ipadhound.pngOne of the reasons I was looking forward to picking up my iPad last Saturday is that I was scheduled to hop on a plane less than 48 hours later. I took it with me on a west coast trip and have the following results to report:

Wifi — There have been a number of reports of iPad owners having a hard time establishing and maintaining wifi connections. I wound up using several hotspots along the way including the Indianapolis airport, my Marriott hotel and the one in O’Reilly’s Sebastopol office. I was able to switch quickly and easily between them all. I didn’t run into a problem until the return trip when I wanted to share my laptop’s 3G card with my iPad via AirPort. It worked intermittently at best. I’d get a connection for a few minutes and then it would drop off. I need to find a solution to this problem because this 3G card/AirPort combo is my back-up solution for wifi hotspot issues on the road. USA Today App — Access to this free iPad app meant I never had to grab a copy of the print version in the lobby. I like the initial app but I hope they address a couple of issues before too long. First, others have mentioned this as well but the lack of outbound links limits the app’s value. Is the only news worth reporting on and linking to inside USA Today’s four walls? Of course not, so why are they worried about providing links to other sources? Second, why in the world don’t they offer some sort of auto-update feature? Let me configure the app so that it pulls down the latest content at, say, 3AM. That way, if I forget to press “refresh” before I hop on a plane I’ll still have the entire day’s edition. And yes, it’s perfectly fine to charge a fee for this option!

Books — I’ve still got about 8 books from my Kindle days that I need to get through before I buy anything from the iBookstore. That means I’m spending a lot of time in the Kindle iPad app. As I noted earlier on my other blog, the Kindle app is weak and needs some attention from Amazon. That said, at least it lets me finish these other books before I completely switch to the iBooks app. I find the reversed-out display scheme is better for my eyes. Rather than black text on a white background I prefer white text on a black background. As others have also noted, the device is definitely heavier than the Kindle, so I wind up resting it on my stomach, a pillow or directly on the bed. If that’s the price we have to pay for this unbelievable battery life, so be it!

Battery — Speaking of battery life… This is the 9th day with my iPad and I’ve plugged it in exactly twice so far. I’ve used it every single day, for several hours each day, and I’ve only had to charge it twice. In fact, as I look at it right now, it still has 41% left from the second charge. Remarkable.

Keyboard — I believe the iPad’s virtual keyboard is a better approach than the Kindle’s physical (built-in) keyboard, mostly because it’s only there when you need it and you get the benefit of the full screen area when you don’t need it. Nevertheless, I find the iPhone’s virtual keyboard tolerable but the iPad’s less so. I’m so tempted to try and touch-type but it’s hopeless without any tactile feedback. I’m trying to do more on my iPad and less on my MacBook Pro but I’ll never get there with a virtual keyboard. I’ve looked at the Bluetooth keyboard Apple offers but it seems kind of big to me. I can’t imagine stuffing that in my bag along with the iPad and everything else I lug around. I would have thought Apple could come up with something that’s even smaller and elegant. Heck, I’d even take a little thumbs-only Bluetooth keyboard that’s about the same size and layout as the older Blackberry’s used.

The bottom line: I learned a few things along the way but I didn’t miss my Kindle a bit.

Editor’s Note: The above is reprinted, with permission, from Joe Wikert’s iPad Hound Blog. PB


  1. Since you’re comfortable with the thumb-typing keyboards on Blackberries and the like, you might want to check out the mini Bluetooth keyboards that people are selling on eBay for about $20 and up. I’ve yet to hear of someone actually using one with an iPad, but they should work. They’re pocket-sized and provide tactile feedback.

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