy, the way it should be. The text is large and clear, the keyboard has all the extra bits you would want, and you can get content off it without really doing anything. In a nutshell? We like.

It’s connected.

I got the WiFi version instead of the 3G, since having Pocket WiFi means my WLAN goes wherever I do. Web, mail, apps, whatever: if I need connectivity I’ve got it, and with that, well, I’ve got just about everything (including that new pair of shackles…).

And as for complaints? The only one so far is the inability to display Flash content. For me that means it’s impossible to view Google Analytics data on the iPad which, y’know, pretty much sucks. Chances are good I’ll have to resort to using a VNC or RDP client to connect to a Windows box somewhere. Though less sucky than no access at all, is still pretty sucky.

But that’s it! Battery life seems great, there a lots of good apps and content, and I don’t have to drag my MacBook around anymore. It is, all in all, a beautiful iPad life!

1 Comment

  1. I recognize that I would probably love this thing if I owned it. Nevertheless I feel like it would be selling my soul to the devil. I’ll side with Miyazaki and shun the new technology… for now.

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