I, too, was wrong about the iPad

Much like Joe Wilcox, I have to admit I was wrong about the Apple iPad. Mea culpa, sackcloth and ashes, etc. Earlier I said it was pretty much a useless piece of metal and plastic. But now I’ve come around: I’m convinced it’s a completely useless piece of metal and plastic.

Every argument I’ve seen for the iPad, every single one, is the same argument people made in the past about tablet PCs, netbooks, and e-readers (like for instance the B&N Nook, the choice for the more discerning and sexy consumers). It’s also not far off from people trying to convince themselves that their iPhone is great when deep down the really want something else but they’re stuck in their contracts for another year and a half.

It’s only the shortness of memory, the pervasiveness of advertising, and the quick churn of consumer society that makes the iPad a viable product at all. You can’t write on it except in finger-painting style, and you have to learn how to type on it all over again. It has puny memory unless you shell out close to a grand. It’s not expandable. It’s not much more powerful under the hood than an iPhone. You’re stuck with the Apple Store for everything, which (and I say this advisedly, as an interface designer) sucks balls; if it’s the only app store you’ve ever used you probably love it, but that’s just the Stockholm syndrome talking. You’re like Americans who are still convinced we single-handedly won World War II. The truth is much larger than you know. Let it go, man.

I own an e-reader, which is the best electronic reading experience I’ve ever found because it’s not backlit and my eyes can focus on it for hours without strain. I go cross-eyed playing the Nintendo DS for an hour, but I can peruse my Nook all day, which sounds dirty but really isn’t. Yes, it’s only black and white, but you see I’m not a fourth grader, I can actually read books without pictures. Someday you’ll be old enough to understand. And anything that relies on flashy imagery and funky typography to make up for their shoddy writing can jump off a tall cliff onto a short spike. Hey publishers: WRITING IS A SKILL, NOT A COMMODITY TO BE GROUND UP AND SPOONED TO PEOPLE LIKE BABY FOOD. Grrrr. Pant, pant. Breathe, old boy, breathe.

I’ll concede web surfing’s pretty nice on an iPad. But you know where web surfing is even better? On a computer, where I can install whatever browser I like and view things in nice big full screen goodness. Computers, even the tiniest netbooks, can also run Flash OHHHH I WENT THERE. I use Chrome, where Flash is actually built straight in; no plug-in woes there. For quickie one-off portable surfing, I have a Droid smartphone. And hey, guess what the Droid can do with update 2.2? Here’s a hint: Flash OH SNAP THERE I GO AGAIN. YOU TELL HIM MAURY. YOU TELL HIM HE BAD.

So anyway. Rationalize your purchase however you like, but unless you’re just a complete babe in the woods about technology, the iPad is kind of a wash. It’s a side track on the technology highway, like a scenic overlook or something, I dunno, this metaphor sucks. But you get the point. There’s better stuff out there, better and cheaper and more versatile and less restrictive and other such metrics.

You know, I should hook up to an ad service with this blog even though my readership is between crap and nobody, something that checks the text and puts up relevant ads. I’d probably get a lot of ads from Apple. That would make me giggle.

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