Last week, I confessed to Slate readers that I hate my iPad. For some of you, this confession came as a relief—you'd been underwhelmed by the device and were pleased to learn you're not alone. Others thought my complaints were shortsighted and pointed out the ways in which the iPad has changed their lives. One commenter noted that I seem too immature to weigh in on the iPad's utility; another suggested my complaints were those of an insufferable old fogey. Three cheers for parity!
We've curated the best reader arguments, both for and against—food for thought as you mull how to respond to news of the forthcoming iPad 2. A few of the comments were edited for length.
I believe the innovation of the iPad is primarily ergonomic. For some of us, being able to compute in a relaxed posture is enough to make the product revolutionary. Some things my computer does best, some things my iPhone does best, and some things my iPad does best. Welcome to the multi-platform world.
I think the key is really that you're expecting it to be an augmentation to everything you already have, to do something different. For me, the key differentiator was that it brings together a lot of things I had or wanted to have into one light, powerful and long-lasting package. It's my definitive mobile device, especially on commutes, that gives me music, movies, books, news, email, browsing, maps, and games.
The iPad is a superb sketchbook and illustration tool. It has changed my workflow completely.
Previously: Haul out my heavy, fragile, 3 hour battery MacBook Pro, Wacom Tablet and find a horizontal surface to set it all down on, preferably near a power outlet. Plug it all in, wake up computer and wait for hard drive to spin up. Start painting in Photoshop if it's open. Otherwise, wait 2 minutes to begin working.
Now: Pull out light weight, non-mechanical, 10 hour battery iPad. Instant on, press Brushes app button, start painting. Standing, sitting, wherever. A stylus is nice to draw with (I use a Griffin) but not totally necessary. Titian was a finger painter too.
As for typist-friendly: it depends on how you learned to type. If you're a traditionally-trained, 10-finger typist, then you might not like the keyboard—it lacks the tactile element that you rely on when typing without looking. But if you are like me, someone who never learned to type and now does it all multi-fingered, then it is excellent.
I understand why some people don't like the iPad, but I couldn't live without it. It carries all the thousands of research documents I need for my book (the app is GoodReader), and even if I didn't love everything else about it, that would be enough.
I don't know how I used to do anything without it.
As a physician, I consider the iPad to be the most revolutionary tool I have ever used, and I have used and designed computer applications in medicine for more than 20 years.
This is not a laptop, not an E-book, but a highly portable, extremely customizable knowledge portal, which allows me to carry an incredible array of technical books, documents, calculation tools, presentation tools, etc.
It is not designed to be a tool for content creation, but rather to excel at knowledge retrieval. Physicians, especially hospital based physicians, are arguably the original knowledge workers, and the ability to have the right knowledge or calculation tool at your finger tips at all times is ultimately to your patient's advantage.
Would not trade this device in for any amount of money. The raw amount of technical data either directly stored on the device, or directly accessible by the device astounds and delights me every day.
What you're missing is this: the iPad's best use is doing stuff in bed. Movies in bed. E-mail in bed. News in bed. Bugdom 2 in bed. Start doing things in bed.
I find this article hard to believe. I do everything on my iPad. I connect to both work and home PCs, I log into my work data base wirelessly wherever I am, I connect wirelessly to view hundreds of security cameras at my facilities, I can switch between the WSJ and my local gazette at will and best of all I don't have to use @!&/$ MS Windows on my slow-as-molasses laptop. You obviously haven't tried connecting a keyboard or external hard drive to your iPad. The next big thing is already in your hands.
You know what would make you love an iPad? Having a new baby and breastfeeding. My baby often falls asleep on me, and even when he doesn't it can take 30 minutes to feed him. Nothing helps me not rush the process like having my iPad handy. It's easy to maneuver (unlike my laptop) and I can check my e-mail, web browse, read a book, watch TV (with ear buds), play games, blah blah blah. It definitely helped make me feel less isolated during my maternity leave.
The iPad can be ideal for some purposes. It's been a cheap way to add computer functionality to our house without having to buy more computers. We can all be surfing and checking email, Facebook, watching Netflix, and more without having to take turns on the computer. It fits our lifestyle. If it doesn't fit yours, that's fine. That doesn't make you less materialistic or more spiritual. If you were, you wouldn't be online reading an article about iPads.
It's great for academics. I used to have piles of journal articles all over my office, organized more-or-less by their relevance to one of my projects. Since getting the iPad, I haven't printed out a single article. There are tons of good PDF reader apps (I use PDFExpert) that let you highlight and take notes like you would with a hard copy. The apps syncs with Dropbox, so it's easy to keep an organized repository (with all my notes) on all of my devices.
