Here’s the third entry in our series about e-readers for RV’ers. It’s time to address the Godzilla of the e-reader world. Yes, we’re talking about Apple and its iPad tablet. If Amazon is King Kong, Apple is Godzilla. (In this analogy, Nook is Rodan; never underestimate Rodan.) While iPad isn’t a dedicated e-reader, many people use it as such.
It wasn’t so long ago that ol’ Mister Black Turtleneck himself was standing on stage like some sort of Silicon Valley prophet, proudly holding his gleaming metal tablet aloft. The initial response was a collective, “Huh?” On that day Apple CEO Steve Jobs suffered a few snickers at the device’s name, which reminded some of a feminine hygiene product.
A lot has happened since that fateful day in 2010 when Jobs unfurled the iPad to skepticism and derision. It turned out that Jobs was once again right. The iPad became the most popular consumer product since running water. People around the planet bought RVs just so they could more comfortably camp outside Apple stores while waiting to buy the latest model. Apple became more valuable than the Earth itself.
As for Steve Jobs, in 2011 he moved on to that great product launch in the sky. I read the authorized Steve Jobs biography (on my Kindle – sorry, Steve), and learned that he was almost as much a jerk as he was a genius. (I’m being generous by using the word “jerk” instead of a certain alternative.) Jobs had his own way of doing things. His approach worked wonders with technology, but not so great with people. One lesson we might draw from the Steve Jobs tale? Never rely solely on herbal teas and fresh fruit to cure pancreatic cancer.
In some ways, the iPad represents Steve Jobs’s final genius move on the global computing chessboard. Apple created the tablet market. The iPad has flourished where others have struggled. If you are considering full featured tablets, there’s the iPad and there’s everyone else. Many other tech firms have tried to compete with iPad, and failed spectacularly. Yes, Apple has acted like Godzilla in this tablet space, and has reduced many tech rivals to smoldering ruins. (Hey, anyone want to buy some HP stock?)
My in laws have an iPad and they love it. In fact, I’ve never really heard from anyone who didn’t enjoy the iPad.
With iPad, price fades from consideration. The cheapest wifi-only model costs $499. A fully loaded model will cost you $829 (plus a monthly 3G contract with AT&T or Verizon). Even with these prices, iPad benefits from the Apple halo effect. May consumers happily pony up a few extra hundred dollars to get the Apple gadget, even though cheaper alternatives abound. This is a key reason why Steve Jobs died with 7 billion dollars in the bank.
What is an iPad? It’s a 9.7-inch touchscreen equipped with a robust CPU and Apple’s intuitive iOS operating system. It’s kind of like a jumbo iPhone, but without the phone. This is not intended as criticism; the iPad is perhaps the best Internet content consumption device ever created. If you have any familiarity with iPhone, you already know how to use an iPad. It’s brilliantly easy to use. Steve Jobs dubbed the iPad experience “magical,” and who are we to argue? This is the Rolls Royce of tablets. Yes it costs more, but you get a very smooth ride. It does everything quite well. (Everything except play Flash content.)
Like other tablets, iPad really isn’t focused on content creation. Most people don’t go to the Internet to edit HD video or write the next War and Peace. If you want to check email and Facebook, browse websites, and even play a few games, do you really need a physical keyboard and mouse? The iPad has proven that you do not.
The iPad’s large backlit LCD touchscreen does not offer an “E ink” reading experience. For those of us who enjoy reading novels (and labyrinthine Steve Jobs biographies), an iPad is less than optimal. The backlit screen simply strains and tires the eyes after a while. Black-and-white e-ink devices like Kindle and Nook can be read all day long without eye strain. Nevertheless, a lot of people are doing a lot of reading on the iPad. The iPad is wonderful for magazines and the Web, and fine for short bouts of book reading.
The 9.7-inch iPad screen is larger than most of the competing ereaders. The larger size is nice, though it comes at a cost of weight and bulk. If you’re kicking back on the sofa or easy chair and browsing the Web, the iPad is tough to beat. But unlike Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, the iPad isn’t purse ready. Sorry guys, but it probably won’t fit your murse either. It’s thin but it just isn’t as compact and lightweight as the less expensive competition. On the other hand, the build quality of the iPad is excellent. The iPad feels well crafted and solid in your hands.
What about apps? This is where iPad really shines. iPad benefits from Godzilla’s – I mean, Apple’s – massive network of third party developers who are churning out fresh apps on a daily basis. At last count the iPad boasted more than 250,000 separate apps (ranging from games like Angry Birds to social media like Facebook). There’s an app for just about every desire under the sun. And here’s a key point – you can install free Kindle and Nook apps for iPad. So if you want to buy books on Amazon / Barnes & Noble and read them on your iPad via the Kindle / Nook apps, feel free to do so.
At last app count, Android was catching up to Apple quickly via the Android market. But since Apple was the first on the scene with its iTunes apps market, it remains the gold standard.
If you’ve got the coin and want to indulge in a premium full featured tablet, it’s hard to find fault with the iPad. The main criticism these days concerns price, since there are lower cost alternatives available in the form of the Kindle Fire and Nook Color. Some Wall Street analysts have speculated that Apple will unfurl an “iPad Mini” to better compete with these tablets. But I would also state that if your primary goal is reading books (not magazines), the “e ink” screens offered by inexpensive Kindles and Nooks are better suited for this purpose.
“The author’s book about RV camping Long Long Honeymoon – Living Large in a Small Tin Can is now available on the AMAZON KINDLE & Barnes & Noble NOOK platforms for the rock bottom price of $2.99. You can easily read this book on an iPad using the FREE Kindle and NOOK apps!”