No, I don’t own an iPad and I have little to no interest in buying one either. I’m not writing this editorial to gush all over the iPad and tell you why you all need Apple’s latest shiny new toy. Instead, I’m writing this to explain why I think the iPad and devices like it are the wave of the future.
It’s inevitable. In the future, we’ll all own and carry with us iPad-like devices for consuming the internet and our favorite digital media. In our always on, always connected society, we already use our cellphones, laptops, iPods and Kindles for checking the news, checking our e-mail, uploading pictures to our Facebook profiles, reading e-books, listening to music and telling the world that we’ve just eaten a bagel via Twitter. The iPhone and the legions of smartphones that have sprung up attempting to copy its success (like it or not, the iPhone was hugely influential on the current smartphone industry) have sought to bring all of these things together and have largely been successful at doing so.
So what’s the problem? Why won’t we just continue to use our smartphones to satisfy our need to be connected? Well, it’s simple. Their screens are too small. Sure, an iPhone is great for listening to music and light web browsing and video watching but when it comes to tasks such as reading e-books, watching entire movies or television shows, working on documents, doing any serious web browsing and so on, smartphones fall flat because their screens are simply too small to get the job done.
The iPad doesn’t have this problem. With its generous 9.7” LED display, still images, web pages, movies, television shows, e-books, applications and practically everything in between render beautifully, and the screen is plenty large for just about any task you can think of. For consuming digital media on the go, I honestly can’t think of a better mobile companion, especially when the 3G-equipped iPad comes into play.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. “That sounds like a job for a cheap netbook!” Well, I’d agree with you but they have their own set of problems. Netbooks are impractical when all you want to do is check your e-mail or do any sort of quick task such as that for two primary reasons. While netbooks are small, they are still a bit unwieldy in certain scenarios in part because of their large and fairly bulky design in comparison to the sleek and slender design of the iPad.
Another reason they are impractical is because they lack the instant on potential of devices such as the iPad. In order to do even the simplest of tasks, you have to turn on the netbook and wait for it to boot up or wake from sleep which usually takes at least a minute or two, even for the fastest of netbooks.
This brings me to another problem facing netbooks. They’re incredibly slow, almost painfully so at times. As a netbook owner, I know how useful they can be but no matter what, when using one, you have to be patient. Netbooks do not have the power of full blown laptops or desktops and because of the fact that the vast majority of them run operating systems designed computers with a great deal more power than a netbook can bring to bear (especially in the case of Windows 7 Starter). In my experience, netbooks have some issues in terms of speed when trying to run applications that were designed with modern computers in mind.
Take it from a guy who owns and uses a netbook on a daily basis. They are slow. You are not going to be doing any serious video editing, high-def movie watching or any processor intensive tasks on a netbook because they’re not built for that. These are built for checking e-mail or doing web surfing or light document editing at the coffee house while you enjoy your tall white chocolate latte. Personally, I use mine for taking notes (and a little web browsing, I admit it) in class and other light usage similar to what I mentioned before and for what I use it for, it’s fine. To push things a bit further, my mother occasionally uses my netbook for watching TV shows on Hulu and says that it works just fine for that purpose too.
Am I saying this because I regret buying my netbook? No, because I don’t. I just realize that netbooks have their purpose in the world, just like the iPad has its purpose and when it comes to experiencing digital media on the go, the iPad is more intuitive. Its interface is inherently superior for certain tasks due to its multitouch display whereas laptops and netbooks use physical keyboards and trackpads which work just fine in terms of practicality but fall short in terms of intuitiveness. With the iPad, you don’t have to wait for it to boot up when you want to check your email. You don’t have to wait for it to respond when you click on an icon. You don’t have to figure out how it works. The iPad just…works. You pick it up and instantly know what to do with it.
At least from what I’ve seen and read anyway. I don’t have first-hand experience with the device and I don’t profess to know any more about the device than has been pointed out in any of the dozens of iPad reviews that can be found floating about the internet.
So, if I recognize that tablet devices are the wave of the future and that the iPad is likely going to be the first device to push us toward such a future, then why aren’t I lining up to buy one? That’s simple. Price. While I’m not fond of Apple’s closed software ecosystem either, the primary reason why I will not be buying an iPad is the fact that it is prohibitively expensive for me. I’m a college student and any money I get is going toward my educational pursuits and the pizza, take out and ramen noodles I need to keep me going.
As much of a gadget lover as I consider myself being, the iPad is one of those gadgets that I can live without, even if it is the new toy on the block that everyone is talking about. I’d love to have the chance to play around with one and review it to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be but at this point, it’s just too expensive to justify. Perhaps when the new generation comes around and Apple has dropped the price, I’ll consider picking one up. For now, my netbook and laptop will serve me just fine at home and on the go. They’re not the gadgets of the future, but they will suffice in the present.