And so Apple’s attempt to convert all my electronic gadgets into sleek, glossy slabs of sci-fi magic continues, as I cave in and finally buy an iPad.
I no longer have a laptop, so my only two options for doing computery things were my desktop PC and my iPod Touch. As you can imagine, the former isn’t very mobile and the latter has a variety of limitations, so I needed something in between.
I did debate getting a new laptop, or even a notebook, but to a certain extent I still ran into the mobility issue. You see, I do a helluva lot of reading. Not just ebooks, but magazines, blogs, web sites, etc. And being fairly active on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, I like to share and discuss that content as much as possible. And, more often than not, most of the opportunities I get for reading, sharing, and discussing, tend to occur when I’m not in front of my desktop computer.
The iPod Touch is very good at handling all of this, and its retina display is pretty nifty, but the display screen is still relatively small and typing anything longer than a tweet or quick email can become a chore. Given the sheer amount of reading I like to do, a laptop simply wouldn’t have been a viable option; I’d have quickly fallen back to using the iPod Touch to read stuff. So it looked like a tablet device was the smartest choice.
It didn’t take me too long to decide which brand to go for. There’s some nice Android-based tablets out there, but having lived with an Android smartphone for the past year or so, and run into numerous problems with it, I decided to pass up that corner of the marketplace for now. The nook Tablet is one of the best devices in its class, but it’s not really powerful enough to run the sort of apps I need. So that only really left one contender, and given how useful I’ve found my iPod Touch, the iPad remained the only logical choice.
At this point I’ve only had it about 24 hours, yet I already feel perfectly at home with it. Well, it does have the same operating system as the iPod Touch, so that’s pretty much a given. And most of the apps work the same way.
I was a little disappointed to find that Reeder, my news reader of choice on the iPod, behaved a lot differently on the iPad. I subscribe to about 1300+ blogs via Google Reader (more about that in a future blog post), so I’m very particular about news reader apps. I like to be able to punch up a label and see a list of all the news feeds with that label. The iPod Touch version of Reeder allowed you to do that, but the iPad version will just group articles by feed or chronologically. With some labels containing up to 50 blogs, that would mean a lot of scrolling to find what I’m looking for, so being able to punch up one of those blogs as quickly as possible is quite important. (Edit: Reeder kinda gives you a label/tag view, but it treats them like photo gallery images, where each label is represented as a thumbnail which you can pinch open or closed. It looks nice visually but isn’t very practical for browsing large numbers of feeds.)
Thankfully, a bit of digging around the interwebs led me to a wonderful app, exclusive to the iPad, called Mr. Reader. It does everything that the iPod version of Reeder does, but has a lot more bells and whistles. If they ever bring out an iPod version I’ll most likely be switching to it on that platform too.
Given how unsatisfied I’ve been with my Android phone, once Verizon open the gates and let me upgrade, I’ll more than likely be switching to an iPhone. See how easily I’ve slipped into Apple’s grasp? But while they may even talk me into getting a MacBook in the dim, distant future, I’m going to draw the line at desktop computing. I’ve been a hardcore PC gamer for almost 20 years now, so unless something happens to kill off the PC gaming industry, my desktop allegiance will remain with Windows.
And that’s all it boils down to really—picking the most suitable tool for the job. Brand loyalty’s all well and good, but at the end of the day I’ll go for whichever device lets me do what I need to do as quickly and efficiently as possible. You’ve won this round, Apple. Five years down the line? All bets are off.