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It was inevitable, I suppose.

I mean, it was a foregone conclusion I would drop the considerable sum and get an iPad. It was always a question of when.

Well kids, it was tonight. As soon as the 3G version finally became available, I blacked out all of a sudden and when I came to I was wandering in the La Encantada parking lot with a lot less dough and a fucking amazing little toy in a cute little bag. The line (oh yes, there was a line of about fifty or sixty people there by the time they opened the doors to bleed us) reminded me of a movie premiere. They let people in a few at a time and had.a salesperson there with you the whole time. Well-orchestrated indeed.

Once I got home, I set it up and yes, am typing this entry in the WordPress app.

No two ways about this, it is a toy. But what a toy. Wow.

It is, in essence, a logical progression from the iPod Touch, this device’s direct ancestor more than the iPhone. All three share the same OS (iPhone 3.2 as of this writing), but though this has a 3G antenna in it as well as 802.11 it is not a phone. It’s not an iPod either. and frankly it’s everything a netbook isn’t. Including cheap.

Apple is touting this as sort of a companion device. It’s not meant to replace a computer (unfortunately) but it is meant to handle much of what you’d use a computer for–and what many use netbooks for: Web browsing, e-mail, some productivity. The fact that it lacks a physical keyboard and looks like an overgrown iPhone has caused derision, but nothing so much as its name. Really guys, iPad? Christ.

Dumb name, but a sensational device. It’s bigger than I would like, but at the same time the larger size means that the keys on the virtual keyboard are almost exactly the size of the ones on my MacBook. Definite plus. Right now as I type this the iPad is in my lap and I am actually typing faster than I would have expected. To give an idea of it’s size, it’s roughly 6 1/2 by about 9 1/2 inches (go to the Apple site for details). It’s about the size of an average netbook’s screen.

But the things that evolved from the iPhone are what makes this so extraordinary. First off, the responsiveness of the touch interface is what you’d expect if you’ve spent time with the iPhone. That is, it’s better than any touch screen out there. Also, the OS is optimized for using fingers, not a stylus or mouse. Which is something I didn’t get at first until I did some reading and observed life with my iPod Touch. Like I said, this is a logical progression from that device.

Long and short is, this is also a logical progression for what I ask of my computer experience at this point in life. Only beefs so far: The placement of the headphone jack in relation to the volume control is bloody awkward. The dependence on a PC of some kind is. A little irritating. Connecting wirelessly to the computer or (even better) to a cloud source would be nice.

The web experience is just fine thank you. Fuck Flash.

The Kindle and Netflix apps are pretty spiffy, and while I haven’t hit the 3G yet I look forward to using it. That was a major pain point with the laptop and the Touch: Dependence on a wireless access point. Sometimes they’re not around, and using my cell phone for internet access is, well, not desireable.

Which leads me to my big reason for taking the plunge on this device in particular. Somehow Apple has wangled a special fucking deal with AT&T as far as a data-only plan for this device. That was most compelling. Wireless access points are not as ubiquitous as we’d all like, and the alternative is peering into the tiny screen of a cell phone in a scenario where internet access is a costly option. With my particular internet jones that’s not even on the table. I’ll wait till I get home to check e-mail or use the iPod Touch’s infuriatingly tiny virtual keyboard if I’m someplace where I can get the access or steal it. Having it on demand is worth the monthly charge.

There are other benefits that don’t have to do with me. A computer is now mostly freed up for someone who could really use the experience of a relatively modern machine and a superior OS. Myself, I am going to see how this thing and me get along.

I am not kidding though. This is the future.


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