COLUMN: It’s now day two as an iPad cult member and I’m enjoying it quite a bit. Today I managed to try out a lot of things, without delving too deeply in the nitty gritty of each. More of a whirlwind tour versus a museum excursion overseen by a docent. First off, as an ebook device I really really like it (saying things twice doesn’t make it more so, but it’s fun to say — much like 110%, when you can’t have anything be more than 100% unless you have one foot into the metaverse). Ahem, okay, the iBooks reader is nice and I truly love the interface where the pages fold over as you move your finger. The Kindle app for iPad works very similarly without the paper animation, and offers some very nice controls for font size, sepia paper (simulates “pulp” paper of a worn paperback), and has built-in help.
Before I get into the experience of buying some e-books, it’s worth noting that my initial complaint of “where’s the help button,” was answered this morning by a very nice “thanks for purchasing your iPad” e-mail from Apple, which included links to the “hey, that’s what I was looking for” video tutorials. For newbies, these should be essential viewing, and for casual lookie-loos pondering an iPad purchase without going to the store, these videos are wonderful and should be viewed before using the iPad (link: www.apple.com/ipad/guided-tours ). In looking through the iBooks store I didn’t see anything that made me want to plop down some cash, but I was being the impatient male zooming through the store and waiting for something to hit me over the head.
I decided to try looking for some classic hard-SF (science fiction), and was unable to locate the things I had in mind, such as Greg Bear’s epic “EON.” So, I read a bunch of the Winnie the Pooh book and just kept smiling as I viewed the illustrations in glowing full color. Certainly, the “video” screen makes anything in color really “pop” as it would if printed on glossy paper, and so the Pooh artwork looks really gorgeous on the iPad.
In using the Kindle app, I was impressed by how nice it looks, and how easy it was to go to the Amazon store and shop for books. I couldn’t find the aforementioned Greg Bear book in the Kindle store either (of course, they had Bear’s book in the Star Trek universe, but not my cup of tea). So, I bought the Orson Scott Card book “Ender’s Game.” This looks really nice in the Kindle app for iPad and, as noted earlier, the Kindle app lets you change the font (lettering) size, for larger text, and also to change the page/paper color to sepia, which is a nice touch.
Oddly, in starting to read the Kindle book version of “Ender’s Game,” I noticed a glaring typo in the first sentence of the introduction, where the name of the book is mis-spelled. This leads one to believe this was scanned via OCR, and not converted from a digital file. Not sure if that is Amazon’s fault or the publisher (or author?), but bizarre that a spell-check wasn’t even done on that. Considering I can find “free” copies of many SF books online, scanned in by a volunteer army of archivists, it’s unfortunate that a paid version has such mistakes. But, I’ll comment on the rest of the book once I read more. The Kindle version does have jump links for the TOC, and overall I am much happier with the Kindle book on the iPad than on the actual Kindle Rev1.
Very nice e-reader for books. I was curious about opening a PDF of a reference book I have, and found the quite usable GoodReader app, which has built-in help and has clear instructions on how to open PDF, TXT, pictures, etc., and how to transfer files via USB or Wi-Fi.
Also, one of the tips found in the welcome e-mail from Apple this morning was a tip on how to highlight and bookmark passages in the iBooks reader, which goes like this: Keep track of your favorite book passages. To create a bookmark in iBooks, double-tap and drag to highlight a passage, then tap Bookmark. At the top of the Table of Contents, Bookmarks lists all saved passages.
Of the other more mainstream apps, I am really fond of all of those I played with, including the Netflix app, which let me load and play a movie from my queue, but very unlike the PS3 player — which only lets you play from your queue, not actually choose films — the iPad app lets you do both. In fact, I can search for films, add to my playlist, and then on my PS3 they are there to watch. Nice.
The Weather Channel app worked very well for me, although earlier versions seem to have had problems according to feedback in the iTunes app store. Worked brilliantly for me. If you wanted “real weather” information versus the little thing on your iTouch, this is the real deal.
I had never used Pandora before, since I have over 1,200 legal albums in my iTunes library and have been using the Napster to go service the last couple of years since my brother turned my on to that. Still, it only took a second to create an account, type in Thomas Dolby, and I was instantly listening to Dolby followed by Talk Talk. I miss the ’80s.
So far, the iPad is everything I had hoped for. I have not yet delved too much into the productivity apps like Apple Pages, or played the pinball game I purchased, but even now I can see this is going to be a great relationship. Another home run for Apple, all the way around the field.