iPad: first few days with my fluffy computer

Despite its sleek shape and glossy screen, I can’t help but think of my iPad as a “fluffy computer.”

Fluffy as in lots of chrome. UI effects that go beyond the necessary. A slick, packaged experience as comfortable and unnecessary as a pillow-top bed in a top-end hotel.

Fluffy as in distracting. I long for the day when iPads, or other tablets, are commonplace. That way I can get work done instead of discussing how I might or might not get work done with the iPad.

Fluffy as in what can I do with this thing? It’s obviously the greatest computer in the world for reading the Internet while on the couch, and an excellent if pricey replacement for both portable DVD players and eBooks like the Kindle. But it’s not clear to me, yet, what I can do with an iPad that I can’t do with anything else.

Like others, I’ve begun to notice that my iPhone now feels like a miniaturized light-on-features iPad rather than the pad feeling like an overgrown iPhone. That’s a good sign. But if replacing portable DVD players and eBooks, and replacing laptops for light business trips is the sum total of its use, it’s not going to be more than a niche player. I’m going to prefer it to laptops for short business trips, but if I’m on the road long enough I’ll probably need to bring a “real” computer with me.

Most of all, though, the iPad is fluffy as in clouds. All of my contact and calendar data comes over the Internet, from Mobile Me and my work’s Exchange server. The mail lives at Google and on Exchange, too. It’s a great platform for blogging to WordPress, but saving local drafts doesn’t count for a whole lot. Evernote works well, though I wish that there was a way to use and sync VoodooPad from the iPad.

GoodReader, 1Password, WebEx, YouTube, Maps — everything on the pad relies on, or at least syncs via, the cloud.

I’m not yet sure what the real “killer app” for the iPad will be, but I’m pretty sure it too will rely on network services.

6 thoughts on “iPad: first few days with my fluffy computer

  1. I’m interested in your comment about it being a replacement for the Kindle. One of the things that makes reading on the Kindle acceptable for my eyes is the e-ink. Are you finding long-term reading on the iPad to not cause strain on your eyes?

    I’m curious about people that have read a book on the kindle and a book on the iPad, and the experience between the two.

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    • I haven’t read more than a dozen or two dozen pages at a time yet, thirty minutes or so. So far, so good. I look forward to reading more and seeing if there’s an eyestrain issue.

      I sort of don’t think there will be, given the number of hours I spend looking at screens. And being able to adjust my distance from the screen more easily should be helpful too. But maybe I’m wrong, and I definitely don’t know that yet.

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      • Thanks Jon. I’d be interested to hear more once you’ve done some more reading.

        I am also in front of a computer screen nearly all day, every day. But I find that I rest my eyes often in various ways. With a book I tend to get so into it that my eyes may not get those random breaks.

        I still will likely wait for the second or third revision if I ever get one, but it could become a contender if my Kindle ever dies on me.

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  2. as someone trying really hard to hold out for v2, i am loving hearing about your experiences trying to make it work for work. have you experimented with the terminal emulators?

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  3. Yeah definitely feel the potential has not quite been realized, but am confident some developer will create an app we’ll find personally really useful. I’m looking forward to Simplenote and DropBox as my killer apps.

    Agree that yes, netbooks and laptops largely do what an iPad can do, but am still being wooed by the iPad’s elegance. Just did a 5 hour plane ride, and the iPad trumped a laptop in terms of portability and battery life – didn’t even need to drop down the food tray.

    Look forward to more of your observations with the iPad!

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