Why I bought an iPad

I’d been eyeing the Apple iPad since the day it came out. At first, it seemed like an awkwardly large iPhone, without the phone. Why bother? Some saw it only as an eReader, and pronounced rivals Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook to be superior. At the time, I agreed. But as we now know, the iPad has changed the entire tablet market. And I found myself increasingly wanting to get in on the excitement.

Which inherently bothered me too. I dislike the idea of doing something just because everyone else is doing it.

My nerdy side won, however, and I purchased an iPad last May. Mostly I like toys. But I did start to see ways I might use and enjoy it in everyday life, and in academic life. It also helped that I knew several people who really liked their iPads. And let me try them out! I decided to go with the 3rd generation iPad, often dubbed the ‘iPad3’ (though Apple refuses to call it the same). Since I bought mine, technology has moved forward and there has been another iteration of the iPad, this time with a new connector and faster processor. Oh, and a “mini” version as well. Yup, that’s technology for you. At this point though, mine connects just fine and is plenty fast, so I don’t feel like I’m missing much.

I debated for quite a while whether to go for an Android based tablet or the iPad. Choosing iOS was due mostly to liking the implementation of that operating system on a tablet better. Having an iPod touch probably didn’t hurt either. Android has some great features, and as many in that camp might, can do more and has more flexibility than iOS. What I found it lacked was the simplicity and ease of Apple’s system. What I loved, and still love, about the iPad is that it just works. I have not had to spend much time tinkering to get things working. And that is, to me, what a tablet should be: transparent. It is a tool for accessing and using this increasingly digital world we live in. I don’t want to spend lots of time playing around with it to get things working right. My Linux and Windows days have given plenty of that. And yes, I realize that Apple now more or less owns me. Having bought apps and media from them, switching to another platform is increasingly difficult and expensive.

If you are thinking of getting an iPad, here are a few suggestions and thoughts I have, after owning one for a few months now:

  • One of my struggles was knowing how much I’d use it. It can be hard to spend a lot of money on something that you aren’t sure exactly how you’ll use. A new laptop or cell phone is easier to gauge, since you probably already own something like it, and are just upgrading. For me the iPad was a whole new world, and it was hard to know if I’d use it. So far, I have. But if you aren’t sure, it is definitely worth spending some time thinking about what you see yourself using it for.
  • Spring for a unit with a Retina display. This is apple’s high resolution display. The 3rd generation iPad offered something like 4x the number of pixels per inch. Why does this matter? It makes for ultra-sharp text, which given how much reading (books, web, or otherwise) you’ll probably do on it, makes it pretty awesome to read your emails, surf the web, or whatever.
  • However, if you only think you’ll be reading eBooks on it, I’d consider going for a black and white Kindle or Nook eReader. A color LCD screen uses more power and is harder to see in sunlight (I find the iPad usable in direct sunlight, but it’s hardly ideal). Go for a full-fledged tablet if you want to check emails, browse the web, and read pdfs.
  • Find an iPad to play with before you buy it. If you have a friend with one, ask them about it and see how they use it. If you live close to an Apple store, go try one out. Even in this virtual age, it is nice to hold, touch, and see the device you want to buy. It definitely helped me.

I’ll be sharing more in the coming days about how I use it and what apps I use, for any who may be interested. If you have any questions, let me know!

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