by Chris Daly
My next-door neighbor, software engineer Dan Bricklin, did me a favor last night: he let me borrow his iPad for a couple of hours. Dan got one on Day 1, because he is designing a new and improved version of his iPhone app “Note Taker.” In a characteristic burst of generosity, Dan brought his iPad over to my house, plunked it down, showed me some features, and left.
Some early reactions: As a reader, the iPad is terrific. It is bright, pretty sharp, and blazing fast. On the receiving end, it’s great. I’m not sure what it would be like to rely on one to generate material, but as long as I have a desktop computer somewhere for the heavy lifting, it may not matter.
My major gripe about the iPad: Why isn’t it better for reading text? I looked at several news sites (NY Times, AP, USA Today, NPR) and some magazines. In every case, I wished that the text were darker — truly black, not some shade of grey. And I wish the images were crisper. The edges of every letter appears blurred. I had a print version of Time magazine lying nearby, and the comparison was dramatic. So, if the iPad is going to be the workhorse of media consumption, it could be better.
Photos and video looked great. The size is great, the weight is good. The keyboard will probably prove itself very useful. The navigation is smooth and natural and — as a bonus — you can swipe, enlarge, and even “flip pages” in a book, all in a very intuitive way. It would certainly do an outstanding job of replacing 2-3 newspapers, a couple of magazines, and a book in a briefcase.
An early favorite site: NPR has a terrific layout and generous amounts of audio.
An early disappointment: the NYT. I expect the best from the Times, and what I found online as a version of the Times specially formulated for the iPad looked more or less like the Times Digest, which is no great shakes. I ended up using Safari to navigate to the paper’s (free) Website. It looks a bit busy and cramped on the iPad, but they have not come up with anything better yet.
I’m sure there’s more to discover. But it’s strange: I’m a little less eager to rush out and buy one than I was before using it.