by | May 22, 2010

Things that are great about the Apple iPad:

  • You can still be first on your block. Or second, that’s not bad. You are out front, my friend, you’re not a victim of hype. No, you are a true visionary.
  • Did you see the HD video? OMG!
  • This thing is fast. How did they do that? It’s about as fast as my 2.93 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 4 GB of memory running OS 10.5.8, not some phone OS.
  • Scrabble® redone specially for the iPad. Come on, you know you want it, you just have to find someone to play. In my family, everyone plays, and they play for keeps.
  • Turned it on Wednesday evening. Watched videos, set up the usual stuff, copied files, loaded apps, wrote email, didn’t plug it in again until Friday afternoon. Yeah.
  • The Walled Garden. There’s a reason the garden behind the walls is so beautiful and orderly, and you get to play in it! Intelligent tastefulness is the rule. How rad is that?
  • Darling. It’s a kind of genius to unleash a consumer product that you have to stroke in order to operate. It’s like your pet. A new level of interface intimacy. People complain about the fingermarks, but think about what it means. (No smirking.)
  • Documentation LoL. Comes with a 4.25″ x 6.5″ postcard with a picture of the iPad on one side showing the buttons, and four steps to set up, sync and charge the thing on the back. Oh, they tell you where to find the manual. That’s it.
  • Dropbox and Evernote for the iPad. The iPad is uniquely made for “cloud” computing.
  • Set up? Is it over already? As an “accessory” to your Mac, the thing just about set itself up just by plugging it in. I’ve been dreaming of something this simple for a long time.
  • 2,500 digital photos of the last 10 years on that big, luscious screen. Yum.
  • The New York Time’s Editors Choice “newspaper” in the iPad. Great implementation, and you actually feel like you’re reading the Times.
  • Free samples from the iBookstore. And they fly right up onto a shelf on your iBookshelf! Clever animators.
  • The sense that quite soon I’ll be holding the iPad looking in amazement at an app/book/program that combines all these channels, with GPS, maps, hyperlinks, video, audio, in a gracefull and seamless and intelligent way that creates an experience unlike anything we’ve had before. The machine is certainly ready.

Things that suck about the Apple iPad:

  • Thinking about Lynn Terry’s iPad, just a day or so out of the box, that slipped out of her hand and smashed to bits. It’s heavy for its size and slick, glossy, slippery. Form over function? You’re walking a pretty shaky line here.
  • Carrying the iPad. I mean, how do you do that? It’s like walking around with a half-dozen eggs on top of a sheet of glass. Not that much fun.
  • Fingerprints. Okay, we’re going to have to decide now: clean it every hour or so, or just forget about the damn fingerprints?
  • iPhone apps. Yeah, they work. Yeah, you can blow them up to 2x size. Yeah, they look like crap, or they’re in a weenie little window.
  • No iSight Camera. This thing is made for social media butterflies, it’s more connected than Charlotte’s Web. You know the next version will have it, don’t you.
  • iPad fonts. Are you kidding me? With all the care and attention to detail lavished on this baby, that’s the best you could do? Oh, right, it’s still a big phone.
  • iPhone spell correct, great on the phone with the itsy keyboard, just plain annoying when filling out webforms and it keeps wanting to change your address on Narring Street to neutrino, over and over. Other oddities of the Phone OS keep reminding you of who iPad’s daddy is.
  • Apple interface. Okay, let’s talk turkey. From the very very beginning, the world was divided in two: those who loved the efficiency and no-nonsense capability of the keyboard-driven interface, and those who swooned in awe at the graphical interface. Intermarriage was rare, and frowned on.

    Apple, of course, was always way ahead in the graphical game. Over in Wintel world, the keyboard reigned supreme. Even when the Microsoft Mouse first appeared for the PC, it was as an adjunct, an option to what you were doing. Useful for drawing, an accessory otherwise.

    But in Apple-land, the mouse was an integral part of the interface. There was no option, you could not operate a Macintosh without a mouse. And this prejudice continues until today.

    I haven’t kept up with Windows development since XP, and the mouse is certainly completely embedded on the PC side as well by now. But even in XP you could access the menus through the keyboard, something you can’t do on a Mac.

    Why am I going on about 15-year-old interface wars? I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad because I plan to use it for writing. Sitting in its little white dock, it’s perky and just the right size. And the keyboard is lovely, well made and responsive. But WTF? I have to keep stopping what I’m doing to reach over and flick something on the screen.

    Back to typing, no wait, gotta hit a button or a menu choice. Back and forth. While the interface works on an iMac with a mouse, or a laptop with its built in D-pad, the iPad is a victim of interface fail, if what you want to do is type on it. The apotheosis of the mouse-reliant interface, where the mouse has been replaced by your fingers.

