I haven’t pre-ordered a unit as of yet – I’ve been waiting for reviewers to get their hands on them. But the more I see videos of this thing, the more excited I become. I’ve been waiting for an instant-on large-scale web browser I can carry about the house and on the road, and while my netbook comes close, it lacks the simplicity and elegance of the iPad. That touchscreen interface is so much better than my netbook’s scroll pad and cursor keys. While the iPad’s lack of Adobe Flash support is irksome, it will support YouTube and now there is news that Netflix will likely offer its Watch Instantly service as an iPad app.
I’ll be waiting for the WiFi+3G version of the iPad that debuts in about a month. I want to be able to take the unit out on the road, given my proclivity for day hikes. I’ll either buy the 32 GB or 64 GB version…and that means about $800 or more to get the unit and accessories. I’m glad I sold off a bunch a books to Powell’s last month and am on the verge of selling off my CD collection. I’ll need every penny.
Apple never could get me to buy a Mac, as my workday is in the Windows world and Macs are so pricey compared to Windows PCs. I’m quite happy with my Windows 7 netbook for blogging on the road and I use my Windows 7 desktop for much of my web browsing and productivity work. But in addition to novels I read a bunch of long-form web articles these days, which I save via Instapaper. I haven’t found the ideal hardware for that – each of my current options has its drawbacks:
Trade-Offs When Reading Long-Form Web Articles
- Desktop – most capable hardware in this list, but it is too uncomfortable to sit at a desk for so long when I’m just reading and not typing, and a desktop is anything but portable
- Netbook – portable and convenient with fairly quick startup from hibernation, but lousy navigation with its scrollpad and cursor keys, and limited screen real estate
- iPhone – super-portable and a great touchscreen interface, but its screen is too small and you have to wear earbuds or plug in an awkward external speaker for sound
- Kindle – simply superb for text, but lousy for graphics, very slow to link up to the web and download articles, and horrid navigation
The iPad offers Apple’s elegant fit-and-finish and superior interface design at a price I can just barely afford, and I’m intrigued by its simplified instant-on nature. It will be interesting to see how it overlaps with the functionality of my netbook, iPhone, and Kindle. With a Kindle app on the iPad, it may render my Kindle obsolete unless the electronic ink on the Kindle is still much easier on my eyes than the iPad’s display. And I don’t know how feasible it will be to use the iPad on my trips – can I easily upload my photos to it, edit them, and post them to Flickr and simultaneously compose a blog entry? I doubt it, so I’ll probably still rely on my netbook for that sort of functionality. And the iPad may feel too big to carry into restaurants and the like. But I am certain it will revolutionize my around-the-house web surfing.
[4/4/2010 UPDATE: The reviews and another road trip where I used my iPhone and netbook without ever opening the cover of my Kindle convinced me to pre-order the 64 GB 3G version along with a camera adapter, case, and dock. That will set me back almost $1,000.]