Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kids, GrandParents and those in between agree: the iPad rocks

The wait is finally over. I got one. The iPad 2 went on sale at 5 p.m. this past Friday, and I walked out of a local Apple reseller with a black 32 WiFi model at 5:20 p.m.

Twelfth in line, I had only been waiting for about an hour and a half, which is a very different story than our friends to the north. In New York City, a woman sold her spot at the front of the line at the Fifth Avenue Apple store for a cool $900. I don't think I could have sold my spot for anything over 20 bucks here in Georgia.

Either way, I've been using the iPad 2 consistently for the past 48 hours, and I must say, it's great. And it's not just great, it's GREAT (I know, I hear Tony The Tiger too). The only other way to describe it... well, I can't describe it. Nobody can truly "get it" until he or she tries one—and not just tinkering in the store kind of trying one. No, give it about three to four hours. Then, it all becomes obvious; reading news and websites, browsing, watching, learning, playing, discovering, app-ing (?), and getting immersed in content on the iPad 2 is a different and altogether better experience. Not that it takes time to learn, but in about that timeframe, using gestures and common UI functions across apps become second nature, and everything seems natural. Compared to using the keyboard and mouse and the seemingly "disconnected" screen, the more obvious touch-what-you-want interface is intuitive and will define our main personal computing devices for years to come.

I understand the hesitation, why the iPad's usefulness is in question. Hell, I passed on the first one, and not because I didn't have the money; I just didn't see how much use I had for it. Prior to standing in line with the other fanboys Friday, a family member asked me what I could do on the iPad that I couldn't already do on my iPhone or MacBook Pro. In all truthfulness I said "Nothing," to which she laughed at. I tried the explaination, to no avail, "It's not what you can do with it, but how you do it."

But later that evening I was able to show her. After a short demo, she and my grandfather were in disbelief. I showed her a few preloaded apps like PhotoBooth and video recording. Then I demoed how the videos and pics get loaded into an album that you can share or use as a standing picture frame. Next I showed her the internet, pulling up her own hearing aid business website in the Safari browser. A flash video that would normally play on the front page was missing, but that didn't stop her from admitting that website and text looked "unbelievably clear," even for those with dwindling eyesight. Lastly, touching the Maps icon on the home screen brought up a big green image of our United States. To pinpoint our location I tapped the icon in the top that looks like an paper airplane, and within seconds we were looking at a satellite image of our building. Now, you should be careful when showing the next feature to the elderly; their hearts may not be able to take it. I touched the icon for Street View. When the iPad zoomed down and allowed me to pan around and look at the entrance to our location, I heard my grandfather make a strange noise. It sounded like "Gugh!"

Put shortly, the iPad alters the perception of what a computer is. Previously complex and disconnected, traditional PC interaction has been revamped, re-imagined, redesigned, and revolutionized. Ask the millions of kids learning and playing games on it. Ask the college students with easy access to all the information in the world at their fingertips. Ask anyone with an insatiable reading habit who can take an entire library of books on the road. Ask my grandparents. If computers connected to the internet are windows to the outside world, then Apple is using the best darn glass cleaner there is.

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