  • The Walled Garden. It’s beautiful in here and all, but I think there’s a great party going on somewhere that I can’t get to. The incessant animation in the interface is faintly Disney-esque. This is an entertainment machine.

After 6 weeks, the iPad already controls 16% of the eReader market. 91% of buyers report being satisfied or very satisfied with it. Apple has sold over 1,000,000 units in the first few weeks, and most estimates point to 5,000,000 this year alone.

I doubt there will be a more popular topic at BookExpo America next week, and you can bet your bippy we’ll be hearing product announcements non-stop.

Everyone, from the biggest pubishers of books and periodicals, to the solo self-publisher pushing his files through the meatgrinder at Smashwords, is gearing up to ride the iPad wave. I’m 48 hours in, and so far, I’m loving it.

Takeaway: Inserting the Apple iPad, the agency model, the iBookstore and Apple’s market-changing magic into the middle of the crumbling structure of book publishing and distribution may have a huge impact. Stay tuned.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Joel Friedlander

    Paula, later this week I will reveal the true, unspoken, unheard-of-until-now, secret use for this device. Thanks for your comments.

  2. paula hendricks

    exactly, joel! for years consumers have had to use technical / professional level/ geek centric gadgets and tools. and this appears to now be easy and we can now leave the PCs and the MACs for the geeks, the experts, and those of us who really need that level of power and all those features…. a major major step forward.


  3. paula hendricks

    what strikes me is the same as what james katt says… it is a consumer product not a professional’s product — although there are plenty of uses professionals will make of it. what i mean is that since the beginning of the computer revolution and even the WWW regular people, like my dad or friends who don’t use computers heavily have had to use “professional equipment.” products that were not always easy to use or learn how to use and often offering more features than they need.

    i am viewing this as both a consumer and professional product but the revolution here is instruction booklet. turn it on. use it. like my TV or my radio….

    we are moving into a time, perhaps, when the engineers and the engineering, are in service to uses rather than making the rest of us contort ourselves into engineering configurations.

    about time. i also agree particularly with the typesetting thing — that will also enhance the non-professional user experience.

    just my 2 cents.


    • Joel Friedlander

      Paula, the iPad strikes me as the first computing device I’ve used that’s actually fit for a consumer market. Despite the overwhelming popularity of PCs of all kinds, for 20+ years we’ve been forced to be “hobbyists” just to use the darn things. The iPad is a qualitatively different experience. It’s not really much more difficult to set up than an iPod. That, to me, is one of the real achievements by Apple here, and one of the reasons I think it will find wide acceptance.

  4. Joel Friedlander

    Hey Mr. Reese, thanks for the tips. That film sounds good because, although the fingerprints don’t bother me much, the glare can be a problem. (What about that darn orange powder from the Cheeto’s? That’s brutal.)

    Haven’t seen the shells but that sounds just like what I got for the iPhone, and for the same reason. The “gloss” obsession at Apple is pretty universal.

    The keyboard is great, really transforms the iPad into more of a content creation device instead of just a content consuming one. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Mr. Reeee

    Good article.

    The fingerprint thing.
    I simply bought a Power Support anti-glare film. Not only does it kill glare, but fingertips glide across the screen more smoothly AND fingerprints do not gather very much at all. Just wash your hands after eating all those chips and fries. ;^)

    The slippery thing.
    I got a matte finish shell, an Incipio feather, that adds little bulk (1mm) and now has less tendency to slide around. I may get a silicone skin for a little more grippability.

    I haven’t bothered to link my wireless keyboard yet, but all your tips should come in handy when I get around to it.

  6. Will Entrekin

    I’m really pleased to know you got one of these, if only because I’m pleased by the possibility you’ll write about designing texts/books/stories specifically for it. I’ve found your articles on design with regard to print hugely informative; can’t wait to read your take on designing for the iPad.

    Well. So long as we don’t have to start talking about vooks. Gurrk.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Will, you’re very kind. That’s exactly why I got it. I realized, when the first reviews started coming in, and the sales figures took off, that it would be a game-changer, and as you know I’m fascinated by this juncture between the traditions of the past and the promise of the new. So yes, I’ll be writing about the iPad quite a bit this coming week during BEA. Nice to have you here!

  7. James Katt

    One thing to remember: the iPad is not a computer. It is a device that does computing tasks. But it is not a computer. That is what makes it so attractive and easy to use. It doesn’t have the complexity of a computer. This means less in capabilities. But what it does well, it does very well. And for some tasks, it is much better than any computer. Examples of this include reading, watching TV and movies, and lightweight computing tasks. It is so enjoyable to use, I keep it with me practically all day. This is not what I would do with any laptop.

    • Joel Friedlander

      James, I’m starting to get that. It’s definitely an “accessory” in a way. The iPad is a superb device for consuming content. My pushing on it is to find out if it will be a device for creating content and, if so, just how capable it is. But yes, darn it, I want to carry the little thing around, it’s very seductive. Thanks for your contribution.

