Do I need an iPad?

I would never think I’d ever put something like this into my agenda. And yet I did mark January 27 and even started checking news that day. OK, it was a bit exciting, but not really shocking. Now, when the mystery is unveiled and numerous reviews are available I join the crowd of people asking the same question: “Do I need one?”.

Let me start answering that with the picture from the “The Economist” which I liked so much that I teared off the front page (for the first time in years I am subscribed to this nice magazine). The Economist: The Book of JobsThe front page has a headline “The Book of Jobs” and I consider it the best one I saw so far on describing the perception of the Steve and Apple in general (even my 2 years old daughter knows that my MacBook is an ‘appel’ (Dutch for ‘apple’)).

Anyway, back to the subject. Is this a holy grail everybody ‘must have’ or just another hype to hype waporized by the rivals? Well, it is A hype, and since it is one from Apple it is a sticky one. So it will stay around for a while. But looking at the specs and the added value my geeky side starts to doubt if it is indeed ‘one for all’ (avoid looking at slightly different models promised from the beginning). Let’s see.

First. I wouldn’t go for the first version. Simply because they will add camera and fix the inevitable bugs. At least I wouldn’t go for the top specs. The lowest model may be just enough to play with (and eventually give it to my daughter for watching kids stuff which she will do anyway), but it cannot even do videoconferencing. What’s the point of carrying around the dumb thing? Except perhaps for the showing off part. But this will tear off rather quickly I presume.

Second. It is a ‘closed brick’. Heck, put a (slightly downgraded) MacOSX on it and I am in a row. But having a ‘phone OS’ on a tablet. Well, it is definitely not targeted on a techies market (nothing wrong, btw), so I am afraid it is not going to work for the people like me who want to decide themselves what do they want to see running. The first app I am starting on my MacBook is the command line. Double. They it nicely covers the rest. Ok, this is perhaps not normal, but that was THE final reason for me to choose for the Mac, not because of the Aqua interface (which still sucks in keyboard support to my opinion). I am not asking for a terminal support in iPad, don’t get me wrong, but having such a thing opens the whole world of possibilities. I do want to automate things, write simple tools which do not require XCode (never got to it anyway), Perl or Python would do. But no close ecosystem for me.

Third. It does not have a single port except for the damned proprietary connector. What? No USB? Yes, it is not a computer, but there are so many things you can connect via USB that are just dumb practical that I cannot accept a ‘brick without input holes’ (a card-reader, anyone? Am I supposed to show off with my pictures only when I have connected it to a PC? And What if I am travelling???). A bluetooth is indeed a partial answer, but knowing Apple you would be limited to a list consisting of a [‘keyboard’] and guess what is the place to buy it… Of course… An Apple store!No outputs. Hey, the iPad screen is not the only thing people are watching. Heck, I can connect my iPod classic to my TV and not the latest-greatest? Oh, I see, this is for individuals, not for family/friends entertainment perhaps. Ah, stupid me, no friends, enjoy the show yourself. Hmm…

Anyway, the last drop is that I hate ‘slight curves’ in the design and the back of the iPad is exactly what I mean. I think the best thing what iPad can do for techies is dropping prices of the existing tablets or (even better perhaps) spawn a whole new idea of what a tablet can be. I am very surprised how lousy Microsoft does with their own idea of the tablet (announcement, and then what?), I think more agile guys like Asus will catch up soon and they can take into account wishes from the tech crowd much better (cheaper, anyone? :)).

So the answer is NO. I don’t need one. I need either an improved one (but no, I am not willing to pay more), or simply something else (which sadly does not exist yet). But it is OK, I am not in a hurry. Buying something which is has obvious flaws tend to be left for dust rather quickly. And this may turn to be rather expensive dust to be…