My iPad Tryst: I Craved, I Caved, I Gave Up

By Josh Belzman
|  Wednesday, May 19, 2010  |  Updated 4:00 PM PDT
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My iPad Tryst: I Craved, I Caved, I Gave Up

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SEATTLE - Steve Jobs may blackball me for writing this, or even thinking it, but I think you should know: The iPad is useless. Beautiful, but useless. 

In the span of about a week I purchased, gave up on and feverishly resold an iPad after realizing Apple already made and I already own the more utilitarian and ergonomic version: the iPhone.

The iPad is unwieldy eye candy. It's an aluminum- and glass-wrapped homewrecker. Just two days with it led me to appreciate my lowly laptop and undersized smart phone more, and Apple's design sense less.

The iPad is too heavy. It's awkward to hold and view in public. It's fragile. It requires expensive accessories to protect it and extract more functionality. There aren't enough killer apps, at least apps that do anything more than their iPhone equivalent. Its wireless reception is spotty and if you're an iPhone owner 3G access will set you back on top of your AT&T plan and give you all the same fits. The iPad does almost nothing your smart phone or laptop can't already do and will cost you more to do it unless you get rid of something.

Of course I knew this before I ever bought the iPad. I did my research. I read reviews, played with the iPad in an Apple store, observed coworkers using it and read some more. I mocked early adopters and vowed I wouldn't become one. I captured a money shot of a hipster in a bar using his iBook as a stand for his iPad while listening to his iPhone and we all had a hearty laugh over the absurdity of it all.

And then I convinced myself I had to have an iPad. I became that guy.

Short-lived romance
It made perfect sense: The only way to know if an iPad was right for me was to get an iPad. I bought the top-of-the line 64gb 3G model on an educated whim, having become irrationally jealous of all those around me who have iPads and enthralled with the device's promise despite its shortcomings. I rationalized. I figured the iPad would offer better Web-browsing on the bus, better reading from bed, better note-taking at work and better movie-watching on a flight. It would save my waning eyesight and offer new interactive media experiences as apps improved. It would fill an aching void in my digital life.

Except it didn't. I didn't even give it a chance.

As soon as I got the iPad home and plugged it into my laptop to load up with pictures, movies, songs and apps and looked over at my iPhone, I started freaking out. What had I done?

The iPad was going to destroy my digital family and I knew it.

Soon, my suspicions were confirmed: My hands cramped trying to hold the deceptively heavy iPad. My neck ached as I balanced it on my lap trying to watch a movie. I couldn't get Web pages to load. It wobbled when I put it on a table. I was scared to walk around with it for fear of dropping it or being heckled. I felt like an idiot surfing the Web on the iPad as I listened to the radio on my iPhone. I looked around sheepishly as I shuffled headphones from one device to the other. Cash registers clanged in my head as I thought about all the money I'd need to spend apping up, accessorizing and enabling true wireless connectivity. I was in agony.

Then it struck me like a ton of iPads: This thing is a bombshell that's lousy in the sack and puts you in the poorhouse.

Stand and deliver
Apple made a wonderfully amazing device that I don't need because they already made a wonderfully amazing device that does almost all the same things and fits in my pocket and for which I'm already paying a hefty premium. They introduced me to the tall, pretty and socially awkward sister of the petite, approachable and practical girl I've been dating for two years. And if I want to watch a movie in bed or browse the Web from a coffee shop, a laptop works better because, you know, it sits on your ... lap. It has a stand built in!

You figure a portable, Web-enabled touch screen with an ever-growing world of apps would be perfect for so many things until you try to find a place for it in your house full of gadgets.

I had to dump the iPad. The longer I had it, the more I felt like I was cheating on my other portable devices and denying their virtue.

 

I figured if the iPad didn't work out I could just give it to my folks. What a gift! Except in the course of configuring and using the device, I realized it's still too complicated for the tech-averse. And I already got my dad a digital picture frame, which is about as much use as he'd get out of an iPad.

I ended up selling it to a guy who already owned an iPad but was looking to upgrade to the 3G model. He said he was still trying to figure out what to do with it. He confessed he'd probably sell it to someone else. Ah, the circle of iLife.

 

Maybe it's different for you. Maybe this beautiful, intuitive, awe-inspiring device fits in your life, or could. But not mine. If I needed to entertain the kids on a road trip (I have no kids) or sketch on the go (I don't sketch) or watch a movie on the plane (I'd rather sleep), perhaps iPad would serve some purpose, but even then I already have a device that can do all that. Besides, I'd kind of miss playing cards, scratchpads, books and magazines — things I can enjoy and promptly lose or leave behind and not feel too bad about.

So iPad, I quit you ... at least until version 2.0.

Josh Belzman is an editor at msnbc.com and self-described technophile in search of the perfect gadget. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshEdits.

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