Tagipad

Getting Reading Done

Last month, I got an iPad Mini from my workplace. Apart from my work-related apps, I decided to not install Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or any social media apps [1]. Instead first, I choose to install only Kindle, iBooks, and Instapaper apps. Not even Flipboard or Zite that usually has short news stories. I made this decision consciously as I wanted to get back to my long-form reading habit. It’s almost impossible to get any done during the daytime either due to work commitments or other distractions on other devices. I’ve tried the ‘will power’ and ‘self control’ thing [2] but judge me all you want, it doesn’t work for me. So I had to get my reading done at night in bed [3] . That was usually when I wasted time on Reddit. Ick! Now I feel so bad about it.

Second, I made a conscious decision to also leave my personal iPad Air downstairs each night. I got only my phone that I need to charge at my bedside. I carried my iPad Mini to bed so I had no choice but to read only books or long-form articles. I got the iPad on April 24 and I’ve tried to read books every night ever since. So how did I fare?

Books Read Post-iPad Mini

Source: If you know my real name or are my Facebook friend, you can read my ratings/reviews on GoodReads.

I surprised myself by completing 8 books; more than I had read in the eight months prior to that. Of course, most were non-fiction but I prefer those nowadays over fiction. I wasn’t tried to speed-read so I was also surprised that I could read just as quickly as before. I’m glad to know that this skill doesn’t diminish over time due to lack of practice. I’m trying to get back into reading fiction. Thankfully Ash reads a lot of fiction and knows my preferences so recommends books that I’ll enjoy. The benefits of this re-discovered albeit forced habit of reading books are the usual and obvious ones. As an added benefit, I can now fall asleep much quicker and often sleep better. I used to be an insomniac but it looks like those days are past me. Ash is a voracious reader too so our Kindle app is always bursting with new books [4]. I’ve started frequenting our public library often too. Luckily, Austin’s public library has a lot more ebooks available that you can directly download to your Kindle app. Two of the above eight books were paper books so it’s not like I’m completely relying on eBooks.

I would heartily recommend following my method. If you don’t have the luxury of owning two iPads, you can always delete the social media off your primary iPad and rely on your phone. Or simply buy the Kindle device. It’s well worth it. Happy reading!

Footnotes:
  1. My workplace doesn’t explicitly disallow us from installing or using them on work devices. As long as you get your work done, no one really cares what you do []
  2. I don’t mean the apps that disbar you from accessing sites for a fixed period of time []
  3. Nope, the screen neither troubles me nor affects my sleep. In fact, I fall to asleep quicker and sleep better after reading books. []
  4. She has finally moved past paper books to ebooks simply due to the convenience factor although she uses Kindle device and not the app []

Our Guitar Hero on the iPad

Does A R Rahman also cry when he doesn’t like the composition he just created?

I Can Haz An iPad 2

I finally got an iPad; the generation 2 model. We had bought an iPad when it launched first last year but my wife, Ash uses it primarily as her at-home computer and so for all practical purposes, it is hers. I had the Kindle and Instapaper app synced to my accounts and she would let me use it at night once she was done playing Solitaire.

I bought the iPad primarily for reading and checking Twitter/email occasionally. More importantly, I hope it keeps me away from my computer in my den when I get home. A year since the iPad launched has given developer enough time to come up with some amazing apps; Flipboard, Zite, and Instapaper are just few of them. I also got the Smart Cover which definitely is impressive with its ‘magical’ magnets but I admit that it takes getting used to folding it just right when you are reading or using the iPad. Thanks to Andy Inhatko’s tips, I’ve managed to find just the right way to fold the cover so you can hold the iPad comfortably. The hardware is excellent and handling feels just right. The speakers are powerful and loud enough so you can hear music across the room although I prefer to AirPlay them to our Bose Speakers via Apple TV. The camera is not that great but I don’t assume I will be using it for still photos and it fares well in better light. Now I just need people to FaceTime with :) Here’s hoping my brother and parents get an iOS device in India so they can see our kid more often.

