Aug 21 2010
I just clicked my way through the Apple Online Store: I’m returning my iPad. Why? It’s hard to find an answer to the question which space an iPad can usefully occupy when you already have an iMac, an iPhone and a notebook. Especially at the price of an iPad, you better come up with that answer quickly or you only bought yourself an expensive but rather useless toy.
You see, an iPhone makes sense: It combines a bunch of gadgets in one device. For me, it’s the music player in my car, a navigational system (thanks to the TomTom cradle and Navigon software), it’s a mobile gaming console and Internet gadget and you can even make phone calls with it. An iPhone makes sense.
A notebook also makes sense: It’s a real mobile computer, not just some restricted mobile device with a touch screen interface.
Anyway. It didn’t take full 24 hours before I had my first feeling of buyer’s remorse. 500 bucks is a lot of money in my world. It’s what I paid for my two dogs when I got them, for example. It’s what a -real- PC notebook costs. It’s almost a month’s rent. It’s a lot of food for my family. It’s a lot of oil for the winter. If you spend that money, you better get something for it.
Don’t get me wrong. I like spending money for toys. But somehow, the iPad just didn’t feel right. How shall I describe it? It felt a big like buying an executive class notebook just because you want to feel like upper management, but in reality you’re only the person who cleans the boss’s office in the evening. Or think of buying a huge, high-end TV that you put in a living room with moth-infested furniture. You know, that sort of not feeling right. Buying something shiny and expensive that has no place or justification or even remotely a purpose in your life. That’s how the iPad felt. And that’s the main reason why it’s going back to Apple while I’m still in the 14-days grace period to return it (which in Germany, by the way, is governed by law and not just a good will thing from Apple).
Here’s a couple of things that were fun with the iPad (and which are also fun with the iPhone): Playing Shredder chess and Plants vs Zombies. Safari was a much better experience with the iPad than it is with the iPhone. In all honesty, using a web browser on a mobile phone is a cynical joke, but nothing you want to do every day. With the iPad, it’s more or less okay, but I -DID- miss Flash, simply because most websites that have embedded video clips rely on Flash. It’s a simple fact of life, no matter how much Steve Jobs wants to justify the lack of support for Flash on his iGadgets. This will change over the next couple of years, sure, but it doesn’t really help you today.
Typing on the iPad is a nightmare for me. The on screen keyboard sucks when you’re used to typing (fast) with ten fingers, as I am. It just doesn’t work for me. Which leaves me with the fact that apps like Pages are practically useless when you don’t use an external keyboard. And when you are going to use an external keyboard, you’re already better off with a real notebook. This is not what the iPad was made for. Or was it?
Anyway. Your individual mileage will vary, and maybe you have a niche for the iPad in your life. Except for owning another shiny electronic toy with an Apple logo on it, I didn’t.
Update: I’m also trying to return the software purchases for the iPad. Apple isn’t making it easy; I have to “report a problem” for each individual app purchase. Well, let’s see how that one will turn out.
Update 2: The folks at Apple are fast. They agreed to refund me for two apps, but they declined the remaining dozen or so requests. Anybody feels reminded of the Mapple store episode from The Simpsons? “…while our true policy is: No refunds!” Well, I am.