Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Experiences with iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle, etc.

We're a gadget-happy family.  My wife and I have iPhones as well as Dell and Mac Book Pro laptops, respectively.  She also got an iPad as a gift from me last September.  And she gave me a Kindle a month ago.  My daughter has a Dell laptop and iPod Touch.

My wife used to watch a lot of foreign-language web sites and movies on her little iPhone.  It was killing her eyes!  So a few months after the iPad came out, we got it.  I had resisted, hoping that a decent Android tablet would show up in September (the rumored Galaxy Tab) because I absolutely hated the fact that Flash isn't available on either the iPhone or iPad (Jobs has done an excellent job snowing people into believing that Flash isn't pervasive - just try visiting any car web site without Flash - you'll get a very limited experience...or none at all).  But, alas, when the Galaxy was finally announced at the end of that month, the price of it seemed outrageous - $600+ for a "me too" device (granted, it included 3G - but we didn't even want that)!  So we got the iPad.  My wife loves it.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the iPad relative to the other devices we own:

  • - As mentioned above, the iPad has become THE go-to device when it comes to quick web surfing or movie watching (heck, we even watch HGTV on it - we have no Cable TV :-).
  • - For quick "web lookups", we still use our iPhones - there's just no substitute: the phone is always on our bodies and that convenience overcomes any benefit of a bigger screen - in this scenario.
  • - Reading is a mixed bag: I prefer the Kindle by a long shot: it's much lighter and less eye-straining (the latter seems to be a subjective thing - my wife doesn't find it eye-straining at all; but she doesn't read for hours on end either).  Also, the weight of the iPad is a definite detriment in this use case.  After holding it for a few minutes, it gets heavy *real fast*.  You end up resting it on your lap - if you can.  My wife was trying to read with it lying bed one night and held it up to her face on its end - it tipped over and left a significant dent in her nose :-)
  • - For light web-surfing - i.e. just visiting web pages you go to on a daily basis, the iPad can't be beat (provided one of your regular web pages isn't Flash based).  Just like the iPhone, the web browser is a joy to use.  Others have mentioned "pinch-to-zoom" as some big thing - it isn't.  The best part is the "double-tap-to-zoom" - Safari then zooms to the column you double-tapped on - great for reading news sites (I think it probably does some intelligent zooming based on the HTML tags).
  • - For heavy surfing that includes editing & posting comments or blogs such as this, laptops are  amuch better choice.  I'm writing this on my MBP and I can't imagine how long it would have taken to peck out the same comment via the iPad's on-screen keyboard.
  • - Since we've had the iPad, we've gone on two car trips, including hotel stays.  We don't use it much in the car since we got the wi-fi only model (the iPhones do just fine when my daughter gets bored), but in the hotel room, it's a nice substitute for the outrageously expensive movies the hotel rents (Netflix on the iPad is great for this)...provided the hotel has free wi-fi :-)
  • Muscle Memory is seldom mentioned in reviews: if you already have an iPhone/iPod, going to an iPad vs. Android is going  to be a ZERO learning curve.  Android may be easy to use too, but you will still have to learn "the Android way" of doing things - your iPhone "muscle memory" won't help you at all.  Sounds like nit-picking?  Maybe - but for some, learning yet another user interface is not something they want to invest time in.  That's what "first mover advantage" gets you: people bought the iPhone first - and now they're more likely to buy iPads (well, also because Apple was the "first mover" not only with the iPhone, but also with the iPad!)
Some final thoughts: Apple has done a fine job integrating their systems and devices.  Until I recently switched from Ubuntu (on a Dell laptop) to a Mac Book Pro, I always bitched about how annoying Apple's iPod and iPhone were - everything required iTunes - which, of course, is not available natively on Linux (I had to start up a Virtual Machine with Windows just to start iTunes and download my newest Amazon-purchased MP3 onto my iPhone!).  But now, with my MBP, it's actually quite easy (although I still think that Apple should allow over-the-air updates of the iPhone as well as allow competitors such as Amazon to sell MP3 directly to the device - the former might still happen, but the latter never, I suspect).  So, if you already have Apple devices and are thinking of a tablet purchase, I think the iPad is a natural choice.  If you're already an Android phone user, an Android tablet is the best choice.  If you are in neither group or don't really care about one UI over another, I would also pick an Android tablet.  The Android UI is getting more and more polished with every release and in terms of functionality, Android has already surpassed the iPad (e.g. Flash support, cameras front and back).  Android tablets, unlike Apple products, will also become cheaper due to there being competition among Android vendors.

No comments: