OK, I’ve not actually written anything on here about the iPad, and hadn’t really planned to. But a friend wrote me over the weekend and asked me what I thought of the thing, and I rambled enough that I figured it would be a waste not to turn it into a blog post. So here’s my response:

Heh. Good question. I just got my vacation payout from SAIC yesterday, and realized that if I wanted, I COULD get an iPad.

My initial response when I saw the announcement was that it was something that I wanted, but not something I needed.

The iPhone was revolutionary; it let me do things I couldn’t do before. The iPad just gives you a different tool for doing stuff you could do on other devices, if less well.

At the time of the announcement, justifying that amount of money would have required needing it. Now that I could get it, I just have to decide how much I want it.

For me, I have a laptop that I bought six years ago that’s way out of date, and I rarely use it. I use it rarely enough that it would be hard to justify spending a bunch of money on a new one, even if I would use a new one a lot more. I’m not a big laptop fan; I find them kind of clunky. So, my question is, could I use an iPad instead of a laptop.

In a lot of ways, I could — I definitely see myself using it around the house so I’m not chained to my desktop; I already do that with my iPhone. I could also see myself using it around town, especially as basically a Kindle — go sit at the park or a coffee shop and do some reading. For travel, it would replace my computer in a lot of ways, but I’m not sure about all of them. Without Flash, would I run into things I want to do online that I can do today on my laptop but not my iPhone? (Of course, some of the stuff like Flash and apps not running in the background are software issues; no reason that situation couldn’t change in the future even on the first-gen hardware.) One of the ways I use my laptop traveling is to download pictures from my DSLR camera; the iPad lacks a port for being able to do that.

Also, how easy is it to write on? The size alone should make the virtual keyboard easier to use than the one on the iPhone, but how will it compare with a real keyboard? Can you copy and past info from pdf files and other sources easily? That one I’ll be able to answer when they finally get one in at the Apple store and I can play with it.

One of my other issues is usage cost — I don’t know if I would use it instead of my iPhone enough to justify $30 a month, but I also think it would be wasteful to buy one that didn’t have 3G capability; better to spend an extra hundred bucks and not use it much than to spend $500 on a device that doesn’t do what you need.

The other big issue is the lack of a camera. Or, really, the lack of two cameras, front and back. And there’s indications that Apple was going to put at least one in, and backed out at the last minute, which would imply that there’s a decent chance that the second-generation iPads will have them. So do I look at getting one now, or do I wait until next January to see what they announce?

There are also stories saying that Apple is making enough profit off the thing that if it doesn’t do well, they can knock the price down (which happened after I bought the original iPhone). If that happens, it might also make it more tempting.

Sorry — very long answer to a simple question.

You thinking about getting one?

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