I've received a few off-blog questions from readers asking how I like the iPad and, in one case, why I'm not writing more about it. The truth is... that I love it. And I hate it.
Right off the bat, let me say that it is a magnificent engineering and interface work of pure genius. If you hold one in your hands, you'll want to tip your hat to the designers and engineers at Apple who crafted it. And it works beautifully, as advertised, and in ways that will surprise you. In almost no time, you'll find yourself solving age old problems and addressing ones you had no idea you faced. The marketing blitz tells you it's "magical" and you're going to believe it.
On more solid terms, I read and write emails on it. I soak in books on it. I watched the series finale of "Lost" on the iPad and I keep track of my to dos there. I web browse (this is not a poor substitute for a "real" computer... in many ways it's better), keep track of my car's maintenance, store notes from meetings, show off my latest photos, listen to podcasts, and track my ebay auctions on the thing. The battery life is incredible and I have yet to need to reboot it even once (take that Microsoft).
I'm also beginning to see these out there in the real world. Out where technogeeks (like me) live and work and where you can really gauge the true market impact of a product by seeing it in action among regular folk. A woman was using one at the car dealership yesterday. My friend, who upgraded from a flip phone to a smart phone just a year ago, bought one. And the woman at the conference I recently attended, seeing me furiously take notes on the device, told me she was going to pick up one that weekend. I can't recall seeing any product run the gamut from Lunatic Fringe to Mainstream more quickly than the Apple iPad seems to have.
So... what's not to like?
Blogger Peter Bregman purchased an iPad on Day 1, loved it... but returned it to the Apple Store. Why? In his words:
It didn't take long for me to encounter the dark side of this revolutionary device: it's too good.
It's too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.
The brilliance of the iPad is that it's the anytime-anywhere computer. On the subway. In the hall waiting for the elevator. In a car on the way to the airport. Any free moment becomes a potential iPad moment.
So why is this a problem? It sounds like I was super-productive. Every extra minute, I was either producing or consuming.
But something — more than just sleep, though that's critical too — is lost in the busyness. Something too valuable to lose.
Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that's where creativity arises.
My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep. These "wasted" moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.
Hmmm. I like being productive. I like having a thought and then instantaneously being able to record it for follow-up and posterity. I enjoy being able to check emails on a real screen and then being able to respond on a truly usable keyboard (i.e., not the one on my Blackberry). I'm happy being able to read a book, then popping out to see how the Sox are doing, and then going back to the book... all in about 5 seconds.
But Peter is right. I'm finding that the very real reduction in "down time" is a problem. The down time is when then ideas come, where daydreaming happens, where you shut down and let your bio-neural network rest for a spell. The iPad, as brilliant as it is, takes a real dent out of down time.
Will I sell off the iPad? Unlikely. But will I work hard to make sure I don't have it with me at all times? Probably.
And I'll let you know how it's going...