Yep. There is one change that would make me buy an iPad.
No it’s not implementing Flash. While I can live without Flash, I dislike the motive behind Apple not supporting Flash. And Flash games too, some of them are fun. But no, it’s not the lack of Flash.
It’s not that Apple are becoming the next “Evil Empire” with their vendor lock-ins, walled-gardens markets, their worrying editorial powers (no porn on the ipad/iphone? Shouldn’t that be my choice?) or forcing app developers to do things their way. I could accept all those limitations with just this one change.
It’s not the lack of camera. Sure the camera would be nice, imagine video conferencing with that sort of device? That would indeed be “awesome”, to use a popular American adjective. You could even take snaps of documents rather than carry those documents around. But the camera, I could do with out. Sure wasn’t I using mobile phones before they had cameras?
It’s not the lack of an SD slot or USB ports either. Seeing now I trade stuff between my devices like the Wii, my old Palm, my DSi, my mobile phone, my digital photo frame and even different PCs using USB drives and SD (and micro SD), I could get by, particularly because I’d probably be forced to use iTunes to transfer my videos and photos and it’d have to convert everything from mp3 and divx to Apple based right?
I hate virtual keyboards. That tech is old, my Palm supports a virtual keyboard and I never used it. I’m forced to use it on the DSi and it drives me nuts. Pen based input is only slightly better but not great. I can text like bloodly bejesus on my phone, but I wouldn’t write a blog post or compose a long email that way. It’s a pity it doesn’t have pen based input. That would be a huge plus but it’d have to be decent though, it would have to be accurate enough. The Palm and DSi work great, but when it comes to drawing or writing I find them a bit frustrating, turning my bad writing into an barely readable scrawl and the delay between the pen and when it appears can hamper the free-flowing nature of drawing. But at least then I could write and annotate ebooks and stuff I manage to get on the device, or draw on-the-fly maps for gaming sessions.
I could live with all those things, with but one change. The price.
Man I wouldn’t pay more than 200 euros (that’s about 270 US dollars at current conversion rates) for a device like the iPad. Sure I could imagine forking out 300-400 euros perhaps for the top of range one with the 3G feature. I bought a Wii for more than 200, but then I was excited about the Wii and I bought in full knowledge I was paying more than the value that I would get out of it. (Even the Wii does flash, mostly). So I get the fan-boy lust for the iPad, honestly I do.
On the other hand, I forked over quite a lot of money for my laptop when I bought it. Much more than I could really afford at the time. That laptop is now 10 years old and I’m still using it every day to do the internet-thing, write and program and create. It’s starting to show it’s age these days, but it’s still got life in it. I got my value out of it, I’m still getting my value out of it. I’m really not sure the iPad would give me that much value. I couldn’t use it to write. I couldn’t use it to program. I could use it to read the internet, but not interact with the internet as freely as a I do with my laptop (as in I can consume the internet, but not necessarily add to the internet, due to the lack of a decent form of input).
Perhaps, truthfully, I’m just a little bit saddened to hear that the Microsoft Courier device is dead. The signs where there from the beginning though that it was just vaporware, yet I ignored them all, in the hope that the device would be made, I was that excited about its concepts. I’d probably pay more quite a bit more than the top-of-the-range iPad costs to get it.
I heard about the Courier before I heard about the iPad and really I only heard/cared about the iPad because the Courier demo shots and videos were being compared to the then rumour-only “iTablet”. I did hope that Apple, being Apple, would blow Courier concept out of the water with their iPad because the Microsoft Courier made me think that tablet PCs could indeed be the future, the perfect digital companion device. The fact that it was able to handle input via fingers and pen-based so I could get the accuracy of using a pen for writing notes and drawing and it’s model for working (clipping images from webpages and ebooks into “infinite journals” for example) would argument and even replace stuff I do using paper. I use printouts with written notes and paper notebooks with lots of diagrams in my work and I’m not a fancy shoe designer (I’m a programmer). The Courier would be able to handle all that digitally for me and even add more value to it. The iPad would not, in anyway, add value to the things I already do. Sure it might be useful as an entertainment device, but I want a little more I guess. With the Courier, I could have dropped my sketchbook and pens, my large notebook and wads of paper-based stuff and even my DSi and left them out of my “man-bag” that I take everywhere. The iPad would be in addition to the stuff in my bag. It might replace my DSi (I haven’t “played” an iPad yet). But then I can slip my DSi in my pocket when I don’t want to take my bag somewhere.
Or perhaps to put it another way, I bought my Wii because it was cool. It was exciting. Even though, Nintendo operate their own version of the walled-garden and won’t allow games on it that they don’t agree with and as a father and working full time, I knew I wouldn’t have the time to get the real value of it. I have tons of games like Zelda and Resident Evil for it now but none yet that I’ve finished to the end. I have to make time in my precious spare/downtime to use the Wii, so I better enjoy it. The iPad feels like a device, I’d have to make time to use as it has been hyped as a “new category of consumer devices” and I saw one review describe it as “an itch you didn’t know you needed to scratch”. Do I really want to pay so much for another something to consume my time without producing anything?
That’s just my feeling of course, you are free to disagree with me. But personally, I think I’ll have to wait a while until tablet devices really make me excited again.