To iPad or not to iPad: I am torn.Posted: October 4, 2010
Gentle readers, it has come to pass that I perhaps have the opportunity to own an iPad. After months of swearing it off, I’ve begun to fall victim to the appeal – drawn in by the shininess and polished facade.
But I’m torn. The price tag can be as high as $800 – that’s a hell of a lot of cash for something I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with. I mean, I was just browsing the Apple store website, and it looks to me like the new iPod touch actually does more than the iPad.
Here’s how my story started: Over the summer, while working at my limited license to practice internship, I went to court frequently, often carrying enormous stacks of disorganized files and paperwork. Inevitably, I would spend 20 minutes looking for one file while papers flew everywhere and the judge and opposing attorney looked on – either amused or impatient. About halfway through the summer, one of the attorneys I worked with frequently came to court with an iPad instead of the box of files. I noticed that he had transferred all the PDF files onto the iPad, and while I lost papers and cussed and shuffled files, he accessed each client file, in complete form, right there with one touch. This was the first practical application of the iPad I saw and, being more or less a practical-minded human being, it was what really got me thinking about the possibilities of the device.
Coincidentally, around the same time, I came home and found, to my horror, that my beloved Kindle (1st gen) had been destroyed somehow – the screen had gone kaput and was cracked and irreparable. I got the bad news that the warranty I had gotten would not replace the now thrice-outdated (but much loved by me!) device. It felt like my entire library had burned to the ground – the Kindle was my most beloved of all my gadgets – which is saying something because I am somewhat gadget-obsessed.
At Best Buy post Kindle-death, I started playing around with the display iPad. I like the look and feel – and I can see the potential in terms of reading and PDF storage. I started thinking about what, exactly, I would use the device for.
Here’s what I am fairly certain the iPad would be for me:
1) A shinier e-reader. I miss my Kindle – I’m an obsessive reader, I have precious little leisure reading time but I like to fill every minute of it reading interesting literature. Part of that is fed by being married to a writer – I have a steady stream of literature recommendations and I’d like to follow up on them. Books aren’t ideal for me for several reasons – I have an accessibility issue that makes being able to increase text size and contrast very important, and also I have the attention span of a hyperactive gnat and like to switch between 15-20 books at a time. I can’t carry 15-20 books at a time. Luckily with the Kindle, I could. The Kindle app for the iPad looks, I have to admit, gorgeous – and in combination with the native iBooks app for the iPad, it seems to be a device that could fill the painful void left by the Kindle.
2) A portable video library. One of the reasons I would probably spring for the 3G version if I do choose to go iPad is that I am really attracted to the idea of being able to stream Netflix or even purchase/rent iTunes content anywhere I am. I can imagine it would be nice to have video content available for travel, and easier to see/longer battery life for Netflix watching while in bed.
3) Subject to me learning how to transfer PDF files to it, a possible workhorse and major courtroom ally. I can only imagine the usefulness of the device at trial – having an entire trial notebook stored in one small, neat, instantly accessible device is an extremely attractive prospect. That accessibility issue I mentioned earlier in the leisure reading context – profound visual-spatial dyspraxia/dyslexia – makes it impossible for me to scan a page quickly and determine if it is the document I need. This means I spend an embarrassing amount of time shuffling through papers in court.
I’m not sure the courtroom benefits would happen right away, and I might be disappointed, but I can see tremendous potential in the trial context. I can imagine the time I would save shuffling through papers if I could just have it all right there at my fingertips. Granted at this point you can’t hook the device up to a projector (no USB connection), you can’t print from it, and you can’t really type notes or anything in the files you have; also, without Bluetooth it would be difficult to, say, beam a document from my iPad to the judge’s computer – can you imagine, “if I could just hand this up Your Honor?” – except in the time you took to say that the document had already been beamed to the judge’s screen? Tremendous potential. My concern is that this payoff might be far enough down the road to make getting an iPad now not very wise.
Also – reading PDF files on the iPad would make reading any school handouts a lot more accessible and easy for me – and especially this quarter I seem to have an inordinate amount of printout/handout material. I’d love to be able to read those on an iPad screen.
What it isn’t going to be/can’t be for me:
1) A laptop replacement. I’ve heard quite a few bloggers claiming they are ditching the old Macbooks and Macbook Pros (and even some Mac Pros, which, I mean, come on!) in favor of their new iPad. I think this is foolishness in the extreme. An iPad could never, ever replace my computers (yeah, that’s plural… I’ll admit to having a work PC, a play PC – both ASUS – and a bitchin’ iMac). I can’t play my games on the iPad (uh, yeah there are app games but I’m talking something a bit more taxing that requires real video card muscle). I can’t take class notes on an iPad without hooking it up with weird appendages. I can’t use Dreamweaver or Photoshop or any Creative Suite software on it. Without Flash, I can’t visit some of my favorite websites.
I also don’t need it to check my email or keep track of my calendar – my phone does that. I don’t need it to give me directions, my phone does that. I can tweet from my phone. I can find local businesses from my phone. My Android phone and I are inseparable already.
2) An iPod replacement. I’m not one of those people who needs one gadget to do it all. Even when I had an iPhone, I continued to use a separate iPod. I like my Android phone to be a phone, my iPod to play music, my computers to be computers, and maybe my iPad to do something interesting and different.
Anyway – the verdict isn’t in yet. So, gentle readers, I ask you – given the uses and non-uses I’ve come up with – is it worth it to buy an iPad? That $800… is it going to be everything I hope for?