Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I Am Waiting To Buy An iPad

I read all the technology blogs, including Ars Technica, Slashdot, CNET, and Wired.  The enthusiasm for the iPad and other tablets seems to be unbridled.  Everyone, it seems, has one.  And with the increase in Android based tablets and the Amazon Fire, this trend is only increasing.  I see the benefits of a tablet--they are light, portable, simple to use, and fun.  You can sit comfortably on your couch and surf the internet without the threat of a laptop melting your junk or being stuck in front of a desktop monitor.  The biggest drawback to the iPad is the price--at $500 for a new entry level model, that isn't cheap, especially since you can buy a netbook now for $200 that does even more than an iPad.

The Android tablets vary in quality from the no-name Chinese made pieces of trash to the higher end tablets like the Galaxy Tablet, which sports an amazing touchscreen, lots of memory, and is built of the highest quality.  The Android operating system is free and open source, so manufacturers will continue to innovate on hardware while the software keeps improving.  This competition will ultimately drive the price of tablets lower and lower, similar to what we are seeing with the desktop and laptop computer markets.

After spending some time using the iPad, I have to confess I am not used to working with a touchscreen.  I find them difficult to use and unwieldy.  My fingers are invariably too fat and apparently they don't register well.  Many times I press a key and it registers the wrong one.  It is very frustrating.

Next, I tested the Kindle Fire at Best Buy and couldn't get the pages to turn.  "You have to be more deliberate about how you touch the screen", the customer service guy told me.  I didn't know the Fire was so sensitive.  I felt deliberate enough.  Clearly a case of human error, no doubt.

I also have a hard time using the smaller screens to surf the web.  At home, I use a 32 inch monitor to surf the internet and to edit my photos and videos.  I am used to the larger real estate.  It is very awkward for me to use the smaller screens.

I also hate that tablets don't have regular USB connections and normal, full size HDMI connections.  If I want to hook my regular keyboard, mouse, digital camera, and other peripherals up to my tablet, I can't do it.  Worse yet, Steve Jobs has decided to make this even more difficult by using a special iPad connector to do everything with the iPad.  I hate it when Steve Jobs makes these kind of hair brained, proprietary decisions (by the way, I am happy with my HDMI port, thank you very much.  Lose the thunderbolt port on the Mac).

Some tablet computers lack front and back cameras.  This means I can't use Skype to chat with my brother and my niece who live out of town.  This rules out the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, along with most of the reasonably priced Android tablets and the first generation iPad.

I also thought having a tablet might be nice for reading.  However, after testing an iPad to read some pdf documents, I realized the weight of the tablet totally stopped that notion in its tracks.  I would be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome in no time reading for extended periods with that kind of weight.  So for me, a tablet computer would be more appropriate for reading my office documents and shorter pieces, not reading War and Peace or Moby Dick.

The bottom line is that despite all of these concerns, I still want one, but not until several things change:

My future tablet must have the following or I won't buy it:

1.  It has to have at least one USB port so I can plug in normal peripherals.
2.  It must have an HDMI port so I can hook it up to a regular LCD monitor.
3.  It must have at least a quad core processor and 3 gb of RAM.
4.  It must have an SD card slot so I can add extra memory to it.
5.  I must have the ability to edit video and photos on it.
6.  It cannot cost more than $300.00.
7.  It must be at least half as heavy as the first generation iPad.

The new Transformer Prime is supposed to have a quad core chip in it.  It will be around $550.  This means that next year, before Christmas, it will be around $300.  If the upgraded versions of this or other tablets can meet the above specs, I am good.  Otherwise, it will be some time.  After all, the iPad just came out in 2010.  We are only on the second generation of these devices.  They have a long way to go before they are truly ready for prime time.

Steve Jobs would have hated a picky pain in the ass like me.  But then again, from the biography of him that I read, it appears he was no less picky about his devices.  Maybe next year will be my big year to invest in a tablet.

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