Like other posters, I do find the iPad has limited work value because of the largely "consume only" model. And I am constantly annoyed by Apple's blatant strategy for dominating content. However the iPad is a much easier and more intimate way to share photos and music than either a laptop (too cumbersome) or an iPhone (with its small display)—especially for older people with less-than-perfect vision and hearing. During the last few weeks of his life, when my father was in a nursing home and had great difficulty communicating, I would set up my newly acquired iPad on his table in the dining hall and run short iPhoto slide shows of family members. With the large display, he was easily able to recognize faces, certainly much better than he could have on an iPhone, and he often smiled. On iTunes, I would also play some of his old favorites: Sinatra and Ella. With small, portable speakers, the sound is decent—better than an iPhone or a laptop—and again the large display makes it much easier for me to select tunes. Of course I could have done the same thing with a laptop, but in reality they are WAY more cumbersome to carry, plug in, and set up, so I never bothered. On the sentimental strength of this use alone, I love my iPad.
The iPad is like a Swiss Army knife ... without any blades.
You're missing all of the fun. What I love most about Apple products is the proprietary nature of all of the apps I can buy for it. I love being restricted to buying all of my content from Apple. I love not being able to use certain applications because they don't meet Steve Jobs' exacting standards. I love paying 3-4 times as much for a product that is, at best, marginally better than the competition.
I wish I could write a thoughtful reply, but I am typing this on iPad, and that thing is only good for reading, certainly not for editing which is required for anything thoughtful. I am with you—it's an expensive toy. I have it only because my software has to work on that puppy.
Everyone I know who carries around an iPad is also carrying around a laptop right next to it.
I like the hands-free nature of my laptop, that it can just sit on an object in front of me, a table, my lap, the arm of my couch, and I don't have to torque my body to see it laying there. Someone gave me the iPad as a gift, and I promptly returned it. I felt bad because that person had spent a whole lot of money and really thought I'd love it. I should have—on paper, I look like the target audience, I'm a tech person, in my middle thirties, consume all kinds of digital media. I just don't have room for it in my life. I already have an iPhone, a laptop, and a Kindle.
I just don't need any more distracting toys anymore. In fact, what I need is the exact opposite. I need to be working, and when I'm at work, I need to feel busy and actually BE busy. When I'm not, I need to be outside, getting some fresh air, meeting with real people and having real conversations that are more demanding, or interacting meaningfully with my still young children. I need to cook and eat real dinners, at a table like in my kitchen or dining room, watch a little TV again without tuning out with my laptop and half paying attention and forgetting what I was even watching. If I go out to a restaurant, I don't want to check scores compulsively like a smoker waiting for that next cigarette break, and if I'm at a movie, I don't want to FB how good/bad it is WHILE I'm in the theater. Sheesh, what I really need to do is unplug and live a little (ok, a lot) more in the nondigital world.
What I need is an antiPad.
The "Steve Jobs wants my money for everything" problem is exactly why the iPad is dumb. At least on a smart phone, you can make calls and write emails easily. The iPad is a $600 cover charge to a "Pay-As-You-Go" universe.
You're basically buying the right to buy more stuff.
As far as I can see from my experience with people who have purchased iPads, the iPad is a toy for people who already own laptops and have an extra $1,000 or so lying around and have no idea how to spend it.
I like to sit on my couch and watch Netflix on it even though there's a 46" LCD right in front of me. I like to use the word processing software even though it takes ten times longer than using a real keyboard because my desktop computer is all the way in the next room. I like to use the shiny back as mirror to check myself out. I like to look at the pretty colors on the screen. It also makes a really futuristic looking paperweight. It's so cute and shiny.
Kim Zoot Holmes
To me, it's all about the size of my purse. I can carry the Kindle and the iPhone in my purse, not the iPad. Therefore, the iPad would have to offer a lot of bonus functionality (outside my iPhone and Kindle) to get me to carry it around too. And at home? I consider my MacBook superior because, what it lacks in portability, it makes up for in added functionality.
In other words? Thank you for helping me justify why I haven't bought one yet.
Most of what everyone is raving about I can do on my far far cheaper netbook. Plus it has a keyboard. I do wish the battery lasted longer, and an iPad would be more comfortable for reading in bed but I only make it about 10 minutes anyway before passing out.
My favorite iPad headscratcher occurred when MC Hammer brought his on Oprah to show off a product his company had produced for it. It was an iPad case and it included a little keyboard. The audience gasped in awe when he demonstrated it. A portable computer with a keyboard! Can you imagine?
Has either side convinced you? I'm afraid I'm still in the con camp, and trying to find a way to cut my losses. Several commenters offered to take my iPad off my hands—one even offered me $100 for it—but the best advice for what to do with my unloved tablet came from a reader who contacted me via e-mail. He writes:
First recognize who you are [and] what you are doing to yourself.
Give all your electronic devices to a local school then walk into a local library and see what they offer. Next check out a book read it and return the book, repeat often, maybe every 2 weeks.
Take all the money you will save and buy TIP bonds plus 20% and buy Apple stock, I mean not just the money you already spent on devices but all future money you know you will spend on future devices and all their attachments.
Do this for 25 years and not only will you be much smarter but also much richer. Also over the years as you go to the library you will meet some fantastic people. So instead of separating yourself from great people and your money with the latest devices buck the trend and enjoy life as it was meant to be. With many face to face friends and a huge wad of cash in the bank and no debt.
Now that'd be putting my money where my mouth is. See you in the stacks!
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