Why I Don't Want An iPad 2
Yes, the iPad 2 is not for me. The iPad may be the future of mainstream computing, but at this time, it's not for me. More on that in a minute, though. First, here's the skinny on the new iPad 2, announced by Apple yesterday in San Francisco by Steve Jobs and his snappy presentation crew.
The iPad 2 is the same price but definitely packs some new features. The amount of storage space is the same as the previous iPad but it is 33% thinner, has both a front and rear camera, and still has 10 hours of battery life. Apple claims the hardware of the iPad 2 is an "all-new design", but that seems to be complete hyperbole -- the design is improved a lot over the original iPad, but it still looks much like the same device. Never content to keep it just as fast as the last model, Apple is also introducing an A5 mobile chipset with the iPad 2 that they claim is twice as fast as the previous A4 chip and boasts that graphics rendering performance is 9x faster. Early reports from journalists say that it is noticeably snappier.
Ohh, one more feature for the nerdier folks in the audience: Apple will now sell a $39 dongle that will give you an HDMI output that mirrors the iPad/iPhone's screen on your TV. They talk about this being for schools and such, but I'm thinking it's mostly so that companies and TV talk shows can demo iOS programs on screens without jail breaking their device. (Because, of course, the obvious jail breaking can make Apple look stupid.)
It's clear that the iPad is taking off more than anyone, including Apple, expected it to. Apple announced that in the 9 months it was available during 2010, it sold 15 million units. That's nearly twice what the most bullish predictions were just one year ago before the original iPad came out. And there's no wonder: it takes the ability to use a computer and makes it dead simple. There's no figuring out how to use a touchpad or a mouse. There's no "What folder did I put that file in?" moments. It's just simple to browse the web, play a game or watch a video. In the 11 months it's been available, it's been adopted in record numbers by younger kids and senior citizens who have never touched a computer before and they "get it" a lot easier than older technologies. Most likely, computers of the future are going to be something like the iPad.
But, at this time, the iPad is not for me. I'm not down on Apple; I have two Macs, an iPod, and an AirPort Express. My iPhone 4 is rarely more than a couple feet from me; I think it's the perfect size for watching videos and browsing Twitter and the web on the go.
One of my Macs is a MacBook Pro. Yes, it's a bit bigger than the iPad 2. It's also a bit more expensive. But it allows me to do much more. My livelihood is programming websites and the built-in keyboard helps out with that. I can install thousands more apps on my MacBook, including ones that allow me to browse and modify files to my heart's content. I can even install Windows if I want to for gaming or more business-oriented applications.
But personally, the MacBook Pro is much more of the right form factor. I have bad eyesight from birth, such that I'm barely above legally blind. I can read and see things just fine, but I have to get 8x (or something like that) closer than most people. When most people enjoy their laptop computer or iPad sitting on their lap on the couch, I cannot enjoy that. If I am forced to use it in that position, I either wear out my arms holding it up to eye level or destroy my back scrunching by body together to get my face down to the screen. Not at all comfortable or ergonomic.
For me, the optimal working and even media consumption pose is seated on my ball at my desk with the laptop elevated on a stand at eye level. I even sit there to watch TV, although I might watch TV on a couch if I had a really big TV. If I anticipate wanting more than my iPhone on the go, I will carry my backpack with my laptop and a more portable stand. On the off chance that I was on a flight or longer bus trip on my own, it would be kinda cool to watch videos on the iPad's bigger screen, but I do neither of those enough to warrant such an expensive purchase.
To sum up, I think the iPad is truly revolutionary and may be the future of computing. Maybe I'm being a bit slow to catch on to these trends, but I don't currently see the iPad as a viable option in my experience. I should maybe try one more thing with my iPhone 4, though: there's some settings that can be changed to make the iPhone/iPad usable for blind people. Maybe one of those days I'll try to turn some of those things on and see if that helps me at all.