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No, really, what do you use that iPad for?

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.

4 Comments

  1. Charles Vestal Charles Vestal March 7, 2012

    I have traveled and only brought my iPad and had an immensely enjoyable experience. It’s less about _what_ you do on it, and more how it fits in your life. Having a device that instantly turns on, has a 10 hour battery life with more than a week in standby and is light and thing enough to throw in your big and not give a shit, means you have a lot of shit at your literal fingertips. I use it to read comics, to browse the web, to use as a remote, to write emails, to use weird app store instruments (yumi:synth is the best string synth i’ve ever used, bebot is a really intuitive synth/theremin sim), to play games, to read, to read, to read (I don’t have a kindle), to read instapaper, to read comics, to read rss, to read the newspaper, to read the newspaper and watch the videos they post, to read comics, etc. etc. etc.

    There’s a more personal relationship with the content when you hold the page, rather than holding the frame propping up the page like in a laptop. Pulling up an album from iTunes match and playing it, with its album art full screen and airplaying it to my apple TV is the closest analog to playing a physical record I’ve had. It lets me get closer to media, and closer to experiences. Add to that the fact that its simplicity is its edge, and it’s not for everyone, but it is for lots of people.

  2. Charles Vestal Charles Vestal March 7, 2012

    Also while I do read on it a lot, I also read a lot on my 4s (And 4) because the retina screen to me, is more legible than the kindle. Backlit doesnt bother me, but the weird newsprinty e-ink resolution does. That’s why I’m excited about the new iPad – there hasn’t been something with this resolution in a consumer device, ever.

    One time I was reading a paper magazine and I was like “what time is it” and I looked at the top of the page, expecting a status bar. So yeah.

    All this being said, I thought the iPad was fucking retarded when it came out. I bought one, I used it for a week, and your brian gets used to it. It’ snot a PC, it’s not a PC replacement, it’s not an iPod, it’s not an iPod replacement, it’s not a Phone, it’s not a Phone replacement. It’s something new. It has frustrating things for power users, and obscure things for new users, but it hits a real sweet spot of “just use it”. I’ll lend you mine for a week if you want it, when I get it. 

  3. Monica Monica March 8, 2012

    Before I answer, I have give a little bit of history on what type of person this answer is coming from…  *flashback squiggles*

    …I still used cassette tapes as recently as 2000. VHS tapes as well, that lasted into 2003, when my friends collectively held an intervention gave me a DVR for my birthday.

    I owned my first laptop in 1999, but it was an early college graduation gift from my whip-smart grandpa, and I only used it to write papers instead of using it to party like it was, well, that year. I don’t know if it even had wi-fi capability… was wi-fi a thing back then?

    I had the same low-rent antenna-having clam-shell flip-phone from 2002 to 2010. It wasn’t quite the dot matrix printer of cell phones, but it was like prodigy.net, or Logo the turtle. When I finally went into an AT&T store in 2010 to ask about trade-in/upgrade options, the customer service rep not only couldn’t find my phone in their database of historical products, he also didn’t even understand how this flip-phone worked. (Kids, am I right? Get off my lawn, and stuff.)

    So, basically it took me until 2010 to haul my ass into the world of smartphones and gadgets. I bought my current iPhone at that point, and have since basked in the revelation that it was one of the best purchases I have made in my life. It is basically my mini-me, my robot consigliere, my R2-D2.

    That being said, I do not have an iPad. I also don’t want an iPad. I already spend too much time dicking around on my phone whilst trying to do other things like watch TV, cook, fold laundry, think, spend time with a loved one. I feel like having an iPad would just mean having a 200% version of my phone; I’d still just use it for giggles (but not shits, because I think taking phones in the bathroom is disgusting… why do people do that? Why must I cry?). If I need to type out something lengthy, fill up Zuul (my zune, yes I have a zune) or do any GI Joe PSA “downloadin”, I’d use my laptop or desktop.

    As for reading, don’t get me started. I don’t even use a Kindle. I still have paper magazine subscriptions, I still buy all the books I think are worth owning. To me, they’re like gems in a jewel collection. I have a thing for the smell and feel of paper, the taut binding of a hardcover, my practically Pavlovian ritual of hugging a book I like when I’ve finished, or sneering at it if I disliked it.

    I think I already have plenty of options to do whatever I need to do online/electronically. But maybe I just don’t know any better. As a P.S. to you though, since I hate small screens as well, any *completely legal, totally okay, no problems here, move along* allegedly downloaded files I come across are perfectly viewable on my TV via a few high-capacity thumb drives. Can I say that? Thumb drive? I hope that is a valid name for it, and not something some un-savvy hillwilliam made up.

  4. kirkh420 kirkh420 August 25, 2012

    ok yes I pretty much agree with your line of thought here. I’ve considered buying an Android Tab but I can’t think of one thing I need it for. I can do everything on my Android smartphone that a tablet does. Also, I gotta say that iCrap is mosty a status thing. I do not know even one person who has an iPhone who can honestly say “I didn’t buy this cause I wanted my friends to think I’m cool” and then after having said it, not go back and start thinking in their head “wait…. why DID i buy this $600 cellphone?”

    Having said all that, I’ve loathed iJunk since its conception (possibly INception). I recently ended up getting my hands on a free iPod Touch 64g. I do not even know what to do with it. I dont have an apple account, nor do i ever want one. I really enjoy the Southpark episode where Kyle gets his Face sewn to the anus of another man because he did not read the Terms he agreed to when he began using his iPad. LOL

    one last thing…. BRO!!!!!!!!!! CHANGE THE GD CONTRAST OF THIS PAGE!!!! I actually feel HIGH just from reading it!!!

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