I didn't crave an iPad and I didn't cave. But, on April 3, the day the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet came out, I went down to the local Apple store, not hurried or worried whether I got one or not. I was intrigued by it, but not convinced I had to have it. I'm still not; but I really, really like it.
I bought it and not only do I not regret it, it has become what I consider American tech comfort food. It's a low-stress device, easy — and fun — to use. Its 9- to 10-hour battery life offers peace of mind — and means I don't have to charge my iPhone during the day because I'm constantly using it for e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube videos, quick games of Scrabble and Sudoku.
I do wish Steve Jobs — and the new ads for the tablet — would stop calling the iPad "magical." Magical is world peace, or a Gulf oil spill that could suddenly disappear: presto-chango: No contamination!
The iPad isn't magical. But it is amazing. It is not perfect. But it is perfectly delightful. It's not for everyone. But it's for me.
Catching up — and new frontiers
I love being able to take it out to the garage — where our Wi-Fi extends to — or to the patio, and just sit with it on my lap — a true laptop — and literally flick through the pages of magazines I've downloaded through Zinio. Some are free, some are not, with topics ranging from computers to fashion, all of them not piling up as hard copies in the tiny space we occupy.
Is it weird to read a magazine this way? A little. But I've always enjoyed magazines, and this lets me catch up on some of them that I otherwise would continue to spurn because of money, time and room.
I've also got a book on there, "The Help," which I'd been wanting to read for months, but never got around to buying. I did buy it for the iPad, and am well into, and look forward to more of it. I do now understand the appeal of e-readers like the Kindle. Having a color screen on the iPad makes it that much more of a delicious treat.
Quiet couch nesting
It's also been satisfying to watch several movies my husband doesn't want to see — but I do, like "The Hangover" and "The Proposal" — by renting them from Netflix or iTunes, downloading them instantly, curling up on the couch, and not bothering him or anyone else around me, headphones plugged into the iPad, the glorious 9.7-inch screen a pleasure to look at.
And I've loaded several photo albums onto the iPad, so that when I visit friends, I can easily take the pictures with me to show them, instead of schlepping a photo album or making my friends squint to see pictures on my cell phone.
The iPad has been, though, a guilty pleasure. I bought the least-expensive model, for $499, feeling my heart seize up a bit at the store register when the receipt was handed to me. We are not out of the financial woods in our household, but because of the type of work I do, its acquisition is a little more justifiable (am hoping husband is reading this particular segment).
And, I admit, when I'm out in public, I don't flaunt the iPad or show it to everyone — by a long shot. I didn't buy it to show it off — I bought it to use it. And, while it's still relatively new, it's still relatively appealing to steal — just like GPS units were a few years back.
For me, the iPad is an at-home companion and tool. I did take it with me on a recent trip — along with my laptop — keeping the laptop stowed away on the plane, and pulling out the iPad to watch a movie and to play Scrabble.
It was liberating to not have to fuss, squirm and adjust my way around the (middle) seat with a laptop. I just held the iPad as I wanted, elbowing no one, and I didn't worry about spilling a drink on the keyboard (still, you do have to worry about spilling one on the iPad's screen).
I've talked to friends who believe the iPad will be a bust. There are others who want one, but not at the current pricing.
Everyone who does get one, whether now or later, will find themselves using it differently. And that is magical, I think — to use a piece of technology the way you want to use it, and not how someone tells you to use it. No regrets — and no returns.