Everyone (but Loki) gets an iPad

Over the past two weeks, I had clinics and rehearsals at eight schools working with 11 ensembles on I-don’t-even-know-how-many pieces.  Undertow, Redline Tango, Strange Humors, Aurora Awakes, Damn, Mass, and Asphalt Cocktail — so I guess that’s seven pieces.  Wow, that was a lot of… me.  It was busy and fun and exhausting, but that’s why we moved to Texas: to be so close to this many ensembles that can play the hell out of my music.

Tomorrow morning — and by “morning” I mean “in the middle of the night as far as I’m concerned” — I head to James Madison University in Virginia. The groups there will be rehearsing Asphalt Cocktail, the Soprano Sax Concerto (with soloist David Pope), Aurora Awakes, and Damn. So, again, a lot of me. I’m excited to finally get to work with Steve Bolstad, the Director of Bands at JMU.

The concert is on Thursday night, and then I fly to the CBDNA Southwestern Division convention in New Mexico. Texas Tech is performing the new Trombone Concerto there on Saturday night (with James Decker playing the solo part), and Kansas State University will be playing Kingfishers Catch Fire. I finally fly home on Sunday, and then I will be DONE with traveling.  Well, until that Wednesday. Whew.

So I needed a break from mixed meters and trombones. Fortunately, Apple timed their launch of the iPad perfectly. When they first announced the iPad, I thought I might want one, but then lost interest and never pre-ordered. AEJ, though, started out fairly interested in it, and her desire for one only increased as launch day approached. Then we saw the (typically hilarious) episode of Modern Family last week, an episode centered on one character’s need to get an iPad on launch day, which also happened to be his birthday. (If you aren’t watching Modern Family, you should. Hilarious. I think it’s as funny as Arrested Development (RIP), but with realistic rather than absurd characters.) After a 30-minute show about the iPad — and the irrational need for it — we, too, needed one.

We’ve always been those insufferable Early Adopters. We bought the first iPod on launch day. I got the iPhone on launch day. I bought my Macbook Air when it was released. I’m sure there were other launch day purchases, and I don’t regret any of those purchases, so I don’t know why I hesitated about the iPad. “It’s just a big iPhone,” I told myself. Who needs that? We eventually decided that we needed that, but we didn’t figure it out for sure until a few days before launch — after the pre-orders closed.

So we got up at 8:30 and headed to the Austin Apple Store. The line for pre-order pickups was long, but we figured it would go quickly. The line for non-reserved purchases wasn’t very long, and we were optimistic that they’d have enough. I’ve never shown up to buy an Apple product on launch day and not gone home with the product. They might be out of the product by the next day, but they have enough for the people in line at launch.

The Austin Apple Store at The Domain is the Worst Apple Store in the World. How do I know this? Because we waited outside in line from 8:45am until 2:30pm. That’s right. Six hours. In the sun. Yes, they provided umbrellas to shield the sun (seriously, Texas, why is there even such a thing as an outdoor mall in Texas?), and free bottles of water, but why in the hell did it take six hours to get everybody through the line? That means that people with reservations were in line that whole time, too. Once that line was done, we got ours very quickly, but how did it take six hours to get through the reservations?! There were almost no updates from Apple staff, other than “not much longer, and we think everybody will get one.” Well then let’s move this along! Whenever we were about to give up and try buying one at Best Buy (who, it turns out, had plenty in stock, and no lines), we were reassured that it wouldn’t be much longer. Seriously, I hate you, Austin Apple Store at The Domain. From what I read online, this was completely different than every other experience around the US. Long lines, but they moved quickly. Somebody in Austin should be fired.

We went planning to only buy an iPad for AEJ. I intended to wait until the 3G model is released later this month. But after waiting in line for six fu*king hours, I wanted one, too. Plus, with a trip tomorrow, where I’ll be spending a lot of time in a hotel, I wanted a new toy. So we bought two iPads.

(I’ll probably sell my iPad when the 3G is released later this month. Anybody want to buy an autographed 64GB iPad filled with all of my music? 😉

Loki was like, “you got me an iPad, too, right?”

When we told Loki that we hadn’t bought a third for him, he was very upset. “POR QUÉ????” he cried.

So after all of that, how is it? Amazing. A. May. ZING. If you think it’s just a big iPhone, I promise it’s not. If you think it’s just a laptop with no keyboard, it isn’t that, either. It’s a new thing.

We subscribe to Netflix, so after registering my account on the iPad, I was able to view the entire Netflix streaming library, pick a random episode of Arrested Development, wait 5 seconds for it to buffer, and then: I was watching that episode on the iPad. Click stop, click “Julie and Julia,” and within seconds, I’m watching that movie on the iPad.  This could kill the market for hotel (non-porn) movies.  Video on the iPhone or iPod Touch is teeeeny. On the iPad, it’s immersive. No, it’s not a 60-inch plasma, but you’re holding it inches from your face, so it feels plenty large. (That’s what she said.)

