As you may remember, I did a series of blog posts about the iPad and its uses. If you haven't read those, you may like to take a few minutes and read through them.
iPad: for college students?
iPad: one week
iPad: final review
iPad as a professional tool
Ok. Now that you're caught up, let's see what has changed and why I didn't end up selling mine.
First off - it's addicting. I feel cool with an iPad, so I didn't try very hard to sell it. In fact, I didn't even put it up on craigslist.
Because I kept it, I tried to find ways to make it more useful. I caved and actually bought a few books from the iBooks store. Old people and screen-haters beware: it is exactly like reading from a computer screen. I have no problem with that, so I've purchased and read 5 books on my iPad. The books are inexpensive (compared to hardcover) and I can carry a whole library worth of reading material. Awesome.
Without much of a delay, textbook publishers caught up to the iPad. The books for my classes run about $150 to $200 each in hardcover from the bookstore or amazon.com. I'm not ok with that. A company called CourseSmart sells electronic versions of all the books I need for class. They run about $75 each. This semester alone, I saved $300 on textbooks. Considering I only spent $500 on the iPad, I'm doing pretty well.
Add to that the convenience factor of carrying a device that weighs 1.5 pounds instead of 4 books at a few pounds each. (Sidenote: since when do college students carry textbooks to and from class? That is SO middle school.)
Assuming you're lucky enough to get all your books online for your entire college career, you're saving at least $1000. With that you can buy the iPad, a nice leather case, and still have plenty leftover for cheap beer and pizza!
As far as design, the textbooks-on-iPad aren't too bad. They aren't as great as the iBooks experience with a built-in dictionary and selection tools... but they don't suck too bad.
Those are examples from my Finance textbook. Full color pages, a ruler you can move with your finger as you read, previews of upcoming pages, search function, etc.
The major bummer about this is: the books are all stored online. I do NOT have the option to download them to the iPad. Not a big deal if I want to do reading anywhere that has internet. Big problem if I want to catch up on reading whilst on a bus or in a car or something. Lucky for me (and most college students) Wifi is everywhere. Plus, if you want to splurge, you can get the 3G iPad and you'll be good to go, on the go.
In addition to reading, the iPad is still great for showing off my photography. I've taken to downloading images from this blog to the iPad when I want to show them off. It's much more simple than convincing iTunes to sync just a few pictures from each folder (which is impossible). Photos on this blog are automatically resized to a max of 800px in their longest direction. They also have a 1 pixel stroke around them, which shows up really well on the iPad and helps to define the boundaries of an image.
Overall, I've decided to CHANGE my recommendation on the iPad as it concerns college students.
It sucks to take notes or write papers on, but man it works really well as a textbook-reader and internet-cruiser. Plus, it's freaking cool.