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Why I’m still holding off on the iPad



By now I’ve been positive enough about the iPad to attract fanboy accusations, but the truth is I’m still not sold yet. Yes, I’m highly impressed by it, but if I bought every gadget that impressed me, I’d have a whole lot of junk and lot more holes in my clothes. So what’s keeping it out of reach for me?

This moment of self-reflection is spurred on by Xavier’s question to me in last night’s podcast as to whether handling the iPad has changed my mind about getting one. It hasn’t. Several reviewers have commented since the beginning that you need to get your hands on the iPad to really appreciate it. That’s probably true for many, but I tend to be good at understanding things without needing to get hands-on. Case in point, I bought my first two tablets without having handled them beforehand and was not disappointed. When I do buy an iPad, it could be the first time I’ve handled a tablet before buying it.

Wait, I’m still buying one? Yes, I already admitted as much earlier. I love the feel of the device. It works for me on several levels. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t happening, but I’m not in a rush to get one either. I could wait until the 3G model, until the 4.0 software, until next year’s upgrade, or even further. Ideally, I’ll be waiting until it gets an active digitizer, but unless they buy out Wacom, I don’t see that happening for at least another couple of years.

As I told Amy, it’s hard to love a format that can’t properly display the work I’ve done. It’s also hard to love a format that can’t allow me to create my work. As an inker and ink blogger, I am highly reliant on pen input for content creation. Unless I can come up with a compelling solution for inking on an iPad (and I am thinking about it), it’s not the perfect device for me.

In the meantime, it’s a matter of waiting to see if something else tips me over. I’ve been content to go without comic books for several years, partly to budget and partly to a growing aversion to collecting stuff. Gaming doesn’t usually entice me, but tabletop gaming via the iPad could. Working for The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, I am the gadget guru and could be called upon to investigate the iPad, which works much better for our color PDF format than grayscale e-ink displays. Reasons from jobs past and present (yes, they’re all job-related reasons) could push me to buy an iPad sometime soon. Until then, I’m good without one.



  1. everbrave

    04/04/2010 at 8:25 am

    I do not pretend that I know you Sumocat, but I read your threads and I think you will get an iPad sooner than you think ;)
    Let me see if I can resist longer :)

    • Sumocat

      04/04/2010 at 10:14 am

      Dude, you’re just going to have to trust me on this: in contests of NOT doing things, I’m unbeatable. I hold the world record on procrastination, or I would if I ever get around to submitting my entry for consideration.

      • GoodThings2Life

        04/04/2010 at 11:07 am

        I dunno… I once turned in a 10-page research paper in high school 3 months after it was due…

  2. Osiris

    04/04/2010 at 8:30 am

    inking has gone the way of the pen and paper. You are clutching to your inking like a digital dinasaur. Didnt you get the message? the iFuture will not be ink friendly. No Country for Old Inkers.

    Ignore that I got carried away, but in a sense it does appear like the big players making a push for the consumer sphere this year would like to leave inking as a niche market. Apple seem to have no interest in it, does the HP slate even ship with a digitiser?

  3. Jonathan

    04/04/2010 at 8:43 am

    You have to remember Apple is a “average consumer” company. They will only embrace a technology if they think their target audience will adopt. Look, it doesn’t use a Pixel Qi screen, why? Because most people don’t know about it. Same with inking. Every one that sees me and my Fujitsu St5112 writing in OneNote always go… ” Wow, I never knew you could write on a computer,” or ‘I didn’t know they made those.” Most people inking experience consists of signing those horrible debt pads from Ingenico. There just isn’t a high level of consumer knowledge of the capability to warrantthe desire. And until then we just won’t see the manufacturers support.

    • Antimatter

      04/04/2010 at 9:32 am

      Before the iPad there wasn’t a whole lot of consumer knowledge about slate tablets either. I still see people on tech blogs who literally think this is the first one.

      Before the January 2010, when I had my tablet out in public, people would ask me “What is that?” After January 2010, people ask me “is that an iPad?”

