JaDu Skadoosh iPad Stand Review

i was one of the first to receive the Skadoosh iPad Stand, and i would summarize my experience with the stand in that it is exactly what you’d want in an iPad stand. It’s a bit costly at $60, but I can definitely say it is extremely well-designed and well-built.

Design

As seen on the official site, the Skadoosh Stand is a sleek block of silver and black, consistent with the stylish design of the iPad.  It has a fold-out strip which gives the stand extra stability, without adding to the size of the unit.  It comes with a cloth bag for carrying around.  When in its most compact form, it is just barely larger than the size of a typical desktop mouse.  The one disappointment is that it arrived in the cloth bag, and not in any formal packaging  of any type (other than the shipment USPS flat rate box).  This might improve as it is still hot off the presses.

Cloth Bag Holding Stand

Size Relative to iPad

There are pass-through slots for the cable to be plugged in even when in portrait orientation, and there is also an opening for the home button.  The speaker grills are also open to the air.  The only name placement is humbly placed on the back of the stand, in a nearly invisible logo (white on silver).

Pass-Through Access for Cable

The bottom of the iPad fits into a cradle by simply placing it in.  There aren’t any rough surfaces to damage the iPad.

Close-up view of the snug fit into the stand

Lastly, here is a picture to show how tall it is relative to the thickness of the iPad.

Height Relative to iPad Thickness

Adjustable Angle Done Right

The back support (in the form of a crossbar with rubber bumpers) of the stand is adjustable, at (i counted) 7 heights, ranging from roughly 20 degrees to approx 85 degrees (nearly vertical).  The stand adjusts by a locking mechanism that clicks into position at various points as you tilt the back support crossbar forward.  Once clicked in at its various points, there is almost no backwards give (beyond the most recently “activated” click/lock), and the iPad is sturdily in place.  It comfortably fits the iPad in portrait or landscape orientation, and again, unless you are applying significant force, there is very little backwards give.  With any normal pressure involved in typing, touching the screen, and browsing, there will be no instability or wobbling.

Most Flat Orientation

Middle Angle (of 7 or so)

Most Vertical Angle

Since the back support bar only moves forward easily, when you need to push it back to stow it away or tilt the iPad back, you can press a button on the front of the stand to allow the back support bar to be pushed back beyond any locked position.   It did take a few minutes to get accustomed to the button, because after pressing the button, you have to pull the back support bar slightly forward before you can push it back.  However, this was only a miniscule issue that was quickly resolved as I became familiar with it.  Even with the iPad on the stand, the angle can be adjusted easily.

Silver Button to Release Angle Lock. (Also note that home button is accessible)

Typing

Someone asked me to comment on the typing experience.  When in the most flat angle (about 25 degrees), the typing experience is very well done.  Because of the slight angle, typing accuracy is improved over lying it flat or even at a small incline.  I would parallel it to using the Apple iPad case or Yoobao case when propped up.  The bottom is low enough to the table that you can comfortably rest your wrists on the desk.  Also, the stand is just narrow enough to not impede your hands when typing with two hands as you would on a keyboard.  However, when at the higher, more vertical angles, two-handed typing becomes awkward, but only because of the angle (and not because of any flaw in the design of the stand).  At these heights, I would type with one or two fingers instead, and as mentioned earlier, there is barely any backwards give when applying your finger to the screen.

A landscape view

Does it Work With My iPad Case/Shell/Film?

I always am concerned about compatibility of iPad accessories with the vast array of cases and films that people use to protect their iPads.  I can say that the Skadoosh iPad Stand will easily fit MOST cases that don’t significantly increase the width of the iPad.  This means that it definitely will fit ANY film, or thin shell that you place on the iPad.  According to their website, it will accommodate any case that adds less than 3mm (1/8 inch) to the thickness of the iPad.  For even more fine tune support, they have the back support crossbar on an off-axis, so that by rotating the bar around its axis, you can just slightly modify the point at which the crossbar makes contact with the iPad.

