April 04, 2010

I've Pad Better

Since it was Easter Sunday today, and the Red Sox's opening game against the Yankees, I thought it might be a good time to sneak into the Apple store downtown and fiddle around with an iPad in relative quiet. (I was mostly right — I did still have to wait for a few minutes to get my hands on one, but the crowd was made up entirely of hipsters and foreigners, i.e., people who do not celebrate/care about/have any knowledge of Easter or baseball. I believe there were also some hipster foreigners there, who really can't do anything except follow around indie tours.)

Anyway, my thoughts:

•It's too heavy for a newspaper/magazine/book replacement, and too small for a video-watching device.

•The on-screen keyboard doesn't really work as a keyboard. Some reviewers who've had it to practice on for a while already say it gets a lot easier, but I suspect if you actually want to try and do work on it (I was sort of imagining it as a good way to squeeze some writing into those awkward fifteen minute gaps during the day, without having to lug around a laptop) you're looking at another $70 for an external keyboard — and then you might as well be lugging around a laptop, anyway. (N.B. Yes, I know I could write longhand in those awkward fifteen minute gaps, but it really doesn't suit the way I compose, and anyway I can barely read my handwriting when I'm scribbling with any sort of speed.)

•It's just generally kind of unimpressive — there's none of that wow factor like there was using an iPhone for the first time, and I was bored after about three minutes.

I did, however, satisfy my Apple consumer lust by purchasing a Magic Mouse. It's a pretty little toy and a really intuitive way to navigate web pages, in particular — but the allegedly improved tracking engine still won't work on my desk without a mousepad, and I was little disappointed that the first thing I had to do was download a third-party patch to restore all the functionality of my old Mighty Mouse (like summoning Dashboard and Expose without having to use the keyboard). The weird thing is that the patch is so simple and the extra functions so easily accomplished by the hardware that I'm not sure why Apple wouldn't have built it straight into the OS to begin with.

The underlying pattern here — the iPad as "the best browsing experience you'll ever have" and the Magic Mouse as a web-geared peripheral — seems to be that Apple is focusing a little too much these days on the web as the be-all and end-all of personal computing. Certainly it's a big one and I can see why, in trying to attract more novice users, it's the one they would want to make work best — but there are a lot of other things I use my computer for, and part of the reason I like Macs is that they've always done those other things better.

So I hope they remember, as they continue to push this apparently new strategy of web-centrism, that some of us occasionally use our computers for non-Facebook related activities as well...

No comments:

Post a Comment