I decided to get the iPad on the weekend and had it on thursday. So how did I manage to get the iPad so quickly when there are long lines everywhere and the website says, 3-4 weeks for online orders? Once again, Best Buy to the rescue. I had gone in to look at iPhone cases when I decided to check out the floor model. When I asked the salesman if they had one in stock, he told me that they had it in the morning. But almost instantly, he gave me his card and asked me to email him my phone number so he could text me as soon as they got a new shipment. I emailed him as soon as I got home and his text arrived yesterday afternoon. Although I got to the store within the hour, I was lucky to get the last available one. [1]

As with my Mac, I’ll soon write about the apps I use on a regular basis. Right now, there simply are too many although I’m disappointed that magazine apps still cost as much as you would pay if you bought them at the newsstand. I’m waiting for the reduced price subscription plans. Even if it costs the publishers almost nothing to ‘print’ the digital versions, I’m willing to pay as much as I would pay for the print subscriptions.

Footnotes:
  1. I had ordered one online on Monday, just in case. Delivery date was April 30th. I cancelled the order as soon as I got back with the one I got in store. []

Confession of a Windows Fan

Just to be clear, I haven’t refrained from buying Apple over the years because I blog about Microsoft. Many of my Microsoft-watching colleagues consider it imperative and even enjoyable to use Apple’s wares. But I never wanted to be part of the Apple community because I have had so many negative, hostile and condescending interactions with not just Apple fanboys, but regular Apple users. If that’s what “thinking different” was, I wanted no parts.

[Source: I confess: I bought an iPad (and so far I love it)] So she hadn’t bought a Mac because the “Apple community” was negative and hostile? By that logic, as the MacUser assumes, she has perhaps never used the subway either.

But in her defense, I can understand her predicament. Switching platforms is not easy especially if you have gotten used to the one you started out on. Apple fanboys and avid Windows users are just as likely to refuse to consider the other option; probably because change can be difficult. I’m a recent convert to Mac (talking about hostile and negative, I’ve been already labeled a Mactard) but still continue using Windows at work. Most of my statistics programs like SAS and ArcGIS work best on Windows. Although Windows 7 is said to be the best thing that came out of Microsoft in a while, I’m content with XP. But if I were to recommend a computer to a new user (mostly family or close friends), I would recommend a Mac even if it was for the simple reason of avoiding potential future tech support that I have to provide.

But if it helps, I won’t be ‘negative and hostile’. Honestly, I’ve never met a negative or hostile geek, PC or Mac. They are always only too willing to help out so I suggest Mary Jo Foley change her geeky friends. And don’t feel too guilty about buying the only tablet that is available in the market right now. Not using Apple products just for the sake for not using them doesn’t make sense to someone who believes in openess, right? Unless you mean openness of the platform and not the mind. Sheesh! There I go again being all negative and hostile. I’m sorry.

iPad + Velcro

You better believe in the power of Velcro if you want to pull this off. The iPad is cool but it isn’t unbreakable.

eBooks on the iPad

Guest Post by Ash

A big reason that I bought the iPad was so I could read e-books. A lot of people who are on the fence about getting the iPad and have talked to me about how I like mine, seem to be confused about how to buy, read and store e-books on the iPad. The many iPad reviews on tech blogs also haven’t gone into this much. I hope this post helps iPad owners and iPad fence-sitters learn about using the iPad as an e-reader.

In essence, the iPad reads any and all e-books in the ePub format. The high-resolution, LED-backlit screen makes for crisp text, rich illustrations and vivid colors. There are a number of apps out there that can be used to read eBooks. Here are the most popular.

iBooks
The iBooks app is developed by Apple and is their much publicized e-book reader. Through the iBooks app, you can buy books from the Apple iBookstore (accessible through the iBooks app on the iPad and through iTunes on your Mac or PC). You can also buy a book from pretty much anywhere else e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Powell’s ebooks etc and read it in iBooks.

