Talking about things

The iPad is a good eReader

Sherylyn bought an iPad as an eReader. Neither of us were planning to.

Just before they came out she asked me if I was planning on buying one. I’m the techno-geek. I love toys like this (except for some reason I never buy phones). I’m always the first to have the latest computer or the newest operating system. I said no, for a number of reasons.

First, I’m not really an Apple person. I love their products, but my working life revolves around Microsoft products, Word and SharePoint in particular. Apple do beautiful products, but they’re expensive (comparatively). I’m also not a big fan of the iTunes store. I love the way they make it easy to do things, but I hate the way they force me to do it their way. It’s a bit like the feeling I get with online bookstores, particularly Amazon.

And of course, I’m paranoid about security, and the only real reason I feel that Apple hasn’t had the big security flaws to date other companies (a la Microsoft) have had is because there appears to be a sort of honour amongst developers. A feeling that ‘Apple is a good product, I won’t hack it’.

Second, I need a portable computer to write on. My little netbook comes everywhere with me. It fits into my handbag. Every spare moment I have it’s on, and I’m typing my story into it (until the battery runs out, more of which later). Yes, you can type on the iPad, but believe me it’s no substitute for a full-blown keyboard, and Pages just doesn’t compete with Word.

What I do want, however, is an e-reader. For the past few months have looked seriously at everything available, and read up on anything coming. If it’s an e-reader, and it’s in store, I have looked at it.

Most of what I have looked at is e-ink technology. This has two problems for me.

First is the size of the screen. I’m not getting any younger. The average e-reader I have seen to date is around 12×18 centimetres. Not too bad, you think, but with my eyesight—even with glasses—I have to have the text magnified enough so that I read around two paragraphs per screen. I’m happy enough with that, except that every e-reader I have looked at takes forever (1-2 seconds is forever in e-reader time) to refresh. People say you get used to it, and that you learn to judge when to click the button to get the next page up. Okay, I can live with this, but it leads onto the second problem.

When you click the button the page flickers as it refreshes. I have checked the web sites and 90% of people say they get used to it. I, however, am epileptic, and a fast reader to boot. I can imagine what the constant subliminal flickering is going to do to me. Particularly at two paragraphs per page. It will be like a strobe light. I am scared to even buy one of the things.

So I need more reading real estate, and I need a screen that refreshes smoothly.

I don’t even know what made us walk into the Apple store. I know that I dragged Sherylyn in. But we did.

Being in an Apple store just after a new release is like being in a store the weekend before Christmas. It’s absolute bedlam and you can’t move for the crowds. But somehow we managed to get to the iPads and have a play.

Man, but the e-Reader on the iPad has to be the best around. It’s smooth, the page turning is beautiful, and you have enough screen to read a whole book page.

The battery is poor compared to other e-ink readers (10 hours) but it’s fabulous compared to my little netbook, which gives me one and a half hours of typing time. I can read a book in ten hours, and it’s enough that I can use it all day and put it on to recharge overnight.

Sherylyn had her iPad within a week.

I haven’t bought one yet. I still need my netbook and the netbook and the iPad together weigh down the handbag too much. (I borrowed Sherylyn’s, just to test.) Even so, I’m seriously tempted. It may be the most expensive, but to me it’s the best e-reader on the market right now.

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