      Apple has this amazing ability for educating the general public on obscure technologies. If they wanted to, they could have easiy educated the public on inking capabilities. My guess is Steve just has too much of an aversion to the stylus.

    • Osiris

      04/04/2010 at 9:48 am

      The lack of awareness I feel has largely been a result of

      – high prices
      – poor advertising
      – no direct useage

      iPads dont have a direct usage either but they are designed as a consumer device so can be pretty much ubiqutious where tablets couldnt. The price point is pretty good too, until tablets are largely affordable by consumers they will always remain a niche market lacking large consumer recognition.

      I really dont think we will see that change either. I think MS will follow apple on this one with a WP7 tablet before they change their strategy and attitude towards full win. tablets

      • ChrisRS

        04/04/2010 at 11:38 am


        RE: “I really dont think we will see that change either. I think MS will follow apple on this one with a WP7 tablet before they change their strategy and attitude towards full win. tablets”

        If MS develops a Windows Phone 7 style tablet, there is no reason not implements the same interface on a ful Windows Tablet.

        The lack of a true pen based interface is one of teh thingds that held back, and is holding back, Tablet PC adoption. Whatever the WP7 interface for Office and productivity applications wil also port over t full window.

  4. ChrisRS

    04/04/2010 at 11:43 am

    If you are not in “rush to get one either. I could wait until the 3G model, until the 4.0 software, until next year’s upgrade, or even further.”, does that mean that ou are open to the competitors that come out in the interim – especially if an active digitiver becomes available?

    • Sumocat

      04/04/2010 at 2:00 pm

      I’m not closed to the possibility, but looking at a time frame of one year, i.e., between now and next year’s model, I don’t see a serious competitor coming to market.

      The great hope is the HP Slate, but like all Windows-based x86 tablets it lacks always-on functionality and has a desktop-based interface. Put it to sleep, it does nothing. Lock an ARM-based device, it’s still connected, receiving data, playing music, etc. If I wanted a touchscreen tablet that ran Windows, I would have gotten a UMPC already.

      As far as ARM-based competitors go, the OS of choice seems to be Android but the effort going into making it tablet-friendly is highly fractured and unfocused. I do not think there will be a well-tailored version of Android for tablets this year.

      Windows Phone 7 will be limited to strict hardware specs at launch at the end of this year. Courier is vapor for the next year at a minimum. Palm is in enough trouble without attempting an iPad competitor. RIM has retreated from touchscreens back to their bread and butter. I doubt Nokia will make a quantum leap with their Internet tablets this year.

      Someone could surprise me, but for all the talk about tablets, there’s a lot about hardware, like Tegra 2, and very little about software. That is a huge gaping hole in the iPad competition in desperate need of filling. That will change beyond the next year, but the iPad won’t be stagnant during that time either.

  5. HG

    04/04/2010 at 12:08 pm

    I would pay a extra 200.00 if Apple would come out with a active digitizer for the iPad. I also use inking quite a bit and can get without it, but prefer inking in some things for my job. I can see that most users are now aware of inking, so Apple made the iPad with a capacitive touch screen to make everything more finger friendly and easier to use.

  6. loyukfai

    04/04/2010 at 1:32 pm

    The lack of pen input and vendor lock-in are two major shortfalls IMO.

    I’m intrigued that a future version of this could really make a “less paper” school system viable. However, I still think children should learn to write, and I hope someone will come up with a screen which is more suitable for them to learn writing. Issues such as parallax and delayed input render the current technology unsuitable for children learning to write.

    Although DRM for music is basically gone, it’s still there for the others. Unless we’re going to live in an 100% Apple world… Imagine paying for the same content twice or thrice because you want to access it from different platforms, or that your invested collection going away should the company goes under.

    I’m interested to see how Android and Chromium OS perform in the tablet scene.


  7. Fernando

    04/05/2010 at 3:55 am

    Check out this try at inking on the iPad:

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