A big plus for the iBooks app is that it reads DRM-free books. So you don’t have to necessarily buy books. You can search and download e-books from sites like esnips, rapidshare, filestube etc. This is great if you want to read pulp fiction, but not necessarily buy and own potboilers. That how I get my bodice-rippers, i.e. romance novels (as an aside, romance fiction is the largest share of the consumer market, 13.5 percent in 2008).

iBooks Store iTunes Books Sync

To add a book you’ve bought online or obtained in some other fashion, follow the steps below:

  1. You buy a book online and save it to your PC or Mac.
  2. If the book is not in an ePub format but in some other ebook format like .lit or even .pdf, convert it to ePub using free converters (like Calibre).
  3. Open iTunes and add it to your library. The book will now show up under the “Books” section of your library.
  4. Connect your iPad to your computer.
  5. When the iPad shows up on your iTunes library,  click on its books section, and select the sync button. The iPad will now sync with your iTunes library and books in your iTunes library will transfer to your iPad library (you have the option to sync all books, or sync selected books). Done!

When you disconnect your iPad, the books you added will now show up inside your iBooks app. The iBooks library can be viewed as a simple sortable list or as books on a bookshelf.

iBooks Library iBooks Book Shelf

You tap the right or left side of the screen to move to the next or previous page. You turn a page slowly by dragging from right to left. You can go to a different part of the book by visiting the table of contents and tapping a chapter.  The portrait view shows a single page of the book, the landscape view shows two pages. You can touch and hold any word to look it up in the built-in dictionary or Wikipedia, or you can search for it throughout the book and on the web. You can use the Bookmarking feature to highlight text and refer to it later. You can also use VoiceOver (the screen reader in iPad) so it can read you the contents of any page.When you’re finished reading, iBooks bookmarks where you left off.

iBooks Table of Contents iBooks Portrait Mode iBooks Landscape Mode

The advantage of book syncing over iTunes is that you can store your entire library of eBooks in the iTunes library on your Mac or PC, and only keep those books you’re currently reading, or want quick access too, on your iPad. The one improvement I’d like to see in this area is syncing over the cloud i.e. syncing your iPad to the iTunes on your computer over wireless internet so you can transfer books to and fro without necessarily connecting the iPad to the computer.

Kindle
Through the Kindle app, you can purchase eBooks from Amazon, as well as access eBooks that you may have already purchased through Amazon. I cant say much more about this app as I haven’t used it since I don’t have a Kindle Store account.The advantage of the Kindle app over the iPad app is that Amazon appears to have the best prices and the best range of new books vs. the Apple store.

You can change the font color, font size and background color. You tap on either side of the screen, or flick, to turn pages. You can add bookmarks, notes and highlights by tapping and holding a word. You can change the font color, font size and background color. A plus for this app is that Amazon Whispersync automatically syncs your last page read, bookmarks, notes and highlights across all your devices, so you can pick up right where you left off no matter what device you’re reading on.

Wattpad
Wattpad is an eBook community where people upload novels, short stories, fan fiction, poetry, essays and more. They’re either material written by the uploaders themselves or material downloaded/obtained from elsewhere. The Wattpad app lets you search their material by genre, keyword or wattcode (a unique code assigned to each of their files which is useful if you’ve found the file on the Wattpad website and want to access it on the iPad). Once you’ve found the book on the Wattpad app, you can read it and/or save it to your Wattpad library.

As with all other eReader apps, you can change the font type, font size, font color & background color. You also have an orientation lock, which prevents it from switching between landscape and portrait if you tilt it slightly. You tap the right or left side of the screen to move to the next or previous page. While reading the book, you can turn on auto-scrolling where Wattpad automatically scrolls through the text, from top to bottom. You can adjust the speed of this automatic scrolling. I don’t like this app much because the text is all formatted the same, which makes the material feel less like a book.

Wattpad Search Wattpad Library Wattpad

Stanza
Stanza is another great app for reading eBooks on the iPhone and iPod Touch. However, they haven’t come out with a iPad app yet. I’ll update this post with my take once the app is released.

Nook
Barnes & Nobles has announced that they are designing a new B&N eReader for iPad. Again, I’ll update this post with my take once the app is released.

Unfulfiled Promises of Open Source Innovation

This was the weekend those of us with high standards lost their remaining residue of patience for ideologues who hyperbolize about open systems without actually creating something people want to use.

