Saturday, April 17, 2010

Final review: The iPad for college?

Well. I have finally made up my mind about the iPad and how useful it really is for college students.

If you haven't read my two previous posts on this topic here and here, please do so!

After my difficulties last week, I have been using the iPad a lot less. I became a bit disenchanted with it. The novelty wore off and I was left with a semi-functional computer-ish device; far less capability than my MacBook Pro (which recently had a clean OSX install) and far more capable than my iPhone.
As such, I've taken to leaving the iPad wherever I think I will want the ability to search the internet but where I don't want to bring my laptop. Bed is one place. The living room is another. The man-cave where my roommates and I smoke hookah and hang out is another. I was browsing the web in one of these locations yesterday when I came across the following:

I actually broke out laughing as the animation played through, showing me that my WINDOWS machine was being hacked into and that my personal information was in serious danger! One would think whoever wrote the virus would be smart enough to check which browser the client was using. Mobile Safari is definitely not a browser that many Windows machines run. The iPad then informed me courteously that the file type that had been automatically downloaded was not supported. Duh. I closed the browser window and that was the end of it. The iPad is (of course) is still functioning flawlessly and I've no reason to believe that will change. On the other hand, I spent a solid 2 hours removing this virus from a Windows XP box a few weeks ago.

One evening I was cruising through the App store and I came across the CourseSmart app, redesigned specifically for the iPad. I downloaded it without paying a cent, entered my credentials and it immediately showed me the textbooks I have available! Suddenly inspired to do homework (a miracle, I assure you) I opened my Managerial Accounting textbook and went at it.

Overall it wasn't a terrible experience. It appears that they rushed the app a bit, so the search function doesn't do very well and navigation can be a bit of a pain... But, it was much better than reading it off my laptop because I could pick up up, zoom in and out, and generally manipulate it as I saw fit. I expected the responsiveness of the experience to dwindle a bit, but zooming and panning was just as pleasant as ever.

If all my textbooks were available from CourseSmart, and if I actually read my textbooks, this would persuade me to keep the device. Unfortunately, CourseSmart only offers a limited selection of 10,000 books and I rarely find cause to read my books anyway. Before you say it, I know - I should read my textbooks. There are a lot of things I should do that I don't. Welcome to college.

So. It's decision time. Is the iPad worth it?
That depends on what you want to do with it. As a textbook reader, it fails mainly due to lack of selection. Apple needs to get together with publishers and offer electronic textbooks in the iBooks store. Third party apps are always going to be less satisfying than the original iBooks experience.

Speaking of iBooks - I love it. I spend all my free time looking at computer screens anyway, so reading from a portable one has no affect on me. I read Sherlock Holmes and am nearing the end of Peter Pan. The built in dictionary is great and the variable screen brightness is enough for me about 90% of the time, as I mostly read in the evening when not in direct sunlight.

As long as you aren't in direct sunlight, looking at photos or even watching a movie is pretty good. The more black in the photo or movie, the more of your own reflection you see. This device was clearly designed for the narcissistically inclined.

Using the internet is way better than the iPhone and far more portable than a laptop, especially because my laptop lives connected to a bunch of hard drives and a second monitor. Typing takes some getting used to, but after a solid week or so of use, typing mistakes diminish drastically.

I give the iPad an 8/10 as a device overall. Keep in mind that I'm fairly demanding of my technology.
I give it a 4/10 for textbook reader.

That 4/10 is why I have decided to sell my iPad.
If I'm going to pay $500 for a device like this, I want my textbooks. All of them. Easily.

Here's the deal. I could sell this puppy for $650 on eBay and make a little money no problem. BUT I'd like to offer this iPad to one of my readers, and I'm happy to just break even.
I have here a receipt for $541.42 from BestBuy, which is exactly that I paid to walk out the store with it. If you read this blog or you know somebody who wants an iPad for less than the eBay markup, let me know. I'll sell it to you for $541.42 plus the cost of shipping. If you're in Flagstaff, AZ, I'll happily hand-deliver it to you.


16gb wi-fi only iPad in perfect condition.

  • I have used this device for two weeks. It has lived in the padded compartment of my backpack since I bought it and it is still in 100% perfect shape.
  • All the original packaging materials are included. I have not used the charger or the sync cord, instead using the materials I already had on hand for my iPhone (which work wonderfully, btw).
  • I will restore it to original factory conditions before putting it in the box, which will delete all my personal info, music, and all the apps I've downloaded.

If you want it and are prepared to pay CASH or PAYPAL (cummon, who uses personal checks anymore?) then

drop me an email :
give me a call: (928) 600-3360

This money will go to furnishing me with a set of AB800 strobes. If you've got two AB800 or better strobes sitting around, I'll be happy to make that trade as well.