It’s been three months since I bought the iPad. For me, that’s plenty of time to fit a new gadget into my life or, rather, realize it’s taking up space, like so many USB cords and cheap earbuds and travel chargers. I give myself props, though. I embraced the iPad with an open mind, even though for the first three weeks, I considered selling it. I enjoyed it, yes, but I came down with buyer’s remorse. Of all the things I truly needed at the time, such as a new external hard drive, a gadget with redundant functions—internet, apps, music, etc.—should’ve remained at the bottom of the list. But those damn Apple Stores. They’re electronic brothels.
When it comes to “light browsing,”Â that aimless, blog-hopping habit, I’ve all but abandoned my Macbook. Right or wrong, the iPad is perfect for perusing the web while on the couch. That is, of course, until I run across a site that runs Adobe Flash. I will admit my growing frustration with its inability to view some videos, unless the kindly webmaster coded the clip in HTML5. So I’ll either sit at my desk and view it from the laptop or, if I’m being ridiculously lazy, I’ll walk over, wake up my laptop, sit back down and log into the Macbook via remote access on the iPad. Clearly, I won’t be deterred.
And there are times when I think about using the iPad exclusively. With a dock and Bluetooth keyboard, I could make the case for the iPad as laptop replacement. It’s almost there. With a dongle, I could connect the iPad to my monitor and—success!—my life as laptop owner comes to an end. For some, this setup simply won’t do. Can’t say I blame them, because there are reasons why I can’t quite commit to the iPad full time.
For one, I’m no fool. As I write, Apple CEO Steve Jobs sits in his bathroom, swiping away at iPad 2.0, to be released shortly before or after the holidays. I know this because I know Apple. I can’t knock the hustle. Apple gives out a little at a time, an update here, a refresh there, and you’re left with the decision: do I upgrade or not? So when the Turtleneck struts onto the stage and introduces iPad 2.0, featuring a front-facing camera and additional memory, I’ll have to decide. In the meantime, I have to wait for more functionality–
–like a USB port. Right now, my monitor is flanked by two external hard drives (one for Windows, one for OSX). These are my security blankets. I don’t trust “the cloud”Â enough to beam my files into server farms in California or Virginia. I’m old school. I need local backups. The iPad is still tethered to a full-function computer, specifically to serve its need to sync with iTunes. In other words, the iPad is not a stand-alone device. Maybe Apple never wanted it used as such. Fair enough. However, I can think of someone who does–
–Android, spawn of Google. Or maybe Hewlett Packard and its recently-acquired Palm software. And I guess Microsoft has a shot (so long as it keeps Windows 7 away from any tablet). I’m waiting for the competition. I’m a little surprised that nothing noteworthy has been released by other companies—just a lot of press releases stating their intent to sell a tablet. Vaporware, for lack of a better word. Give me an elegant UI, battery life comparable to the iPad, a USB port (even at the expense of some battery life) and memory card expansion (shame on Apple for keeping this out of their mobile ecosystem) and a decent price point. I might be inclined to hand down my iPad to my fiancee.
So okay, I want to use a tablet full time. But like I said, it’s been three months and apparently, something occurred to make me want to do away with my laptop. Not one thing, but a series of unrelated events: remote desktop access, drafting Pank columns, outlining or “mind-mapping”Â ideas, zooming through my RSS feeds for more idea generation (or mere entertainment), watching Netflix , and reading e-books. For what I need, a laptop now seems like a nuclear warhead when, in fact, all I require is a pistol. Once upon a time, that was the selling point from computer companies—”Âyou never know when you need more power.”Â Then netbooks came along and users began to notice the truth: checking Gmail and playing Farmville aren’t tasks in need of an 8 GB RAM behemoth (the latter needs Flash, though).
An aside: as far as e-books are concerned, I’m a convert. Granted, I’ll never do away with my physical books, or my craving to buy and hoard and read more of them, but I get it now. Between Amazon”â„¢s Kindle app and Apple”â„¢s iBooks, I now see the appeal. Find a book, click one button, purchase is executed, download commences and in one minute, I”â„¢m reading Octavia Butler”â„¢s last novel, Fledgling, or Zadie Smith”â„¢s collection of essays, Changing My Mind.
As for the iPad as a writing instrument, it”â„¢s okay. Seriously. I mean, in the absence of a physical keyboard, the touchscreen will help you get the job done. It”â„¢s not perfect; as you type, the letters do not appear above your fingertips (users of the iPhone and other devices know what I mean), so it”â„¢s easy to misspell a word. Too easy. The predictive dictionary, as you add new words to it, improves over time, but I can”â„¢t front: it breaks up the flow of typing far too often. I like the iPad for journal writing (MaxJournal is my app of choice), when I don’t care about form or accuracy—or lucidity, perhaps. I’ve written a few column installments on it and, again, it gets the job done. Aggravating, yes, but effective.
These days, I look forward to taking it on the road. My honeymoon approaches and, as of today, I’m leaving the Macbook behind in favor of the iPad. And why not? Watching movies and listening to music are de facto methods for passing time on an airplane. I no longer have buyer’s remorse—no need, since the money is long gone. I think it’s in a good place inside my writer’s toolkit, perfect for writing while on the go, yet a bit stifling when I’m home, my desk and chair inviting me over for a bit of quality time.
If I had to sum it up, I’m a fan of this new iteration of the tablet computer: mobile and sleek, as opposed to those bogged down by full-sized operating systems. It ain’t perfect. Three months later, I’m waiting for other companies to take their shot. I’m a tablet user, but I’m not a Mac, that’s for damn sure. First one to convince me to sell my Macbook wins.