Love At First Sight

I walked over to The Mac Store this morning to have my first look at the iPad. The store wasn’t crowded. There were plenty of iPads in stock. I only had to wait a few minutes before I had the chance to try one out.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m in love! What a machine! What a display! Everything is crystal clear. The only thing I can compare it to is looking through the water of a mountain lake. And easy to navigate. A touch, a flick of the finger takes you exactly where you want to go.

I checked out a few YouTube videos, tried out a couple of apps. Everything worked perfectly. The iPad performed as well as my laptop. The little voice in the back of my head kept saying, “I want one…I want one…”

Even so, I left the story empty-handed. It’s one thing to fall in love. Another to get married…or shell out $500. The head had better come into the equation at some point. And my head still has some questions.

These are the same issues tech reviewers have been pointing out since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. Exactly what is it for? How would I use it?

It would be terrific for taking on long trips for reading books and watching movies. The iPad is much lighter and more compact than a laptop. But you can’t play dvd’s because there’s no cd/dvd drive. So while I could watch my Netflix films in and airport or in a hotel as long as I had WiFi or internet access, I wouldn’t be able to watch them on a plane while telecommunication devices are supposed to be shut off. Watching films on long, boring flights is one of the main reasons I lug around my laptop. Minus one for the iPad.

The iPad has you entering text by typing on the touchscreen. I tried it. Do-able. This could work for email and short text. My general impression, however, was that it was more like composing on a smartphone keyboard rather than on a computer. I’d definitely take my laptop if I had serious writing to do. Minus two.

Now for the big test. I’ve loved my Kindle since the day I opened the box. How does the iPad stack up? Pretty darn good! The sales clerk set up Thomas Friedman’s latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, and left me alone to read a few pages. I must say that the iPad does everything the Kindle does and for the most part does it better. The display is crystal sharp. I could easily adjust the font size (a critical issue for these old eyes of mine.) You turn the page with a flick of the finger. The Kindle’s side buttons do the job. No question. But on the iPad it really looks as if a real page is turning. I know it’s just a matter of aesthetics. Still, it’s so neat!

And now the head kicks in. The Kindle is much smaller and lighter than the iPad. Holding a Kindle is like holding a thin paperback. It’s no bigger than a copy of Animal Farm. The iPad is a bigger, heavier package. It’s way ahead of the Kindle in how it handles images. Bright color pictures make for fine eye candy. But how much eye candy do I need? How much am I willing to pay for it?

Something else to consider. The iPad is a computer. It uses a backlit screen. I can read comfortably on my Kindle for hours at a time. I’ve done it. Could I do the same on the iPad? Computer screens are generally not easy on the eyes over long periods of time. I’ll have to check out reviews from readers like me to see what they have to say.

Those are my main issues. Add some others. Do I want the one available now, with only WiFi? Or do I wait a couple of weeks for the one with the 3G internet connection? Should I be getting an iPad at all? Would a smaller and cheaper iTouch meet my needs? Or should I heed the rumor that Apple will be introducing a new iPhone that will run on Verizon?

Brother! I feel like Hamlet. I keep hearing that old song by the Loving Spoonful: “Did you ever have to make up your mind?”

Even if nothing comes of these meanderings, I sure enjoyed playing with the iPad. You owe it to yourself to check it out, if for nothing else, just to see what the fuss is about.

It’s revolutionary, all right. Now I have to decide how badly I need a revolution.

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