[Source: Personal Weblog of Joe Clark, Toronto] Quite a burn on the open source community. But the criticism is mostly accurate. I use WordPress for my blogging needs and cannot be more pleased with its ease of use and utility. If you are a WordPress.com user, you can use all of WP’s goodness without bothering about the tech geekery. At work, even using FTP brings looks of puzzlement and summons to an IT guy so you can imagine. So in that sense, Apple’s iPad dumbs it down to the average users who is not tech savvy can use the web, check email, and tweet from their couch. Those who think users are not as ‘dumb’ as we think then this ReadWriteWeb story on Facebook logins should be Evidence A (read the blockquoted paragraph in bold and initial comments on the post). This is not a knock on the people but instead on the technology that we consider dead-simple but in fact is still complex. When my parents were visiting last year, my dad opened Firefox and typed in his email ID in the Google search box to check his email. And then got ragged when I made a face.

I love open-source projects and products but none yet has come close to being convenient and easy to use. If any other company, open-source or not, makes a better tablet, I will love it. Because that’s what rational consumers in a free market do. Make choices that are optimal to them. And not just hold some open computing ideals in their mind when makign their purchasing decisions. We could wish they did but we cannot emotionally blackmail them into upholding our open-source values. After all, it all boils down to what people want and what they are willing to pay for. Fanboyism will only take a company so far; remember Apple almost went bankrupt in the 90s and only rebounded when they launched first their iMac and then the iPod that proved to be popular products for the general market.

Apologies for a flurry of posts on iPad-related stuff if it is not your thing but it extends beyond a new product into understanding consumer behavior, brand management, product promotion, marketing, supply chain efficiency, media manipulation, and oh yes, innovation.

Apple iPad – First Impressions

There was no standing in line outside the Apple store but merely waiting for the guy in brown on Saturday morning. We had the UPS shipment release authorization signed and clipped outside the door in case he made an early morning call. But he sauntered up to the front door and was slightly puzzled to see the door open before he knocked and also to see two people at the door for a small light package. The Apple iPad had arrived.

I had pre-ordered the absolute base 16GB WiFi-only device online on March 12th as a gift for Ash on her birthday. We cut through the box eagerly resisting the temptation for an unboxing video although I did share some pictures of our glee on Twitter. Ash had downloaded a few iPad-specific apps to her iTunes yesterday. Since it is Ash’s iPad (she makes it a point to cite it as often as she can to keep my prying hands away from staking any claim), we synced it to her iTunes. As with all Apple products, the iPad doesn’t come with any instruction manual and all the instructions are on a single piece of paper that basically says, attach iPad to computer, sync to iTunes, and follow the instructions onscreen. The iPad synced perfectly, copying the apps for the iPad and the ones for her iPod Touch. If you’ve used an iPhone or an iPod Touch, the rest is easy and exactly the same. You can drag upto six apps to the bottom menubar and the rest are aligned neatly on each screen spaced out more than that on the iPhone.

Your first impression is wonderment at the screen quality (9.7″ 1024×768 resolution). Also, it isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be (tech specs says a pound and a half) and definitely less than some hardcover books I’ve read. The display is crisp and clear. Colors render perfectly and are just right in terms of brightness and contrast. The touch screen is highly responsive and probably much more sensitive to the touch as compared to the iPhone. And it is lightening fast. Absolutely no delay in opening apps or switching to the next screen although in some apps, I did notice a delay in switching from the portrait mode to landscape. The screen lock button on the side not included during Job’s keynote address is a welcome relief and much-needed when you are reading lying down. Safari browsing too is fast and smooth. You can zoom in with the same pinch-in pinch-out gesture and double-tapping on a non-link section of a website zooms in to that section.

Ash has not yet loaded any music or photos but she downloaded an app for wallpapers called Backgrounds HD which displayed photos perfectly in all their glory. Accessing Flickr (no iPad-specific app yet) through Safari also displayed my pictures with no distortion in color or sharpness. The music from Pandora was crystal clear and loud enough to hear from across the room. You can hook it up to your speakers to get much better output. The GMail interface for the iPad released earlier this week is excellent and takes full advantage of the screen orientations. Typing on the onscreen keyboard was surprisingly easy although it is much better in the landscape mode. However it is much easier if you are a finger-typist because I found myself trying to hit the spacebar with my thumbs as I do on the regular keyboards. The settings, as I said, are the same as the iPhone so in fact Apple’s claim that 40-70 million people who already use an iPhone or an iPod Touch will have no learning curve is quite true. You find yourself using the iPad as efficiently as if you have been using it for a long time. The WiFi-only model has some kind of geo-location feature that let apps use your current location. I understand that it uses WiFi triangulation as opposed to GPS that a 3G-equipped iPad will use.