Adjustable Bar is Off-Axis to Allow Further Adjustment

It did not fit my Yoobao folio case, but the Yoobao case is fairly thick.  The website shows it holding an iPad with the official Apple iPad case, and I have no reason to doubt that claim.

Conclusion

The JaDu Skadoosh iPad Stand is well-designed, and has just about every feature that you’d expect or look for in an iPad Stand.  However, at $60, it costs quite a lot of money.  The biggest issue I’ve had is not with the stand itself, but rather with finding enough uses for ANY stand to justify that price.  However, if you are looking for the best iPad stand on the market at any cost, I can confidently say that your search is over.
Pros:
  • Very stable
  • Fairly compact/portable
  • Adjustable angle done right
  • Supports films and thin cases
  • Allows cable to pass-through
  • Does not cover speakers or home button
  • Support both portrait and landscape
Cons:
  • Expensive cost for an iPad Stand ($60)
  • No retail packaging as of yet

A Whoa Moment

quick, spontaneous post here.  but i was browsing the web and came across some excellent videos that display 10 minute lectures from brilliant minds, and animate them in such a way that they capture your interest and better understand what is being said.  I’ve linked to one that I found quite interesting. (even if you don’t find this interesting, continue reading because i wasn’t just trying to share an interesting video)

but anyways, i was thinking that this is incredibly clever and would serve a great purpose in the Christian world, as well.  How awesome would it be to see something like this done for a Christian speaker?  After marveling at the thought for a few minutes, i quickly moved on because I have no art skills whatsoever, and i was overwhelmed by the amount of skill and planning it would require.  (I was also not completely sure i understood how they did everything).  Anyways, no more than 10 minutes later, I came across this ad for John Piper’s upcoming Desiring God conference.  It uses a very similar style and adds different elements to it (which in my opinion, improve AND detract from the effectiveness of the style).  awesome!  my idea had come alive in like 5 minutes.  but yeah, just thought i’d share it with you.

oh, and here’s another link to an interesting talk similar to the first post.  it’s on how money is surprisingly not very effective at motivating people, and that people are in fact motivated by different things.  very thought-provoking.

iPad Review

So here it is, my obligatory iPad review (which I think every ipad owner makes). I feel like I have a pretty unbiased opinion (I’m a Windows guy), but I guess I will reveal my disclosures: I do want the iPad and Apple to do well. But only if it’s deserving of success. Oh, and I’ll spare everyone the details and break it down to general topics, and then address a smorgasbord of random specific thoughts. If you want a super-thorough review, then look elsewhere. So let’s begin, shall we?

General Thoughts: The Tablet Is the Future!

As I wrote in my last post, I continue to believe that the iPad will usher in the era of tablet computing, and I am convinced more now than ever. Before, tablets were clunky and only popular in niche markets because they ran operating systems that were optimized for desktop pc’s and keyboard/mouse interaction. By starting with an OS that was designed for touch interaction in the iPhone, the iPad proudly demonstrates the unique benefits that such a tablet can provide:

