Why I want an iPad

There has been much talk in the tech-sphere lately about the iPad.  Primarily from people honestly putting it down and ragging upon it.  Saying how it doesn’t have <insert feature they wanted>.  Or saying how it’s a toy because you can’t hack it, put your own unapproved software on it, hook up a USB keyboard, etc.

I don’t disagree with those statements actually.  There are some features that I wished it would have had, I might have been excited to have seen it run OS/X instead of the iPhone operating system, so that I could have used it more like a real computer.

But in the end, I think that starts to miss the point.  It’s not a ‘real computer’, it *is* something new, and the more I think about it.  The more I end up wanting one.  Perhaps I’m an edge case, I can accept that.  But ever since the announcement, I keep thinking to myself: “I’d love an iPad right now”.

So why do I want one?  What are the situations where I find myself wanting one?  Typically they are situations where I’m wanting to stay ‘connected’, do some computing and/or online things.  But I’m not wanting to be tied to a laptop.  Afterall, a laptop is actually an intrusive thing.   Try sitting at the breakfast table with one.  It’s there.  Projecting itself into the space.  Acting as a wall between you and anyone else at the table.  However, sit down with a magazine, or a newspaper, or even a cell phone / iPhone, and it’s not in the way, it’s laying flat, you are picking it up to view things, you can easily lay it back down.  You are using technology but staying more connected to the people around you.

Plus there are just places where a laptop is awkward to use.  For example, in your lap strangely enough.  At a doctor’s office, on the airplane, etc.  It’s all these times, when I sit back and start thinking: “You know if I had an iPad right now”.  So many of these situations come up, such as:

  • The aforementioned breakfast table, checking the morning news/twitter/email.  (Heck, just doing email in general with something less intrusive than a laptop, but better built for it than an iPhone)
  • Sitting on the couch with family watching TV while also checking things online.
  • While playing video games and needing to look up some information online.
  • While at a non-profit meeting, wanting to look something up.
  • When spending a ‘short time’ at a coffee shop, relaxing while wanting to stay on top of things.

In general, I think that an iPad is going to be superior in use to a large laptop, because of it’s form factor, as well as to a netbook, because honestly I agree with Steve Jobs about netbooks.  I have one, I rarely use it, and when I do I wonder why I didn’t just grab a real computer instead.  Tiny screen, bad interface, etc.

Plus the iPad is going to add functionality that I can only imagine how I may want to use it:

  • As a book reader (I’d been debating about getting a Kindle, now, to me, this is a no-brainer that I’d rather have an iPad)
  • As a video playing device (just the right size to hold in lap)
  • As a new way to share photos with family.

In the end, I kinda don’t want to be excited about the iPad, since I have many of those geek tendencies to dislike it solely because it didn’t have X/Y/Z.  But in the end, I keep finding myself back at that “If I only had an iPad right now” stage.  I see myself using it.   Interestingly enough, 90% of the time I see that use being Wifi only based.  So dropping the extra $130 plus $30 a month for a separate data connection, I don’t see.

Which does bring me to my one complaint though, and the one reason I don’t want an iPad:

  • Price

Really that’s it.  I know, I realize, that $499 is an amazing price for a product with a 10″ touchscreen, massive battery life, etc.  But in the end, it’s still more than I want to pay for this device, given how I know I’m going to use it.  That is, as a device to use when my iPhone is ‘too small’ for the job and when pulling out the laptop is overkill.

To that end, I wish it was more like $199

That being said, I still want one, and I’m going to have a mention struggle between now and release date as to whether I can justify buying one.  The one biggest thing (other than price) that is holding me back at this moment, is that I’m unsure how easy it’s going to be to use the ‘bigger onscreen keyboard’.  Because honestly much of the use I expect out of the iPad, is going to involve typing, which is slow on the iPhone.  I expect the iPad to be ‘slower’ than a real keyboard.  But I’d hope that I could put it in my lap, and semi-touch-type on it.  If I can’t really do that.  If typing is going to be at ‘cell phone thumb speed’.  Then that’s a problem for me.  That may become the killer.  Because if I can’t type easily-enough on it.  I’m going to get frustrated.

In summation?  I dunno, I’m still torn.  I want an iPad, but I have a couple concerns.  Let’s see if I can resist when the day comes.

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12 Responses to Why I want an iPad

  1. tonybibbs says:

    The keyboard thing worries me too. I’ve reserved myself to wait until it hits the local Apple Store so I can play with it. It’s use as an e-book reader is something I also look forward to. My wife has a Kindle, useless for tech books due to it being black-and-white. Color could be a huge upside but the 10″ screen may still be too small for tech. Something about the printed book for techies…

  2. ijansch says:

    I agree with you. This is a device that you’ll be using in situations where you aren’t using a different device now. Ideally, you have multiple of these. One for on the road, one near the couch, and one on the night stand.

    I’m slightly worried about using it on the road. You’d still have to carry it around, so either ‘man bags’ will become popular, or it will not fly in those cases.

    I think the price is spot on. If I try to imaging how many hours I’ll be using this device, it has a much higher ‘use per dollar’ ratio than a laptop. Given that even an iphone is more expensive, I think the price is probably about right.

    • Eli says:

      Actually as long as I can find a nice ‘sleeve’ for it, I won’t be worried about using it on the road. I already always travel with my satchel which has camera(s), laptop, cables, etc in it. Adding an iPad to it will be a minimal change.

      That being said, I guess it is cheaper than an iPhone when you take service charges into account (in the US). But to me an iPhone is still just $199, since I’m going to have a cell phone plan (And data plan) anyway.

      Plus honestly, I use my laptop 9+ hours a day. I use my iPhone actively probably 3 hours a day. I see using this, at the start, actively only 1 hour a day, tops. So the price point hits home.

