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Ipad Versus The Printed Page

I hate to admit it when my husband is right, but since we’re on the cusp of a new year, I’m going to make a resolution to tell him he is right more often!  This latest epiphany came this morning as I cuddled up with my iPad by the fire to read my newspapers.  A few years ago, in a heated discussion (we have many of these on virtually every subject),  I adamantly defended the importance of the printed newspaper, waxing the superiority of holding a big flapping paper while balancing my coffee on my right knee and petting my dog Lemon.  Let’s not forget the importance of the getting smudged black ink stains on your fingers (proof you’re a sophisticated reader) or the exhilarating feeling you get as you launch from your seat to beat the morning breeze from blowing the front page across the deck into the pool.  

Well, here we sit on this beautiful winter morning, ensconced with iPads and printed paper at our feet.  I choose the iPad hands down.  At the flick of a finger, I’m able to access up to minute USA Today, NY Times and Wall Street Journal, effortlessly moving from one newspaper article to the next (all without fighting for the front page, we each have our own iPad).  Today the New York Times has a great piece on Jon Stewart and the new role of comedic satire and its powerful effect on public policy (which I promptly emailed to my comedian nephew). 

“Well, I don’t see the difference between reading a newspaper on my lap top,” my friend responds.  “No contest!” I reply.  First, it’s awkward.  When was the last time you pulled out your laptop at your dentist’s office?  The iPad is sleek and can be carried in my purse, anywhere.  Second, the battery lasts eons longer (for over an entire day), unlike my laptop that needs to be plugged in every two hours.  But more important, it’s the fluid experience.  If you’ve ever used an iPad you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Pushing pages and maneuvering through the applications using your fore finger is nothing short of sublime!

In terms of best news paper navigation, I prefer the Wall Street Journal.  This experience is the most authentic, with front page exactly like printed page, with “What’s News” section directly to the left, easily navigated by seamlessly pushing down to view entire section.   Next, I prefer USA Today, with similar “front page” feel, but instead of navigating to right as you read an article, you scroll down.  Both have excellent navigation sections at bottom so you can effortlessly peruse entire paper. 

The New York Times has recently upgraded their application, and its much better, but it still lacks a front page feel.  However, I really like the “most emailed” section; it is a quick way to get to most popular content.  This is how I found Jon Stewart article.  I also give NY Times best use of “video” content.  A few days ago they had a fascinating piece on front page detailing how the Deep Water Horizon went down in the Gulf of Mexico, complete with crew interviews and animation presenting the complex engineering dilemma of how the “blowout preventer” failed, with astonishing simplicity (voice over by Anderson Cooper).  But beware, video downloads are still slow on some inferior connections like satellite. 

In terms of cost, you can get USA Today and some versions of NY Times for free, but NY Times will start charging sometime in 2011. The Wall Street Journal charges $18 per month, clearly the leader in understanding the importance of charging for their content.

Now the most vexing problem, our old newspaper collection is dwindling, what will we use to light the fire?

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