  1. Web Browsing – ask Michael Chung or Steven Hong: my first few hours with the iPad were unremarkable. But that completely changed when I started browsing the web later that night. When you browse the web on your computer, you primarily are using your mouse to point and click on different objects spread out on the screen. There’s not a whole lot of typing. Now imagine you can do that with your finger, AND the ability to zoom in/out with the pinch of a finger.  The iPhone browser was just a glimpse of this, because even though it was possible to browse “full” websites on the phone, it was inconvenient on such a small screen and had slow rendering times. Browsing the web on the iPad is FAST and intuitive.
  2. Media Consumption (Video, Books, Music, Photos) – this is also where the ipad shines. With netflix and the ABC TV Show app, you can stream full-screen videos instantly! You can carry around hundreds of books in something thinner than one hardcover book. Found out your friend’s going to be a little late? Watch an episode of Modern Family, or read the most recent book that your pastor suggested (you can even buy it right then!). Just like smart phones transformed your times in the bathroom or waiting in lines or long walks in the parking lot, the iPad shines in other times you never realized you had: killing time at your friends’ house, waiting in your car, running at the gym, lying in your bed, etc.
  3. Form-Factor – every time I look at the iPad and hold it in my hands, I am reminded of how unique of a form-factor it is. Often overlooked in the iPhone’s success is how it overcame the dilemma that plagued mobile phones for years: how do you have a sleek size, large screen, and a qwerty keyboard? Before the iphone’s touchscreen, you could only have two of those at a time. With the iPad, you are able to have the full screen ratio, keyboard and thin profile that netbooks and previous bulky tablets could not provide. At just over a pound, it’s portable, and its thinness makes it fit anywhere a legal pad would.
  4. Instant-On: with no bootup time, knowing that the web, my email, and my apps are only a finger swipe away is a beautiful thing.
  5. Battery Life: Unlike using a laptop or netbook, I don’t have to worry about plugging in on the go. With the 3.5 hours of battery life that my laptop has, I always try to plug in so that I can feel comfortable keeping my screen bright AND having enough power for later.  The iPad can go 10 hours on active usage, and can be kept on standby for DAYS! I don’t even carry around a charger for my iPad.  (Well, i do carry around that cable that connects the iPhone/iPad to any computer’s USB port just in case, but it’s so small)

But iPads Might NOT Be (The Future)

The reality is that the iPad has many limitations (which I will detail soon), and other companies aren’t going to sit around and skeptically wait-and-see like they did with the iPhone. The current players in the smart phone market will take their battle to the tablets soon. Android tablets have been announced, and HP recently bought Palm and will design tablets running Palm’s WebOS. I would assume that the competition will hit the market between 6 months and a year.

But before I go into the iPad’s limitations, it’s important to remember that this is a first generation product, and is first of its kind. The iPhone did not even have an app store and any third party apps until it’s second year of life. The first two or three generations of iPods did not play videos, could not create any on-the-go playlists, podcasts didn’t even exist, and they had black and white screens. While it might be easy to criticize the current iPad and talk about all the potential features that it’s competitors can theoretically bring, the reality is there is absolutely no competition right now and when the competition finally hits, the iPad will at least have it’s first software update (slated for the fall) and could possibly even have new hardware.

Specific Positive Thoughts on the iPad:

  1. Speed – this sucker’s fast! Whether it’s web browsing, switching between apps, or anything else, everything flies! My only fear is that future updates and feature enhancements might bog it down.
  2. Silent – in the bathroom, you can always tell who uses a blackberry because you can hear them pressing keys. In the church, you can hear who is using a laptop because you can hear them pounding away. The iPhone/iPad users are silent ninjas.
  3. Screen – the screen is absolutely beautiful. At even the widest angles, the screen remains crisp and visible. Vivid colors.
  4. Keyboard – the keyboard works surprisingly well. In landscape orientation, I can type essentially as fast as I can on a normal keyboard. On the flip side, the big difference is in error correction (see post below).
  5. Screen Real Estate – this is the term that refers to the amount of stuff you can fit on a screen. This is the reason why calling the ipad a bigger ipod touch is not true. No matter how close you hold your phone to your face, the reality is it can only display so much information. The bigger screen on the iPad allows web browsing to seem natural, and many of the apps (like calendar and many third party apps) have been redesigned to fit much more on one page. One simple example is a crossword puzzle app. Instead of having to zoom in to the proper portion of the puzzle and only being able to see one clue at a time, you can see the whole puzzle and all the clues. It makes a big difference, no?