The best part about the iPad, as with the iPhone and iPod Touch are the apps. Right now, there are not as many apps for the iPad specifically as they are for the iPhone. Sure, you can use them on your iPad but the experience is unsatisfactory. However, the ones which are made for the iPad are mind-blowing; some of which include NetFlix, Tweetdeck, iBooks, Feeddler, USA Today, Pandora among others (screenshots displayed below). I’m sure app developers are scrambling to upgrade their apps for the iPad and hundreds are being added as you read this. The apps that I eagerly await and bought the iPad (for Ash, of course) for are the magazine apps. There are plenty of prototypes and sample apps from Conde Nast that appear to maximize the potential of the iPad.

The iPad has lead to reactions in the extreme and drawbacks such as no Flash (websites are converting rapidly to HTML5) or no multitasking are hurled at the device in deriding it. Strangely price, a perennial complaint against Apple, isn’t mentioned much these days. There are arguments to be made for Apple’s decisions in excluding the above two features; latter of which is rumored to be included in the next OS upgrade although Andy Ihnatko makes an attempt to defend the status quo on a technical basis. Apps like Feeddler (for your RSS feeds; syncs to Google Reader) and Tweetdeck open external links within the app making exiting the app and opening Safari redundant. This first-impressions review is not aimed at making those arguments. It is merely to show off our latest gadget for which we have a perfect fit in our household. Personally, I see the logic in Job’s contention that the iPad fits perfectly between a laptop and the iPhone. There is a place and reason for the existence of all three devices depending on your usage although some are arguing that the laptop is now dead (and desktop is alive once again). Most apps available for all three offer syncing abilities over the cloud which I consider as the future of computing at least in countries that have reliable and ubiquitous Internet connectivity. If you are not an Apple enthusiast or don’t have a need for such a device, the iPad is not meant for you. And that is fine. It is still a free world out there and you are not compelled to buy anything against your will. Netbooks are fairly popular and in a free market, both shall co-exist in peace. No judgments made either ways </disclaimer>.

The screenshots below are self-explanatory and show different features and apps as seen on the iPad.

Reasons to not get an iPad

Gina Trapani of the LifeHacker fame writes an article for Fast Company listing reasons why you should not buy an iPad. She has…two reasons. The first reason is true of any technology or gadget not just Apple. And the second reason is true of anything in life. I can understand people who belong to the first category but they may also be that type who haven’t yet bought a digital camera because the next one from Nikon might have X-ray vision. But people who belong to the second category and are ranting on the iPad are far more puzzling to understand since why would anyone be so mad at something that someone you don’t know is going to buy.

Why the iPad Ad for TV works

This iPad ad made its debut during the Oscars ahead of its pre-order date of March 12th and release date of April 3rd. Not all were impressed but I think it works perfectly. Why? Because all it shows is how it looks and what it does. And it does a lot in those 30 seconds. Rarely do companies focus solely on their products to market them.

Another similar ad that worked was that of Google during the Super Bowl. It had the added dimension of weaving a story and even spurred plenty of video responses that Google obviously didn’t mind.

Only these two companies have come close to perfect brand management. Can you think of any other such campaigns?

Consuming Content on the iPad

When the iPad first came out, there was much consternation on the lack of Flash and other traditional web features that dominate current computers. But I always believed that Apple’s decision to exclude these features was in fact a plus; breaking away and designing for the future rather than holding on to the past. People missed floppy drives the first time they were excluded but no one remembers them anymore.

Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, I believe that true potential of the iPad will be unleashed by what we have not yet seen. Just like the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry, I believe the iPad will change the way we consume media. Yes, the iPad will and is primarily a media consuming device. I have been primarily interested in books and magazines. The possibilities of embedding rich media within content are endless. Think of your favorite magazines and then imagine how better your experience would be if some content was interactive [1].

The media companies have already started designing their publications for the iPad. For e.g., Penguin Books:

The part about holding your iPad up to the sky to map constellations is something that no paper book can do. Another of my favorite magazine, Wired is also almost ready with its app and it looks even better than it’s paper version.

