Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Experience With The New iPad (3)

I'm not a big fan of tablets. I think that the "post-PC' era isn't post-anything. I don't like Apple. Truly, I am a massive curmudgeon. As such, my following, short criticisms of the iPad should be seen through that lens. Still, I hope to explain myself.

I got a chance to play with a new iPad today. The beefiest version of it, loaded with LTE internet access. As is always the case with Apple products, it felt nice to hold. It was firm, with an excellent tactile quality to it that absolutely every other company on the planet lacks.

The screen is very cool. At normal holding distances, the resolution gels in such a way as to make it a perfectly-solid, moving image. Colors and contrast are the best that I've ever seen out of an LCD. In fact, I loved the screen so much, I wish that it was slightly bigger and attached to a laptop.

Other than that, the thing that struck me as I caressed this beautiful thing, and as I swiped around and jumped in and out of programs, is that it is a toy. Pure and simple, it is a toy. I see potential for it to be used for other things (a medical environment really sticks in my mind), but other than potential, it is an expensive toy.

I could never imagine writing on this. Doing graphics work on it. Editing photos. Creating a presentation. Doing deep, serious research. In fact, aside from casual media consumption, I could not see myself using this for much of anything.

That's not to say that I won't ever. The platform works. The platform is popular. With those two variables accounted for, cool things will undoubtedly happen in the future. For example, whether Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo want to admit it, I think that the New iPad, more than anything else that I have held, screams loud and clear that this is the future of gaming.

Yes, we will always have dedicated gaming systems for people, but that will be a comparable niche. The Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and any future home gaming systems will need to make massive strides in every element of their business model to compete with this.

This again confirms my belief that tablets are not the future. The argument that they are the future is essentially a marketing pitch, fueled by magazine writers searching for something, anything, to write about. This damned iPad cost nearly $1,000 after all was said and done, thus allowing me to play old Playstation games and browse the web. Both are things that I can do on a $400 laptop... and much more.

I understand that tablets can do many things that laptops aren't terribly good at. They conserve power. They turn on instantly. They can be thrown into a bag more easily. But even then, with a cell phone that sports a 4.5" screen,  I already have a tablet. The always-with-me computer that acts as my clock, planner, navigator, and impromptu gaming device is already with me. I don't need another one.

I wasn't impressed with the iPad, the iPad 2, or any of the two million Android tablets littering the market. They don't feel like a step forward for me; they feel like a step back. A step back to an era when computers were obsolete two days after you bought them and everything about their use was a concession of some sort. I don't want that. It took us a long time to get our computers to the point where they are at, today. The desperate need for the next shiny thing from Apple distracts people from the cheap, useful, powerful tools that modern computers have become. They are epic, life-changing tools. Tablets are not.

And why get up in arms? Why not let people spend their money as they see fit? Because we already are rocking more personal debt than any other country on Earth. We are already consuming more resources than any other country on Earth. It is annoying to see an entire industry geared up to seduce the market with yet another product that it doesn't need, and if sales of Android tablets are any indication, doesn't even really want.


troy nowaselski said...

I've come across a few 'official' reviewers who have also noted that 90%+ of the iPad's usefulness is as a toy.

I guess we're just too rich and too bored.

Aaron Martin-Colby said...


Wealth has a part to play, but I think the ennui aspect is only one part of the psychosocial goulash that results in people lining up in the rain for a shiny thing with Angry Birds on it.

I think that another part is that Apple's products make the people who buy them feel special. It's part of Apple's brand. That helps to overcome the shallow entertainment and productive value of the iPad, and is also why Android tablets sold as tablet are selling so poorly.

The Nook and Kindle are selling well because they're being sold as book readers with other features. As such, there is no package of "emotions" attached to it. It is a utility. I can appreciate that.