Games are the same way. Driving games on the iPhone are a pain in the ass, in my opinion. The accelerometer is too sensitive because the axis is so small. With the iPad, which is essentially the width of an actual driving wheel, it’s much easier to control. Plus, again, with the screen so close to your face, it’s immersive.

The screen is beautiful — bright, and very high resolution. Then there are the Apple apps, all rewritten to take advantage of the much larger screen. Mail is actually nice to use (and allows you to see your in box and a full message at the same time). Here’s a screenshot of the Mail app, with the list of emails on the left, and the selected email (featuring an attached drawing AEJ made on her iPad) on the right.

The iPhone apps look terrible on the iPad because you either see them take a tiny percentage of the screen (in their original iPhone size), or if you make them fill the screen, they become more pixelated than my old Commodore 64 games. Here’s a screen shot of the iPhone version of Let’s Golf running on the iPad:

Here’s the same version viewed with pixel doubling to fill the screen:

And here’s the iPad native “Let’s Golf HD” screenshot:

The iPad is insanely slick. The trick is not to think of it as a large iPod Touch or as a laptop, but as a new device, made not for content creation (AEJ’s bunny picture is a notable exception), but for content consumption. I’ve never been so excited to be stuck on a plane for three hours. I just hope that flight has WiFi…


Jeffrey Priesmeyer says

That's great to hear that the iPad is actually pretty cool. Like you, I just figured it to be a giant sized iTouch or iPhone but it's good to hear that really the iPad is for basically different uses. I might just have to get one now.

Did you ever find out what took so long? Or did they keep you in the dark even once you got up to purchase your iPads?

Celia says

There's always the Apple store in Barton Creek Mall...it's always fairly busy but they have employees popping out from every corner. Very helpful!

John says

Celia - I've always had good experiences at every Apple Store (Domain included) before yesterday. I just can't believe they botched it so badly. And Jeffrey, no, they never explained the delay. The line was always moving, but it's like they were giving every customer an individual demo before checking them out. And they kind of did. When we finally got in, we were escorted by an individual employee back to the counter where we were given our iPad. Then he tried to get me to tell him what we were going to do with each iPad. Then he tried to get me to sign up for some Apple Business Service. Eventually, I just said, "we've been outside for six hours. I don't have time for this. Just ring me up so we can leave." All this while there were still dozens of people outside in the sun. It should have just been a line directly to the counter full of iPads and cashiers. I don't want some personal attention; I want to go home.

Robbie says

Count me in for the used iPad right now!!

Nathan says

Name your price. I'll fight Robbie for it. Hell, I just want it loaded with your music. haha...

Tom Wallis says

Dr. Mackey,

I will Gladly purchase your old ipad, auitographed, with all your music. Nathan and Robiie didnt award you a Docotrate;)
Let me know when you get the new model!

Tom Wallis
Ball State University

Tom Wallis says

Damn, I should start proof reading my posts before sending it...im not a complete idiot I swear! There is no edit button on your blog! Dont judge BSU due to my poor proofing abilities. Just sayin'

Robyn says

So, how do you go online? Do you have to subscribe to a service? Or do you have to be somewhere with a wiFi connection in order to use it? And do you have to constantly reconfigure things as you move about to grab different wiFi connections? I haven't done the research, but that's the part I don't get. I'm too cheap to pay for data on my phone plan, but I sure would like to be able to get online when I'm out and about, you know?

Also, you'd better have some Brandi Carlile in that playlist. She's amazing.

Patrick says

I agree, Modern Family is hilarious!

I also thought that the iPad was just a giant ipod,so I hadn't planned on getting one. I had no idea it was so cool.

I live right near JMU, and I was actually planning to go to the concert. Can't wait!

Noah says

If you put up an e-bay link, I have my credit card ready.

Name your price Mr. OSTI.

Christoph Breithack says

"But after waiting in line for six fu*king hours, I wanted one, too."

Now you know why they made you wait 6 hours ;-)


Andrew Hackard says

How much would it cost us mere mortals who can't afford an iPad, or just don't want one yet, to get your entire digital catalog? ;-)

Kyle Kelly says

count me in for your used iPad! I didn't want one until this one thats autographed by you AND has all of your music on it!

Amanda Lyon says

Hahaha I love that last picture of Loki!!

david says

you are perfectly right on with your comparison with arrested development and modern family. AD is still far superior, but MF (maybe I should spell that out) is still stellar.

Jacob Lehman says

This may be way late and too insignificant, but I often thought I was alone in my appreciation for the seriously hilarious "Arrested Development". It feels good to know that there's someone else out there!

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