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Apple’s iPad Launches New Trends In Media Consumption

Every single review I’ve read about the iPad has been oddly similar. Each one calls it a revolutionary product and most predict that the next generations will far exceed our wildest expectations. With future generations of the product still at least a year away, I thought it would be nice to look at not only what this product does well, but how it has forever changed the way we consume media.

Picking up the iPad for the first time, I was initially surprised at how heavy it was. That line of thinking was quickly put to rest as I turned it on and began flying through the various screens of the product. I couldn’t connect it to my computer fast enough. It was a bare canvas and I wanted to fill it with my music, videos and pictures. The first main drawbacks for the device are the apps designed for the iPod Touch or iPhone. These apps are either used on a tiny screen in the middle of the iPad or stretched to fill the entire screen. I am one person who knows what stretched images look like, and these apps couldn’t look much worse.

Instead of playing with the iPhone native apps, I decided to download some new iPad-ready applications and really give the product a test. As a writer and college student, I am looking for a product than can act as a laptop. With many under the assumption that this product can replace their existing computer, it is important to understand how far from the truth this is. Without iTunes installed on a computer, the iPad will not ever turn on out of the box (similar to the iPhone). That said, this would serve to replace my laptop with a desktop computer continuing to serve my primary computing functions.

My very first reactions of the on-screen keyboard was that it was impossible to type in a QWERTY style without looking down. As I continued to use the product, taking notes about “American Idol” and Tweeting about the nights events I learned that I had judged the keyboard too early. Similar to the original iPhone, Steve Jobs has decided that America should re-learn the way we type. It takes a few minutes to get used to it but after just 30-minutes I was able to type at an iPhone-like speed. It certainly didn’t match the speed of a stand alone keyboard, but it wasn’t that far off.

Without a doubt, the product’s most incredible feature is the dazzling screen. Looking at pictures, viewing video and reading the news all takes place in unimaginable clarity. The best experience I had on the iPad was in surfing the Web. Jobs said in his product announcement that this product would change the way we view the Internet. He was 100% correct. Web sites are not only crystal clear, they are clean and really easy to both see and navigate around. The highlight of my first few minutes with the product was pulling up my own site on the iPad and seeing it in all its brilliance.

All of this is great if we all are sitting on piles of money. Weather you are capable of purchasing an iPad or not, there is a lesson to be learned from both Apple and the iPad. First, we have been taught time and time again that Apple invents these products because other companies don’t have the guts to pull the trigger. Sure there have been some failed products, (Apple TV) but generally speaking, Jobs and company get it right. With that in mind, we must consider what a product like this says about the future and how we as a culture consume media.

With “American Idol” streaming over my television, I had my iPad on my lap. I was able to keep up with my email, take notes about the contestants, Tweet and even look up information online about the songs. Despite the lack of multi-tasking, I still felt very comfortable with the iPad sitting right next to me keeping my digital life together. Of course a computer can do all of this as well. The iPad just does it better and in a more compact way. Having it lying on the cushion next to me was great and unobtrusive.

Is it perfect? No. There is always room for improvement. Until you hold an iPad in your own hands, don’t dare call it an oversized iPhone. It is so much more than that and could change everything we know about consuming media.

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