Confessions of A Reformed iPad Critic

Um…. So… I bought an iPad. Yep. Some of you might remember that at one point I had high hopes for the iPad, though only fueled by pre-announcement, speculative fantasy. And you might or might not have read my angry rant about all the ways the iPad fell short of what I had hoped it would be. And now, to complete my solipsistic little trilogy, let me explain to you why I drove over to BestBuy and snagged one.

It’s a toy. Techno candy. And I deserve it.

Now the disclaimers. First, apologies to Steve Krause. He’s done such a great job of explaining how he’s worked the iPad into a productive role in his life. His practices and reflections are really quite interesting and convincing. Actually, I’m convinced that I, too, can be productive with the little gadget. And I’ve talked with several other people who also are genuinely exploring the practical aspects of these machines. I applaud them. Sincerely. It’s just not my own primary motivation.

Second, there’s really not much that the iPad can do that a laptop can’t already do. I mean, I guess there are probably some paint/design programs that are perfect for touch, and I think I saw Collin Brooke messing with some sort of sound-bending app. Okay, so there are probably more than a few apps for the iPad that just won’t work with a laptop. But I have to admit that I don’t really see myself using them much, and certainly wouldn’t have missed them if I’d never taken the plunge.

And the last disclaimer is more general. You might see on this blog, or overhear me gushing at a conference, about how “touch is the future” and I need to learn to design for it. That will be me being honest. Or you might hear me talk about how light and speedy it is (wow, it really is both. wow). Also me being honest.

But the real reason I I’ve got one of these little slates sitting next to me on my desk right now? Indulgence. It’s shiny. It’s pretty. It’s responsive. It’s incredibly well built.

A second reason? Curiosity. I’ve really started to love Evernote, and it seems like it would be great on an iPad. I want to use this thing to check my RSS feeds in the morning. I want to track Twitter streams. I want to watch Netflix streaming content. I want to know what iBooks looks like (it’s actually pretty nice, though I’ve never really used a kindle). I want to see how well it can annotate PDFs. I want a peek at Marvel’s comic book app (again, wow). I want to watch an HD movie on what is supposed to be the nicest portable screen in production. I want to see how convenient the WordPress app turns out to be (so, so). I want to try play Koi Pond (heaven!). I want to see what my blog looks like on one (um, more shiny?).

One of my pet peeves is when someone goes to a movie like Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, and they complain that it was a bad movie. It lacked plot development, character development, believable characters, etc. I saw this movie, and I’ve gotta say that I went to it wanting to see another Transformers movie. Big machines. Amazing alien alloy crunching sounds. Big chase scenes. Pretty actors. Bad one-liners. An assault on my senses. And it delivered. Over the top. It was good at being what it was. I enjoyed it because I let it be what it was. Not what I wanted it to be. So it goes with the iPad. Once I just acknowledged that it doesn’t have any pretenses or claims about being what I want it to be, I could start to see the possible value it might hold as what it did strive to be: a consumption device. Let me get to consuming, then.

I hope you didn’t follow the link here hoping for intelligent and insightful reflections on the latest fad. Nope. Just wanted to get some things straight about my “real” motivations before I start to look more closely at how this new toy plays me.

Image adjusted from “Candy,” by .curt, via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.