The iPad is an over-sized, over-priced iPod Touch. The iPad is underpowered. Why don’t I just get a netbook? The iPad is not a computer. The iPad pillages and plunders much like the Vikings of old.
Six months ago that was my side of the constant argument that resulted from the question “Why don’t you have an iPad?” That question would inevitably come because I have historically been an Apple Fanboy. I was an early iPhone adopter, I love my Macbook Pro and I’ve had various other iDevices and Macintoshes over the years. I’ve proudly put an Apple sticker on every car I’ve owned. I have defended Apple over and over to the chagrin of friends and family. But for some reason the iPad just rankled me and I resoundingly denounced it as a product I would never ever own.
Since then, however, the iPad has slowly been creeping up on my wallet. Waiting. For the right time to pounce and make it bleed Vulcan green.
Let me see if I can explain what has happened here.
The first time I put hands on an iPad at our local Apple Store I was summarily unimpressed. I don’t remember if there were any apps that close to launch that managed to turn my head aside from the apps I already had on my phone. The hardware has always impressed me, but I just could see spending that kind of bank on hardware when there was no interesting software available. Then along came Netflix. The first time I saw it in action I did not expect the Netflix for iPad experience to be anything less than tragic. I was wrong. I still wasn’t won over, but the money-assassin crept one step closer.
A while back I started playing 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons with some friends on a bi-weekly basis. When we started only 3 of the 4 players had iPads. Then one day the last holdout showed up with a shiny new Apple tablet. Since then, every two weeks I have been shown the wonders of iPad ownership and the much improving selection of applications available from the App Store including apps for both DMs and players. The update for the popular iPhone character sheet app i4e brought it to the iPad as a universal app. I didn’t care for the app on the iPhone because I felt like the screen was too small and the battery life too short. On the iPad, though, it isn’t far removed from having an actual 4th edition character sheet in front of you with the added bounus that the app does math for you (and for those players and DMs like me who can’t seem to add or subtract even small numbers this is fantastic).
From then on it was a race to see which app or feature of the iPad would pull the trigger. In the end, though, it was a combination of apps and my Fanboyism back from remission that got me. And a pretty excellent deal on Craigslist.
I can’t say anything like “Now that I have my iPad I can’t imagine life without it!” I can. The things I do with my iPad I could do with other devices I own. I could play Puzzle Quest on my DSi, I could use my wife’s Kindle to read books (or, you know, I could just pick up a realbook), I can use pen and paper to play D&D, and I could watch Netflix on the netbook the iPad replaced. Now I can do all that in one place and it’s all wrapped up in a really really slick package. The aesthetic was definitely a big factor in my purchase as it always is on Apple products.
What I finally realized was that the iPad is not a computer. It is a media consumption box. You read magazines, books, comics on it. You watch movies. You play games and you have to play inside Apple’s walled garden. You don’t usually find people who purchase an iPad for productivity (although there are some pretty nice productivity apps). Once I got what the iPad is and isn’t it was, for better or for hypocritical, it was pretty easy to actually buy the thing.
So there it is. I went from a hater what hadta hate to being an iPad owner in six months. Call me what you will: Fanboy, hypocrite, nerd or idiot. I can’t hear you over the sound of many Angry Birds raining property destruction down on a bunch of pigs.
Oh, and one more thing: Welcome back to Ectotechnica.com!