I’ve been absent for quite a while. It’s not that I’ve been especially busy, it’s much more like that I’ve been distracted, over the past several weeks, by thoughts of the Apple iPad and how I might use it. That’s right, I’ve been swallowed by the hype machine.
It was an unpleasant surprise a few days back when Apple announced that the local release of the iPad would be put back a month. I had been geared up for a release around April 24, but now I had to reset to the end of May. Nuh-uh. Wasn’t going to wait that long – I need something to take to the UK during the early part of that month.
The US and Canadian dollars are at par for the moment (which shows how the US has been tumbling), so it really isn’t a big deal to swing down to Buffalo and hit the Apple Store there. I went down on Thursday and picked up a shiny (really!) 64Gb iPad with WiFi but no 3G access. I don’t expect to use it a great deal away from the house (I don’t go much away from the house!), so on the rare occasions when I do, and need Internet access, I can look for a hotspot. I don’t expect much from local cell service providers, so I’ve decided not to buy the 3G model for now. I may revisit that decision later, once I’ve had a chance to use the ‘Pad for a while, particularly after my [planned] trip to the UK next month [assuming planes aren't grounded by ash!].
I ran into a problem once I got back home. The Canadian iPad store isn’t active yet, so I couldn’t buy any apps and I couldn’t update the ones I had already (I was able to buy the GoodReader app a few days back for some reason, despite the fact the iPad store wasn’t ready). There was a workaround for free apps, though – I registered a different id using my daughter’s US address. That got me the iBook app, and let me load up the Epub format ebooks I have purchased already from Baen’s ebook store. My usual ebook reader, Stanza, doesn’t have an iPad version as yet (or at least, not that I could find), so the iBook app was a necessity. The iPad is a very comfortable reader, and I’m finding it much better to use than the iPod Touch I had been using, even if I can’t access the Baen store directly as I could under Stanza.
The iPad has been billed by many as a pure entertainment device, and so far it has been entertaining enough (book reader, web browser, music player, occasional video views), but I have also been using apps from my old iPod touch, and they work well enough. There are a number of iPad-specific apps available which I might buy, but since my credit card uses a Canadian address I can’t buy them from the US iPad store, and will have to wait for the Canadian store to open. Also, for updates to existing apps transferred from my iPod I am having a problem since I can’t login to the App Store to update anything purchased from the Canadian store. This is a pain, though it should be resolved by the end of May when I expect the Canadian store to open up.
Battery life has been excellent. I used the ‘pad all day yesterday, manually turning it off whenever I expected to be away from the machine or not paying attention for more than a brief time, and at the end of the day I still had 72% power. During the day I had read a couple of books (Much Fall of Blood and The Rolling Stones), so there were a few hours of use in that time. This is quite acceptable, and I expect to be able to eke out a weekend’s use if I am away from power for any length of time. I have a solar cell which might let me charge up enough to last out a longer observing trip, say to Starfest or Nirvana, though even there I usually have access to a power outlet for long enough to charge up.
I will probably have additional comments on the iPad over the next few weeks – right now I’m still nosing around trying to determine the usage limits I can expect.