I want to like the iPad

Neither Fish nor Fowl
Really, I do. I put in my order for a 3G iPad on day 1 and calmly waited my turn for the Blessed Object to arrive. It has that `I must have it' sensuality that Apple has become so good at. But a week later, I don't get it. It's magical, but the magic feels more Oz than Dumbledore. It feels more like a business model looking for a device to express it, rather than something that actually fills a need. I like a lot of Apple products, but this one is a clear victory of style over substance.

I've been trying to figure out what it's good for, where it shines. Lounging around on the couch browsing the web is pretty wonderful. But if I want to take it with me, it falls apart: it doesn't just follow me, the way my iPhone does, which is attached to me. I have to actually put it in my hand. It's exactly as easy and as hard to bring with me as a laptop - it takes up a hand or a slot in my backpack. It's a little lighter. But not by enough to make a difference. And yet it's a whole lot less useful than a laptop. It's difficult to do much typing with: the onscreen keyboard is clumsy, and when I try to use it for long, my fingers end up hurting because the hard glass doesn't smoothly cushion my fingers the way a good keyboard does. I bought a bluetooth keyboard to use with it, which works well, but then I'm lugging two objects instead of one, and without a mouse I'm constantly having to lift my hand off the keyboard to touch the screen, which then makes it fall over :-(

I know I'm deeply not the target market, so my disillusionment probably doesn't matter. But I've watched my twelve-year-old daughter play with it. She likes it for playing games, but oddly enough, she seems to prefer my iPhone because it's a more comfortable size, and it's easier to take along. She browses the web with it, but as soon as she starts typing complicated URLs or Google queries, she heads over to the laptop.

And then there's the control-freak's-fantasy-developer-model. Yikes.... Enough has been written by others about that nightmare.

My fantasy Apple product is simple: stop treating OS X like abandon-ware.

May 9, 2010