And now, for my answer to the question much of the rest of the Internet has been asking: will I buy an iPad? (y/n)
Immediate near-term answer: no.
I am of course an Apple user. Maybe not a hugely ardent Apple devotee per se, but I do quite like my MacBook and my iPhone, which still have plenty of useful lifespan left in them and which satisfy my current computing needs quite nicely. For that reason alone I’m not seeing any reason I need to get a third device.
The more pertinent question for me might be, will I buy an iPad when my current laptop eventually needs replacing?
Current answer to that, although possibly subject to change depending on how future generations of the device develop: no.
One: the size and shape of it would make me reluctant to carry it on my daily commute. While the weight is good, just 1.5 pounds, the size and shape do not convince me that I could safely carry it in my backpack. Plus, I would absolutely not put it in my backpack without a protective shell of some sort, which would add extra weight. Also, just the sheer shape of it makes me wonder whether it would fit into the size and style of backpack I carry anyway.
Two: While the lack of keyboard doesn’t bother me at all–I’m quite used at this point to the virtual keyboard on the iPhone and using one on the iPad would not be a problem–the lack of ability to multitask does. If it can’t let me run my usual suite of programs at the same time, it’s just not an effective home computing device for me.
Three: Lack of storage space local to the device is not a huge dealbreaker for me, but it is a point of concern. I’m used to syncing my iPhone with my laptop when I get home in the evening. But if the iPad were to be my home computing device, I’d clearly need some ability to sync it up with one of our household servers. Syncing my personal documents out to a third-party site such as Google Docs or MobileMe or whatever is not really a path I want to go. Those options are fine as off-site backups, but when it comes to working copies of whatever writing I’m doing, I want them local and on my house LAN.
Four: While as an ebook author I am very much interested in the iPad serving as a new way to get ebooks to people, I’d be way more interested if the iBooks store opens up to other Mac devices and ideally other platforms as well. Selling books in epub format is good. Selling them without DRM so that you could read them in whatever app on whatever device you wish would be better. Right now though the fact that the iPad has an iBooks store isn’t enough to make it nudge that Nook I’m eying out of the running for “e-reader device I’m most likely to purchase.”
Last but not least, since Sarah at Smart Bitches called Apple on this and it bears repeating: speaking as a female computer geek, I gotta say, seriously, ‘iPad’ as a name? Um, no. ;) While the issues I’ve touched on above might improve as the device develops, I’m sorry, the part of me that’s still twelve years old will be giggling over that name for some time.
But hey, we’ll see what happens. In general I’m in favor of shiny computing devices, so if this one finds its niche, more power to it. And I’ll be interested to see what people say once they actually get them into their hands.