Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few reviews

I posted a picture of me reading an iPad nonchalantly, so you will assume I got one, and become jealous and upset, but then you'll see that fine print at the bottom of the picture, realize it's not mine, and then feel silly for getting your panties in a bunch. That's the kind of person I am.

That iPad I'm holding belongs to my cousin Andy and his wife Amber. They were in town for a conference awhile back, and they left their iPad at my house for me to babysit, along with their kids. So I thought I'd post some reviews, in case you were considering an iPad (vs. a Kindle), or thinking about babysitting Andy and Amber's kids.

First, my review of their kids, Evelyn and Preston.

1) They say all kinds of entertaining things.
2) They look and act like boy/girl twins, and who wouldn't want to sample twins for one day.
3) They equate a park with a slide to Disneyland, which is always good for a babysitter's ego.
4) They are two of the happiest kids I've ever met.

Bottom line, I give them 5 out of 5 stars and recommend you all babysit them.

Now, my review of the iPad (as compared to its nemesis, the Kindle):

It has never escaped my notice that the Kindle is slightly 1980s Atari-ish, what with its mouse-size joy-stick, and duel side flaps for old-school page turning. Seeing it next to the iPad, in the flesh, only confirms my suspicion that Amazon needs to fire the elderly gentleman in their design department.

Compared to the Kindle, the iPad is like a shiny new spaceship, but this futuristic technology is nothing we're not used to. The iPad is basically a ginorm iPhone, or, I should say, an iTouch, since it doesn't function as a phone. If you already have one of those, you would just be buying a huger one.

Excluding all the fun apps on the iPad (since you could do all that on a much-cheaper iPhone/iTouch), and speaking only from a book reader's POV, the iPad does do a lot of interesting things that the Kindle cannot do. For example, I sampled the children's book, Toy Story. It was in color! The iPad read the book to me in a very nice Woody-type voice. It was animated. There were small icons on the top corner of almost every page. Tap one, and the screen would switch to a little game of "get the floating army men safely to the ground." Tap another icon, and the screen would switch to a full-size video of "You Gotta Friend in Me" from the movie. So basically, only a few pages into the book, I had stopped "reading", and started watching a scene from the movie. Which made me think, "Why would any kid want to 'read' this, when they could just go watch the movie?"

Which made me think of THIS.

So, as far as children's books go, it was novel (ahem. pun.), but who's gonna hand this super expensive thing over to a kid so they can fake-read? Maybe right when you take it out of the box, you'd set them on your lap and let them have a gander, but after that, it'll be this never ending question: "Can I play on your iPad?" and this never ending answer: "Hells no." (The "hells" part won't be spoken out loud, cuz these are kids we're talking about, but you'll sure as hell be thinking it.)

Reading a grown-up novel on the iPad (without pictures and stuff) was cool. The pages turn with a slide of a finger across the screen, as expected. Some people may not like that it's back-lit, just like a computer screen, as it could cause eye-strain. That might bother me over time, but in the short term, it doesn't. The Kindle, if you recall, is not back-lit. The screen looks like paper. But you need a lamp.

Buying a book in Apple's bookstore, iBooks, cost more than buying the same book in Amazon's Kindle store. For example, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen sells in iBooks for $9.99, while it was only $6.27 in the Amazon Kindle store. The paperback price on Amazon is $10.04. You save a lot with Kindle, only pennies with Apple. Solution: simply download the Kindle app to your iPad and buy all your books through the Kindle store. So that's not really a mark against the iPad, but a big mark against Apple's iBooks store.

What surprised me the most about the iPad was its weight. It's a heavy mother-ship, where the Kindle is a paper airplane. It was the difference between holding a big ol' giant heavy dictionary, or holding a small, practically weightless paperback. Call me Mr. Burns, but the weight was actually a big deal to me. I read in bed every night, and I couldn't imagine holding up a dictionary-type book with my weak fragile arms.

Kindle costs $259.00 (that's after tax, free shipping).
The iPad starts at $499.00 for their lowest memory model (plus tax could add another $40, and you have to pay a recycling fee of $8 in some states, free shipping).

