Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Changing my tune on the iPad

I'm a self confessed Apple junkie. I just love how well their products work as well as their design -- so much so, that when my MacBook recently made a pretty serious suicide attempt, I nearly immediately replaced it with an iMac. The laptop has since mysteriously came back to life, more or less, so I still use it occasionally -- when I want to cuddle with Daisy on the couch, for example -- but most of my hardcore work and surfing is now done on the desktop, and I love it, too.

The night last month when I bought my iMac, the Apple Store was just a-swarm with people fiddling with the store's iPads. And, really, I just didn't get the furor at all. Its screen was too small, I thought, to be of real work use. And even if it were bigger, it's hard to produce multi-page documents if you're typing on a faux (touch screen) keyboard. I already have and love a Kindle, so its book reading ability didn't suck me in. And its ability to watch videos wasn't a selling point for me. Basically, I need a portable computer to be a portable computer, not an overly ambitious iPod touch. This was the first Apple product* that I wasn't drawn to at once.

But then, I read this today from Gizmodo. And as quickly as that, my mind has been changed:
I went nearly 24 hours without charging my iPad, watching four hours of video, reading books for a couple of hours, getting in a few rounds of Strategery, and still had a bit less than half of my battery life left when I hit the ground three planes later. That longevity changes the experience profoundly, more than making up for the iPad's deficiencies for me. Except for editing video, there's not a single thing in my workflow that I can't do on the iPad, and I haven't even begun to experiment using VNC or other screen sharing tools to connect back to my iMac to access its "real" computing power.
But I returned from this trip convinced that this form factor has legs. (And everything I came to appreciate about the iPad's merit as a travel computer should apply to Android and WebOS tablets, if and when those actually make it to market with a consumer-friendly level of UX refinement.) Since I have a power-guzzling traditional computer on my desktop to do all the heavy lifting when I'm home, I don't see a place for my laptop in my life right now. I had an inkling that might have been the case when I bought my iPad, but I had to take a leap of faith to be sure.
If the iPad can easily produce documents with the simple addition of a Bluetooth keyboard, weigh next to nothing and have a really long battery life, then it meets all the needs I could want out of my MacBook. Whenever my MacBook finally does die for real, I know what my next Apple purchase will be.

* Leaving aside iPhones because I have/had cell phone provider/Outlook compatibility issues that drove my decisions in this arena.


Russell said...

You are great.

Shu said...

We really should replace your hard drive.