I Managed to Not Buy an iPad
Saturday was the day roughly 300,000 early adopters got their hands on a spanking new iPad. MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer wasn't one of them, and he's still struggling with the cavalcade of emotions his decision to be a holdout hath wrought. Call it "unbuyer's remorse."
So, I pick up the phone on Saturday afternoon and without preamble, my Windows-using friend asks, "Did you buy an iPad?"
"No . . . not yet," I answer. I don't tell him that I'm sitting at my desk in between Final Four games browsing blogs and news sites, eagerly reading first-takes from gushing fans who are not David Pogue or Walt Mossberg.
I haven't even held one.
And last week, a Mac-lovin' friend sent me a text: "Did you pre-order your iPad yet?"
I called him on my iPhone.
"Not yet. I just can't wrap my head around five-hundred bucks for it. My iPhone can handle an awful lot of mobile work and movies and everything, and if I need more power I'd rather be on a MacBook. But still, you know, they look freakin' sweet."
"I know! They're so cool!"
Just when I'm thinking that we're sounding a lot like gushing school children, my buddy busts out this wistful statement: "I'm wondering if I could sell off a child to pay for one. . . ."
My Mother Might Buy One Before Me
Then there's my mother -- she's thinking about buying an iPad. This is a woman who shares an email address with her husband, along with one laptop between the two of them, which happens to be a rather thick Windows 98-running blue Dell that may have a 20 GB hard drive. Apparently, the television ads have sold her on the idea. I'm a little jealous.
I say, "You know, you don't want to be reading an iBook in the bathtub."
Not that I think that little comment will stop her. I've taken my iPhone backpacking, and what is the easiest and cheapest way to waterproof it? A Ziploc sandwich bag. Touchscreen works fine right through the plastic. I know she's got a few boxes of gallon-size bags in her pantry.
Shaking Those Bathtub Images Out of My Mind
Moving on, at first glance I would seem like a prime candidate for an iPad -- I'm an Apple product enthusiast, and I already own and use an iPhone, a MacBook, an Apple TV, Time Capsule, an iPod touch, an iPod nano, and a Mighty Mouse that's no longer sold and called "Mighty." Plus, I write about this stuff all the time.
It's true, I considered buying an iPad to review on opening weekend, but after I hemmed and hawed about it for a week or so, Apple's ship date slipped, which meant even if I pre-ordered, I wouldn't get one in time for it to be an editorially hot review. You snooze, you lose.
Still, I wasn't particularly keen on the idea of spending a lot of time reviewing one, writing it off as a business expense, and then ending up with something I didn't particularly need anyway. Sure, I could have sold it to my mom or tossed it to eBay, but I've got to say, there's some internal resistance going on with the whole iPad thing. Mostly it's cost.
The US$499 price is OK; I can choke down $499, but when you think about it, the $499 model sucks. You get a paltry 16 GB of storage, no way to upgrade the storage, and worse yet, you're tied to a WiFI Internet connection, so you're not really mobile, which means the 16 GB $499 model isn't even business-ready.
For something really handy, you need the 3G capability. If you're going to be lost in some city, you might as well have access to maps everywhere you go. That costs another $130, bringing the 16 GB model with 3G up to $629. For an awesome and well-designed entertainment device?
I'm just not there. It gets worse when you add a few accessories, like the iPad Camera Connection Kit, and start thinking of 32 GB.
As for books and magazines, I told my Mac-lovin' buddy that I can order an awful lot of old-school print magazine subscriptions and books for $500 to get me through until the next generation comes out.
He said, "Yeah, and nobody talks about this, but it's not like you really want to be taking one of these to the bathroom with you."
I realize that all this iPad hoopla, including the 'iPad' hygiene naming brouhaha, has been generating a whole mess of visuals my brain didn't really need to see. To shake the bathroom thoughts, I focus on the TV ads, pinch and zoom, flick and tap, and I find myself imagining a stack of cool photos and the awesome new Mail app.
Speaking of the new Mail app on the iPad -- this is one area where I can imagine myself getting some excellent traction. As I discuss this with my editor, I mention, "I can see the new Mail app letting you blast through a few hundred emails with ease while on the road -- or on the couch. Now that would be a productivity boost. And the keyboard would encourage brevity!"
My editor replies, "Only a true Apple fan would say 'the keyboard would encourage brevity' instead of 'typing on a virtual keyboard sucks.'"
She's got a point.
Well, how about this: If I do somehow manage to buy an iPad -- say, buy an iMac or Mac mini plus an iPad as an upgrade instead of a new MacBook Pro -- I'll type out the next MacNewsWorld column on the iPad itself.
And yes, it'll be short -- damn short.