Monday, January 17, 2011

iPad for Writers: Second First Impressions

So, I've had the iPad long enough to develop a more meaningful impression of how useful it is to me as a writer.

What do I use the iPad for?
  • reading fiction
  • writing fiction
  • writing my journal
  • casual gaming
  • occasional listening to a computer-read recording of whatever fiction I happen to be working on
The Kindle reader on the iPad is nice, and I used it frequently until I got the actual Kindle hardware. As a physical reader, the iPad comes in second to the Kindle for me. This is true because it isn't as easily hand-holdable as the Kindle. It is both wider and much heavier (though not heavy).

I'll have more to say about the Kindle soon.

Editing on the iPad is clumsy. Even with the keyboard, there are many times you need to stop and touch the screen. Cut and paste is clumsy enough that I avoid it whenever possible, instead waiting 'til I've gotten any writing onto my Macbook.

Like I said in my first iPad impressions post, I bought Apple's word processor, called Pages but don't use it much. Instead, I mostly use Evernote for simple text entry. Even when I'm working on the book, I simply use the iPad for data entry, then transfer the work to Scrivener on the Mac or Word on the PC.

Evernote is incredibly handy for its ability to automatically sync among multiple machines, including Android phones and iPhones. It's also free.

I was, however, wrong about Pages' inability to easily scroll through a long document. There's an oddly implemented feature that allows you, as you get near the right gutter, to drag your way quickly around a book-length document.

For heavy text entry, I bought a wireless keyboard and a neoprene case to contain both it and the iPad. The case is a generic zippered thing and very useful.

When I've got no heavy typing in mind, I don't bother to take the keyboard out. But for serious writing, I have to resort to the keyboard.

At approximately $80 US, the keyboard was a good purchase. It's tiny and surprisingly pleasant to use.

One very annoying bug is the fact that it has no 'off' switch and has many times brought my iPad to life in the case when one of its keys gets accidentally pressed. There are three ways to avoid this possibility, all of which stink. You can turn the Blu Tooth off on the iPad, rendering it deaf to the keyboard. You can turn the iPad, itself, entirely off, ruining one of the great benefits of having an iPad . . . its instant-on capability.  Third, and worst, you can remove the batteries from the keyboard.

In the end, the iPad is a very flawed but still useful device for me. It's multi-purpose abilities and terrific battery life make it handy in ways no other computer can claim yet.

Now, if they'll just port a decent version of Scrivener to the thing.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks and much appreciation for this review. I googled "ipad benefits to writers." I wanted to know if it is indeed worth my investment. As a new convert to Mac over PC, I was rather enthusiastic as most when the ipad hit the market. However, bibliopphile that I am, I am a proud owner of a Kindle 2 (which for me out ranks its upgrade Kindle 3 in every area but speed & hard drive space). I knew as an eReader, the ipad would be lacking compared to the Kindle.
But I wanted to know if there were any major bells and whistles on the ipad that would make my writing life easier.

This review was has helped me keep some hard to part with dollars in my pocket. I think I will hold onto them and wait until I can purchase the much coveted mac book pro. Ah, to sleep perchance to dream.

Besides, by the time I purchase all of the iPad accessories needed to make it as user friendly and as protected as possible, I will pretty much be in the mac book pro family in terms of price.

Thanks again. Loved the review. Now I am going in search of your Kindle opinion. I seem to be in the minority in thinking that the design of the kindle 2 is actually superior to the kindle 3. My version feels much more ergonomically correct in terms of holding it comfortably. Would love to know what you think.

Ms. Poet

Trevor Hambric said...

Thanks, Ms. Poet. I'm glad it was helpful. I don't have any experience with the Kindle 2, but I'll do some kind of more thorough review of the 3 after I've gotten to use it a bit more.