iPad, iShmad

I have had an iPad in my possession since Thanksgiving.  For the first two weeks, I let my daughter play with it.  After that, it was my turn.  Any guesses as to how long it’s now been sitting up on the shelf untouched?

That answer would be four weeks.

I’m sure glad I didn’t drop $400+ on this device, that’s for sure (it is a loaner).  After the initial fun of killing bugs and “oh, look, I can read my work email from here,” the fun was gone for me.  Work?  On such a pretty shiny thing?

Not to mention the “fun” stuff wasn’t that fun to begin with.  The device is mostly useless unless you are connected to either a wireless network or have paid the extra for 3G coverage through a cell phone service.  It wasn’t like I was going to be able to sit in my car in a parking lot waiting for a kid to get out of guitar lessons, or on the bleachers at the local swim club during another kid’s practice and use the device for anything. And to be honest, even when using it for its intended purpose of surfing or accessing other online things, it was amazingly slow.  Pages pull up slowly, switching apps is also slow, and then there’s that whole greasy-fingerprints-on-the-screen thing that just grosses me out entirely.

I look at what I do on a computer, any computer, and do not see why the iPad is so awesome.  I write a lot of emails (lots of typing – I’m not a two word email writer).  I write procedures and policy manuals as part of my job.  Lots of typing.  I’m also a novelist.  Lots of typing.  I do some research and surfing, and cutting and pasting of information or saving of PDF’s and text files as I go.  I am what many would consider a power-typist; I average 120 wpm with accuracy, and probably type upwards of 10,000 words a day in my day-to-day life between work and home.

None of those things can be done on an iPad with any kind of consistency, or speed.  For what I do, the iPad is not the right device.  I know people love them, and use them a lot, but I just don’t see it as a device worth the money that is paid for it, including the long-term cost of wireless access.  Give me my laptop and my wireless network any day (and free wi-fi elsewhere) and I’ll keep getting the job done.  If I want to kill bugs, I’ll go outside in my backyard at dusk in June.  Plenty of bugs to be swatted there.

11 thoughts on “iPad, iShmad

  1. Sure, most of my iPad time is connected, and yes I pay for the (ugh) AT&T 3G for the times that I _don’t_ have WiFi at my ready disposal. The iPad, however, doesn’t _need_ to be connected, especially if you’re simply creating text content. I don’t even carry a laptop anymore. It sits at my desk, and I’m happy that my daily luggable load is very much lightened, even after I put the exceptionally heavy Otterbox Defender case on the device.

    As a technical educator, I need nothing else while I’m in the classroom (well, a whiteboard is always nice). I load up my presentations, connect to the projector, and *poof* away I go. I can do 95% of my business using the iPad, and more functionality is coming. I’m actually even playing with some apps that will allow me to completely untether from the projector (which I have to connect to with *gasp* wires).

    So, business apps –
    Keynote, all day long. Plays PowerPoint presentations quite well.
    Email is fairly critical to me, while arguably not a huge volume like I used to have, and the inbuilt client works just fine for me.
    Research, between Safari and all of the other cool apps available, is pretty easy (and frankly, quite functional).
    Oh, I also tend to do about 30-40% of my blogging from the iPad (arguably a poor data point, a I’m lucky to publish a post a week).

    Add to that all the non-business applications I have. Everything from eReaders (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and on and on) to musical apps (I’ve got everything from gig books to ear trainers to actual instruments) this one little device has replaced a $2000 MacBook Pro for most of my computing, and a rather significant portion of my personal media consumption. I am rapidly approaching using the iPad for half (i’m at 35-40% right now) of my TV consumption, but I also cut the cable a couple of years ago, and for me that worked out well.

    If I get really worried about the lack of a physical keyboard, I can pair up a real-live bluetooth keyboard (which I’m typing on right now) to the device, and I don’t have to wonder if the on-screen keyboard will keep up.

    As for slow, the iPad is arguably as fast as it needs to be. I’d like it to be just a touch more sprightly, but it’s quite good as it stands. A modern quad-core laptop with 8GB of RAM is an obscene amount of computing power that most of us will just never use.

    Now, the iPad is certainly not for everyone. But at the same time, you can’t look at it the same way you look at your laptop, desktop, or even netbook, for that matter. If you perceive an iPad as a laptop/netbook without a keyboard, you’re missing the point. This is, ultimately, a more casual and intuitive device, and was designed to _change_ the way we interact with computers.

    If it doesn’t do what you need it to do, just understand that there are those of us out there for whom it does everything necessary. Not everyone does the same thing with a computer, which is why there’s such variety in the systems, OSes, and applications available.

    If you don’t see the value in such a device, than it’s simple, don’t purchase one. I no longer see the value in keeping a laptop, so I’m not going to replace this one when it’s no longer relevant. Each of us has a different use case for technology.

  2. John Knights, points taken. I do lots of things with my laptop unplugged, things I can’t do with the iPad. I’m addicted to Microsoft OneNote, which I can use without being connected. Typing up articles and working on my novel also don’t require me to be connected. I often turn off wireless in order to get the majority of my writing done; it’s less distracting when I’m not getting chat requests or instant messages or notices that someone has tagged me on facebook. So yes, I do a lot unplugged as well.

    And yes, the iPad is SLOW. Very slow switching from one thing to another or getting connected to the wifi or pulling up the keyboard. It just isn’t a device that works well for me.

