Today’s announcement of the new iPad got me thinking about the iPad. I’ve used one (a couple if I must be totally honest) before, and they’re pretty cool, I guess, but I just don’t see the point. I mean, it’s a nice, slick, expensive status symbol, but what the hell is the use? The times I’ve played with one, I get pretty bored after just a few minutes. It seems to me to be in this in between place in terms of electronics where the usefulness of the device is in question. I have a phone to make calls and send text messages and get my e-mail while on the go and to send jokes to Twitter and listen to my cached Spotify playlist. Great. I use that thing all the time. And then I have a laptop which I use for more serious computing or when I prefer to have a physical keyboard: writing, editing at sessions and the office, processing photos on vacation, dealing with e-mails that require more than a curt response, browsing the interwebs, writing posts on this blog, whatever. Additionally, I have a Mac Pro at home that I use for heavy lifting tasks: editing real things, heavy photo work, After Effects, Logic, Reason, color correction, dual-boot Windows tasks (Hi, Steam!), and anything else I prefer to have a real monitor for.
So, what exactly, in my life, would I use an iPad—or any other tablet, really—for? I just don’t know. Besides playing iPad-specific games and using iPad-specific apps, I can’t think of a single task the iPad is better suited for than my other devices. Calls? Phone. Writing? Laptop or tower. Editing? Laptop or tower. Text messages? Phone. E-reader? Kindle. There’s only one thing I can think of that the iPad would be perfectly suited for: reading comics. But do I read enough comics to justify spending 500 bucks at minimum on an iPad? Hell no. I haven’t spent more than a hundred bucks tops on comics in the last decade. Not exactly worth the additional expense.
On the flight to and from Breckenridge recently, I sat next to my executive producer and she watched numerous episodes of a television show called Luther on her iPad. That was pretty cool, I suppose, but I would never use it that way. I loathe watching films and television on little screens. I find it to be immensely displeasurable. If I cannot watch in on my television at home, from the sofa, with awesome sound, I pretty much don’t want to watch it. That preference right there is one of the things that has kept me from piracy for so long. I feel no moral qualms about stealing from movie studios; I just don’t want to sit at the desk or stare at my laptop to watch films. Meh. No thanks.
“But, Joe,” you say, “build a home theatre pc. Or hook your laptop to the TV!” Don’t think I haven’t thought about the former. The only thing that has prevented me from doing so is that I have particularly expensive taste and won’t do it unless I build myself a totally pimp HTPC. For that we’re looking at a solid 800 bucks to a grand. Too much to throw at something that actively prevents me from being productive. I struggle enough with getting things done. The last thing I need is something else to prevent me from getting work done. Netflix on the PS3 is bad enough already. Steam too. And to address the latter point, whatever. What am I, living in a dorm room? Give me a break. Get real.
My friend Charles has an iPad, and is eagerly awaiting the release of the new one because of the enhanced display resolution. That makes total sense because Charles makes a living developing iPad applications. I was really excited about the release of Avid’s Media Composer 6 because of its enhanced AMA support, redesigned interface (trust me, it needed it), and 64-bitness. But were you excited about MC6? Of course you weren’t. You probably didn’t even know it was coming out, and, if you had, you wouldn’t have cared because you see no utility in it. I wish I was excited about the iPad, but I just am not.
That brings us around to the whole point of this post. What do you, my darling readers, use your iPads for? Fucking off on the internet? Watching videos and films? Listening to music? Composing e-mails? Making electronic music? Do you use it when you travel as a laptop substitute? Do you use it at home instead of owning a proper desktop computer? Do you live in the cloud? Do you like to read books off the back lit screen? I don’t. Do you use it as a personal media hub? I am not trying to be snarky. I really want to know how you use your iPad. Chime up in comments and tell me.