iPad: No longer a laughing matter
So I must admit that I was once among the cynical hordes who made jokes such as the following: Do you need an iTampon to go with your iPad? I would sooner have purchased such a “useless” device than I would have shaved my head. However, when I received the mystical iPad for a graduation gift, everything changed.
Of course I could hardly believe it was real. I received the iPad within the first few months that it was released. And then I was mildly upset that such an expensive gift was purchased in my honor, especially because I had no use for it at the time! I just saw it as a bigger iPod Touch, which I already had. Or maybe as a smaller computer, but that is less easy to type.
But in honor of it as a very, very thoughtful gift, I started using it. It has a wonderful speaker, so I used it to play music instead of my computer. It browses the internet as fast as a computer, and most of my commonly used websites are not affected by lack of flash (YouTube is an app). It has an INCREDIBLE battery, so I can use it all day, every day without charging it often at all. If only I had it when I was still taking classes, because I would have much rather had that than a laptop.
So as I started using it more and more, I started getting used to it. By the end of the summer, I was using my iPad and my MacBook at a 50/50 ratio. But then I moved to California, leaving my comfort zone of WiFi coverage. And because my iPad gets 3G internet, it became nearly essential to my digital survival. By this time, I was used to typing on the touch screen keyboard, and I was quite comfortable navigating around the touch screen websites.
All of this is leading up to my argument for the usefulness and existence of iPads. They are smaller, lighter and easier to carry around than a laptop. Their battery life puts any computer battery to shame, and their system runs programs great speed. In fact, it’s absolutely wonderful that an iPad doesn’t ever have to boot up or restore after being asleep. It just … works.
An iPad can run many of the commonly used computer programs, at least in the unique Mac/iPhone OS. I love all of the games, many of which are the same as on iPhone/iTouch, but with much larger and more brilliant graphics. I use it as an iPod, gaming device, notepad, book, and for internet access. It is a complete entertainment system, with more variety and endurance than the average computer.
However, with all of these great qualities, it is not, strictly speaking, a computer. It has no USB port, no CD drive, and no way to get data input other than the iTunes Store or the iTunes connection with a computer. Well, it can read email attachments, but not save them. I was recently impressed when I could edit Google Docs on it! It can’t save any sort of files, and it mostly just runs its unique programs. Navigating certain websites can be difficult, and you can’t run multiple programs (except the iPod and other things), but it hasn’t been much of a hindrance on my iPad usage.
I would never use my iPad to research and write a paper, because there is too much flipping between programs and browsers. Though, the iPad can have up to 9 internet sites open at at time, which is convenient. On both my iPad and my MacBook, there are several websites that I rarely close (Gmail, Facebook, WordPress, IMDb, etc). I would never buy an iPad to replace a computer, but once my MacBook becomes less portable (as most laptops do in their later years), I will delay the purchase of a new one as long as my iPad is working.
I will take my iPad to Europe. I would choose iPad over MacBook for short weekend trips. I will take my iPad to Panera. I will take my iPad to work, in case I’m in the office alone and would like to play my own music. I will take my iPad when I am waiting for appointments and have a few minutes to kill by reading a book or playing a game. I find it more useful than a computer sometimes because it is lighter and easier to carry from room to room.
I started out thinking that an iPad was a useless thing. But since I started using my iPad, I found several ways in which it is superior to a computer. I would never use it to replace a computer, but I would use it to replace certain duties of a daily-use laptop. But the biggest point is that I am certainly not on the cynical bandwagon that I once enjoyed. I am a believer in the usefulness of iPads, and I’m so grateful to have one!