  8. Joel Friedlander

    Dick, thanks for that. Actually, when I ordered the iPad I also ordered a case, but of all the items the cases were back ordered with the longest delivery time. The staff at Apple told me they usually sold out the day a shipment arrived, so I’m still waiting for mine, but I’m really glad to hear it works so well for you.

    And the fingerprints don’t really bother me. I got over my obsession with the iPhone early on.

  9. Dick Applebaum

    Good article, Joel.

    The Apple iPad case makes it less susceptible to damage from dropping.

    Also, it has a non-slippery, suede-like surface, that opens like an easel, but doubles as a hand-insert– making it very easy to cary in one hand (and control/touch with the other).

    I was considering the design of a one-hand strap to carry the iPad, but the case does the job!

    Finally, you can eliminate most fingerprints by wiping the screen with the palm of your hand!


  10. rd

    from the comfort of your keyboard with the Ctrl-F2 (menu bar) and Ctrl-F3 (dock) shortcuts.

    Any other complaints.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey, rd, thanks for the help, but those keys don’t seem to do anything on the iPad from my keyboard. Well, Ctrl-F2 does control the brightness, but that’s an Apple standard command, you can’t interact with buttons, boxes, lists, or any of the other dialog elements you need to get something done. If I’ve misunderstood your instruction, let me know!

      • rd

        “But in Apple-land, the mouse was an integral part of the interface. There was no option, you could not operate a Macintosh without a mouse. And this prejudice continues until today.”

        Your complain was about the Mac and the lack of access of Menu using the keyboard.
        There are no Menu in the iPad. It is something else.

        Please don’t act like you don’t know what I was talking about
        or what you wrote in your article.

        • Joel Friedlander

          Okay, rd, I’m obviously not getting what you’re trying to say. Is there some way to control the iPad functions from the keyboard? What does “Ctrl-F2 (menu bar) and Ctrl-F3 (dock) shortcuts.” mean? Are these supposed to do something? Thanks for explaining this for those of us who don’t get it.

  11. betty ming liu

    darn. i had resigned myself to giving up the idea of an ipad. and then you had to write this post! like vincent, i really appreciate the specific pros and cons too. somehow, reading about the actual drawbacks makes the ipad more real for me. btw, i feel really bad for lynn!

    • Joel Friedlander


      Sorry about that, Betty, didn’t mean to spoil your plans! I was “on the fence” but realized that the adoption rate and pent up demand for a new model of distribution were so great, I couldn’t afford not to get one. Beautiful rationalization? Sound business decision? Time will tell. (Lynn got her’s replaced by Apple for a discounted price.)

  12. Julia Lindsey

    Thanks for this review. I have been waiting for a review from someone that is not just using it for social networking and fun. I love the fact that it has such a large battery life. I want something I can easily carry with me and type whenever the mood hits me.
    I am not too disappointed that it doesnt have a camera. I have a nice camera on my phone.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Julia, my pleasure. I really want to write and, if possible, do some layout on this device. I’m struggling a little with the interface since I’m so used to doing graphics with a mouse. But Pages, the word processor/layout program from Apple, looks like it has a lot of promise. And I like the application pricing on the iPad. Compared to Word, Pages only costs $9.95!

  13. Michael N. Marcus

    Welcome to the club!

    I have a general rule not to buy the first version of any electronic product, and wait six months or so for improvements and a lower price.

    I violated my rule to buy a first-gen Blu-ray player for $1200 because it was so amazing, I could not delay it or deprive myself.

    I planned to wait for gen-2 of the iPad to come out — but I could only delay the purchase for a week.

    I’m glad I didn’t wait longer. The iPad is both an extremely useful tool and a wonderful toy. I use it more and more every day, and I take it almost everywhere. After about 10 days I gave my netbook to my sister because I realized that I’d never use it again.

    Its design is so close to perfect that my six-month-old laptop and desktop PCs seem very 20th-century. I’m often frustrated when I touch their screens with my fingertip and nothing happens.

    Links below describe the decision-making process and iPad life:

    • Joel Friedlander


      Sorry, you were in spam land again. I think my experience pretty much parallels yours, and I’ve had the same frustration walking up to screens and poking at them, surprised when they don’t respond LoL. Thanks for your input, people will enjoy your posts.

  14. Vincent Nguyen

    Hi Joel,

    I am drooling over getting an Ipad after reading both your pros and cons of having one. Despite some drawbacks mentioned, it sounds like a great accessory to have especially in this day in age with Wi-Fi being everywhere. Of course being “connected” can be quite important if you are a busy person who also appreciates aesthetically functional machines.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey Vincent. The iPad is indeed a great accessory, and that’s before we’ve really seen what people can do with it. People who travel seem to have taken to it right away, but I’m sure they will be a common sight soon.



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