The Apple iPad - Should You Buy One? Should You Care?

I'm going to.

Now, before you dismiss me as some raving lunatic fanboi with red glowing eyes and a wallet with bills sticking out of it labeled "for Steve," hear me out. I was super skeptical at first.

What is the iPad?

So, unless you live in a far-away dimension, or just don't care about tech, you've heard far too much about the much-anticipated iPad.  You've heard the rumors, you saw the liveblog, you peeped the Photoshopped parodies.  But should you care?

It's more than a giant iPhone, but less than a laptop - what a tablet should be.  At least that's my opinion.  It's got a 9.7" screen, weighs 1.5 pounds, and is half an inch thick: typical sexy Apple fare, showcasing a full multi-touch display. It's available in several trims, ranging in price from $499 for the basic, Wi-Fi only model with 16GB storage up to $829 for the 64GB, Wi-Fi and 3G sporting model.

What can it do?

This is where the "giant iPhone/iPod Touch" thing comes in.  It can run any and all of your iPhone apps, either in a tiny little window or blown up full screen - and of course, the App Store is there. It's a scaled-up version of the iPhone OS, rather than a bare bones version of OS X - a decision some are bound to love and some are bound to hate.  I'm in the middle on that one. All the standard apps are there also, including Notes, Maps, and so on.

It's more (and better) than an iPhone or iPod touch, though.  The Mail app is significantly improved and (finally) features two-pane viewing.  You can type for realz on a "full size" keyboard.  No more thumbs.  You can even attach a keyboard stand. And so on.

Why I (Or You) Might Want One

Let's put aside the sexiness factor for a second.  This device is lust inspiring, but seriously, do you want one? Is it right for you? Or just another bauble to blow your bucks on? Well, for me, I definitely want one, and I *think* I can rationalize it.

  1. I can get away with the cheapest model, which is actually affordable.  I don't need tons of storage since I live in the cloud and can stream most of my music wirelessly, without having to store it locally. I have a mobile EVDO hotspot, so I don't need a 3G model. That means I'm only out $500. 
  2. I use my iPhone ALL THE TIME at home.  Rather than boot up a laptop or even my netbook, I find myself reaching for my iPhone to check email and browse the web.  It's so fast and sleek with everything I need (Twitter, Facebook, music, web, notes, files, news, and games) in one spot. The iPad will do all of those things, just even better and more smoothly, which is useful to me.
  3. I already have tons of iPhone apps.  My transition to using an iPad will be easy.
  4. Who needs Kindle? Not only does the iPad serve all of my needs, it adds e-Book functionality with the iBooks application.  No need to buy a Kindle or Nook, with cost about $250 anyway.

Downsides to the iPad

There are tons of things wrong with the iPad.  Or, maybe not "wrong," just lacking.  Here's my short list of gripes... none of which will prevent me from buying one, but worth noting.

  1. AT&T? Seriously?
  2. No multitasking.  Again, groan.
  3. "Closed" environment like the iPhone
  4. No Flash. It's not the full web without Flash. (I find it hard to believe they won't add this.)
  5. There's probably tons more but I can't think of them now.

So, why do I feel dirty?

I do, I really do.  I feel a bit dirty knowing that I'm going to buy this thing.  First of all, I'm kind of a slave to the App Store.  I know this.  I've spent about $150 in the past year and a half on apps.  I love them and use 60-75% of them all the time. But the iPad is going to make this worse.  Now, I'm going to buy iBooks.

Wait, there's more.  I'm thinking they're going to charge more for iPad versions of new apps (since it's likely devs will release two versions now of the same app.) And you just KNOW that online pubs and newspapers are gonna love this little guy.  Finally, charging for digital news will become a reality with iPad. I'm going to have to buy a stupidly overpriced case for the damn thing. Feeling nickel and dimed yet?

I am, but you know what?  I'm not sure I care. I love the iPhone experience so much, I'm willing to succumb to a closed environment and pay-for-play mentality.  Are you?  This is likely to become a hot topic, so please leave comments.



I find it hard to believe that you are going to carry this thing around the house so that when you want to check email or browse the web, you will reach for it. You have your iPhone and can carry that easily in your pocket. The iPad won't fit in your pocket, last I checked

Besides all of the people that will by the thing because it's "Apple", I think that this device will appeal to someone who has iPhone apps already and has an interest in the e-Reading capabilities of it, ie. someone that travels a lot and can use on the plane, train, etc. and can also use it to check on things before they go to bed. Tablets have been around for quite a while and I've never seen anyone outside of doctors really using them for good reason. The Kindle changed that a little, and this will change it too, if not only for the crazy people who buy only Apple products.

Ron Repking said:

I find it hard to believe that you are going to carry this thing around the house so that when you want to check email or browse the web, you will reach for it.

Believe it :)

Ron Repking said:
Besides all of the people that will buy the thing because it's "Apple", I think that this device will appeal to someone who has iPhone apps already and has an interest in the e-Reading capabilities of it...

That describes me. I am not currently traveling frequently, but definitely have been looking at e-Readers. In fact, I was just thinking about getting a Kindle, but why, when I can get this? I also point out in my post that I am a frequent user of iPhone apps and have many that I have purchased, so that's good for me as well.

Often, I use my iPhone sitting on the couch or whatever to browse the web, play games, check email, etc. and it works great for that. The iPad is that experience but on steroids, with apps designed from the ground up to be enhanced versions of their iPhone counterparts, on a much larger screen. That's worth $250 to me. The eReader functionality is also worth $250 for me, as I would probably get a Kindle or Nook at some point.

To set things straight, $500 is the magic price point for me. If this had been priced at $899-999 minimum like a lot of people were speculating, I wouldn't even be casting it a second glance.

My first instinct after letting it sink in was that this is going to be an easy choice for anyone in the market for an eReader. If you believe any of the hype at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, everyone will be putting this on their gift list this year. If you were faced with a single-purpose gadget like a Kindle or this, there is really no contest.

If, however, you already have a laptop and/or an iPhone, this far from compelling. I could see some novel uses in a living room setting when you want to reference the internet for looking up information or settling a bet and you want to be able to pass around a device that has the answer - hard to do that with laptop or iPhone really. So maybe as a group-sharable device, one that anyone can pick up and use easily but not "own".

There seems like so much more that could have gone into this new "category" device. I'm not standing in line yet.

Ron Repking said:
I find it hard to believe that you are going to carry this thing around the house so that when you want to check email or browse the web, you will reach for it.

Peter Redmer said: Believe it :)

I am just saying....  If you are in your house and are too lazy to walk over to the computer or laptop to check email then you have got a problem Surprised

@Steven - Exactly right about the eBook issue. I was already thinking of getting a Kindle, so this feels natural to me. Interestingly enough, it's actually more compelling to me since I already own an iPhone, and have a suite of apps I know and love.

@Brandon - ? This really isn't about being lazy. First of all, you don't have to "walk over" to your laptop since it's probably in... your... lap. Second, of course anybody can walk over to their desktop and check email, you don't need an iPad/laptop/JooJoo/smartphone/whatever to do that... but that isn't the point.

My thing is this... if I'm chillin in the couch with a martini, doing light email checking or leisurely web browsing, reading RSS feeds, etc. - this will be a more enjoyable solution for me than an iPhone, laptop, or netbook. One is already being "lazy" but not getting up to go check email on their desktop, right, so why not do it in style? ;)


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