iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

Summary: Despite the high price tag and prior experiences that proved to me I wasn't a tablet user at the time, I decided to buy an iPad 2. And I absolutely love it. Here's why.

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After my colleague, James Kendrick, recently wrote about his decision to finally pull the trigger on an iPad 2, I decided to write a post of my own. Since I bought mine just under 2 months ago, that means it's new enough to still have that "new car scent," but old enough to have to given me enough time to have a bona fide opinion of it.

[Gallery: Top 10 favorite iPad games]

Alright, so, I know I'm a little bit late to this party and the iPad 2 is old news to many of you, but I'm only just now discovering the sheer awesomeness of this device and exactly what it is that every other tablet manufacturer out there is up against. My iPad has shown me that I've been making uninformed statements for far too long now where anything coming close to competing against it is concerned.

Allow me to explain.

As some of you may recall, I wrote a fairly definitive piece a while back in regards to why I'm not a tablet guy. I came to that conclusion after deciding to get into the tablet market on-the-cheap by purchasing a Nook Color, installing CM7 on it, and seeing how I fared from there. If I felt compelled to step up from there cost- and hardware-wise, then I would have. Well, after about a week-and-a-half or so, I found myself not using it at all. As such, I sold it and said, "That's it, I'm not a tablet guy!"

Then, I bought an iPad 2.

It was in mid-September at Microsoft's BUILD conference where I was around a number of my techie friends who sported Apple devices of all types. Seeing the ease and convenience of my friend's iPad while we were hanging out in the hotel lobby one night compelled me (see: tablet envy). Coupled with the fact that everyone was getting a tablet device at the conference except for press (which included yours truly), I headed off to Best Buy and whimsically made my purchase (including a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and a leather version of one of those spiffy folding covers).

That's been just under two months ago now and I've been glued to the thing all the while. I hate to say it since I've been so against Apple's price points, but between my new iPad, my new MacBook Air, and previously having owned an iPod Touch, I'm officially in love with the form factor of Apple's devices. Am I fan of the price? No. Am I a fan of OS X? No. Apple products aren't without their bugs, as I've learned with my MacBook Air, but I just love iOS, the form factor of their hardware, and the iPad itself, which has truly enriched my life. No, seriously.

My iPad has totally destroyed the perception of myself as an individual who wouldn't make use of a tablet device. It has also totally destroyed my opinions of any other tablet out there standing a chance of competing against not just the device, but the app ecosystem and iOS on a tablet device. Not indefinitely, since even the strongest of tides have a way of turning, but I don't see any real 1:1 competition for the iPad for a very long time.

As I noted earlier, this thing has been practically glued to my hands since I bought it. It's just so convenient and full of realized potential, which is something I feel the other tablets I've tried lack: realized potential. Plenty of tablets have potential, but not realized potential. To demonstrate that point, I'll start with myself and my interests. Personally, I'm in love with search and data. I'm a musician, gamer, researcher, and writer -- amongst other things -- and guess what? Every single one of these facets that comprise the make of my being all have outlets for which to express themselves on the iPad, thanks to the insane amount and types of apps on it.

And before you Android fans chime in, I'm an Android fan, too. I've been using Android since it first hit a device, so when I mention that whole potential vs. realized potential thing, the quality and types of apps between the two platforms/markets is encompassed therein. I think Android will catch up, but it's got a ways to go. In other words, the iPad either has better, more functional/polished apps than most (I didn't say all; I said most) Android equivalents I've used, or it has apps that Android doesn't (yet).

[See: iPhone 5 and iPad 3 concepts]

All that to say, I absolutely, unequivocally love my iPad 2. I am amazed by how much I've managed to find to use this thing for, and almost 2 months later, I'm still finding new uses and implementations. It took a good month or so to adjust to using the iPad for more than I think it was intended for, but therein lies more of that realized potential I keep mentioning. For instance:

I can create drum beats, synth lines, and bass lines -- all in individual apps -- then import those samples/tracks into a separate multi-track app which allows me to record my guitar that I've plugged into my iPad, then mix the whole thing down and export it all to one track. I'm not talking about some cutesy, novelty guitar app that lets you strum virtual strings, no; I'm talking about the iPad as a full-fledged, ultra-portable DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Who would've thunk it? No one, when the iPad first hit the shelves! But it had the potential, obviously. And that potential has been realized.

So, here I use Android for my mobile phone needs, Windows for my PC needs, and iOS for my tablet needs. And, hey... I even get to combine some combination of them sometimes. With that said, I'll continue to give varying devices the fair shakes they deserve, since I'm just in love with technology in general, but where tablets are concerned, the bar has been set pretty darn high. And I realize that bar was set within the industry long before it was set for me, personally, but now I get it. It's not about cost or sub-standard components; it's about the final product and everything it does, thanks to the incredibly strong app market.

Criticisms

You didn't think I was just going to slobber all over this thing without detailing some critiques, did you?

