I’ve been rather surprised at how much has been written by so many people about the iPad. I reckon that bodes well for Apple, even if (or because) the response seems to have been somewhat polarised. Anyway here’s a few opinions which seem to reflect my own entirely uninformed thoughts.
First up Charlie Brooker in the Guardian is his usual withering self:
Apple excels at taking existing concepts – computers, MP3 players, conceit – and carefully streamlining them into glistening ergonomic chunks of concentrated aspiration. [The iPad] is an iPhone for people who can’t be arsed holding an iPhone up to their face. A slightly-further-away iPhone that keeps your lap warm. A weird combination of portable and cumbersome: too small to replace your desktop, too big to fit in your pocket, unless you’re a clown. It’s the spork of the electronic consumer goods world.
But then he moves his hammer a little closer to the nail:
...Or rather it would be, were it not for one crucial factor: it looks ideal for idly browsing the web while watching telly. And I suspect that’s what it’ll largely be used for. Millions of people watch TV while checking their emails: it’s a perfect match for them.
Apple keeps trying to pretend it’ll make your life more efficient. Come off it. It’s an oblong that lights up. I don’t want to hear how the iPad is going to make my life simpler. I want to hear how it’ll amuse and distract me; how it plans to anaesthetise me into a numb, trancelike state. Aggressively market it as the world’s first utterly dedicated timewasting device: an electronic sedative to rival diazepam, alcohol or television. If Apple can convince us of that, it’s got itself a hit.
Jeremy Keith sees a similar use, albeit for his Mum:
I’m probably going to get an iPad …for my mother. I don’t think it is the device for me. But it is most definitely the device for my mother. I don’t mean “a theoretical persona such as one’s mother,” I mean my mother.
A newer iMac would be good but they’re a little pricey for something that’s going to be used for web surfing, email, some digital photography and little else. The iPad strikes me as the Goldilocks solution. [...] Web surfing, email and photo browsing are all not just possible, but likely to be pleasurable. That’s because the multitouch control mechanism is likely to feel far more intuitive than either a mouse or a trackpad. So I’m probably going to get an iPad, but for someone else. If it came with nothing more than a WiFi connection and a web browser, it would still be a worthwhile device for my mother.
Jeremy also adds this salient point:
I haven’t used an iPad. Take my opinion, and the opinions of anyone else who hasn’t actually used one, with a heaped tablespoon of salt.
And so to someone who has used an iPad. Stephen Fry, confirmed Apple-phile that he is, says:
There are many issues you could have with the iPad. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgement until you’ve spent five minutes with it”. No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects. The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device.
You will see characters in movies use the iPad. Jack Bauer will want to return for another season of 24 just so he can download schematics and track vehicles on it. Bond will have one. Jason Bourne will have one.
Um. Well if iPads are that magical to use, I can see one in our house. And I can see it being used for web browsing while passively consuming Come Dine With Me. I can even see one in the office, next to the beanbags. Whether I’ll be queuing to stump up $600 in the next few months is another question, but I suspect I’ll end up with an iPad at some point. Sadly it sort of seems inevitable.