Specific Negative Thoughts On the iPad:

  1. Typing Error Correction: i can type just as quickly on an iPad as I can on a keyboard, but I’m still much slower overall.  Why? Because when a person naturally types, they constantly make mistakes and want to make edits here and there.  On a desktop, you can use your cursor or use the arrow keys to quickly go to the necessary spot. On the iPad, you have your fat finger and no arrow keys, so you have to use that magnifying glass thing. It definitely slows you down.
  2. No multitasking: the iPad really suffers from this, and this is a potential dealbreaker. Want to chat and browse the web at the same time? Not possible (or at least easily possible – you can use tabs in a browser app). Thankfully, this is slated to arrive in the form of a software update in the fall, and I’ll be counting the days.
  3. No Flash Support: while I actually agree with apple ideologically in not including flash support (Flash is incredibly buggy and poorly designed, and unless a big name stood up to it, there would be no change in the market), the reality is that many websites still run Flash, and it’s a shame to not be able to browse them on the iPad. (this includes Hulu, Ninjavideo, etc)
  4. Mis-apps (get it? A pun!): many apps are not fully utilizing the unique strengths of the iPad, and instead are just making bigger iphone apps with better graphics. Apps that I would love to have are a solid textbook app (imagine replacing all your textbooks with your iPad, and they’d be searchable too!) and Hulu.  Better apps should come with time as the market evolves.
  5. Multiple Tab Browsing: I actually made a big stink about this when the ipad was first announced. The good news is it actually is available in a simple option (an app called AtomicBrowser), and it works really well, but I just wish it was included in the default Apple Safari browser. To clarify, Safari offers multiple windows (in the same way that the iPhone does), but when you switch between them, it sometimes refreshes the page, defeating the purpose of using multiple windows.
  6. 3G is SLOW: This is not Apple or AT&T’s fault.  On smartphones, the bottleneck in speed of web browsing is the browser because it has to present a normal-sized webpage on a tiny screen.  On the iPad, the bottleneck is with the speed of the connection because web browsing on WiFi is lightning fast, but it lags a LOT on 3G.
  7. No Easy Printing: there is no easy way to print from the ipad, but the good news is that Steve Jobs has confirmed that it’s on the way.
  8. Poorly-executed Video Output: The iPad has the ability to output using a VGA converter cable, but the downside is that it does not simply output what’s shown on the ipad’s screen. Rather, it only outputs what an app is specifically programmed to output. This is fine when using apps that are designed for this (such as Keynote, which is a PowerPoint equivalent), but does not work for Netflix or ABC’s video player.
  9. Self-Consciousness: there are many times where i find myself wanting to whip out my iPad, but i don’t do it because i don’t want to be that guy with the iPad.  Examples would be when i was in line waiting for Iron Man 2, or when I go running on the treadmill at the gym.  This is totally just my self-consciousness, but it’s still real (at least to me).
  10. Closed Nature: this one can potentially be the iPad’s downfall, since it represents the philosophy that Apple has employed. By closed nature, I am referring to two things: 1) you can only install apps using the official app store (giving Apple 30% of every purchase), 2) apps can only control things within its own program. To clarify this second thought, you can’t change things such as the sound a text message makes (outside of the few options they provide), or you can’t have anything that takes advantage of all the open space on the lock screen (such as display your calendar, new emails, or missed calls).

Conclusion/Summary

Let’s start with the big questions people ask me are:

  • What do you use it for?
  • Personally, I use it to take sermon notes at church. I use it to have easy access to the “real” internet and my apps at my fingertips (whether in my car, at church, at a friend’s house, or at work, theoretically). I will definitely use it as an ebook reader the next book I buy (which I think will be The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love), and I have full confidence that it will function excellently in this way. I plan to use it as a laptop replacement in most circumstances (see next point).
  • But does it replace a laptop?
  • I think it does, in approx 80% of my usage. Web browsing is no problem.  Neither is chatting, media consumption, light document creation (if necessary, you can also use any bluetooth keyboard), PowerPoint and Excel document modification.  It currently has two potential dealbreakers in its current form that limit its ability to replace a laptop’s everyday usage: no multitasking (but this will be fixed in the fall via software update), and no flash support (which severely affects tv show viewing. ABC shows are currently compatible, CBS shows will be available soon, but hulu has not announced support yet). Other than this, it can replace any eBook, netbook, and most laptop functions except for heavy video/photo/music editing and heavy document creation.

