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Monday, May 31, 2010

On the iPad

The iPad for gamers and bloggers. A slight rant with a dash of review.

Let me preface this by saying, yes, I am an apple fanboy. Being a Computer Scientist, and a programmer who works primarily in Windows, I can safely say my opinion is not swayed by what is "hip", but what is more pleasurable to use. I made the switch to Mac OSX about 14 months ago and haven't looked back. That being said, Windows 7 is a huge step in the right direction, and has made my 8 hours a day spent doing windows development far more enjoyable.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let me briefly tell you why I am a big fan of the iPad. When I was younger I would compare machines solely on their performance specs. "Oh dude, you only have a 2GHZ processor? Damn, I have a 2.4 and it's just so much better". Now days I am far more binary. It either works the way you want it to, or it doesn't. I am exhausted of reading op-ed pieces about the iPhone still selling so much based only on its "cool" factor since other phones offer better equipment for the price. The fact is consumers don't care how many megapixels their cell phone's camera boasts. It's the experience, and having used all of the latest and greatest, I can honestly say my 2 year old iPhone still blows them out of the water. So when the iPad's specs came out people complained about the lack of multi-tasking, and pointed out other tablet machines currently on the market that sport full fledged operating systems. But I knew they were just the tweaker tech nerds and that all that really matters is the performance of the device in its intended function.

As a device built for portability that's function is consumption and communication- the iPad delivers HANDS DOWN. When I got my wife and I our iPads, I honestly did not expect to use it very much. But the fact is, the OS is blazing fast, and the device is far more portable than even a laptop. At 1.5 pounds, and with a split second "Wake" time, casually surfing the web and checking e-mail is an absolute joy. In fact, browsing the web is one area where the iPad exceeded my expectations wildly. The zoom and multi-touch is an absolute dream to use. For non "power users", the iPad is a perfect solution. My wife who, aside from creating her excellent blog Iron Lydia, uses her computer primarily for facebook, e-mail, and web browsing has really taken to the iPad. Her macbook has barely been open since we got them as it works perfectly for her.

What the device is not so great at is creating. The keyboard is naturally not as responsive as a physical keyboard (though I was surprised at how well I could type on it, it's still not even as good as a laptop keyboard), so writing long blog posts like this one would be a chore.

I downloaded an excellent app called GOOD READER, which allows you to manage documents (.doc, .pdf, .odt etc). Combined with my Mobile Me subscription, I have access to all of my gaming pdfs from anywhere. The screen is high definition and very crisp, and with the ease of zooming, no one should have any problem reading on it.

Another great app I downloaded is FEEDDLER RSS which allows me to read all of your wonderful blogs with a touch of a finger. I do plan to try and update WWPD from my iPad as a test sometime soon, but there's no easy way to get pictures from my camera to my iPad (actually, there IS I just don't own it). Though some great apps do exist for updating your blogs in a friendly format.

PHOTOBUCKET- a great interface for viewing and editing your photobucket albums.
PHOTOPAD- a lightweight, free photo editor. Provides all the functionality an intrepid wargames blogger would need.
NETFLIX- watching movies on the iPad is very neat.
NPR- the NPR app is seriously great. You can listen to archived shows, or live radio from anywhere in America.
YOUTUBE/WIKIPANION/TWITTERIFIC/IMDB- all straight forward and very nice.
VNC/RDP LITE- great remote desktop apps. Can control our mac mini from my iPad.

I believe the iPad would excel at Army Builder type applications for your various games, and if the gaming companies would support some sort of eBook format, you could leave all your bulky rulebooks at home! imagine being able to electronically search the FOW rulebook rather than look at the horrible, horrible index.

FOW mission pdf

In conclusion, the iPad really impressed me. Could I live without it? Absolutely. It hasn't ingrained itself into my lifestyle as much as my iPhone. BUT for people like my wife (and I certainly mean no offense to her here), I think it could replace even a laptop.

I do think the iPad and gaming have a LOT of potential, and I am excited to see where that can go. I am gearing up to try my hand at a little development as well, though Objective C (Apple's native programming language) is pretty far from familiar waters for me.

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. I've been busy obsessing over Red Dead Redemption, which is a phenomenal game. My wife and I also spent the weekend in Hilton Head. But the gaming should return to a normal schedule very soon.

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