Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting an iPad for Dad, Part 1

So, I did purchase an iPad for Dad for his birthday yesterday. Well, it wasn't exactly me who did the purchasing; I sent my wife because I knew I would not be able to resist the call of the device in the actual store. Nonetheless, I did do the setup and a couple of experiments to satisfy my curiosity about some features that would play a role in my own decision. Here's the low down on the setup and my first impressions:

  • You have to sync with iTunes to start. Like Amazon's Kindle, a big part of this device's raison d'etre is to sell things to you, most particularly media.
  • What if you don't have iTunes? Dad doesn't. I had to spend some time strategizing how to deal with this. I wound up "faking" an iTunes account for him by creating an account on one of my computers. In so doing, I also created a gmail account for him so that Apple could communicate with him about his iTunes account.
  • If you buy eBooks from someone other than Amazon or Apple, you have to move them to the iPad via iTunes. This is about on par with mailing them to yourself on the Kindle and then downloading them.
  • Dad was never part of the touch type generation and age has only made that worse. The onscreen keyboard was not going to be an option. The wireless ($69) keyboard is actually really good. I recommend that everyone get that with the case. With those accessories, the iPad turns into a super spiffy netbook.
  • You must have a great network connection to get any value out of the iPad. On purpose, there's no iPad file system for programs to use in storing your files and documents. Therefore, almost all of the apps derive their value from connecting you to some web information resource. Even Apple's iWork suite depends on a network connection to move files back and forth to the web.
This last point is insidious and will play a major role in Part 2 of my review.

Also, I should come clean. In spite of the issues to tackle that I've listed here, I'm quite infatuated by the device and will almost certainly get one.