I hope other publications recognize the potential of this new medium and get started. The publishing industry thankfully has learned from the music industry’s debacle and looks willing to adapt and adopt new technologies.

P.S. The irony that the two videos above are in Flash is not lost on me :) But as both YouTube and Wired show, you can keep everyone happy by having two versions of their content. May the best technology win.

Update: Coincidentally, hours after I published this meandering post, I found Craig Mod’s beautifully illustrated and excellently-written article on how the iPad is challenging the very notion of books and yet retaining what we like most about them.

The iPad changes the experience formula. It brings the excellent text readability of the iPhone/Kindle to a larger canvas. It combines the intimacy and comfort of reading on those devices with a canvas both large enough and versatile enough to allow for well considered layouts.

Footnotes:
  1. A National Geographic app for the iPad will provide the same stunning photos and also include video []

Will the 250 MB plan suffice on the iPad?

The recently-announced iPad by Apple has an optional 3G modem in models that are $129 more than those just with WiFi. Additionally, AT&T offers two data plans for 3G connectivity. The unlimited plan is priced at $29.99 per month, just like the iPhone plan and 250 MB per month plan (upload and download) costs $14.99 per month. Initially I thought 250 MB would hardly be sufficient considering the rich media like photos and videos that we stream over our devices.

IMG_0290.PNG

Glenn Fleishman, after reading a tweet, checked his data usage [via] on the iPhone and surprisingly found that he had used only 1.7GB over past 7 months or about 270 MB per month. This led me to check my data usage for the past seven months that I have owned the iPhone. Got to the Settings app and select General > Usage and scroll down to the Cellular Network Data section and add Sent and Received. Like Glenn I have not yet reset my usage statistics so these figures are over the period I have owned the iPhone. As you see in the adjacent image, I have used 1145 MB over 7 months that amounts to nearly 163 MB per month. That’s it. I see YouTube videos, stream music over Pandora and Dhingana, use Tweetie and Email multiple times a day, and sometimes even end up downloading app updates over the 3G network. But yet, I seem to use far less than 250 MB per month. Even during the month when we were on vacation in San Francisco and used the iPhone extensively, I used up only 144 MB in December-January. so what gives? Why even opt for an unlimited plan on the iPad when you seem to use far less than the lower priced option?

First, how come the data usage is so low even though you seem to be downloading the Internet on your iPhone? As Glenn explains, your iPhone switches to open or allowed WiFi as soon as you are in its vicinity (home or office). You can even access AT&T’s hotspots while you are out and can also avail of free wireless networks in coffee shops or MacDonalds. So in a way, you are less reliant on 3G than you think especially if you don’t travel much or don’t play a leading role in ‘Up in the Air’. Second, with the iPad serving as a middle ground between the iPhone and your Macbook, the chances of using it away from home or office are even less and thus likely to be used primarily over WiFi. And if you do want to use a no-contract 3G connection, the better option would be to go for the lower priced one. But you may use the iPad for more data-intensive tasks than you use your iPhone so the data usage might be higher. But how much higher can always be experimented with and having no contract gives you that flexibility. Need more data? Just switch to the unlimited option for the next month.

However, the real question is what will AT&T charge you if you exceed your 250 MB limit. Will it convert your plan to an unlimited plan or simply charge you per MB, like it does for phone plans? That will have to be seen only after the iPad is released. Until then, it will be fun to know how much data have you used on your iPhone/smartphone. Do you use more than 250 MB? Find out and let me know.

Update #1: Apple reveals how the 250MB plan will work:

You can check your data usage in Settings on your iPad anytime. iPad will even let you know when you’re about to reach your 250MB data limit. You’ll get three alerts — at 20 percent, 10 percent, and zero. With each alert, you can choose to add more data or wait and do it later. Tap Now and iPad opens the Cellular Data Plan window so you can update your data plan.

But what happens if I exceed my limit and do not want to upgrade to the unlimited plan? Will I be charged per GB or will my 3G connection be terminated for the rest of the month? I guess it is the latter otherwise no one will buy the unlimited plan. It reminds me of the time when Internet connection in India was sold by the number of connectivity hours. A typical plan was for 500 hours for a month which I naturally ran through before the month was out.

