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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 Notebooks.com. 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 Apple.com) 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?

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8 Comments

  1. Sam

    03/20/2010 at 5:28 am

    I think the American economic engine is waiting for people to dive into their “want” list so we become the consumer nation we once were. But, it will take a bit longer before we get back to buying like we used to.

    I too have started placing things in lists of want and need. The need list is taking growing precedence over the wants. The iPad falls squarely into the wants list, and will probably stay there until I can deem my job is safe from cuts.

    I have actually taken broader action by selling items which can be replaced with a cheaper, yet equally well performing alternative. My Mac Pro is on the chopping block. I can find a suitable PC to replace it, and at half the cost.

    Apple products are nice to have, however they are pricey and out of reach for many in this economy. I don’t expect Apple to start producing cheap alternatives, but at the same time, if they want us all to buy what they have, they need to make it so it does more. The iPad doesn’t do it for me.

    Reply

  2. Jim

    03/20/2010 at 8:55 am

    OK–I don’t have as many devices as you but do have a Iphone 3g (always with me), HP TC1100 (note taking and grading papers by hand), Adamo 13 for writing papers, and a Fujitsu U820 (versatile, take almost everywhere, do anything). But I convinced myself to get an ipad. I can tell you why but it might come down to pure gadget lust.

    Here are my reasons:

    Replace the U820 with a machine that can do my email, calendar, and basic needed web browsing THAT IS NOT SO SLOW AS HELL AT TIMES.

    Hoping to use the reader a lot too for books but also for class notes when I lecture without having to print it all out on paper.

    Might be my powerpoint player too.

    Other functionality currently on iphone like recording exercise information, being my evernote coordination point,, etc.

    Basically–a fast lightweight task machine that is in the “almost take everywhere”

    An active digitizer for note taking and paper grading and I would have been ecstatic. Why can’t there be a 1 1/2 pound machine I can do that on???

    Reply

    • Sam

      03/20/2010 at 9:22 am

      “An active digitizer for note taking and paper grading and I would have been ecstatic. Why can’t there be a 1 1/2 pound machine I can do that on???”

      So close, and yet so far.

      I have been depending on an LE1600 to do those things. Maybe the HP Slate will be more like it.

      Reply

  3. Wes

    03/20/2010 at 9:24 am

    You will buy an iPad, Hamlet. Enough thinking, just get it over with.

    Reply

  4. Sandeep Koorse

    03/20/2010 at 2:44 pm

    I got the 64gb iPad. Can I justify it? Not yet. Apple produces game changers. I’ve had the Kindle DX, Kindle 2, iLiad, Sony PRS-505, and I’m certain that the iPad will trump them as e-readers. Why? I don’t know.

    Is it possible to have too much faith in a company? Anyway, I think it’s a no-brainer for gadget lovers with too much disposable income. Even in this economy, there are still a lot of them. Many of them are already in the Apple camp. I’m an eBay day trader, so I figure a minor early adopter penalty is worth the risk of having a cool new toy.

    Reply

  5. Brett Gilbertson

    03/20/2010 at 4:48 pm

    I’ll be getting one so that I can compare it to the other Tablets that I have for my work and my customers. My family love our iPhones (although I have started to fall out with it) and like you Xavier, I can’t really see anything that iPad offers that I need. Maybe eBook reading… If it had an active digitizer it would be a completely different story and i’d be shaking in my boots!

    Your article really highlights to me that it may well be the “computer” for folks who don’t have a computer yet. It’s hard to beleive that there are many of them left after the netbook craze (I resisted for ages, but even we have 2 netbooks in the house).

    Perhaps iPad is for a few oldies who are intimidated by technology… I’ve heard lots of people say that they’re buying one for their moms and aunties… But again, I’m not sure that there are millions of these left.

    I spoke to a old timer cattle farmer in outback NSW this week while I waited for his herd of cattle to cross a bridge and he told me that he had a laptop at home and how he was now facinated by these new small cheap laptops (netbooks interestingly not iPads). He was very new to technology, but even a veteran farmer in the outback has a computer.

    Obviously the fans will suck up a million or two iPads, but once the initial push is over the rest of us will be sitting back and waiting to see how much iPads actually get used and what for. It will be interesting to see.

    Reply

  6. Steve

    03/20/2010 at 5:36 pm

    I’m getting one. My justifications are: I currently watch a lot of iTunes U videos on the bus on an iPod Touch (would work better on the iPad), I want to use the iPad as an ebook reader, and I want 1st generation hardware for testing iPad apps.

    I think in general the iPad designed to be the first step in creating a device which is ‘enough computer’ for a lot of people but without the hassle of a full-blown OS. To get there Apple will need to add some way to sync the iPad to an Apple cloud service so the iPad owner doesn’t also have to have a Mac/PC for backups, transferring files, etc.

    Reply

  7. Fred

    03/20/2010 at 9:34 pm

    I found a stylus with a fine point advertised for the HD2. If the description is correct, it should work on the iPad http://www.thepocketsolution.com/PSI-60854/HTC+HD2+Value+Package.html

    Reply

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