While I think the iPad is ultimately peerless for the time being, it's not flawless. Since its app store is so locked down, unless you jailbreak the iPad and install Cydia, there are some things you just can't do that you can with Android, like install game emulators and play your favorite roms. Yes, I use my iPad for more than gaming, but I'm a retro gamer, and despite the fact that I hate software-based controls (like the d-pad, buttons, etc.), I'd love to be able to fire up my iPad and play NES or SNES. I understand that's a matter of legalities, though, and not a fault of the device or app market, but still.

Additionally, there are some things the app store could benefit from, such as giving you the option to add an app to a favorites/wish list. I can't even believe they don't have such functionality built into the market. Like, it seriously boggles my mind that such an obvious need isn't there. And if it is, they sure don't make it easy to find when you're on the home page of an app. I'm as quick to buy a 99-cent app as anyone, but when I start browsing the app store and I see 10 new apps I want, I may not be ready to pull the trigger on the 5 or 6 that cost anywhere from $5.00-20.00!

Lastly, I'd like to clarify that I really do love Android as well, but as a mobile phone OS. Android definitely gives you more freedom without having to hack anything, but I still stand by my opinions as per my comparison of the two in the context of the tablet arena.

Ultimately, if you're not using an iPad simply because you're brand-loyal and/or anti-Apple, then there's a good chance that you're selling yourself short. I totally get it if you're not using one because the perceived value of the device isn't worth the cost (this was my main point of contention ever since the iPad 1 hit the market, until I decided to say "screw it" and jump in with both feet), or if you've used an iPad to some extent and just didn't find it befitting, but if brand loyalty is the only thing keeping you away and you've never even so much as seen an iPad in person, then I recommend you at least check one out. I mean, you won't even have to tell anyone! It can be your naughty little secret. ;)

-Stephen Chapman

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Topics: iPad, Android, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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136 comments
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  • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

    My laptop can do all of that and more. I'm still not convinced I need to add a 3rd device. I like to travel as light as possible.
    lippidp
    • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

      @lippidp

      You wouldn't travel with both. Either a tablet can replace your laptop or it can't. Personally if I need desktop/laptop power on a tablet I'm using I'll remote into my desktop using Splashtop. This is one reason why I choose an Android tablet (EEE Slider), because it has a physical keyboard and I can hook up a USB mouse, which makes remoting into a PC a bit more natural.
      Michael Kelly
      • And most people who buy notebook do not really travel anyway

        @Michael Kelly: so the attempt to discard iPad because there is something else for travelling is <b>ridiculous</b>.<br><br>Notebooks were travel-purpose devices ten years ago. Now most of all "PCs" that sold are notebooks -- even though most of these devices leave their place as often as <b>never</b>.<br><br>That said, iPad is great to travel with. It is superlight and has extensive battery life. It can do almost anything you might normally want during travels. (Obviously, this does not include editing 3D Studio Max models or something else of that kind. We talk about normal uses.)
        dderss
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @dderss<br>Why so negative?<br>For a lot of us, M Kelly is right.<br>When I travel for business I disliked having to take two laptops; work and personal.<br>My Transformer with keyboard gives me the personal ability I need and significantly lighter than my notebook. A win - win for me.<br>iPad2 is also in my travel list; sometimes. It has better games for the most part but lacks in areas I use daily - still I enjoy it.<br>So when I travel: work notebook, Transformer and I add the iPad if I feel the need.<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
        rhonin
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @Michael Kelly Your best bet is still a netbook with Windows 7. Asus makes a great little 11" netbook that works great and has all the necessary ports for ultimate work flexibility. The iPads are missing critical ports and slots to be a true laptop replacement.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @dderss Better games? Better apps? How many better apps and games are on iOS vs Android? Please, if that is the deciding choice, that is ridiculous because that variable is always improving on both sides. It's the variables that are fixed that should be more of a determining factor. Things like processor, memory, slots, ports, etc. Those you can't change. It's those things that will show their age and will cause you to buy a new one, not the software.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @Michael Kelly
        I travel with both my Ipad and my MBA. I use them both at the same time most of the time. *shrugs*
        AdonisSMU
      • That Depends on What You Mean By &quot;Travel&quot;

        @dderss
        If "travel" means go from the living room to the bedroom to the kitchen to the patio, etc., then a lot of laptops "travel" all the time. If "travel" means go with you on a business trip, then there are still quite a few that travel. If "travel" means stay with you during everyday activities or on vacation, then the number drops a lot more.
        CFWhitman
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @mrxxxman Keep going on about ports, it's pretty obvious that the average consumer, those buying iPads by the 10s of millions, are not worried about the lack of ports as you seem to think everyone should be.
        non-biased
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @Michael Kelly I travel with both. A tablet makes an excellent second screen, which is vital for my work. It takes up about as much room as a book, which I no longer bring with me since I read ebooks on my tablet.
        gonzobrains
    • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

      @lippidp

      My iPad never leaves the house/hotel room. I love it for curling up on the couch/bed surfing, reading, etc, but my laptop beats it hands down for road-warrior productivity.

