Thursday, July 1, 2010

eReader Reviews: Apple iPad

Yes, I recently splurged on an iPad, being the Gadget Girl I seem to have become. I've been very ambivalent about the whole eReader movement, to be honest. I love books - actual paper books. I love the feel of them, I love the smell of them, I love the weight of them in my hands, I love being able to dog-ear pages and underline passages that strike me. I love having bookshelves in my house stuffed with books, and I love to pass along books I've read and enjoyed. eReaders obviously aren't capable of most of those features.

Still, there's an attraction to being able to download a book you want in seconds rather than having to wait for it to ship from Amazon or driving to the bookstore and hoping they have it in stock (although, really, I adore hanging out in a bookstore; it's heaven to me). It's also cool that you can store a pretty sizable library on this device that fits in a decent-size purse.

Even so, I had no interest in getting an eReader for myself until Apple unveiled the iPad recently. I'm completely sold on Apple products. I have an iPhone, which I adore, and we made the switch from PCs to both an Apple desktop and an Apple laptop about a year ago, and I'll never willingly go back to a PC.

An iPad isn't cheap, though. Even the most bare-bones model (with the least memory and with WiFi but no 3G) is a couple hundred dollars more than a Kindle or Nook. I hemmed and hawed about it for a while, knowing that if I was going to take the plunge, I wanted one with the works. And although I absolutely could not justify the expense of what amounts to a toy, I also couldn't get it out of my head. So I bought one. I got the one with 32GB of memory plus WiFi and 3G, and I'll just say that it cost a pretty penny. Also, at least when I made the decision to buy it (about a month ago), iPads with WiFi + 3G were not available in the Apple stores, so I had to order mine from the Apple site and wait almost two weeks to receive it. (I like to think that Apple spent that two weeks lovingly building an iPad specially for me. Although I'm sure that's not actually the case.)

So now that I've had it for a couple of weeks, what's my take on it? I love it. But I have to say that I don't love it for the eReader aspect. I am still getting used to reading a book in an electronic format, and in all honesty, I can't see this ever completely replacing actual paper books for me. It's convenient: yes, I can download a book I want and have it in my hot little hands lickety split. That's cool. I can build an entire library and carry it around in my purse. I can read without turning a light on because the screen is lit. Also, you can download iBooks, which is Apple's eReader app, but you can also download the Kindle (Amazon) app and the Barnes & Noble eReader app, which is a smart thing to do because: (a) not all books are available on iBooks, and (b) you can shop among the different apps to get the best price on an e-book. Not all of the eReader apps operate exactly the same, however. For instance, in the iBooks app, you glide your finger over the screen to turn a page, and the page actually turns, just like a real book. In the Kindle app, the pages just slide from one to the next. Which is fine - it's really a matter of aesthetics and special effects I guess. iBooks is a full color app, so if you have a book with pictures, the pictures will appear in full color. I'm not sure if the other apps are full color or not.

What I don't love about the iPad as an eReader:
  • Because the iPad is really so much more than just an eReader, I find myself often distracted by all the other apps at my fingertips. In other words, I may sit down to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest on it, but I often find myself closing the book to play Words With Friends, or to check my email, because it's right there.
  • Reading on the iPad in bright sunlight is next to impossible. Plus there's glare on the screen.
All in all, I love my iPad, but not so much for the eReader functionality, although I know it was developed to compete with other eReaders. Like I said, though, it's so much more than an eReader. Although it's not a full-fledged computer, it's close. I can check my email, go on the internet, chat on Facebook, post to my blog, play games, watch videos, TV shows and Podcasts, store thousands of photos, creating a very portable photo album, and so much more.

I still can't say that the cost is justifiable, although I guess it just depends on what your means are. But sometimes it's okay to just get a new toy, even if you can't justify it, right?

Coming soon: reviews of Kindle and Nook. Check back!


  1. I have little interest in eReaders and iPad (and even shun FaceBook like the plague) -- and have little love for Apple. That said, I truly enjoy reading what you say about such things.

  2. Why thank you, Jerry :) I'm flattered.