Update #2: So what happens if I’m nearing my 250MB limit? AT&T clarifies and it sounds fair and reasonable:

The 250MB limited plan adds a few twists. You can track how much data you have used by going to Settings > Cellular Data. However, you’ll get a pop-up notification when you hit 200MB, 225MB, and 250MB. When you hit the 250MB limit, you have a few options. You can either wait until the 30 days has elapsed, at which point you’ll be charged another $14.99 and get another 250MB data allotment. Or you can add another $14.99 immediately, which resets your 30-day timer. Or you can pay $29.99 for 30 days of unlimited access.

The Day After – The iPad Pre-Release Reviews

  • What do Indie Gaming's All-Stars think of Apple's iPad?
  • “You can already hear the sound of hundreds of collective gears turning to chart gaming's future course. So we present the thoughts of all the above developers, with — as a bonus where applicable — off-device screenshots that blow up to their iPad-native 2x resolution when clicked, for a preview of what the device's scaling simulator will look like when it lands in March.”

  • Is the iPad the harbinger of doom for personal computing?
  • “What bothers me is that in terms of openness, the iPad is the same as the iPhone, but in terms of form factor, the iPad is essentially a general purpose computer. So it strikes me as a sort of Trojan horse that acculturates users to closed platforms as a viable alternative to open platforms, and not just when it comes to phones (which are closed pretty much across the board). The question we must ask ourselves as computer users is whether the tradeoff in freedom we make to enjoy Apple’s superior user experience is worth it.”

  • Is the iPad good for Amazon?
  • “All that said, the real story here isn't the hardware, for at the end of the day, Amazon doesn't care about the hardware that much. What it wants to do is sell e-books, which don't take up warehouse space, require trucks to be delivered, or an expensive customer service team to support. And it wants to sell lots of them.”

  • Adam Pash at Lifehacker on The Problem with the Apple iPad
  • “What's dangerous about the iPad is that it's much closer to a "real" computer than the iPhone is. If you dock it with the keyboard accessory, it really is just a sort of low-powered franken-laptop. And yet this is a computer over which you have absolutely no control. And the question is: If we all continue to buy Apple's locked-down products hand-over-fist (Jobs went so far as to talk about Apple as a mobile device company yesterday), what reason does Apple have not to keep moving forward with that model—a model that, to many, is defective by design.”

  • Various and Assorted Thoughts and Observations Regarding the Just-Announced iPad by John Gruber
  • “Apple is obviously leaving money on the table here. They could easily charge $999 as the starting price and have hundreds of people lined up outside every Apple Store ready to buy one on day one. Then they could drop the price later in the year, as the holiday season approaches. Clearly they’re more interested in unit sales than per-unit margin. The mobile computing landscape is in land-grab mode, and Apple is trying to stake out a long-term dominating position.”

  • Jason Kottke spouts some stuff about the iPad
  • “If the iPhone is any indication, this thing is going to be great for kids. Ollie likes playing games and looking at videos on the iPhone but the larger screen size of the iPad allows for more collaborative play…one kid + one adult or two kids using it together. The iPhone is for solitary use; the iPad can be collaborative (or at least collective).”

  • Insanely great? Ars reacts to the Apple iPad
  • “In the end, Apple has done something with the iPad that I didn't think they were capable of: made it worth my while to look around, or possibly even wait, for a better, more open alternative. I'm ready to buy an ARM-based, thin-client tablet computer—I'm just not ready to buy this one. All of the above being said, I'll buy an iPad anyway because it's my job to be up on this kind of thing. It'll probably also be the first time that I "jailbreak" a device.”

  • A message to the Internets regarding the iPad
  • “You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.” – Steve Jobs

  • Wired Campus – Impact of the iPad
  • “Today's announcement by Apple Inc. of the iPad tablet has education watchers predicting a wave of student purchases, major textbook publishers rejoicing, and at least one college saying it will consider giving them to all incoming students.”

