Don’t Need an iPad, Kinda Want One

Warner Crocker is going to be our iPad guinea pig here at GottaBeMobile and Kevin Purcell is going to be taking up the role over at I’d like an Apple iPad to play with, but am holding off because I don’t need one and can’t figure out when I’d actually use an iPad instead of something else.

Before all of the computers and gadgets I carry around were invented, I didn’t necessarily ‘need’ to carry around thousands of songs, ink on a display, grab email from anywhere or play video games on the go.  But I can’t figure out what digital needs the iPad will fulfill for me. Plunking down $499 for a device that doesn’t solve any digital pain points or provide any new capabilities is a tough proposition for me.

Of course everyone’s needs are different, and the average consumer has far fewer devices than I do. For some, the iPad might add some new capabilities to their digital arsenal.

I just spent a lot of time going through Apple’s selling points ( here at and tried to convince myself that I needed an iPad, but I failed. Apple’s marketing materials failed to prompt me to pull out my AMEX card even though I always do like getting a new gadget. Here’s Apple’s key selling points and my reaction to each:

iPad is the best way to experience the web. View whole pages in portrait or landscape on the large Multi-Touch screen. And let your fingers do the surfing.

Any device that doesn’t support the whole web shouldn’t have so many limitations. Not only are Flash and Silverlight not supported, but you’re left with whatever functionality that comes packed with Safari. That might be sorta-kinda ok with a mobile device like the iPhone, but I want to do more on a bigger device’s web browser. Firefox is my primary browser on most of my devices and the add-ons really make it more than a simple web browser.  For me, the ‘best way to experience the web’ is with a browser that I can personalize and works with other applications (that I can run simultaneously). If I want a limited browsing experience I’ve got my iPhone 3GS. If I want the ‘best’ web browsing experience, I have a range of PCs and Macs at my disposal that all do a better job than mobile Safari.

There’s nothing like the Mail app on iPad. With a split-screen view and expansive onscreen keyboard, it lets you see and touch your email in ways you never could before.

Browsing email might be an interesting experience, and different, but I’m really not sold here. I need more functionality than what’s offered here and I can’t imagine typing on that ginormous on-screen keyboard comfortably. I’ll stick with Gmail, Outlook and Apple Mail for now.

A vivid LED-backlit IPS display makes viewing photos on iPad extraordinary. Open albums with a tap. Flip through your pictures one by one. Or play a slideshow and share your photos.

Ok, I’m a photography freak and love showing people my latest photos. The iPad would be a nice way to show my pictures off, but I’m not convinced that it’ll be a better experience than showing them on my HP Envy 13’s display, which has a drop-dead gorgeous LED display. If I’m going to bother bringing a non-pocketable device somewhere to show off some photos, I bring one of my PCs or my MacBook Pro. Another limitation of the iPad as a photo presenter is that I take a lot of photos and am too lazy to sort out just a few to carry around. At $499 I’d only get 16GB of storage, which is less than what I have on my iPhone, and I wouldn’t have nearly enough room to store all the pics I store on my other devices. If I did want to use the iPad as a photo presentation tool I’d have to buy the 64GB version and $699 is more than I want to spend on a device that duplicates what I can already do with other devices.

A beautiful 9.7-inch high-resolution display makes iPad perfect for watching any kind of video: from HD movies and TV shows to podcasts and music videos. Since iPad is essentially one big screen — with no distracting keypad or buttons — you feel completely immersed in whatever you’re watching. And you can keep watching for up to 10 hours, thanks to the lithium-polymer battery in iPad.*

My 46″ Sharp HDTV is perfect for watching HD movies in the living room. I’d love a bigger, better TV someday. Netbook owners are aware of how imperfect watching a HD movie or other long-format videos can be.  My iPhone 3GS offers a pocketable way to watch videos on the go. My PCs offer a good experience for watching on when traveling. My 23″ TouchSmart, coupled with Boxee, offers an excellent video viewing experience in my bedroom. So when am I going to watch a video on an iPad?

Reach out and touch your songs. View your album art full-size. iPad makes music look as good as it sounds.

I already have iTunes (amongst other music apps) installed on most of my devices and can enjoy music when I’m at home or standing still on my PCs. When I’m moving I can listen to music on my iPhone. When would I listen to music on an iPad?

You’ll find more than 150,000 apps on the App Store, and iPad can run almost all of them. Including everything from games to productivity apps.

If some developers develop some killer apps that solve some of my needs (that I’m unaware of) this could push me to buy an iPad. As of right now I don’t know of any apps that I need that can’t run on my iPhone or my computers. Gaming is a big wild card here – I think the iPhone as a gaming device surpassed everyone’s expectations and we’re expecting to see some much more robust games for the iPad. But for now I play casual games on my iPhone when I’m mobile, my PS3 and XBOX 360 when I’m on the couch, and one of my PCs for gaming in my office. Where would I play iPad games?

Reading is a joy on iPad. Text looks crisp and bright. Pages turn with a flick. And you can buy new books from the iBookstore. Just download the free iBooks app to get started.1

I know I should read more, but reading on the iPad looks to be a mediocre experience compared to devices like the Kindle, which are designed to avoid eye strain. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a Kindle, and if I decide to start reading more I’ll pick up a device with e-ink before the iPad.

If I don’t Need it, It goes on the ‘Want’ List

For now, the iPad’s been added to my long gadget ‘want’ list. On this list, which I keep on Evernote are a bunch of things that will allow me to do a lot of things that I can’t with current devices. The want list consists of gadgets that may be fun to own or be useful for work, but aren’t essential.

There are a bunch of gadgets and toys that I’d rather buy than the iPad at this point. For example, a new audio receiver would make watching movies a lot more enjoyable. A Nexus One (or the next iteration of it) would make my T-Mobile plan a heck of a lot more useful. I can always use more camera gear and there are a few other random items on my list.

What’s on your gadget ‘want’ list and on your gadget ‘need’ list? Is the iPad on either? If you already pre-ordered the iPad, did you want or need it?

Xavier’s Gadget Want List

* Google Nexus One – for use w/T-mobile plan  $529
* Amazon Kindle DX – read more books like I used to $490
* Taser X26  – Self defense
* DSLR Camera Backpack – Need something protective, water resistant $100-$200
* Onkyo tx-sr607 Receiver Approx. $400
* Bookshelf Surround speakers + Wireless transmitter
* Backup DSLR (D90- wait for full-frame body w/ Video capabilities, or find killer deal on 2nd D700)
* Nikon 14mm-24mm f2.8, Wide angle lens for D700- $1300
* Another speedlight- Nikon SB900
* New Gary Fong diffuser
* Mid-grade desktop speakers. Need to research.
* Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP About $1,500. 30″ high-end Dell
* HP Dreamcolor display $2000
* Samsung LED TV – wait for prices to come down, keep an eye on 3D tech
* 2740p OR X200t  approximately $1800
* New 15″ MacBook Pro- wait for Core update, matte display
* Remote webcam, monitoring system Need to research more
* Apple iPad $599
* Wacom display/tablet
* New All-in-one printer/scanner for documents/cards/photos.
* Slide/negative scanner for old pics Coolscan?