My Days with the iPad

Kindle killer or not?

By Sara Peyton
April 13, 2010 | Comments: 3

pepsi.jpgBy day I'm the pr manager for O'Reilly Media. Most workdays I face three screens--my MacBook, a large monitor, and my iPhone--in order to keep an eye on several Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, email accounts, instant messaging and texting. These wires, monitors, notepads, piles of new books, plus the box of diet Pepsi my colleague insists on bringing me, are spread over my desk. I'm hoping the iPad can help deliver me from my severe multitasking habits. Yet to be honest, I'm afraid my habitual multitasking is messing with my mind, perhaps even zapping some brain cells.

Friday 9:26 AM
Just endured 10 irritating minutes trying to connect Apple's wireless keyboard (not the iPad keyboard dock) to the iPad. These two intoxicatingly slim, attractive devices resisted pairing. I turned off the iPad's Bluetooth and unscrewed the wireless keyboard's battery compartment. I switched on the iPad's Bluetooth function and tightened the battery compartment. Bingo. The duo synced and I was good to go. (Thanks Marsee Henon for the tip.)

9:45 AM
I sat the iPad upright in its dock and placed it in front of the large monitor I usually face. I opened the Pages app, which I downloaded the night before.

ipad5.jpg10 AM
Time to check my email. Normally my monitor and MacBook would be displaying dozens of open windows. I enjoyed the simplicity (and even peacefulness) of a solitary window open in the iPad. Yet, I couldn't figure out if I needed to 'save' my doc with a click or touch before moving on to my email. I clicked the home key and moved on to my email. Later, when I returned to Pages my document was there and in fine shape.

10:29 AM
Carrying the iPad to my first meeting of the day, I worried I might drop the thing. Slippery as a fish yet as elegant as a Tiffany box, the iPad attracted admiring attention from colleagues. I awkwardly pecked a few notes on the iPad-ready Evernote app using the touch keypad, much to the amusement of my boss. But it seemed silly to set up the wireless keyboard plus stand the iPad up in its dock. What I needed was the official black case from Apple, so I could perch the iPad comfortably on my lap. A dedicated stylus would also help.

11:14 AM
Still trying to sort through my email.

12:52 PM
I found it extremely frustrating to respond to email using Apple's wireless keyboard. Browsing, responding, and sending email involved reaching over to the iPad's screen and manually pressing reply or forward icons. I posted a plea on for tips on using the keyboard.

1:30 PM
Decided against taking the iPad to an interview of a candidate for a job in the PR department. The iPad is simply too distracting.

3:33 PM
Returned to my desk determined to get some real work done. I needed to create mailing labels for 91 review copies of Facebook: The Missing Manual. In order to do so I opened Filemaker on my laptop, which I'd shoved to one end of my desk.

5 PM
I checked out O'Reilly's ebooks and videos on the iPad. They looked stunning. Now that we have iPads, perhaps one day we can stop packing, hauling, and unpacking boxes of books at tradeshows.

I spent my weekend testing out the iPad. I didn't use the wireless keyboard, which is more trouble than it's worth in my opinion. Checking and replying to email was still slow going, but I noted improvement in my onscreen typing. As an entertainment device, the iPad rivaled my television. I enjoyed a deliciously funny new sitcom, Modern Family. Plus my iPad didn't drop the WiFi once. But I was most interested in determining if the iPad is a Kindle killer. Believe it or not, I'm still on the fence. Here's why.

bed.jpgKindle vs. iPad
I've owned a Kindle for about 6 months and it's my trusty companion whenever I travel. The Kindle, my headlamp, and my iPhone sit on my bedside table. I've always got at least five or six new novels on the Kindle. I like the Kindle's e-ink, the easy-on-the-eyes screen, compact size, and comfortable weight. When I have trouble sleeping at night, I grab the Kindle, strap on my headset, read a few pages or so, and drift back to sleep.

Enter the iPad. For my weekend reading test on the iPad I purchased Next by James Hynes. The novel, depicting the day in the life of a man who has flown to Austin, TX, at the height of a terrorism scare, has garnered rave reviews. Much to my surprise I enjoyed the iBook interface. I quickly settled into the book and enjoyed advancing the pages with a swipe of a finger and watching the animated page roll up. I didn't think the iPad was too heavy. I set the screen to the lowest brightness setting. But, compelling as Hynes' book is--and it's a fast paced romp--I grew distracted. I interrupted my reading to check Facebook, my email, and Twitter several times. Plus, reading on the iPad made me want to write on the iPad. I wanted to write notes on my iPad books. Worst of all for me, once I set the iPad down and turned off the light, I couldn't go to sleep for hours. Was the light from the iPad too stimulating?

ipad3.jpgConclusion on Monday
The multiple uses plus the compact size make the iPad a perfect companion when I travel on business. The brilliant display handsomely shows off O'Reilly books and videos and I can easily imagine bringing the iPad with me to every future tradeshow and conference I attend. The fingerprints all over the screen don't bother me. They're easily wiped off. The iPad also handily supplies the extra screen I need during work. Currently I'm setting it to the Twitter accounts I monitor.

Is the iPad a Kindle killer? Yes, if it means I need only one device for my ebooks, videos, music, and other entertainment. Yet, if I start losing sleep over it, I just may need to hang on to my Kindle.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday Update
Last night I tried the iPad keyboard dock which somewhat improved the typing experience. There are several dedicated iPad related keys plus a mysterious blank one in the middle of the top row. However, replying to and sending email still requires tapping the iPad's screen. Will the constant arm stretching and finger taping prove to be ergonomic? Time will tell.

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thanks mentioning the e-ink as I think that is often glossed over.

I want ipad to do more having an iPhone and kindle I see no need for it.
maybe version 2

thanks mentioning the e-ink as I think that is often glossed over.

I want ipad to do more having an iPhone and kindle I see no need for it.
maybe version 2

I don't think the iPad should be used as an excuse to replace anything. Although it is the device I reach for most often, each of my constellation of devices is good for different things.

I use my iPhone for location-based apps and a secondary media and game device as well as for a telephone. I use my Nook for daytime weekend reading when I really want to focus only on reading. I use my Mac notebook for serving various media to all these devices and to manage their backup and firmware. If I have extended typing to do I usually sit at my notebook even though I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. The reason for this is the larger selection of fonts and specialized writing software. Quite often I will open a resource on the iPad treating it as a second monitor and using my iPhone as a conversion calculator and translator.

I do have to agree about the siren call of other apps when reading in the iBooks, B&N reader, or Kindle apps. Sometimes I will stop reading to play Angry Birds or watch a video in the ABC app.

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