Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nope, no iPad for me

I'm not getting an iPad. But Mike, you say, you're so hip and you love technology. Why wouldn't you want an iPad?

Note that I didn't say I don't want one, just that I'm not getting one. Because, honestly, as much fun as it might be to have one, there's no gap in my life that's begging for an iPad to fill it. Would I play games on it? Not in preference to my DELL XPS system with its 24" monitor, no. Would I write on it? Not in preference to my office computer, also with a 24" monitor (and the continuous multitasking I do between Word, OneNote and the Web). Would I watch TV and movies on it? Not in preference to my 55" TV with its 400-DVD changer and its TiVo, no. Would I surf the web on it? Sure, but 98% of the time, I'm already sitting in front of a real computer, so having a handheld, even a very nice one, is kind of redundant.

And, let's face it, if I were to get one, it would be the 64 gig variety with 3G access, which would set me back $830, plus another $15-30 a month for the data plan. That's a buttload of money to spend on something I don't need.

But, you might argue, I could recoup some of that cost by buying ebooks instead of hardcovers, saving an average of $15 on each. Nope, not so. For starters, I don't buy a hardcover a month, so that approach wouldn't even pay for my data plan. More, if we assume that buying the ebooks I want to read is really easy to do from an iPad, it would almost surely tempt me to buy more than I otherwise would, which would drive up the Total Cost of Ownership on this thing beyond just the initial investment and ongoing data fees. Besides, the ebook business is still very much being worked out. I'm in no hurry to leap into that fracas of competing formats right away. And, lastly, there's the fact that I like my bound paper novels. I have a soft spot for books and the library is probably my favorite room in the house. I keep virtually every book I buy and I enjoy seeing them there on my shelves. I'm not embracing the notion of switching over to a virtual library where the books are just bits and bytes on my eReader.

I did get to play with an iPad recently. My fellow Writer's Roundtable member Linda has one and was proudly showing it off at our meeting Monday night. It's a nifty little thing. The gestures you use to scroll through lists of apps or through websites felt very natural. Turning the page in a book really looked like you were leafing through an actual novel. It's a great little piece of technology. But, much like when I've played with iPhones and even fancy iPods, it didn't really scream at me "YOU MUST OWN THIS."

I confess, part of it is the endless braying of Apple fanatics over the last 30 years. I've learned to mostly tune it out, but egads it's irritating. I mean, I know it's tough being the underdog (the way, way under underdog), but making up for it with volume and fanatical proselytizing doesn't impress me, it just gets on my nerves. So I've got a bias against Apple products that goes beyond the insanely counter-intuitive GUI of the Mac OSs, touted for so many years as "oh, so intuitive." Well, it ain't. I've had to teach that OS, and it's every bit as mystifying to a newcomer as the windows interface is.  The fact that it's more expensive, entirely proprietary, and comes with a legion of fanboys (and fangirls) just makes it that much worse.

But while I'm interested to see Microsoft's Courier product, I don't know that it will be innately superior just because it's a Microsoft product. It wouldn't need to be, though, to edge into my comfort zone just by having apps based around Microsoft Office, with which I'm already innately familiar. But let's be honest - I don't need a Courier either. It's not just a Microsoft vs. Apple thing. I'm honest enough to admit that Apple makes some evolutionary products, even if they're not products I really need and even if their superiority over the alternatives is sometimes dubious. It's just that Microsoft's product no more fits a niche for me than the iPad does. I just don't need it, and getting one would be a needless extravagance. And you know me, I'm all about needful extravagance.

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