On iPads and ebook readers
So… the iPad. I was half-hoping it didn’t exist, just because the rampant speculation of the past few weeks was driving me nuts. I wanted Steve to come out, do a big preso on iPhone OS 4.0, then turn to the audience and say: “Oh, and one more thing. SUCKS TO BE YOU!” Exit, stage right. But he didn’t, and now I’ve spent 24 hours reading crap like “HEEHEE, HE SAID IPAD. OMG WHO WOULD WANT TO USE SOMETHING THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT GOES IN/NEAR A VAGINA EWWW! HA HA! #iTampon” (I think the iPad-period meme has worn out even quicker than the previous speed record holder, the Kanye “Imma let you finish” joke.)
Anyhoo, the big surprise for me was the price of the thing. When was the last time Apple released a project that cost 50% less than everybody predicted? How about NEVER. Also, they’re going into a nascent market with a device that has 140,000 third party apps at launch. (If I were Amazon or Sony, I’d be crying into my cornflakes.) That’s just crazy. Still, I don’t really see where I need one of these in my life. Sure, it’d be nice to have in the kitchen (seeing as how I cook a lot from my iPhone or laptop these days). And I’d love to be able to subscribe to comic books and magazines. Those aren’t huge, compelling, drool-worthy reasons though. Then I read Stephen Fry’s review. Okay, I’m a little more interested now. Fry knows his gadgets, and when he says something feels magical, I believe him. I like stuff that feels like it’s from the future, but is actually usable and relevant today. (Like GPS. Snookums has commented more than once before that Google Maps on iPone feels like magic to him.)
As for reading books on the thing, I dunno. This morning, I noticed a girl two seats ahead of me on the bus reading from a Sony Pocket Reader. It was red and looked pretty nice. The text – at least from my view – didn’t look very clear though. The black-and-white display reminded me of a 1st-gen Gameboy. I’ve heard that E-Ink displays are good stuff though, so maybe up close it was better. I tried reading books on my iPhone with Stanza, but I found that I just don’t absorb digital text the way that I do printed text. It took me a lot longer to finish, and I didn’t retain the story like I usually do. I do like the idea of carrying around a whole library though. I also really hope that the iPad will be the catalyst for the ebook market to really take off.