      I'm still baffled why anyone would want to use one for any kind of content creation.
      SlithyTove
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @SlithyTove

        It depends on what you define as "content creation". Certainly the author of this blog uses his iPad to create his musical songs and output the scores to those songs from his iPad.

        With an optional bluetooth keyboard, traditional content creation activities can be accomplished.

        And, finally, your post has just opened up this possibility for me. I use a VNC app occasionally. (Splashtop Remote - because that app also allows audio synch as well as desktop screen access)

        Consider this possibility. Coupled with iCloud capability, one could always do the "heavy lifting" on a high powered laptop or desktop machine (via the VNC app) and then have that file accessible to the iPad anytime one wished.

        Hopefully, you are not a person still adhering to the old opinion that the iPad is a "toy" or "fad" not capable of content creation or usefulness. I did note that you have an iPad (which sort of shocked me because of your previous posts on this subject) and I agree that a MacBook Air class laptop is better suited for content creation but that is not the same as stating that the iPad is incapable of such activities or why a person would choose to perform such activities on a tablet when a laptop or desktop is also available to that user.
        kenosha77a
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @SlithyTove Exactly, everyone I know who have an iPad uses it at home about 90% of the time. Yes, the first couple of weeks they take it everyone but then realize it's too cumbersome especially if they also have to carry around a phone.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @SlithyTove

        Content Creation is wonderful with the iPad. There are plenty of painting apps, some of them very top notch. You can also create music, websites, documents, spreadsheets, etc.

        I think tablets are the future... I personally love my iPad 2
        rsseabolt
    • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

      @lippidp

      Have you really noted how thin and lightweight the iPad 2 is? Including that tablet in a person's travel items is not that big a deal. Additionally, it doesn't need to go thru the same airport screening process as a laptop does.

      But consider this. Just being "Applecentric" and using that companies products for this example, a person who uses an iPhone 4S, an 11" MacBook Air and an iPad 2 would not need to worry about a travel "weight penalty". Additionally, and in the presence of a WiFi signal (either thru a free access point or from the iPhone 4S tethering option), the iPad can act as a secondary monitor for the MBA in a dual monitor setup. (There is an app to do that. Grin) That's a pretty cool road warrior setup ability to have.

      Now, in your case, substitute an "Ultrabook" for an MBA and either a WP7 or Android smartphone and the above examples will still hold true.
      kenosha77a
    • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

      @lippidp

      I wasn't convinced either, but my wife bought me one anyone last Father's day. Now, I'm convinced. If you're trying to compare features and capabilities like a spec sheet, you'll never even get as far as trying one. What makes the iPad special isn't the list of things that it can do, rather the list of things that it does better than a traditional laptop. For casual use, which is mostly what I do away from home, I would honestly rather use the iPad than even the best laptop. Even for just around the house, the iPad is always there, with a 10+ hour battery, it's always charged and it's both convenient and fun.
      techconc
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @techconc <br><br><I>What makes the iPad special isn't the list of things that it can do, rather the list of things that it does better than a traditional laptop. </I><br><br>Precisely, and which was Apple's stated goal when introducing the iPad in 2010. Be able to do these casual computing activities better and more intuitive than a laptop or netbook, otherwise there's no business for the iPad existing. And no reason for a third category between the smart phone and laptop. Browsing the web, email, photos, games, eBook...... I now find myself reaching for the iPad when doing these.
        dave95.
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @techconc " iPad is always there, with a 10+ hour battery, it's always charged and it's both convenient and fun."

        Not to mention that if you loose power to one of these new extreme weather events, the iPad with 3G can be a real life saver and entertainment device during the hours you are stuck.
        vic.healey@...
      • RE: iPad 2: Why I finally bought one and why I absolutely love it

        @techconc The iPad is too big for true mobil use on a daily basis which is why most people use 90% at home. But that is on purpose so that you are encouraged to buy a 3.5" iPhone. The main reason Apple refuses to increase the size of it's screen on the phone is because there would be less reasons to buy the iPad. Imagine a 4.5" iPhone? Why buy an iPad, right?
        mrxxxman
    • Exactly.

      @lippidp <br><br>I agree whole heartedly. I have an iPhone, love, I have an iPod, and its just great too. I will not get an iPad because they want you to pay at least $499 for a device that has far too many shortcomings.<br><br>Its impossible to justify the price unless you find yourself always being in situations where a laptop just cannot be practically used, but you really need a computer. And I, like most people, do not have enough of those situations pop up where I just have to use a computer but a laptop wont do. At least nothing like $499 worth, even over a couple of years.<br><br>Sure, the iPad comes in handy at times I am sure but not handy enough at that price. With minimal amounts of storage, no USB, and the plain simple fact its an awkward piece of equipment if you want to use it in a variety of circumstance.
      Cayble