What I learned on Day 1 with my iPad 3G

I didn’t use 3G on day 1. Didn’t even sign up. I was home with my wi-fi and 3G didn’t cross my mind. I was planning to use the $15/month, 256 mb plan. So I actually turned on 3G on day 2. Easy and no obligation except to prepay $15.

My iPad arrived at 1:42 pm. I was waiting in anticipation near the door. I heard a truck and ran up 3 flights of stairs to see if it was UPS. False alarm. A few minutes later Spinner, my dog, barked excitedly as the man in brown arrived. I was thrilled to have my brand new iPad in hand on a Friday at 1:42 with lots of time left in the day to explore.

I didn’t sync right away. I chose the fresh blank iPad option in iTunes which immediately left me free to try out the standard apps. I quickly opened and sampled a few standard apps then rushed to the App store. I had almost a month to think about and read about apps while waiting for my 3G after all. My first two apps were Twittelator for iPad for $1.99 and Instapaper Pro for $4.99. I wanted to be on twitter looking for iPad info as it was reported by citizen journalists on twitter.

Instapaper is great if you like to save links for later perusal – I do. Second thing about Instapaper, it has excellent font controls and even lets you darken or brighten right within the app so you can read in bed or read in a fairly dark room while watching TV and see just fine without straining your eyes. It also allows sizing the type and setting the margins. It’s fabulous, a must-have for news junkies of any stripe.

In order to read things in Instapaper, though, you need to have something there. I did but I wanted all the hottest current iPad information coming out on iPad 3G release day. I fashioned a search string like so: “iPad -win -free -contest -gangstaz” to get as much iPad news / comments as possible while filtering out a lot of the spam.

Twittelator for iPad was a surprisingly good compliment to Instapaper. Stone Design put a lot more effort into making the UI attractive and enjoyable than they have on the iPhone version. The landscape view is delightful with your friend stream in one column and another column of your choice beside it. The right column accommodated my iPad Search string, my iPad Enthusiasts list or the Tech & Science/Apple channel. I alternated between columns switching back and forth to check the latest tweets in each. Much fun for any healthy iPad fanatic on iPad 3G day!

Holding the iPad can be a conundrum. Sideways or portrait, tilted or flat? I found it no problem on day 1 but I did keep moving it and holding it differently from one period (say 15 minutes) to the next. Resting it on something is your best bet so if you have your knees up on the couch, you are set. You may want to rest the iPad on something like a thin pillow or folded towel in bed so it doesn’t dig into your stomach after a while.

The iPad New York Times Editor’s Choice is another promising app and worked perfectly on day 1. In subsequent days, I’ve become less satisfied as it isn’t the whole NY Times so it’s only good when the article you want is in there.

I was struck by how much you can do with an iPad. I liked Newsy with all its high quality video clips. But since the novelty wore off a day or two later, I’m not all that excited about it as it serves up the news a couple days late. That’s not so bad if you haven’t been in touch with big stories and want to catch up but otherwise it is slim pickings.

On day one I was elated. I tweeted that I felt stoned and I don’t do that sort of thing any more but did at one time and the feeling was similar. It’s kind of that being in love feeling turned towards a stellar and game changing new gadget. Also, I predicted the iPad might be like a Linus blanket. You never want to be without it.

Finally around 7:30 pm I decided I needed my photos on my iPad. That led me to sync to my Mac’s 3000-image iPhoto library. Too bad as that stole at least 45 minutes of my wonderful first iPad day. I love the photos on iPad and wished mightily I could organize them right there and then. Please hurry up on that upgrade, Apple!

Next up was finding a mind mapping app for iPad since I was already using a mind mapping tool, SimpleMind, on my iPhone. I did a bunch of research on my iPad with Google in Safari and discovered that one iPhone app maker decided on January 27 to go for it and do an iPad version of his mind mapping app. That app is iThoughtsHD and it is compatible with Mindjet MindManager on Mac so I sprung for the $7.99. I am so very pleased about being able to move all my mind maps from my Mac to my iPad as well as being able to move new mind maps created on iPad to my Mac. The map appearance is not up to Mindjet, but it is quite full-featured.

Next project was to get some Kindle and iBooks going. I downloaded the Kindle app and pretty soon was totally set with my Kindle library. Fantastic!!! Then I went over to iBooks and uh, nothing. I could see from looking at Winnie that I needed to get more ebooks quick. I had heard on twitter that people were putting PDFs in there using the GoodReader app which is an absolutely awesome app for $1 and does a lot for you.

So I downloaded a fresh copy of Calibre and worked on getting a user manual in there. Calibre will take a PDF and turn it into an ePub book for you. Sometimes this is pretty and sometimes not. You can select the Books icon in iTunes and then drag ePub ebooks into iTunes. Then sync. It works.

I researched a bit and found that I was entitled to download some ePub versions of my Take Control ebooks. Yay! I found the Take Control ebooks waaay better than reading PDFs on my Macbook screen. Wonderful and I can even bookmark stuff which I did a lot of and got yellow highlights for my trouble.

With the exception of that long iTunes sync, I explored, experimented, expanded and otherwise played incessantly with my amazing new tool/toy until midnight. What a great day!

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