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Peachpit's Gary-Paul Prince reviews the iPad after winning one at Red Giant Software's NAB party.
While attending NAB, I had the privilege of being invited to Red Giant Software’s NAB 2010 party. Red Giant Software publishes and develops software tools made by industry superstars Stu Maschwitz and John Knoll. (Side note: Stu Maschwitz is the author of Peachpit's The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap.)
Red Giant Software's products include Magic Bullet Suite, Trapcode Suite, and Pro Keying Suite. If you haven't heard of them you certainly may have seen the result of their genius in movies like: Angels & Demons, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Mummy 3, and Grindhouse.
So, I am at the party standing around chatting it up with the NAB crowd, a raffle is held, and I am left holding the golden ticket! Well it really wasn't made of gold, it was red and made of paper. However, I had the winning number and I found myself in possession of a sparkling new 32 GB iPad.
I have to admit when the iPad came out I was excited but unsure if there was a need for it in my life. For a while I courted the idea that the iPad could replace an iMac we have in our bedroom. The iMac is used strictly for e-mail, Web browsing, and movie watching.
When I told my girlfriend I was going to replace the iMac with an iPad, she was displeased and said she could "see no reason this oversized iPhone could replace our iMac." "The screen is too small and it doesn't have a DVD player." Little did she (and I) know that there was a iPad in our future whether we wanted it or not.
Once I got the iPad home and synched up with my desktop and away I went. First I want to address the negatives that became apparent immediately. The lack of Flash support puts a big damper on my Hulu.com habit. Also why didn't it include a video camera or phone function is beyond me. I prefer the "one device to rule them all" approach. The technology is there and there is plenty of room in the device size wise. Not having phone and camera function on the iPad is like not putting a clock function on a cell phone. These should be standard on a device like this.
Now on to the good stuff. The iPad is small and yet big enough to watch YouTube videos at a quality size. I had been struggling with how to place my laptop on my piano to watch how-to YouTube videos. This was solved by the iPad because now I could place it where I place sheet music and—voila!—my training was right in front of me. Each time I left the room and returned, my girlfriend was using the iPad to browse the Web. The iPad was slowly finding its place in our home. In the kitchen the iPad became the perfect companion for viewing recipes instead of lugging in the laptop—it also could play our iTunes library while she cooked.
I am crazy about Chess and Backgammon. Now I have a game board of respectable size, truly a contender replacement for my chess set. I know what you are thinking here, who would want to replace their tangible chess pieces for virtual ones—well, in the future that just may happen. Also I have a Chess set, Backgammon, Checker board, Scrabble, and a million other board games all in one board. I like playing games on my iPhone but in all honesty it works in a pinch but not a good replacement—in this case size does matter.
Notes are a much better experience and the fact that everything synchs up to my calendar and iPhone is an improvement on workflow. I have a laptop that sits on my desk and has five other accessories connected to it. Now I don't have to disconnect everything for a meeting. I can go to a meeting with my iPad take notes refer to emails or browse the Web. When I go back to my desk I can synch it up and away I go.
The keyboard in landscape mode is very workable. I was hesitant, thinking that I needed physical keys, but it was easy to type on and since I am not a person who lays his fingers on the keys while typing I don't accidentally hit unwanted keys. For the old school typist this may be a problem but ultimately they will adapt.
We do lots of road trips. Last year we traveled across the country three times hiking and camping along the way. We always took a laptop to access web sites for e-mail, reservations, weather info and planning. Now the iPad is the perfect replacement that takes up half the space. In addition, the iPhone Maps iApp was a lifesaver out on the road, however the map size was prohibitive. You needed to keep resizing it. Now with the iPad I can use the Maps iApp and have a legible map.
The battery power is fantastic! It took me three days to run it down. I used it every day for 2 to 3 hours total each day. Be sure to run yours down to zero the first time you use your iPad and then charge it back up. Apple recommends you do this once a month in order to preserve battery life. In addition when it comes to using it for music or internet radio (I am loving Spark Radio) the iPad is there. Also stock trading with the E-Trade app is a much better experience than on my iPhone.
When you get your iPad you are going to want a case. I looked at the plethora of available cases and settled on the Convertible Book Jacket by Incase. It provides a good level of protection and I think the leather styling is apropos for your iPad. It also folds over to perfom a handy stand function.
I could go on and on and I believe the discovery is going to continue. I am sold on the iPad. It is ten times more fun than an iPhone and I haven't even read a book on it yet! Although I have begun loading up my library and tested the book function which is hands down a superior experience to the competition. Full color, screen orientation option, finger swipe page turning, you can't ask for more.
Finally when you place the iPad next to the competition side by side ...the competition looks like a device that was made ages ago, tantamount to chiseling into a stone tablet.
Apple has a winner with the iPad and in the process has made me iHappy.