Why I Bought an iPad

This summer I realized I was due for a technology upgrade. I had purchased a new Macbook in early 2008 as my “dissertation computer.” With the end of my Ph.D. program in sight, it was time to consider the options for replacement.

I looked long and hard at the MacBook Air (before the recent upgrade that includes Thunderbolt port and Mac OS X Lion) and that will definitely be my next laptop. However, my Macbook still runs plenty fast for my purposes and after three years I have used less than 40GB of the 160GB available on the hard drive. I then realized I wanted the Air for its light weight and portability, not for faster processing. And I wanted something that felt more natural in its interface.

I thought about the primary ways I use a computer:

  • Generating lengthy written content: papers, articles
  • Email, some including lengthy responses or attachments
  • Consuming written content on the web (news, blogs)
  • Writing blog posts
  • Other internet use: booking travel, shopping, eBay, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, general surfing
  • Managing household finances (I use Moneywell)
  • Developing simple presentations for workshops and classrooms
  • Simple spreadsheets

Secondary uses:

  • Media storage, but not much: music and photos. No videos.

No need:

  • Any kind of video gaming
  • Anything beyond the most simple photo editing (resizing and cropping)
  • Any video editing

In addition, I wanted something that would replace paper tools:

  • Planning calendars
  • To-do lists
  • Note-taking
  • Books, including my Bible
  • Documents such as journal articles, student assignments
  • Perhaps eventually my journal

After much deliberation, I opted for the iPad2, 32GB with Wi-Fi (not 3G). I bought an Apple cover and then a Zaggmates keyboard case for travel.

I have had the iPad for about a month now and I have to say that I absolutely love it. While it is not a laptop replacement, I now use it much more than my laptop (which has really become my desktop computer). It has replaced my Franklin Planner, to-do lists, and notepads. While I still prefer the Kindle for immersive reading, I store many Kindle books on my iPad, and Kindle will sync to the furthest page read on either device. The Evernote, WordPress and Moneywell apps all sync with my laptop. The iPad is ideal for consumption of Web content. And the 10-hour battery life is a dream.

When I first looked at the iPad months ago, an Apple store employee told me that he loved the iPad because it was more “organic.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time but now I totally get it. I feel like I am holding a notepad instead of sitting with my head buried in a computer. The touch screen makes for an entirely interactive experience that I now miss when I’m at my laptop (although I know OS X Lion will incorporate some of these features). It did not take long for me to incorporate the iPad into not just my workflow but my everyday life.

What are your thoughts on the iPad?

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