Digital Wonder

November 18, 2010

Guest blogger Liz leaves the PC world and joins the legions of Mac fans:

Although I’ve been a Windows user for years and had not made the switch to a Mac, or an iPhone for that matter, our family recently came into an iPad. Attracted by the incredible sleekness of the design, I was finally excited to try an Apple product.

It is a technical wonder – its sheer thinness, how light it is, the touch screen — a beautiful color screen, I might add. It is an interesting device, but for me, does not replace a PC. It is wonderful, though, when thought about and used differently than the more traditional computer that we use and rely on everyday.

The touch screen is a bit of a love/hate relationship. When using my email or surfing the Internet, I find it incredibly frustrating. I am used to moving rapid fire and if I’ve got to touch a screen two or three times, it slows me down. However, when I am reading a book on the iPad and I can just flip the pages and it feels just like flipping the pages of an actual book, I’m amazed.

Although I have not used any of the other readers like Kindle or Nook, I find the book application on the iPad very intriguing. The iPad application comes with a visual bookshelf, so you can see your very own collection and it strangely gives a kind of satisfaction that an actual bookshelf gives. On the bookshelf, there are graphics of the books, instead of just titles. For a generation of people growing up more environmentally conscious or for those of us with smaller living spaces, this just makes sense.

Aside from the iPad book application, I think the potentially most interesting uses of it will be the designers who dream up applications that take advantage of the unique properties of the iPad and its amazing screen. Those that will be most the most fun to use will interweave written content, video and imagery brilliantly.

One such application is Lonely Planet’s “1000 Ultimate Experiences” (yes, my husband works for Lonely Planet, but I am blown away by this application and find myself going back to it again and again). The designers imagined the “1000 Ultimate Experiences” as a deck of cards to flip through. Each experience is on a card that contains stunning photography on top, interesting written content on back when the card is flipped over (very cool, it feels like you are flipping over a card) and some are embedded with rich video content.

It is very early on in the application side of the iPad and I’ve seen magazines that offer up iPad subscriptions, but they just look like the same two dimensional versions of what they are already offering. Yawn.

I think we have much to get excited about with the iPad and the whole new experience it offers with books, applications, video, and, heck, the sheer compactness of it. Perhaps the future generations of the iPad will even offer solar power.

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