Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taking the iPad 2 plunge

Two weeks ago I came home from work to see Matt salivating over his latest gadget -- his iPad 2. He'd been talking about getting one for a while, and I told him that he should just go ahead and do it. I did tell him, though, that as part of the Great iPad 2 of 2011 Purchasing Agreement he would have to write a guest blog reviewing the product.

And now I'm pleased to present Matt's iPad 2 review...

Thanks, Stephanie. I'm thrilled to be here writing for the best blog in the entire world...

OK, OK, I kid. Here's Matt's actual review:

Hi, I’m Matt and I will be your guest blogger today. My assigned subject: to discuss the iPad 2 that we purchased approximately two weeks ago. I had wanted an iPad for a variety of reasons, the most important being that I consume a lot of media.  A LOT.  I have a Google Reader account with blogs that I try to keep up with on a daily basis, I read a number of newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times) and I have an Instapaper account. (Hint: do you want to read long articles from magazines but can never get around to them? Use Instapaper. It’s free, easy, and works on any computer, Apple and Android devices, and it looks great.) The iPad hits all of those criteria. It also doesn’t hurt that you can use it as an E-reader, though it is not usable in direct sunlight the way that a Nook or Kindle is.  

I went to the Apple Store near my house on a Thursday after work, planning to take an iPad 2 home and start using it. The Apple Store employee told me, in a serious tone, that while they did not have any in stock, they received deliveries nearly every day.  I was welcome to arrive at 6 a.m. and wait in line, hoping that when they opened, they would have a black, 16 gig Wifi model.  Seeing that I have a real job and cannot wait in four-hour lines for uncertain outcomes, I looked for other means.  This Gizmodo post allowed me to find the model I wanted at a Target near my house.  I walked in, pointed to the one I wanted, and walked out with my new iPad 2!

The other major reason that having an iPad made sense for our house is that we do not have a laptop. We have an excellent iMac in our office, but it is not portable, cannot be read in bed, and cannot travel with us. The iPad can sit on the coffee table in our living room, and can be picked up for any of the reasons listed above, or just to check email or a quick Wikipedia search.  

We are also very lucky to have a setup where we can stream music from our iMac upstairs to speakers in our living room via an Airport Express. While it was possible to control this via our Android phones, it did not always work, and often required running upstairs to turn off the music.  The iPad can be used (via the free Remote app) to control the music and edit playlists, and it always just works in a way that the Android app never did.  In addition, we can stream music from Pandora (via the free Pandora app for iPad) to those speakers in the living room, giving us an unlimited music selection while we read.

We got upsold and paid the $40 for the magnetic screen cover. It's super thin and flexible, and it snaps on and off the device using a series of strong magnets. 

While the iPad is an outstanding device, there are a few downsides to using one.  First and foremost, it has an LCD screen just like that of a laptop, so it can produce eyestrain if you use it all day. Unlike a Kindle or Nook, which have E-ink screens that are much closer to printed text, the iPad screen is electronic through and through. Second, while the onscreen keyboard is fine for writing short emails/notes, it is not a keyboard for extended writing. (Guess where I’m writing this post from?  It’s not the iPad.) Third, the excellent Apple case that can be folded to support the iPad as a viewing device does not protect the back of the device, which could be a problem for some. Most importantly, though, if you already own a laptop that is not extremely heavy, I’m not sure that an iPad is necessary. But for anyone who wants a light device with excellent battery life that allows you to to do more than read books on an outstanding color screen, the iPad is exactly the product you want.

Lastly, if you do own an iPad, and you are not using Flipboard, you are missing out. Download it now. Angry Birds looks pretty great on an iPad, too. 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the review! i got my husband one for his birthday---it's coming in this week!