  • 5 Reasons to Wait for iPad 2.0
  • “Whether the iPad is revolutionary or evolutionary is still hotly debated, but what we do know is that the computer, despite its elegance and blazing fast speed, is a decidedly first generation device. Although one day after the product's announcement may be too soon to discuss what's coming in the next version of the iPad, we've already come across several reasons to wait”

  • Five Ways the iPad Will Change Magazine Design
  • Pentagram’s Luke Hayman, designer of, among others, Time, New York, and Travel + Leisure, was asked how this new format would change the world of magazines and came up with five ways off the top of his head.

  • Stephen Fry on the iPad
  • “How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire”

Apple announces its Tablet – iPad

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Update: My first impressions review of the iPad.

Apple finally laid all rumors to rest and announced their long-pending tablet computer, iPad. Although, I am not terribly excited with the name (jokes pertaining to a certain feminine hygiene product have been trending on Twitter), the product in itself is pretty slick [image source]. I watched Job’s announcement on Engadget’s live-blog as he and other Apple executives along with third-party app developers demonstrated iPad’s abilities. Just like everyone thought, it is an exploded version of the iPhone with touch-screen capability and support for applications from the App Store. Almost all native Mac apps like Calendar, Contacts, Email, iPhoto, Music (and iTunes), iMovie (including HD), and even iWork are featured prominently for the new device making it not just a fun tablet but also something that you can use to write documents and work on your spreadsheets. The interface looks like a mashup of the Mac OS X and the iPhone OS. The iPad is equipped with an on-screen touch keyboard that iPhones will find familiar. The demo video shows that with practice, you can type with both hands instead of one-finger typing like on the iPhone and looked extremely responsive with little lag time.

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[image source] One of the newest features on the iPad was the iBooks application that not only makes reading books online easier but also hooks up the iTunes with book sales that you can instantly buy and read on the device. So far, five publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Peguin, and Simon & Schuster – have jumped aboard and are offering books and textbooks. The prices are not yet clear but this move has definitely put Amazon’s dedicated e-reader in a bind and threatens to wipe it out by offering more features and a better interface.

The screen is a glossy 9.7inch 1024×768 IPS LCD display with full multi-touch capability that now we have come to expect from Apple and other smartphones. It comes WiFi and bluetooth enabled, has speakers, microphone, and what Apple claims a 10 hour battery (with video playing) capable of a full month of standby time. Sadly, no webcam. All this is contained in a case half an inch thick and weighs around 1.5 pounds (heavy for extended reading?). the iPad syncs via USB with your other Apple devices so I assume you can migrate your music and movies in iTunes libraries and images in iPhoto. Other hardware options include a keyboard dock that you buy separately if you think typing on the screen is not your cuppa tea. Or you could hook up your wireless keyboard via bluetooth. The camera connection kit also sold separately will enable you to hook your camera directly to the iPad.

Now the best part that instantly converted naysayers on Twitter to “I want one” was its price point. Before the tablet was launched, everyone rumored that it will be around $1000 dollars without contract for 3G connectivity. Given Apple’s tendency to price its products higher than the competition lent credence to these rumors. But Jobs surprised everyone by announcing that the iPad will start at $499 and will come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB with higher prices for more memory. apart from WiFi capability, the iPad will be equipped with a carrier-unlocked 3G modem and AT&T will be the first official provider of data service with a $14.99 250 MB and a $29.99 unlimited monthly plan…with no contract (and no dropped calls). The full range of options is as follows:

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These features and prices almost instantly make the iPad viable to many consumers (Apple stock price jumped 4% only after the price was announced) and also poses a serious threat to Amazon’s Kindle. Sadly, multi-tasking doesn’t seem to be enabled in this release so you can’t really work while listening to Pandora.

So would I buy one? Personally, we have been waiting out on buying an e-reader and my wife’s 4-year-old Lenovo laptop is nearing its end. Although for someone with a Macbook or even a new netbook, the iPad may seem overkill but for us, it is perfect and I know we would be buying it as soon as it comes out. Or we may wait for couple of weeks more for the fanboy lines to peter out. The earliest you can get it is in 60 days and if you want a 3G-enabled one, then 90 days. The role of the iPad in our household will serve as the second computer and as an e-reader; at least that was our expectations even before the iPad was released today. I’m sure we will know more about usability and features as the first products are bought and reviewed.

The full official video is below:

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