Home > The New Media, Web/Tech > The iPad and My Computer Ecosystem

The iPad and My Computer Ecosystem

Enough people have asked that I feel either mocked or obligated to report on my first two days with my Apple iPad. (And for the record, I think that they’re mostly mocking me.)

As I have said before, I am not necessarily an early adopter, but I also understand that the next generation of any device will almost always be better than the device that I decide to eventually purchase. Also, despite one of my former student’s suggestions, I am not an Apple fanboy or “the high priest of the Apple cult” (although the latter seems sorta cool). I use four computers regularly. I do most of my writing on a MacBook Pro which is now a couple of years old. I do GIS, database, and basic statistical work on the Big Diesel — a 17-inch Dell XPS laptop — and I also increasingly use this computer for editing podcasts and various things involved in developing my online classes. At home, we use a Mac Mini as a media server for our stereo and it runs through our TV for movies and the like and surf the web on a three year old Toshiba laptop running Ubuntu. I don’t game, but I do have an iPod Touch that I use regularly to do light web-surfing, check emails, and listen to music.

So, that’s my computer ecosystem right now. The one thing missing was a ebook reader. I travel pretty regularly and I also read all the time. I read books, articles, student papers, drafts of my own writing, blogs, newspapers, and even, more and more rarely, fiction. Most of the academic articles that I read are now disseminated in PDF format and I do at least part of my own editing work in front of a computer. In other words, I wanted a device that allowed my to consume media in a more efficient and comfortable way. I had plenty of computers that enabled me to produce media in a flexible environment.

I was romanced by the Kindle and found it charming and functional enough to get one for my mother for Christmas a few years back, but I was worried that its web-surfing abilities seemed pretty limited for a $300 device. I thought maybe the Nook would be the answer or even one of Sony’s elegant ebook readers, but the reviews on these devices were never quite enough to push me to order one. In particular, I wanted a device that would let me do a bit more than basic web-surfing since online classes had increasingly come to play a part in my teaching load. I wanted to be able to read and critique discussion board posts, for example, in my classes’ threaded-discussions. This can be a time consuming process, and I wanted to be able to do it with more physical flexibility than I currently had with my laptops. I also wanted to be able to manage the various blogs that I write or administer. While I write sitting at the computer, I wanted to be able to administer comments, spam, and other basic maintenance aspects of blogging without having to boot up a computer and without being at my desk.

With these needs in mind, the iPad is doing fine so far. I spent time on Easter reading a little gaggle of articles that I had downloaded over the course of the previous week. I uploaded them to my Mediafire account and downloaded them easily onto a PDF reader on my iPad. I suspect that I’ll continue to do most of my research on my laps tops since I am completely dependent on Firefox based Zotero to keep track of citations, but I could imagine doing some light research on it in a pinch.

I read my Sunday New York Times on it and even contemplated spending $80 on Anthony Kaldellis’s Hellenism in Byzantium, before opting for the free, Project Gutenburg-produced, version of Conrad’s Secret Agent. I also read some discussion board posts, a couple of blogs, and even watched part of a TV show on it. So, from what I can tell it does everything that it advertised it could do. The only frustration that I’ve encountered is figuring out how to organize files that I’ve uploaded to the device. I have the 32 GB version, so I could imagine having quite a bit of articles, photographs, and even scanned books on it, but I would need a more clear way of keeping these various documents organized before I make the device my research companion for trips to museum storerooms and the like.

Aside from that, it’s aesthetically appealing, fast, stable, and seemingly bug free (although time will surely tell).

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Categories: The New Media, Web/Tech
  1. Dallas DeForest
  2. April 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Absolutely. Except, I didn’t have an old device and I never want to have one either. They sound like they are pretty undesirable.

  3. April 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I’ve got to ask…how do standard pdf journal articles look on the iPad? Is a full page clear and readable and is zooming still needed? This could be amazing…

  4. April 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Mark,
    They actually look great. It was very comfortable to read on.
    Bill

  5. April 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Bill,
    Can’t wait to see this new addition to your electronic family. Hope your Easter was a good one. See you tomorrow.
    Daniel

  6. Evan Nelson
    April 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    You do know that mocking usually masks abject jealousy, right?

  7. R Sang
    April 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Can you use zotero on the iPad?

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