What I Forgot To Say About the iPad

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Tim Higgins

Shortly after I posted my last piece on the iPad, it occurred to me that I hadn’t said much about what I liked about this little extravagence that has come to be a part of our daily routine. So let’s take a walk on the positive side of the iPad.

Happy iPad

Instant On

It’s a good thing that HP is buying Palm. Because any tablet / slate / pad that isn’t based on an OS and hardware that sips negligible power when it’s off and comes to life instantly when you press the On button will have a hard time living up the the standard that Apple has set.

Although I haven’t had hands-on with any Android devices, I think slates based on it will be just fine. But I have serious doubts about Windows’ ability to be an acceptable OS for this class of devices. Windows’ resume doesn’t come anywhere close.

Instant on makes the iPad as much fun as the iPhone / iTouch is for looking up a quick answer, settling a bet or grabbing a quick look at anything on the web. You feel like you’re in control and the iPad is there to serve you instead of the other way around.

TV and Movies

It will be interesting if anyone else produces an iPad TV app like ABC‘s. I was skeptical of whether the iPad would be good enough for watching TV, but Ms. SmallNetBuilder quickly changed my mind.

She was down for a week or so with a back problem, so spent a lot of time in bed. We’ve never had a TV in the bedroom, but with the iPad we had one (at least one tuned to ABC) anywhere in the house. The HD picture may not be 1080p or even 720p, but it was amazingly clear and glitch free.

Maybe that’s because we have an 11n network up vs. an 11g. But she never saw as much as a hiccup in areas where I know don’t get a reliable 20 or even 10 Mbps of wireless throughput.

Same goes for Netflix. The selection is again limited. But the Watch Instantly content they had came through without a hitch.

I’m not sure what I’d pay for single-network iPad apps, but I hope Hulu launches iPad support next month along with their $10 / month premium service. That might even make me spring for the VGA adapter, even though it’s selective in what it will display and it’s not HD.

A More Friendly Kitchen Computer

It only took a week after the iPad arrived for me to remove the 15" Sony Vaio Vista notebook that had been our kitchen computer. The difference between using it and the iPad is like night and day.

A 15" notebook is portable. But the iPad’s size and weight redefine the term. We just pick it up like a book or magazine and take it wherever and don’t even need to take the time to unplug it from its charger.

The Vaio’s battery life was short enough that we automatically put it back on charge after each browsing session. Of course, the constant charging greatly shortened battery life, which led to shorter browsing sessions and eventually the need to keep it plugged in all the time.

The iPad’s battery life allows us to have to charge it only a few times a week. So the tiny charger stays in a desk drawer and is brought out only when needed. Since it spends less time on charge, I’m hoping that the iPad’s battery will last longer than the Vaio’s did. And when the time does come for replacement, $99 is cheaper than most notebook / netbook batteries (at least not the fake-branded ones) and you get a whole new (ok, refurbished) iPad.

Another nice thing about the iPad is that Ms. SNB and I just hand it back and forth when we want to show each other something. It seems like we’ve been doing more breakfast time shopping with the iPad because of this "feature". Good for the economy, I guess. But a bit rough on the household budget.

Very High WAF

There aren’t many gadgets that Ms. SNB adopts. But the iPad is right up there with our DVR of stuff that Ms. SNB considers "hers". The thing that she likes most about the iPad is that it doesn’t get in the way of what she wants to do. If she wants to look something up or shop or whatever, the iPad takes her there with no muss, no fuss.

Notebook Killer or Something Else?

It’s only natural to compare something new to what we know. And so there has been much written as to whether the iPad and its relatives to come will replace notebooks and netbooks.

I’m in the camp that pads / slates are a new class of device that won’t drive computer makers out of business anytime soon. I suspect they will take some market share from portable computers, but also incrementally add to the bottom line of whichever manufacturers decide to hop on the train that is leaving the station…now.

Since I write for a living and manage a website, I would not choose the iPad as my only computer. But, for that matter, I don’t use a netbook or even a notebook for that, either. My main machine is a desktop PC with dual screens and a separate, ergonomically-placed keyboard and mouse. I could probably replace the box with a notebook on the next upgrade, but you’d have to pry the keyboard, mouse and dual screens from my aching fingers and eyes.

But I’m sure glad that Paddy O’Higgins has come to live at Chez SNB. It’s an indulgence for sure and I’m fortunate to not have to worry about its moderate expense. But it’s one of the few pieces of technology that makes me smile on a daily basis. And for that, it’s priceless.

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