Posts Tagged ‘ipad’

In considering the iPad, one of my early concerns was the lack of a stylus and handwriting recognition software. I’ve used good versions of these tools before, and I know how powerful they can be. While getting ready to head off to ALA, I decided that I would try a couple of iPad tools. The obligatory Googling led me to the WritePad app and the Pogo Sketch Stylus.

 

I’ve found WritePad to be a very functional application. The handwriting recognition is good – at least with a finger. It’s not so good with the stylus, but I find that to be a fault of the stylus rather than WritePad. More on that later. I would greatly prefer that handwriting recognition be thoughtfully integrated throughout the iPad OS, but Apple obviously doesn’t share my enthusiasm. As it is, handwriting is converted to text within the WritePad app. From there it’s a copy/paste job if you want to move it into another application.

 

Unfortunately, the Pogo Sketch Stylus proved to be a disaster. I bought it expressly for use at this conference, and it was so bad that I left it at home. No point in packing a useless item, right? I’ve struggled with how to describe the Pogo Sketch, and this is what I’ve come up with . . .

 

Remember when you were little and got a nice, new box of Magic Markers? Your pictures had crisp, clean lines, and all was right with the world. Then THAT KID got his hands on them. You know the one: the kid who smashed the markers down on the paper as hard as he could, thus ruining the tips and turning them into a mushy bunch of fibers. That’s what the Pogo Sketch feels like and looks like – a mushy bunch of fibers. Remember how you couldn’t really get a clean line after that kid smashed the marker tips? That’s how the Pogo Sketch responds. My handwriting isn’t the prettiest, but it is completely legible with pen and paper. With this stylus, it becomes almost unreadable. Just like a mushy Magic Marker, you can’t predict where the lines will fall. You wind up with stray marks and marks that don’t line up correctly. Not surprisingly, WritePad can’t really do anything with the resulting characters. I wish I could say that I just need more practice, but I’ve used styli for years. I had a sinking feeling as soon as I saw the tip of the Pogo Sketch, and my fears were confirmed when I actually used it.

 

So you can’t always get what you want. I’m still looking for the optimal combination. WritePad will be fine with the correct stylus, but it would be better if integrated throughout the OS. Pogo Sketch just doesn’t get the job done, so I’m still looking. *sigh* The iPad has such possibilities. Get with the program, Apple.

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After I finally convinced myself that I wanted an iPad, I vaguely expected that I would use it primarily as a larger form factor of my older, smaller handheld devices. I figured I would download a lot of the classics and enjoy them on a more book-sized screen. I’ve been playing with my iPad for just under a week now, and I’ve already noticed several changes in my reading – or perhaps more accurately – book acquisition habits.

 

First, and perhaps most significantly, I finally bought an e-book. Heretofore all of my e-book reading has been of out-of-copyright material that I could find on any of a number of e-book websites. However, I finally purchased one with the advent of the iPad. Actually I decided to make the purchase in the week leading up to product delivery, and I settled on Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic.

 

(Here’s an interesting tidbit about this one. I’ve been wanting to read the Discworld series for quite awhile, but every time I check in a bookstore, they never have the first novel. Well of course I could just order it, but who wants to wait? Instead I usually just pick something else. So I went to purchase this title through iBooks, and I was surprised that it wasn’t there. Well that certainly threw a wrench in my gears, so I went for another series only to find that it wasn’t there either. I came back to Terry Prachett the next day, and I found that the book really was there: It was listed as The Color of Magic instead of The Colour of Magic. Interesting little “gotcha” there.

 

Next, I’ve been poking around a bit in an area that I haven’t visited in a long, long, time: comic books. Both Marvel and DC have very nice apps, and the iPad is a great platform for viewing comics. The rich, vivid colors and crisp screen make even old comics seem fresh and vibrant. (And of course a good story is always a good story.) So far I’ve just read a few free comics. I haven’t actually bought any comics yet, and I may not in the future. But that’s not the point. I walk past comic books all the time and never pick one up or give it more than a passing glance. Because of the iPad though, I’ve read a couple of titles in a genre I haven’t explored in years.

 

When I was in the airport yesterday heading for ALA, I walked past the bookstore. Walked past it. Didn’t stop. That’s unusual for me. I actually buy quite a number of books from airport bookstores during waits and layovers. At the very least I spend a lot of time browsing. This time I did neither. I just walked on by with the knowledge that I can grab a lot of titles over the air whenever I like. I’ve done this for out-of-copyright books for years, but now that I’ve made the leap into more recent titles, the world – as they say – is my oyster.

 

Finally, I have to say something about iBooks. I’ve read books on PDAs and smartphones for years. The screen is small, but it works, and I’ve read hundreds of books this way. iBooks is changing that though – not by completely replacing the handheld – but by enhancing it. iBooks provides the option for syncing bookmarks, highlighting, and notes between the book on my iPad and the iBooks application on my phone. In the short term, this has meant that when I wrap up a reading session on the iPad, I can pick up in exactly the same place in my book even if I don’t have the iPad with me.

 

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the iPad over the next couple of months. These are pretty minor changes admittedly, but I’m still at less than a week on the platform. I wonder what the future will bring?