Let me count the ways, o iPad of mine. 

Kids’ violin lesson notes. Homeschooling report notes on the fly. Photo slide shows at information booths. Plants vs. Zombies played round-robin by the kids for six hours of amusement in the minivan. Episodes of awesome video series available instead of crappy TV in motels. StarWalk, an amazing star chart, held up to the sky to identify stars and find constellations. The super smart metronome that I use when the the kids are practicing. Notes taken at meetings. The amazing animation creativity it has encouraged. A lovely e-book reader for anytime anywhere access to scores of books — and it works beautifully in bed when one’s sidekick is asleep, without the need for a reading light. And of course the mobile internet access. The only negative … I still dislike typing on it. I’m getting faster, but it’s four-finger typing without a wrist rest, and fussy. I use my iMac keyboard when I’m doing extensive note-taking.

I do not own a smartphone, or a laptop, or a netbook, or a portable DVD player, or an e-book reader, or a portable gaming device. Considering the amount of time I spend travelling with kids (to Calgary, to Kelowna, to Nelson), and the various organizations I’m part of that need internet contact with me on the road, the iPad seemed like it might be a multi-tasker I’d get a lot of benefit from. So far that’s definitely been the case. 

I like the size, although I haven’t yet got myself a bag/purse/satchel that fits it, my only such accoutrement being teardrop-shaped and not quite wide enough at the top. The iPad is just big enough to be luscious as a video player and web browser, much more ergonomic as a touch-screen keyboard, and yet small and light enough to not be a burden to carry about. 

I bought the 32GB model. I haven’t been particularly conservative in loading it up with anything other than music and podcasts: those I’ve kept to a minimum, because I do, after all, have an iPod. So far it’s barely half full and there are a fair number of apps I downloaded just to check out that I could delete to free up space.

Good apps: 

  • Star Walk. $4.99 An amazing interactive, time-and-location-customizable star chart with all sorts of linked information.
  • Plants vs. Zombies $9.99. The kids love this and have played it on-line for ages. It’s quirky, weird and endlessly challenging. It’s even better on the iPad with the touch-screen, they tell me.
  • Trundle HD. $Free. A game played out in a sort of virtual physics playground that makes good use of the accelerometer function of the iPad. (Quick overview of accelerometers here.) 
  • Harbour Master HD. $Free. Seriously addictive simply multitasking game. Direct boats around a harbour to unload without crashing. Easily played co-operatively by two players.
  • Pages $9.99. A workhorse word processor for the iPad, with a file system that can be synchronized with your computer. I take meeting notes and lesson notes on the iPad and can then upload, print, modify, append and re-synchronize them. 
  • iBooks $Free. The application that lets you download and read books from the iBook store. So far the iBooks Canada store has limited selection; if you go there wanting something specific, odds are you won’t find it, though there are lots of good reads available. The reader is no-nonsense, and has very adjustable tint, brightness and font size attributes.
  • Animation Creator HD. $1.99. Truly creative and fun. Draw animations frame by frame, with layers and “ghosting” of the previous frame. Just needs the ability to rearrange frames to be perfect. A lovely creative diversion. Sophie has done some wonderful work with this.
  • AD Jewels HD $Free. A Bejeweled knock-off. Works well. Unsurprisingly addictive.
  • Subdivide Metronome $Free. A very full-featured metronome, entirely customizable by metre, subdivisions and tempo. Also allows you to measure the tempo of a particular song or piece by tapping along. A great practicing tool.
  • Osmos $4.99. Zen-like newtonian bubble play game. 
  • Notes, Mac Mail, Safari (and bookmarks) and Calendar. These are just standard pre-loads on the iPad. They synchronize with appropriate applications on my Mac. I love being able to update whatever I need without needing to sit at my desktop computer, and trust that it will all be copied and updated between computer and iPad, whenever I change anything. 
Whether an iPad will fill an empty niche in another person’s life, I can’t say. Given my dearth of mobile devices and my extent of travel, it has certainly filled a niche in mine.
How do I love thee?

6 thoughts on “How do I love thee?

  • September 25, 2010 at 6:31 am

    have you considered “knitting” a sachel for the ipad? I've done it for our itouch. Works wonderfully! 🙂

  • September 25, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Tracy, I made a lovely versatile folio for it, so it's already well protected. What I need is a purse like thing with zippered compartments that has room for my wallet, keys, water bottle, etc., so that I can tote the iPad around easily with all the other stuff I carry. My current satchel is just the wrong shape for the iPad.

  • September 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    plants versus zombies for the iphone/i pod touch is only $2.99. i just found a free app for mad libs, I bet your kids would like that too:)

  • September 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    It seems like a bit of a price-gouge and a lot of extra cash for the iPad version. It's true it's better, with more levels, more features, more twists available, HD graphics and all that. But it is quite expensive as games go and I agree, the price difference is pretty significant. Thanks for the tip about the madlibs app. Downloading now…

  • September 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Hows the battery life?

    I love my iphone but its useless for long journeys without power.

  • September 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I can get about 10 hours of continuous use out of it in low-light conditions when I can keep the brightness level down. With brightness maxed it's more like 6 hours. In standby it'll last days. I have a cheapo USB adapter that fits in the 12V jack in my van, so I can charge easily on the go, though I usually pack the charger as well if I'm going more than just overnight and home.

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