    That being said, I understand how popular it is and that for some people it is a valuable tool. But I keep asking this question and getting no answer:

    What BUSINESS/PRODUCTION apps are being used and what business is being conducted? For what I do on a daily basis, the iPad is simply a thing for me to waste time on when sitting somewhere, it isn’t a device that will help me get anything done, in a realistic sense. For a $400 device, I really want it to be more productive so it can earn back some of the money I paid for it. My laptop has paid for itself over and over, as has every desktop computer I’ve ever had. I have yet to see anything that will provide return on investment for me if I am using an iPad.

    Would love to hear what you use your iPad for that is going to further your business goals and provide a return on investment.

  3. “The device is mostly useless unless you are connected to either a wireless network or have paid the extra for 3G coverage through a cell phone service.”

    What on earth is this ridiculous statement? Does anybody have ANY computer-like device that is not completely useless unless connected to the internet these days?

    “…it was amazingly slow”

    …or your brain is too quick for it. Of the complaints that others have this is the first time I’ve heard that one.

    “Lots of typing. I’m also a novelist. Lots of typing.”

    Aside from the construction errors in your paragraph (I guess your proof-reader handles that) why on earth would you try to get work done on a compact mobile device then complain that it doesn’t work as quickly as a full-size keyboard. Well of course it doesn’t, even a netbook keyboard is not as fast as a decent full-sized item.

    “Give me my laptop and my wireless network any day (and free wi-fi elsewhere) and I’ll keep getting the job done.”

    So you do use wireless networking on every device you own after all? Some very odd statements in your entire appraisal…

  4. The iPad, like the iPod Touch, is primarily a consumption device. I consume media and short burst of information on my iPod and Sprint HTC Evo Android smartphone. I make short Facebook posts or short email responses on these devices. An iPad would be nice to have, but I don’t see myself carrying one around everywhere with me the way I can my iPod and Evo. Of course the Evo also functions as a WiFi hotspot for the iPod, making it an infinitely more useful device.

    When I need to do real work, nothing can replace my 17″ MacBook Pro.

    I can almost justify getting an iPad to watch Netflix on, but the iPod Touch handles Netflix viewing quite nicely and doesn’t take up much space.

  5. Like Michael A. above the iPad has become a complete replacement for my netbook, which I sold a month after purchasing the iPad. My extra wireless cost? Zero dollars. I have a wifi network at home (doesn’t everybody? ;)) and also have one at work, and at my grad school. It definitely would not be as useful if I didn’t have wifi at work. But I digress.

    Here’s the thing about my iPad. It’s the most used device in my house. Both of my kids (who are under 6 yrs.) love it an use it to watch videos, play games and listen to books. My wife uses it to surf on the couch and catch up with Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy via the free ABC app. Thing replaces a second TV and a computer for the kids.

    Given the amount of use the iPad gets it’s a bargain. It won’t replace a powerful desktop computer or your family room television, but it was never designed to replace those things either.

  6. Love the comments, guys, keep ’em coming. The iPad is not for me, but I know it is great for others because of what they do. I don’t randomly surf, I don’t watch much video, I do not game. I’m strictly a production-type girl, and the iPad doesn’t lend itself in any way to that It’s just another gadget, and I’m already a bit gadget-heavy as it is and the iPad doesn’t take the place of other devices so I can get rid of something, either. Things to think about…

  7. Um … ok. So the message here is that you don’t ‘get it’?

    That is fine, I know people who don’t ‘get’ smartphones or netbooks or even laptops for various reasons.

    I mean, if you are generally doing stuff in your house, your phrase “I just don’t see it as a device worth the money that is paid for it” would absolutely apply to a laptop. And so on.

    I have an iPad and it has completely replaced my use of my netbook. I often use the keyboard dock, which takes care of the typing issue. I do loads of gaming, so the iPad does fairly well there. eBooks are outstanding as well. I have email, web, loads of productivity apps, and so on. I am also a hobbyist musician and the tools available there are stellar!

    And the performance is very good – again compared to underpowered Atom netbooks.

    I still have PC and Mac laptops and a smartphone – all tools used for different purposes. But my iPad in a simple case is my constant companion (along with my Droid). I also don’t have a 3D version, because I get WiFi everywhere I need it.

    So enjoy your laptop … the iPad surely isn’t for everyone. Over at GottaBeMobile they did contrasting opinions about whether or not folks were heavily using their iPads… some were, some weren’t. Which is just the way things go – my sister-in-law got a Droid for Christmas … and she was barely managing to use her basic feature-phone …

  8. I would *love* to have one — but as you said, I’d need the 3G connectivity. I don’t live anywhere near wifi spots, not even my job has one.

    I could never imagine trying to use it as a “power” device (for me, meaning writing or editing video). I love the idea of being able to pick up my emails, read ebooks and watch videos but again…need wifi or 3G and you mention it’s slow? Eek.

  9. I love when people assume because a device doesn’t work for them that its not worth the money for everyone. How short sighted is that.

    IMHO the iPad doesn’t work for people who can’t move past the old way of working with data. Also people who have even tried to replace a full computer. WRONG! The iPad augments computers, not replaces.

    I’m an enterprise architect. I need my Visio, my Mac, no question. When I’m traveling and in meetings I do NOT want a full computer, and the iPad shines. To me and many others, its worth its weight in gold. Anyone that tells you otherwise based on their personal inability to fit it into their life is leading you astray.

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