Cora goes to the mall – and testdrives an iPad

I hadn’t actually planned to go anywhere today, but a friend called me this afternoon. He was feeling restless and wanted to go to the cinema, so we headed for the Waterfront mall which currently houses Bremen’s nicest multiplex cinema.

Waterfront, originally built as an educational amusement complex called Spacepark, has been getting busier in the last year or so and was pretty packed, though most of the customers come for Primark. The Waterfront Primark was the first to open in Germany and still is the only one in North Germany. I don’t quite get the appeal, the clothes are cute but the sizes too small (a common problem with UK chains) and the store is always a mess, because the shoppers literally tear the merchandise apart. But it’s cheap, so it draws a lot of customers, particularly teenagers.

Unfortunately, if you’re not interested in Primark there’s not a lot to see at Waterfront mall. The store selection is very much skewed towards fashion and shoes, even the bookstore is pretty crappy. Not that it mattered much, because today the mailman brought me a shipment of Mills & Boon novels. I’d been meaning to try their new Riva line and I also like the occasional Nocturne and Intrigue. In general, category romances make for good palate cleansers, because they’re short.

The Waterfront mall does have Bremen’s only Apple store, though. We did take the chance to go in and play around with an iPad, first time I’ve actually seen one in person. I don’t go to Waterfront mall that often – the last time I was there was with my Mom and she has zero interest in computer stores.

As for the iPad, I’m not going to buy one any time soon. The portability is nice, but I don’t like touchscreens and the demonstration iPad clearly demonstrated why – it was covered in grubby fingerprints. The thing was also not nearly as intuitive as we’ve been led to believe. It took a few tries to figure out how to get back to the main menu from some program or app. The piano app is nice, but the keys are too small and I don’t exactly have sausage fingers. The touchscreen keyboard is only good for short e-mails, for extended typing it’d drive me mad.

While we were at the Apple store, a bunch of young boys approx. ten to fourteen were trying out iPads and having great fun with it. And I know that many of my students are fascinated by iPads, though no one has one yet. “Why didn’t you buy an iPad instead?”, one of my students asked me recently when I took my laptop to school, “It’s much cooler.”

I think that’s the demographic that iPads are ideal for, teenagers who want to play games, watch videos and surf the web – and maybe read a book or make art, but who don’t type more than the occasional Facebook/SchülerVZ update. Ditto for adults with the same media consumption needs. I suspect that iPads would be great for school use – students could have all their textbooks in one handy place, they could access the internet, play games during the break, use it in art class, etc…

But for me a laptop or netbook is still the better option, because I write and type a lot. If I were to buy a tablet PC – and I wouldn’t buy an iPad but one of the competitors, because I have never been an Apple user – it would be the fourth device after the main desktop PC, laptop (for school and university use) and netbook (for travel). And I really don’t want to spend that much money on a device that I won’t be using regularly. If anything, I’ll probably buy a dedicated e-reader before I buy a tablet PC.

In the end, we didn’t go to the movies after all, because none of us was all that keen on watching True Grit and nothing else appealed at all. We’d initially planned to grab dinner at the Waterfront food court, but the place was packed, lines were long and the only good food option there is the Asian/Sushi place. So we thought, “Oh well, we’ll stop somewhere on the way home.”

Since today was Saturday, i.e. the day when the mundanes go out for dinner, most other places were packed as well. In the end we stopped at Lara’s Diner, an American retro-style diner near the A1 highway. American retro style diners became fashionable in the 1990s for a while. The ones that survived the fad were mostly located near highway exits.

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2 Responses to Cora goes to the mall – and testdrives an iPad

  1. Estara says:

    Yes, if you’re into apps and media consumption the Ipad is nifty. My three-year-old niece can play the apps she already knows from her parents and brothers Iphones and IPod Touches with no problem on the big screen. The sister of my sister-in-law used it to surf Amazon.de to look for some specific bag to buy. Apple users familiar with the touch interface obviously have no problems at all.

    My eyes would never want it for a permanent e-reader, much to straining – like reading a PC monitor for hours.

    • Cora says:

      Yes, I imagine it would be eye straining as a permanent e-reader. It’s probably best suited for short burst reading, e.g. on the tram or when stuck at an airport. Plus, the dedicated e-readers are much cheaper.

      Though the touch interface will probably be very intuitive for very young users. The daughter of Jay Lake makes fabulous artwork on the iPad. He sometimes posts examples at his blog.

      In short, I’m just not the target demographic for this one.

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