My daughter wants an iPad mini and my son wants a Surface

What's a father to do when his kids want two different technologies in a house bound by technology? The answer might surprise you.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

My precocious 11-year old daughter announced a few days ago that she wants an iPad mini for Christmas. Although she occasionally uses my iPad 1, she's never seemed particularly interesting in one of her own. I think part of the appeal is the cuteness of the mini. Although I don't see any particular purpose for the thing, she seems to love it. I think she'll probably just use it to play games and to watch Dr. Who* on Netflix but there's hope that she might read a few books too along the way. And, yes, I've tried to convince her to get a Kindle or Nook instead but she seems bent on having me purchase one. I just hope that it has a longer support life expectancy than my iPad 1 did.

My oldest son, now a freshman at Oklahoma State University, wants a Microsoft Surface. He texts me about them on an almost daily basis and how the Surface is all the buzz at OSU. He also tells me that I should write about the fact that students there are all wanting one. I keep thinking that he should have gone to a better school. That and I just bought him a laptop before he went to college. Apparently, a lot of students are taking their tablets to class to take notes on or to do whatever. When I was in college, a lot of the students would bring their cassette recorders to class so that they could record the pearls of wisdom with the hopes of playing them back later. I was too busy paying attention and writing my own notes to bother with all that nonsense. But, whatever. I certainly don't want him to be the only one not being geeky in his classes. Be it far from me to prevent that.

Personally, I think they'd both be better served to do the following:

My daughter should take possession of my Acer One netbook that has Windows XP on it. She can play games, watch Netflix and have Microsoft Office on it for the rare occasion that she would do any real work on it. Additonally, it has a full keyboard and it cost under $300 when it was new.

My son should take my iPad 1. Hey, isn't everything retro cool now? Sure it is. Let's go with that. Plus, it's Apple. I mean, isn't that what kids at cool colleges are into?

Problem solved.

I presented this idea to both of them, separately. 

The response to both ideas was met with irritation and mild disgust that I would even think of such a thing.

So, my well thought out plan that would result in a lot of savings for me and cool (OK, sufficiently cool) technology for both of them. It was a win-win situation.

Besides, since I am the technology writer in the family. I should get the new stuff. However, I wouldn't buy an iPad mini for myself nor would I necessarily buy a Surface.

I think the mini is too expensive. I think the Surface is too expensive. And, yes, the regular iPad is/was too expensive too.

Both are way overpriced for what they are. You can buy a nice laptop for the price of the mini and two laptops for the price of the Surface. My wife sees their requests as easy Christmas gifts but I see them as a waste of my hard-earned money.

The bottom line, of course, is that it will be a very merry Christmas for both of them and a bleak one for dear old dad.

What's that? You want to know about the middle child? The red-headed, 6-feet two-inch, 225 lb. 16-year old wrestler middle child? Oh, he probably wants a gun or sword or another pair of cowboy boots or something. He doesn't care about technology. He'd rather have gas for his pickup than anything with a screen on it--unless it's a bug screen for the pickup. He hasn't told us what he wants yet but I'm sure he will. No one really seems to hold back in the "I want" department.

Alas, poor me. I guess I'll wait until next year to ask for what I want. This year's budget is blown. Thanks, Apple. Thanks, Microsoft. The least someone could do is send me a coupon or something.

*Yes, Dr. Who. And, she makes my wife and me watch it with her. She's hooked on it, thanks to the oldest son.

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