10 things the iPad is good for… and 5 it isn't

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We’ve all had plenty of time to digest the iPad and all its magical wonders and in the few months we’ve had it it has sold over a million units. But that just means another few billion people are still on the fence about it! Here are a few things I’ve discovered about the iPad in my travels thus far and I hope will help you make your iPad buying decision.

1. It’s a great e-reader
The iPad is a great ereader. It’s easy to find books on any one of the various stores available to you – Kindle, Nook, and iBooks – and the screen is clear, bright, and eminently readable. It’s great on the train or plane – just get a case and hold it in one hand. You can also grab formatted text like PDFs and open it in GoodReader. There is one caveat, however, which we’ll discuss later.

2. It’s great for games
The games made specifically for the iPad are great. Civilization Revolution is my favorite by far (except when it crashes constantly) but, contrary to my earlier assessment, Plants v. Zombies is fun as well. As Nicholas noted, Nintendo should be scared.

3. It’s a great netbook replacement
Throw away your old netbook. This is the new hotness. Don’t worry about the keyboard. It works fine as long as you have a box of baby wipes handy to clean the screen.

4. It’s a great couch-surfing device
Picture this: you’re watching TV. The iPad is on your coffee table. Don’t pick it up or you won’t be able to put it down. While we really shouldn’t be spreading our attention so thin, do you really need to dedicated every single one of your neurons to Modern Family? It’s a good show, but there’s Twitterin’ to be done!

5. The 3G model is probably your best bet
This kind of doesn’t fit in this list, but if you’re up in the air I think the 3G model is the best. While you can turn off the 3G, you’re going to want to use it on the road and, barring the chance of download of 800MB of data and getting a $18,000 bill, you’ll find it very useful.

Incidentally, carriers suck. If you do start running up your bill you’ll get an SMS notifying you that you may want to slow down but they won’t cap you. They’ll keep pounding out data until you run up $1,000 or more for looking at maps of Paris.

6. It’s excellent for movies
If there’s any reason to get Apple’s iPad stand – or the Joule iPad stand for that matter – it’s so you can watch Netflix and movies on it. This is, literally, Apple’s new Apple TV. It’s a little TV. It’s great.

7. It’s great for photographers
If you’re a photographer, grab one of these. You can sit there and show off your portfolio with a few flicks of your finger. You can even run presentations so you can add music and animations.

8. It will be great for restaurants and fancypants hotels
You just know that next wine bar, probably called iWine, will have iPads available for folks to place their order. It will also be funny when those things shatter at a rate of one per day.

9. It’s fun for kids – but be careful
As we note below, the iPad seems fragile but kids love it. My 18 month old slaps through the pages and tries out apps while my four-year-old is a champ at almost all the games. Kids love it and you can read from it to them although – and this is a big thing with me for some reason – I don’t like reading bedtime stories on it mostly because you’re dealing with a brightly lit screen and an antsy toddler.

10. It’s a great primary travel computer
If you’re going on to a meeting in another city or country and you don’t need to run much of anything except email, a little note-taking, and some movie watching, take the iPad. You can do all of this – and more. Would I say the same thing about the iPod Touch or iPhone. I don’t know. The iPad is more comfortable for all of these things and makes for a good hotel room companion. Don’t take my word for it, though. Talk to Joel Johnson. He knows.

Now for the bad news…

1. It’s not a good bedside email companion
For some reason I still use my iPhone or Blackberry to check email when I wake up. The fact that I’m reading email when I wake up is a different problem entirely. I should take up smoking.

2. It’s not the best device for writing longer documents
I really tried to edit a huge document using Pages and other editors but it just didn’t work. Pages is still too nascent to work well for folks who want to write the Great Armenian Novel, Իմ Մայրս, Իմ այծ նախիր.

3. It’s no Kindle/Nook
The iPad sucks in sunlight. There’s no two ways about it. If you plan to read your ebooks out on the veranda with a mint julep, you’d better get a tent.

4. It’s doesn’t make a good tennis racket
When you first get the iPad you’ll be amazed by its size – it’s amazingly skinny and light. Then, when you have it for a few days, you realize you’re holding a big piece of glass. While this may my useful in a bar fight, it’s going to freak you out to use the iPad without a case. It’s like you want to cover this delicate creature in a second skin.

5. It won’t make you popular on the train/plane/bus/boat
Contrary to popular belief, the ladies and men of mass transit won’t notice your iPad. The Kindle has spoiled that approach for PUA nerds as many ignore the device and think it’s just an old, boring ereader. Note: this may work in places where the Great Urban Aloofness Field has not penetrated, like your nearest retirement home.

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