iBeau Speaks Of The iPad

A column article, Busted Knuckles by: Beau Smith

For our recent anniversary, Beth got me an iPad. As most of you regular "Knuckleheads" know, I'm a voracious reader. I still manage to read one to two books a week. This is an addiction that was passed down to me through my mom, she too was always reading. I like to be surrounded by books as Beth can testify, perhaps too many she'll add.

My personal library boasts about 10,000 hardcovers. That's not counting comic books and comic book trade paperbacks. Yes, I'm a book store's (new or used) best friend. Needless to say, when Amazon's Kindle and the other various e-book readers came out, I was interested. I waited and researched as much as I could to see if this was going to be water I wanted to wade in. I know I bugged the crap out of my friends Ted Adams and Chris Ryall at IDW Publishing and artist Serigo Cariello with my questions. They are all gadgets guys as well as heavy readers, and are first to pick up new devices that come out of the tech tube. DC co-honcho and artist, Jim Lee is probably the king gadget freak. As long as I've known Jim, he has always jumped into the deep end of the tech pool as soon as it was open. I would've bugged Jim with my questions, but he's a little hard to get a hold of these days. He lives on Twitter. Instead for my iPad info I talked to fellow comic book creators, Jimmy Palmiotti and Brandon Peterson. Brandon was really helpful and cleared a lot of my questions up. The boy knows his tech.

I was interested in the iPad as a book reader. I liked the idea and I liked the looks. The larger screen (9.7 inches) and color were huge draws for me. I've hauled around my laptop for years, from the early concrete block versions to my current, fairly light Apple G4. I also liked what I read about the battery life of the iPad. I was not disappointed.

The iPad is better than I dreamed and does so much more. Yeah, it costs more than the Kindle and its other e-book companions, but they don't really do all the extra stuff that the iPad does. For me, it's well worth the extra money to get one. If you travel a lot, the iPad really pays off. I've been waiting for something like this going back to the 1980s when I would get on a plane with a few magazines, a book, a Sony Walkman (cassette version) as well as all my work stuff. The 1.5 pound iPad is a breeze compared to my old traveling gypsy packed briefcase. Unless you have some seriously heavy work with spreadsheets, word processing and such, then leave the laptop at home and get with the iPad.

I usually found that I got little comic book writing done on the convention trail anyway because as you all know, conventions are chaos and any downtime you get you either wanna sober up or sleep. The iPad does most everything my iPhone does, except for being a phone and taking pictures. It was easy to operate and the bigger, brighter screen makes my eyes thank me over and over. I like being able to see and send my email on the iPad as opposed to my iPhone. Doing it on the smaller phone is good when that's the only device you're hauling around, but the iPad, like Rhona Mitra, sure makes it easier on the eyes.

Everyone will get Apps (Applications) that best fit what they need and like to do. I'm not a game player, so that part of what an iPad can do doesn't interest me. Reading books was my first order and the iPad makes it a real pleasure. The selection from the iBooks store is good and will get better and better as the weeks go by. I picked up the Apple PAGES App to do some minor word processing if I need to. I'll tell you what, here's a list of the Apps I've downloaded so far:

  • iBooks. I love it. I like having my own bookstore and personal library with me at all times.
  • Indiebound. A wonderful bookstore and book hunting app that I use a lot.
  • Pandora. Online radio that caters to what I like and not the crap I don't.
  • Sports Tap. A great sports app that gives me scores, news and updates on all sports and customized to what I like. Best of all, No Jim Rome talking to me.
  • WeatherBug. I'm a weather freak. I'm outside a lot and this keeps me from getting my hair wet. Great app and I check it all the time.
  • What's On?. It's my own TV Guide, and, again, is customized to what I wanna know.
  • Book Search. The name pretty much says it all. Another app so I can hunt down books I wanna find and find out about news ones I may wanna read.
  • Comics. Yeah, I had to have a comic book reader. That was a must. Comics look great on the iPad. Granted, I don't download a lot, but when I travel, I grab a few to read as a treat like cake after a steak dinner. A lot of the comics are priced at $1.99 which also keeps me from downloading a lot. I think .99 cents is the right price. I don't see me reading my regular monthly comics here, but to try a new book out it's perfect.
  • Public Radio. I can pick up a lot of really good college stations here. Book reviews and interviews with interesting people. I pass on most of the biased news stuff.
  • WebMD. I'm into health. This makes me feel smart. I also like to figure out what makes me better looking than my brothers.
  • Pages. As mentioned before, it's word processing lite and it does have lots of cool, creative stuff that I use.
  • AP (Associated Press) News quick and easy.
  • USA Today. News and a very well displayed app made just for the iPad.
  • Wall Street Journal. News I care about and more. Great display.
  • Twitterific. My Twitter page so I can keep up with the horrible and crude things Jimmy Palmiotti, Chris Ryall and Terry Moore post.
  • Digits. An amazing calculator that I use every day. Remember, you're talking to the guy that flunked math grades 7 through 11.
  • IMDB. (Internet Movie DataBase) I love this on my desktop and I love it on my iPad. As a film and TV buff, I could spend days looking up stuff.
  • Notepad Pro. What a great App! I can type notes, draw notes record audio and send it all in emails plus so much more. I really like this app.
  • iBookshelf. An incredible app that was made just for me (at least I like to think so. It's all about me as my mom used to always say.) With this app I can look up books, inventory my personal library, input my book want list and so much more. The entry system is hooked into the isbn database. It's like having a spotter and a scope on a sniper rifle. Nothing escapes me. When in book stores I just haul my iPad out and I have access to everything to not only help me spend money….but spend it wisely. The organization factor is huge for a clutter monkey like myself. I need as much order as I can get. I highly recommend this app.

In case you were wondering, as I did, I thought the touch screen keyboard might be a typing problem, after all, it's close to being the size of my wireless keyboard, but not quite. Well, I found the touch screen keyboard to be surprisingly good. Especially when I fold back my Apple iPad case to the typing slant. I have had no problems at all. The auto spelling correction system also takes care of my typos when I type really fast. Like I said, it was made for me. Now I can't promise that if you have hands the size of Chuck Dixon's Wookie paws, that it'll be a walk in the park, but if you have delicate, small school girl hands like Billy Tucci, then you'll have it made.

Please know that I'm not stoked just because it's something new. I did my research and found that the iPad is really geared towards the way I entertain myself and the way I work. Back in the day, I was a huge fan and user of the Apple Newton Message Pad. I used mine for many years, in fact, long after they quit making them. It was great for my contacts, for scribbling and for keeping my book lists. I used to dream about being able to read books on a device like that. Now, many years later, I can. By the way, my Message Pad still works like the day I bought it.

This being an opinion column - my opinion - I know that I'm prone to lean my way and my way of thinking. (Remember, it's all about me.) That being a fact, I know that I didn't give you all the nuts and bolts about the iPad, so I'm giving you a couple of review links that may help fill in the gaps.


I hope this helps in your own personal quest to see if the iPad is for you or not. As a reader, I love it. It won't take the place of comics, but it's a great steering wheel that will take non-traditional readers to the world of comics. Don't believe those people that tell you it's going to kill print comics and close down direct market comic stores, it's not. Look back in history, when television came out there were those that thought it would kill the movies. They were wrong too. Let me know how your quest goes.




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