Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beginning of iPad Buyer's Remorse

Well, it's been several months now since I bought my iPad and in many ways I love the device. 15 seconds for a cold boot; very easy to get to my email and to the web. However, some things are not
quite as smooth as I'd hoped.

First, email. I have 2 personal email accounts, one via Comcast and one Gmail. I create folders in both to store email I want available online, but I can see folders on only one (Gmail). So I've forwarded all Comcast email to Gmail; so far that seems to take care of the folder issue. Moreover, although I really
hate the 'conversation' feature in Gmail (delete parts of a conversation and you may lose what's in your inbox), but it appears to work with my iPad better by far than did Comcast.

I love eBooks, and the promise of being able to view and view and manage digital content on a single
device no matter what the content's format or where it came from. There, as I said in my previous post, the iPad has a long way to go. Not only does iBook do a poor job of presenting PowerPoint files, an
(unfortunate) staple in the business world, but the other reader app I bought, GoodReader, is better
but not much better with PowerPoint in that regard. Still a bargain, but getting its WiFi drag-and-drop feature (from PC to iPad) is problematic. Then there is the Kindle app, a nice free way to download Amazon eBooks with the ability to comment on them, synchronize them with my PC, etc. Except you shouldn't try to
read Kindle books on the iPad in natural light; the shiny touch-sensitive screen produces so much glare that you simply can't use it to read eBooks(or use it in general). And when all is said and done, I have 3 places to store eBooks of various types, instead of one; three interfaces to learn; and three different sets of functions to learn how to use. This isn't "Usability 101."

But photos, there's a kind a rich media that Apple has mastered, right' Well yes, after you get them on the iPad, but getting them there is quite a trick. Using iTunes (a weird application for general purpose transfer of files) is one way, but why not buy the Apple Camera Connection kit, then just transfer files
to your iPad directly via USB cable or maybe memory card? What could be simpler? Nothing is simple I've found, and unfortunately the kit doesn't work. I have 3 digital cameras. I stopped trying after the second one.
My first camera, a Polaroid digital with USB port, could connect to the iPad. I got two device errors
after connecting twice: 'This device uses too much power' (hey, it has 4 AAA batteries; try them!) and 'Device not supported.' The memory card fit one of the two connectors in the kit, and I could easily transfer pix from the card. However, camera #2 is my Sony camcorder, with a memory stick for stills and low-resolution video. The memory stick doesn't fit the Apple connector, so l tried using the USB cable; that works flawlessly with Windows. Nada. No error message from the iPad, no message (and no photo transfer) at all. So one card fit one connector; neither USB cable worked with the two cameras.

Apple deserves credit for vetting applications before it allows them to be sold, but Apple clearly has a long way to go with standards (like USB) and quasi-standards (like FLASH). The iPad remains an engaging device, but not as simple or as functional as I'd hoped.