More Gloating About My iPad

Finding myself yesterday felled by some nasty bug or another, I wound up spending the day in bed. And I can now say with certainty that the iPad is the best device yet invented for the lying-around-sick day.

I had a range of video options available to me, both TV series I’ve imported via iTunes and streaming video from the ABC Player, and I spent a while listening to music via the iPod app, but mostly (and contrary to some people’s expectations), I read.

I read the second half of a book I’d started in the iBooks app, and I read all of a book I downloaded in the Kindle app. (Okay, they were really light reading. But still!) Both were utterly pleasant to read, and the backlit screen did not bother me at all. In fact, when I was quite unceremoniously awakened at 1 am by the onset of this bug, and once I’d processed that I wasn’t dying but nor was I going back to sleep, either, I picked up the iPad and read for a while with the light off. It was wonderfully reminiscent of reading in bed with a flashlight as a kid, but way more convenient.

Both applications function well. And as I pointed out last week, both have a nice range of markup tools built in, though the Kindle’s annotation capability is more advanced than that of iBooks. And Kindle’s definitely got selection (and, by and large, price) on its side. But I still feel as I did on my initial encounter with the two apps — the iBooks landscape orientation, which presents two facing pages of text, is vastly preferable to Kindle’s, which presents one very wide column. And this matters a great deal when you’re reading in bed, as the landscape orientation presents a lower center of gravity, and thus a more stable means of holding the iPad, than does portrait.

In any case, I read up a storm, I listened to some music I hadn’t heard in a while, and I kept mostly on top of my email, or at least the most important things that landed in my inbox. And I discovered that on-screen typing, at least in the landscape position, becomes much easier very very quickly. (Though I’m annoyed beyond belief that the apostrophe key is on the numbers-and-punctuation screen of the keyboard. Most contractions typed without an apostrophe will auto-correct, but of course possessives won’t.) And web-browsing on the iPad — well, I wouldn’t exactly call it “magical,” but it’s awfully nifty.

Anyhow, I’m happy to be back up and around, and sitting at the desktop again, but a day of putting the iPad through its paces has me pretty convinced of its place in my device ecosystem.

6 responses to “More Gloating About My iPad”

  1. Great report. That two columns display sounds tasty.

    How many books does the iBookstore have now, 50K?

  2. I don’t have an iPad, but I gather from the internet that if you press and hold the comma, you’re able to access an apostrophe from the main keyboard layout. (This is also how to get useful special characters on the iPhone/iPod keyboard.) Enjoy!

  3. I think it was supposed to launch with 60K, and I haven’t seen any information about new arrivals…

  4. @Kate: thanks — that does work! Still interferes with the flow of typing, but a little less, at least.

  5. i’m with you — whichever one gives me the best note-taking ability, especially for pdfs, that’s the one i’m committing to. another limitation of the kindle by the way, is that it’s really a pain to flip back and forth between what you are reading and, say, the contents or the index. if you are working through a text and want to move back and forth between a micro-reading and a macro reading – how does this chapter fit into the larger argument – you hesitate because it’s a pain to re-find your place. there’s a way that the kindle traps you in narrative flow and locks you in.

  6. I just put in an order for the iPad but cannot receive it until the end of the month. Looking forward to comparing notes with you on its usefulness for media scholarship. It’s odd how it seems like an extravagant indulgence, although I can give many justifications for it. Let’s stay in touch about this.

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