  3. dasprid says:

    Eli, just wait for Android-powered tablets. They will cost about the same if not less, and don’t have the negative points of the iPad.

    • Eli says:

      See, the cost the same is really not an argument. I actually don’t see many of the other negatives. Afterall, I like the iTunes store, because it’s made an easy way to get apps, and cheap apps, and apps that by default, I can run on both wife/my iPhones and the iPad.

      Apple actually has continued to set the bar properly, IMO, by putting those ‘desktop’ apps out (Keynote, Numbers, etc) at $9.99 each. Making it so that noone else is going to try to offer big apps, at higher price points.

      • dasprid says:

        Well, but an android powered device will give you the exact same benfit through the google market, without limiting you software choice like apple does.

  4. remiwoler says:

    This post may contain spoilers! 😉

    Honestly, when the device was announced, it was exactly what I hoped it would be. In the time before the announcement, I had already longed for such a device, but it didn’t exist. Most specifically: watching NFL games on sunday nights. You watch 3 games (if you are as addicted as I am) in a row, which totals at ~10 hours. Especially with all the commercials, you’re wasting a helluvalot of time. So you want to use the time for good things too. But a laptop is inconvenient, as it’s awkward to use on your lap (and gets hot as hell), and you don’t have a proper desk in your living room, facing the TV. You don’t want to watch it in your (work-from-home)office either, because that’s not really relaxing, you don’t have something comfy to sit on, and the TV is a lot smaller.

    Since the games are watched from a comfy place, in a non-stressfull environment, on a sunday night, with the fireplace on, my mind starts to wander. And quite often, I remember things that I still wanted to look into, or I get Eureka moments for issues I’ve been facing (simple example: I start to wonder if there are NFL teams in NL, something I have to research). You want to do something with it at that moment, but not miss the game. The laptop is inconvenient, the iPhone is too small to work on, so paper is the only thing left (I was actively looking for an A4-sized whiteboard or something like that, to fill my needs). Then the iPad was announced. It was the perfect fit for this, and lots of other situations. You don’t lose it as easily as paper, it’s multi-functional (paper isn’t), and it is convenient to use in the given circumstances. If it was for sale at that point in time, I would have bought it immediately.

    However, a month has passed now (barring 3 days) since the announcement. And everything around the iPad is silent. Nobody mentions it anymore. There is still no shipping date confirmed. For us in the Netherlands, even a price, or a 3G coverage plan isn’t announced. Something is going wrong. It was a fun hype, but everything has died down. This Q1/Q2 I was planning to upgrade my speed-skating equipment. When the iPad was announced, I quickly crossed through that plan, postponing it, because the iPad was way more needed. Now I’m starting to have doubts. Why is it so silent? Hmm, a lot of valid points are being raised about features and stuff missing. Will it be as useful as I think it is, or am I just interpreting the announcement in such a way that it fits what I expect to get from it? Early indications say the price will be around 630 EUR ($850 USD) for the 3G version. Will it actually be worth it? Won’t a portable whiteboard and some discipline do the same trick, for a whole lot less money? I can put up a classy write-table too in my room, and put the laptop or an Imac on that, so I do have all the online tools I could need, but without the limitations of an iPad. Hmm, those wheels are getting old, and I really need rain-wheels, so I don’t have an excuse anymore to not go out speed-skating…

    I’m not so convinced anymore that I will be buying an iPad. At the moment, the skating gear is winning….

    ~RW

    • Eli says:

      Since you bugged me personally about not responding to you Remi. Here is your response 🙂 Actually I don’t think that the world has gotten quiet about it. I keep hearing about the iPad on every tech podcast I listen to, and on various tech websites. I think ‘average joe’ has stopped talking, just because they’ve made up their minds and/or are waiting for the actual release.

  5. lauraxt says:

    I suspect you probably don’t want to read ebooks on it. There’s a reason e-ink was invented – eye strain. The Kindle/Sony reader/etc may be a single purpose device, but it’s really really good at what it does. And the battery lasts long enough that I don’t need to charge it (or pack a charger) on a week long business trip.

    The main thing I don’t like about the iPad is its very tabletiness: you’ll end up holding the damn thing so it’s at the right viewing angle, and it’s too big to hold for a length of time. You can’t just rest it on your lap as the viewing angle is wrong and you’ll get a crick in your neck besides. The keyboard will be about as good as the one on your phone – suitable for tweets for not for say, writing a blog post.

    I freely admit I ❤ my netbook but it's as big as something can be and still be called a netbook (the 11" or whatever it is Acer Aspire One).

    • Eli says:

      You know Laura, I understand the point. but I don’t get the e-ink eye strain comment that people keep making. I spend 12 hours a day, as it is, looking at a laptop screen, an LCD monitor, or an LCD TV. Add in my iPhone screen (where I currently read books in tiny tiny format), and it’s closer to 16 hours probably *grin*. My eyes are used to it.

      In fact, I find the opposite problem. When reading a real physical book/magazine, I find myself struggling to find good lighting so that I’m not getting eye strain by trying to read in low-light or glare (magazine) situations.

      I do agree on the tablet-i-ness though, but in a different situation. I love the holding it part, for general use. But when I go to type on it, if I’m going to try to touch-type, it needs cradled somehow, that gets tricky.

  6. dasprid says:

    Oh, by the way:

    http://mashable.com/2010/01/27/9-upcoming-tablet-alternatives-to-the-apple-ipad/

    At the bottom there’s a mockup of an HTC tablet powered by Android 😉

  7. jlleblanc says:

    The main thing I see is that the iPad now makes $500~ smart phones look rather expensive by comparison. I was thinking of getting a Nexus One, but now I’m waiting to see if Apple releases an unlocked iPhone in their next refresh.

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