Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Goodbye Kindle, Hello iPad

A couple of years ago I bought a Kindle from Amazon.

I love the Kindle - it's simple to use, lightweight, and is easy to read, even in direct sunlight.

While I was initially hesitant to buy the Kindle - after all, buying a book is just as easy as carrying a Kindle - I have spent the last two years telling anyone who would listen that they, too, should join the ebook revolution.

So why is my Kindle now on my bookshelf at home?

Well, I took the plunge this past weekend, and bought an iPad from Apple.

Like my Kindle purchase a couple of years ago, I was initially reluctant to buy an iPad. It's not cheap - the lower end models go for around $500 - and most people get a monthly service plan to get 3G access from either AT&T or Verizon. The iPad is also a little bulkier than the Kindle, and the glass front makes it less harder to read in bright light.

But the functionality of the iPad is hugely greater than the Kindle. The iPad can seemingly do everything, and like all Apple products is so beautifully designed that even the least computer literate can figure out how to use it. The graphics are also astonishingly good

If you haven't done so already, you owe it to yourself to take a look at an iPad (and, no, I don't work for Apple). Even if you don't wind up buying one, I think you will wind up agreeing with me that the potential applications for tablets like the iPad are enormous.

For example, this morning's New York Times carried an article (which I read on my iPad, by the way) describing how pilots are now using the iPads instead of bulky paper manuals:

..a growing number of pilots are carrying a 1.5 pound iPad.

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized a handful of commercial and charter carriers to use the tablet computer as a so-called electronic flight bag. Private pilots, too, are now carrying iPads, which support hundreds of general aviation apps that simplify preflight planning and assist with in-flight operations.

“The iPad allows pilots to quickly and nimbly access information,” said Jim Freeman, a pilot and director of flight standards at Alaska Airlines, which has given iPads to all its pilots. “When you need to a make a decision in the cockpit, three to four minutes fumbling with paper is an eternity.”

iPads Replacing Pilots’ Paper Manuals - NYTimes.com

The article goes on:

"I don’t remember a time when one product seemed to get so much buzz and acceptance,” said Ian Twombly, spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “Many pilots approach new toys with skepticism, and the iPad seems to be almost universally appreciated as a cockpit device.”

There are now more than 250 aviation apps for the iPad, and one called ForeFlight is among the top grossing apps listed on iTunes. Its closest competitors are WingX, Jeppesen Mobile TC and Garmin My-Cast.

It may very well be that in two years time I will be writing about another electronic device that will outshine even the iPad.

For example, research analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford Bernstein wrote a piece this morning suggesting that ultralite laptops like the Macbook Air could offer even more applications than the iPad in a couple of years.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy my new purchase.