iPad – Indistinguishable from Magic

Ipad-small

My iPad arrived (really) on Saturday, and I've been licking it working with it ever since. Many, many other websites will post detailed reviews of the hardware and software. Me? I just want to tell you some stories.

Sunday Morning. I haven't been a newspaper person for years. My morning routine involves a cup of coffee and reading the news — but I read that news online, and, up until now, that's meant sitting in the office, in front of my Mac.

Sunday morning, though, I joined Clyde and The Animals on the couch, perched my coffee mug on a window sill, and read USA Today, BBC news, and a dozen news feeds on the iPad. As we read together, we shared bits and pieces of favorite items. The Animals played. The sun rose slowly, painting the Mayfair Towers and the W Hotel varying shades of pink and purple. 

Information on a screen in front of you is one thing; that same information in your lap, on a device you can touch, is something else entirely. Reading is effortless — and because the device is a comfortable size and shape, you can interact with it without abandoning the world around you.

At the Nursing Home. Mom's hospitalization has isolated her from Josiah, her canine companion. We've brought Josiah in to visit her, but that's just not the same as having him there constantly. Yesterday, I loaded the iPad with photos and videos taken of Josiah's most recent walk in Piedmont Park and took it with me to the rehab center.

Mom snatched the iPad, and, without any coaching or instruction, excitedly flipped from photo to photo. When a nurse came in, she sped back through the collection to show off her favorite photos. "I want one of these," Mom kept saying. "I want one!"

A high-tech device a seventy-eight year old woman can use without training or anxiety — wow.

Old Friends in a New Light. I loved my Kindle, which remains an excellent device for reading a text sequentially from beginning to end. But the Kindle's e-ink display chokes on tables, diagrams, maps, and photos, most of which either don't display … or display in a compressed or distorted format, rendering them useless.

What a pleasure it's been to load those books into the Kindle app on the iPad and discover that the maps in my travel books are not only visible — they're zoomable, with details I can actually read. Tables, charts, and quizzes in the books I've been reading for work are crystal clear. Books on photography include crisp images that I can expand and reorient at will, just by rotating the iPad in my hands.

Verdict. The iPad isn't just a good device for interacting with text, photos, videos, games, email, and the web — it's the *perfect* device for interacting with text, photos, videos, games, email, and the web. While I still want a physical keyboard for heavy-duty text entry — for writing novels and reports, for example — the removal of a keyboard and mouse lends a sense of intimacy to browsing media (from news to ebooks to photos) unlike anything you've ever experienced before.

With the iPad in your hands, there is also a sense that this is a little device that someone, somewhere, has stolen from our future. It is a little slice of magic, the sort of technology that Dr. Who or Captain Kirk would carry, whisked back in time to the present day. 

Or, put more simply: the iPad is a joy to use. Think about that: here's a piece of technology … that generates a sense of wonder and awe.

How long since you've said that about a computer?

Ipad-small

My iPad arrived (really) on Saturday, and I've been licking it working with it ever since. Many, many other websites will post detailed reviews of the hardware and software. Me? I just want to tell you some stories.

Sunday Morning. I haven't been a newspaper person for years. My morning routine involves a cup of coffee and reading the news — but I read that news online, and, up until now, that's meant sitting in the office, in front of my Mac.

Sunday morning, though, I joined Clyde and The Animals on the couch, perched my coffee mug on a window sill, and read USA Today, BBC news, and a dozen news feeds on the iPad. As we read together, we shared bits and pieces of favorite items. The Animals played. The sun rose slowly, painting the Mayfair Towers and the W Hotel varying shades of pink and purple. 

Information on a screen in front of you is one thing; that same information in your lap, on a device you can touch, is something else entirely. Reading is effortless — and because the device is a comfortable size and shape, you can interact with it without abandoning the world around you.

At the Nursing Home. Mom's hospitalization has isolated her from Josiah, her canine companion. We've brought Josiah in to visit her, but that's just not the same as having him there constantly. Yesterday, I loaded the iPad with photos and videos taken of Josiah's most recent walk in Piedmont Park and took it with me to the rehab center.

Mom snatched the iPad, and, without any coaching or instruction, excitedly flipped from photo to photo. When a nurse came in, she sped back through the collection to show off her favorite photos. "I want one of these," Mom kept saying. "I want one!"

A high-tech device a seventy-eight year old woman can use without training or anxiety — wow.

Old Friends in a New Light. I loved my Kindle, which remains an excellent device for reading a text sequentially from beginning to end. But the Kindle's e-ink display chokes on tables, diagrams, maps, and photos, most of which either don't display … or display in a compressed or distorted format, rendering them useless.

What a pleasure it's been to load those books into the Kindle app on the iPad and discover that the maps in my travel books are not only visible — they're zoomable, with details I can actually read. Tables, charts, and quizzes in the books I've been reading for work are crystal clear. Books on photography include crisp images that I can expand and reorient at will, just by rotating the iPad in my hands.

Verdict. The iPad isn't just a good device for interacting with text, photos, videos, games, email, and the web — it's the *perfect* device for interacting with text, photos, videos, games, email, and the web. While I still want a physical keyboard for heavy-duty text entry — for writing novels and reports, for example — the removal of a keyboard and mouse lends a sense of intimacy to browsing media (from news to ebooks to photos) unlike anything you've ever experienced before.

With the iPad in your hands, there is also a sense that this is a little device that someone, somewhere, has stolen from our future. It is a little slice of magic, the sort of technology that Dr. Who or Captain Kirk would carry, whisked back in time to the present day. 

Or, put more simply: the iPad is a joy to use. Think about that: here's a piece of technology … that generates a sense of wonder and awe.

How long since you've said that about a computer?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

2 comments

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  • Ooooo — can’t wait ’til I get mine! Love the story about your mom.

    Do you think it will be as easy on the eyes to read novels etc on the iPad as it is on the Kindle? That’s my only question — if we would be trading color, design and the features you mention above for eyestrain because of the backlit display. I think that’s the only thing I might miss about my Kindle.

  • Hi, Joanna! What a delight to hear from you! I love your tweets — little digital slices of Gaian wisdom! 🙂

    So far — and Ive been reading on the device a lot — I have no eye strain. I should note that Im reading with the screen set to about 80% brightness, with the largest (friendly to forty year-old eyes) font. But with those settings, my eyes glide across the page with no fatigue at all.

    I dont think anyone will be reading on this device out in the sunshine; the face is too reflective, and the screen cant compete with Father Sun. But Im a Moonchild, preferring caves and shade to beaches and full sunlight, so Im a happy camper. 

Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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