Bottom line: The Kindle could use a technological makeover as far as design, but it is brilliant at what it was intended for: downloading cheap books instantly to a wireless reading device. And the 1908s design doesn't interfere with that. You still have your instant gratification at a much cheaper price than you'd get with a glue-and-paper book. And since I already have that convenience, I have no reason to upgrade to a heavier, cooler-looking model. Now, if I won an iPad in a raffle, or if someone gave me one for my birthday on June 12th, I wouldn't throw it away or anything. I would be super happy and excited because it's pretty darn awesome. But when I got all tucked in bed at night, I would probably turn on my lamp and reach for my light-weight Kindle.


Flem said...

Brilliant review!!! I love what you had to say about it because I agree 1000%.

I was playing with it last night at a friend's house and it struck me as an amazing toy. I tried to access my google apps with it because that would be awesome for me for work and then I could buy this toy, but it turns out that google apps don't work on it (though google is supposedly promising to "get on that") so it has no value for me. And as someone who recently got a new computer and is dealing with kids fighting over something that is not portable, I can foresee either some complicated process or serious fighting. Or maybe both.

It IS so shiny and pretty and if I didn't have an iphone I would SO want one. But as is, I can do all that albeit in lower res.

As for the kids you babysat, I love the idea of reviewing them. What if there was like an online repository of reviews like this? Then if someone called and asked for you to babysit them you could check and say "oh, sorry, I only babysit 4 and 5 star kids. Okay, I can take your 3.5ers, but I am going to have to borrow one of your electronic gadgets along with them."

Flem said...

Oh geez sorry so long on the comment.

Markie23 said...

Evvy and Pweston are definitely 5 star kids. I have yet to get my hands on an iPad, but about 9 of the last 10 books or so that I've read I've read using the Kindle App on my iPod Touch. I love it, and I it's lighter and more portable than the Kindle plus does all that other iPaddy stuff.

Katie said...

Very true. I actually still use my Kindle* more than I use my iPad**.

*Katie does not actually have a Kindle

**Nor does she have an iPad

Andy said...

BRILLIANT! And watch for the new HPslate coming sooooon!!! sorry Shameless plug!

Princess Kimi said...

This is srsly helpful. I heart the heck outta my iPod touch. Oh and if you get the Barnes & Noble e-book reader app, the ebooks are the same price as Kindle nstuff. So thx for letting me undwell about wondering if I totally need an iPad. No thx on babysitting tho. I don't care how many stars they have or how many gadgets they come with. Wait..do they have a limted edition Project runway Brother electronic sewing machine?

ManicMandee said...

I had no thought of buying either an Ipad or a Kindle, but I will say that I fully enjoyed reading your review. You've got a gift for entertaining writing. (Do you know I still actually listen to audio books on CD? CD's! I'm way older school than your Kindle.)

And Andy and Amber's kids are super aren't they?! They get that happy personality from their mom who smiles and seems happy every single moment I've seen her.

Carol said...

Great review and very helpful. I'm still in love with my iphone and am very loyal to it. Buying an Ipad would hurt it's feelings. May I just say that the picture of you and the ipad is very cute, very.

Landee said...

I was srsly on the fence about whether or not to get me a Preston/Evelyn combo for my birthday.... and now thanks to this review I think I'm just gonna go ahead and get them!!!!! Yay!! So exciting!!

As for the iPad, you already know my strong feelings on the matter. Dumbest product Apple has ever tried to shove down the public's throat. Those that buy one are keep-up-with-the-Jonsey, gotta have one to say I have one morons. Thanks for giving me a platform to voice my opinion.

Memzy said...

I wonder who had their panties in a bunch? ::pointing to self:: I couldn't agree more about E and P. Sooper cute and easy kids. Plus my Cracker gets to fulfill his dream of having a little sister and stuff.

I can't wait to hear your review on how to plan and decide on a location for a family vacay! Coming soon I'm sure.

Emily said...

I'm so glad you did this post. Rob has really been wanting to get an ipad (which I can't say without thinking of maxi pads now). I think it's actually really silly since, like you pointed out, is just a giant ipod touch.

Glad we are on the same page on this.

ShelBailey said...

I keep telling Sam it's just a giant iPod Touch that won't fit in his pocket. But, working at Apple, his buddies have all got them (even though employees don't get a discount on them). He's sure he needs one. I'm pretty sure he doesn't.

As for Evie and Preston, two of my most favoritest kids ever. They call Sam "Uncle Big Sam" (to differentiate from Andy's brother Sam) and always act like we're the bestest aunt and uncle ever. Good for the ego, ya know. We adore them. Who knew Andy would have such easy going kids???