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CDL Blogoversary 2010, Day Five: Brains, Books and Blockbusters, or Why I Love My iPad

Hey there, faithful readers. We resume our (slightly interrupted due to circumstances beyond your humble editor’s control) regularly scheduled Blogoversary with today’s entry from my friend Heather. Heather has written for the Blogoversary before, and has graciously agreed to share with us yet again. If you’d like to read more of her stuff, I encourage you to drop by her blog, Bohemian Bumblings, and say hi!

Brains, Books and Blockbusters, or Why I Love My iPad®

I guess you can call me an early adopter, but I don’t really think I am. I am not one of those people who camps out to buy a new device or anything like that, but I will admit to getting excited about new things that come out. I bought a 1st generation iPhone, but I didn’t buy it in June when it came out. I bought it in late August (so there!). I did not buy a 3G iPhone because I didn’t need to. The only thing that I wasn’t getting with the one I already had was GPS. Well, I had Google Maps so….not really a big deal. When the 3GS came out I did buy it on day 1 because there were enough changes that made it worth it, I didn’t have to pay any additional fees, and because I wanted it. So now there’s this little device that’s come out called the iPad. Since I’m an Apple person anyhow it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to get one. I was a matter of when. Since there were two models coming out (WiFi only and WiFi/3G) I knew that I wanted the one that would have the 3G as well. Since I’ve become so attached (literally) to my iPhone I knew that I wanted the option to always, at least as long as I’m within a cellular range, be able to access the internet.

(Something I’ve considered many times lately: I think it is very curious that the iPad, with its larger format and emphasis on simplicity, has been released concurrently with the Nintendo DS XL. What these devices say to me is that we’ve shrunk our selves down so much that, while it is totally awesome to be able to carry around 5 full length feature films on something the size of your hand, it isn’t all that practical. Maybe we need to umm, make things a little bit bigger, eh?) [True that…especially since all the elder geeks are aging up and will soon be living in Bifocal Land – Ed.]

So, I bought the 64MB 3G iPad. It didn’t make any sense to buy one with less memory. I honestly haven’t had the opportunity to use it all that much yet to give a FULL review. I bought it prior to going to Washington, DC for a conference and then was unable to use it there as much as I’d hoped because the hotel’s network sucked balls (can I say that here, Claire?). [Pfft. Look around! Much, much worse has been said on this blog. – Ed.] I had a nice $900 notepad though. On the other hand, I was able to use the hell out of my iPhone and the good, old, trusty EDGE network that everyone (and their mother) bitches about, when everyone who wasn’t an AT&T customer (I’m looking at you Verizon and T-Mobile) had zero signal AT ALL. Heh.

Before I left for DC I put an app called GoodReader on my iPad and wow, what a great 99 cent investment. It is essentially a pdf reader but I’m learning now that it is really, really useful. Anyhow, by having GoodReader on it, I was able to upload manuscripts that I had to read and submit scores for while I was going to be in DC. So instead of having to print out and carry 20 manuscripts with me, I uploaded 20 pdf files onto my iPad.

(Another random aside and disclaimer: I’m a librarian. I love books. I don’t think print books are going to fully go away in my lifetime but based on my experience reading manuscripts on the iPad, and now several books through the iBooks app, I am less likely to argue for the longevity of the print book. It really is delightful to read on the iPad.)

Since I’ve been back, I’ve taken it to work with me daily and used it for various tasks throughout the day there, and at home I’ve used it for the times when my iPhone isn’t quite big enough but I don’t feel like moving my MacBook Pro. The other night I watched a movie on it via the Netflix app while I was in bed. Was it awesome? Yes. I have a 3D Brain app on it that will be very useful at work. I can set it up as a digital photo frame. $900 is a lot for one of them, yeah, but can your Kodak be used to search the internet or play a movie or a song or play a game or view works of art from the world’s finest museums or allow you to read Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics?

I make no secret of being an Apple user. I’ve been an Apple user since I was 12 years old and learned how to program in AppleSoft BASIC. I used PCs for years because I didn’t have much choice due to limitations at the schools I attended and the cost of Apple being so much more than PCs. My loyally remained in Cupertino though, and since I’ve had the means to send my finances back that way, I have. Do I think the 2nd gen iPad will be even more awesome, and that I probably should’ve waited? Yes and no. Will I be pissed when it comes out and my $900 notepad/digital picture frame’s price drops to $299? No, because I felt it was worth the $900 I spent on it at the time, and if I didn’t then I shouldn’t have bought it.

Since I work in medicine I truly see a benefit to a device like the iPad. I currently use a tablet computer at work and it has been an amazing help to me, the physicians I service and the patients they treat. Having an iPad is going to be so much better. The 3D Brain app that I mentioned earlier…consider having an iPad, that app, and a patient who just had a minor stroke. You’d be able to sit down with the patient, point out exactly where in their brain the stroke occurred and educate them on how they have been affected. After the patient encounter you could change apps to chart the visit and the data is stored remotely. All on one device that weighs a pound and a half.

You leave work, go home, put it on the counter and open up Epicurious and have a dinner recipe there in front of you. While dinner is cooking you can play Plants vs. Zombies or listen to Pandora. Later that evening you can sit outside on your deck looking up at the stars and use the Pocket Universe app to learn about what you’re seeing. Again, with the same device you used a few hours ago to help make a delicious dinner for your family and a few hours prior to that to explain to a patient who just had a stroke what happened inside their brain.

Maybe you don’t think you need an iPad. You probably don’t. I don’t need one. But I do think this is the future and I do think Apple is leading the way and I’m happy to be a part of it.

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