To sum it up, the ipad is a magical device ushering in the future of tablet computing, with lots of potential, but quite a few blemishes too. It shines brilliantly when it comes to web browsing and media consumption. Its light-weight design, sleek profile, long battery life, and instant-on nature make it a unique and innovative device. However, it still has a ways to go before it becomes a must-have device.  Thankfully, significant upgrades are on the way (software update in the fall will bring multitasking), and the sky is the limit with apps. With over one million iPads sold in under a month, it has shown that it won’t be an immediate bust. However, stiff competition will be coming and Apple will need to continue to upgrade and evolve the iPad in order to stay ahead.

I wish the iPad was slightly more refined and fully-featured in it’s first iteration, but I fully expect it to improve along the way with software updates.  As a consumer, i think it’s best to wait until then for Apple to iron out its kinks and to check out the competition.  But for an early-adopter or Apple fan with deep pockets, i think it’s fairly safe to jump in now as most of the future upgrades will be available via software updates.

PS: (on a side note, I predict that the fall will bring more of a distinction between the iPad and iPhone OS. The iPad currently runs a modified iPhone OS, but my prediction is that it will eventually run it’s own iPad OS that fully caters to its own strengths and weaknesses)

My iPad 3G: a Preview and Defense

So tomorrow, i will be giddily waiting in my living room all day for the Fedex man to drop off my new iPad 3G.  (my doorbell can only be heard from my living room).  I’ve already had several extended conversations with contrarians, and wanted to clarify my thoughts and expectations on my iPad, to address some common questions, and to justify why i paid for one.

Introduction

According to wikipedia, an “early-adopter” is:

an “early customer of a given company, product, or technology; in politics, fashion, art, and other fields, this person would be referred to as a trendsetter. … In exchange for being an early adopter, and thus being exposed to the problems, risks, and annoyances common to early-stage product testing and deployment, the customer is given … preferential pricing, terms, and conditions. … Early adoption does come with pitfalls: early versions of products may be buggy and/or prone to malfunction (such as the Commodore 64 or Xbox 360) or prematurely obsolete (8 track tapesBetamaxHD DVD). Furthermore, more efficient, less expensive versions of the product usually appear a few months after the initial release.  The trend of new technology costing more at release is colloquially referred to as the “early adopter tax“.”

I think this term clearly illustrates what I hope to get from my iPad.  I firmly believe that this product has the potential to be “revolutionary,” and will dramatically transform the landscape of personal computing.  Also, given it conveniently being released in the window where I have 6 weeks of complete vacation and where I am celebrating my completion of Medical School, i decided to pay the “early adopter tax.” I clearly believe it’s not the most wise decision from a dollars and sense perspective, but that’s what early adoption is about.  (The $499 WiFi model might be more practical, though)

What’s So Great About Apple? Answer: They’ve Been Revolutionary in the Past

There are two companies that I have faith in: Apple and Pixar (which are strangely both influenced by Steve Jobs).  If there’s any Pixar movie that comes out, I’m excited to watch it, because I know that they have a proven track record of producing great quality products.  Some have been better than others, but there has not been a dud that Pixar has produced.  Until I see a disappointing Pixar film, I have no reason to suspect that a Pixar movie will not be good.

This is how I feel about Apple, especially when it comes to their top-tier products (Macs, iPod, iPhone).  They have each single-handedly drastically revolutionized their respective industries.  People are quick to forget that the mp3 player market was revolutionized and exponentially increased by the iPod.  Prior to the iPod and its click-wheel, other companies (Creative and Sony) were floundering around with minidiscs (which would record mp3’s to minidiscs at about 6x the speed of playing back a song), mp3-playing Discman, and clunky mp3 players (the Creative Nomad).  When the iPod clickwheel came out, it made mp3’s more accessible to the everyday consumer and came with a user-interface that was capable of even exploring huge music collections.

