saturday things #1

While I am, generally speaking, a fan of things, of the inanimate objects that dominate and, in some cases, improve or heighten the quality of my life, I tend not to blog about these kinds of things all that much.

I know at least one blogger who once had an awesome and intensely personal blog and now simply writes about products, services, amusements and entertainments. I’d hate for this blog or any of my writing to simply become a slave to consumerism.

On the other hand, I know another blogger who sometimes writes about some  favorite products in a product-review kind of way and does it in a way that seems just an extension of his blog.

I’m going to try for something more like that.

So without further ado:

This edition of Saturday Things is brought to you by the Apple iPad.

Not pictured: Mount Sinai

Now I’m certainly not the first person ever to talk about the iPad. I’m admittedly late in the game. But there’s something about the iPad that I’ve thought for a long time but never heard anyone else say. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Firstly, The iPad is not a computer. Dave put it very well last week, “It’s more an ‘appliance’ that becomes different electronic devices as opposed to a traditional computer.” In that sense, the iPad is actually quite practical. It’s a highly portable device that becomes a thousand other devices as you need it to. Or a million. It all depends on which apps you download and what your imagination holds.

Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar, though? Doesn’t this sound a bit like something else? Let’s see, what devices out there are

  • highly portable
  • with myriad uses
  • that depend upon apps for their protean functionality?

Personally, I own a Motorola Droid, running Android 2.2. From a practicality standpoint, it does everything the iPad does. And it has an added practical bonus: it’s a phone. It has an obvious and useful reason to own it. Despite all the other cool shit it does, it does one thing that no other device I own does. Yes, I could use Skype to call my friends. While I don’t know of any off the top of my head, I’m sure that there are plenty of VOIP sites that’ll let me use my computer’s speakers and microphone to make non-video calls as well.

But then, I don’t take it with me when I run to the store in case I need to call Ashley. And my computer doesn’t fit in my pocket.

Know what else doesn’t fit in my pocket? An iPad.

But my phone does. Quite comfortably, in fact.

But back to my original point: name one thing that the iPad does that some other device you already own (or could own for far less money) doesn’t already do. I’m not talking about the apps, but the iPad itself.

If you have a computer, there’s no practical answer to this question. If you don’t have a computer, you can’t use an iPad anyway. Because the first thing it’ll ask you to do once you get one is to plug it into a computer and sync it with iTunes.

This is why Dave’s statement is so accurate. It’s an appliance. It’s something you might own, instead of something you might need. It has no function unique to it.

The biggest argument I can make any real sense of is the screen-size. I’m sure that it’s easier to read e-books on an iPad as opposed to my Droid. But reading on my Droid isn’t exactly difficult. Both the Kindle app and Google’s eBooks app work very well. I can adjust their settings to my liking. Yes the font is somewhat small, but honestly isn’t not much smaller than the text in the books I read. The only reason reading on the iPad might be easier is simply that I’d need to swipe the screen to ‘turn the page’ less often than I do on my Droid.

And, really, that’s not worth $500. Minimum.

I’m not saying the iPad isn’t cool. In fact, since at least 2007, when the first iPhone debuted, and maybe since 2001, when the first iPod debuted, Apple has been marketing ‘cool’ in amounts at least equal to their marketing power behind the products themselves.

The marketing of the iPad, in my opinion, shifted that balance to about 75% cool, 25% iPad. It is certainly one cool device. Sleek. Slender. Sexy.

Alison Angel at home

Not an iPad.

Cool as it is, though, it’s simply not a practical device. If it had a unique function I’d understand. But as I said earlier, there is nothing it does that some other device in my home doesn’t do.

So I will not be bothering with the iPad, thank you very much. It’s a sweet device indeed, but I need something to be practical more than I need it to be cool. Put a flux capacitor in the iPad and I’ll buy one straightaway, driving home at 88 MPH no less. But until Apple gives this ultra-cool device a soul of its own, I see no reason to dump that kind of cash on it.


4 comments on “saturday things #1

  1. Wow. That Dave is genius!

    I got an iPad because I develop GUIs for a couple of developers, and I needed to test to be sure that the stuff I made for the updates would look as they should. Since I already have an iPhone… and all my work is done on my MacBook Pro… I had no use for the iPad after I was done with my project. Yes, it’s very cool. Yes, touch-games are awesome on it. But I just didn’t need yet another thing to carry around with me.

    So I gave it to my mother thinking she’d play with it for a while, get frustrated like with everything else tech-oriented, then give it back.

    That was NINE MONTHS AGO.

    And here is where I have to disagree with your assessment. For YOU AND I it is not a practical device. For HER it is not only practical, but revolutionary.

    I had bought her a Mac years ago. She NEVER used it. It wasn’t at all intuitive, she didn’t take to it easily, and the only thing she ever did with it is check her bank balance a couple times a year. It’s all she knew how to do, and even that was a struggle. She had an iPhone I bought her, but she really only uses it to check the weather and make phone calls. Neither the computer nor the iPhone made much of an impact on her life.

    The iPad was another matter entirely. She took to it instantly. She spent more time on the internet in the first week with iPad than she did her entire life before iPad. She uses it for everything. She’s on the web. She’s using email. She plays games. She reads books. She’s became a total news junkie who surfs dozens of apps daily. It’s a complete and total game-changer for her. I honestly can’t imagine her life without iPad now. It’s the missing piece of technology she’s been looking for all along, but never knew it. She understands it because it DOES has a unique function… that of being easy, intuitive, and accessible for a huge audience of people for whom computers and phones aren’t a good fit. iPad is the “in-between” device that does.

    So say what you like about iPad… it wasn’t made for you and I.

    The iPad’s target audience is people like my mother for whom it is indeed an ultra-cool device with a soul of its own.

    That being said, I know an awful lot of people who use computers all day long and bought an iPad because it’s less like work and more like recreation. It’s all in how you look at it.

    • An excellent point, Dave. You really are a genius!

      I’ve seen a three-year-old interact with an iPad (and an iPod Touch) and I was amazed at how intuitively he approached it. He has no problem with any game he plays. So I’ve seen what you’re talking about, the ease-of-use aspect. I hadn’t considered how that may affect people on the other end of the age-spectrum.

      But regardless, I’ll concede your point: for you and I the iPad is impractical, but for others it can be a game-changer.

  2. Pingback: the great e-reader debate: tech-crunch « part-time buddha

  3. Pingback: saturday things #2 « part-time buddha

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