Same with the iPhone.  Until it came around, the smartphone market was reserved solely for businessmen (with Blackberries) and for tech-savvy folks (who were willing to put up with the clunky PDA-type Palm Treo’s).  Any effort on appealing to the mass markets (eg the Motorola Q) were awkward and ultimately unsuccessful.  The only touchscreen phone was the Palm Treo (which had a small screen and huge size).  The iPhone took the smart phone market and made it accessible and cool to the masses.  It was only until about Spring of 2009 where there was decent competition (with the Palm Pre and the second generation Android phones), which was nearly 2 years after the iPhone came to market.

Now with the iPad.  Currently, there is no mass-market tablet device, yet most people look forward to touch-screen interaction as the future (think about how people still ooh and aah about the interface that Tom Cruise used in Minority report, or pretty much in ANY futuristic movie).  There are several tablet devices such as the Thinkpad X Series that require styluses which have gained traction among artists and tech-fans, but they have not taken off.  If you look around the tech landscape, there are no sure-fire, realistic threats or competitors to the iPad that are coming to market soon.  People talk about the HP Slate and the Microsoft Courier with hopeful eyes, but both look to disappoint.  (Early hands-on reviews of the HP Slate were disappointing, and the Microsoft Courier was revealed to be just a tech demo today).  The reality is that the iPad has the potential to be the first tablet device that creates its own market, just as the iPod and iPhone did for personal audio and smartphone markets.

What Makes the iPad So Special?

Put simply, 3 things make it the ideal portable device:

1) Size: The iPad is to laptops and netbooks what the iPhone was to smartphones.  It’s sleeker, smaller, and lighter than you’d expect.  Weight is a HUGE barrier to portability.  I used to have a 4 lb notebook (Thinkpad z61t), which I did not enjoy taking around every day.  It was doable, but i eventually only carried it around when I knew i would need it for a specific purpose.  Because of its size, I switched to a 3 lb notebook (Thinkpad X301), which is light enough to carry around to most events, but I still take it out of my backpack if I know for sure that I won’t need it.  At 1 pound, the iPad is small enough that it can literally be taken everywhere.  (1lb is the weight of most backpacks)

2) Instant-On: Other than phones, all other personal computing devices require a bootup time, which serves as a barrier to use.  Whether or not the 45 seconds should actually deter you from turning on your laptop, the reality is that it often does.  The iPad, like a phone, is instant-on and will be accessible within seconds!

3) Battery-Life: the battery life of the iPad has been shown to be over 10 hours, even with heavy usage (video, etc).  The battery life of most laptops, even with extended batteries, run about 4-6 hours.  With this fact, battery life should almost never be a reason to not use the iPad.

So wait, then isn’t it just a big iPod Touch?

That is exactly what it is, and that’s why it has so much potential.  Size is one of the biggest barriers to interacting with the iPod touch.  The small size makes the keyboard small.  The small screen limits the amount of information that can be displayed (ie web-browsing on a phone is much worse than web-browsing on a full-size screen).  That’s like saying: “isn’t a Honda Accord just a bigger Mini Cooper”? Yes, they are both cars, but their sizes are optimized for very different things.

Alright, So What’s the Bad News?

Unfortunately, being an early adopter comes with a lot of risks.

1) Is There a Need? – Portable music is a must-have in our society.  Everybody has a phone.  But does everybody need a mid-size portable personal computer? Maybe the iPad will go the way of the Laserdisc, or maybe just become a niche product that only few people use.

2) The next one will be better – Even if the iPad proves to be a big hit, the next generation will obviously have some key upgrades (almost assuredly an integrated webcam).

3) No Peace and Quiet – While some people might like this, i do not look forward to the stares and random questions strangers might have if they see me using the iPad in public.  Sometimes it even might deter me from using it.  I was at the gym using a treadmill thinking about how useful it would be to watch TV shows while i run, but I would feel pretty lame doing it.  And typing out sermon notes at church will be awkward too for the first few weeks.

But yes… I’ll be posting my impressions and possibly a review after I get it.  And don’t worry, I’ll be pretty honest.