Apple Fanboy Orders iPad. Instantly.

The Want

The iPad has been the device I’ve been waiting for, literally, for years. The iPhone proved the case and I use it constantly: on the sofa, lying in bed, etc. I’ve always wanted a highly capable, touch-based, networked portable device that was not a laptop. The iPhone has filled that niche but left me pining all the more for a true tablet. The first day I played with the iPhone OS I knew I wanted it in a larger format for those times when tiny wasn’t a requirement. Don’t misread me… the iPhone is the device I want when running around, both as a phone and a data device. But the iPad is the device I want while lounging about, doing casual surfing while watching TV, as a reading device, in most meetings, while traveling, etc.

With the iPhone I’m already leaving my laptop behind for many meetings, short trips, etc. Anytime I don’t expect to be doing larger scale work such as editing 21 megapixel photos from my camera or heavy remote sysadmin work, I leave it behind and go all iPhone. The iPad, however, looks to be that perfect fit in the middle. I also never dreamed the Jobsonian ideals would allow a keyboard, but not only do they support their bluetooth keyboard, they’ve made a dock specifically for the iPad with one built in.

So, yes, as a hardcore Mac user, a 15+ year Linux advocate at the desktop and server level, sysadmin, programmer, photographer, Kindle reader, iPhone owner and all around alpha-geek: the iPad is that missing piece I’ve been wanting for many years dating back to my Newton 2100 days.

Many will gripe about its “lack” of multitasking. Aside from growing evidence that this will be a non-issue come iPhone OS 4.0… I don’t really encounter that hampering my iPhone usage. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who couldn’t survive without OS X’s Spaces to keep the sheer number of different tasks I have going more organized.

My usage of the iPhone tends to be very focused and I don’t expect to be any different with an iPad. I’m reading. I’m surfing. I’m watching something or playing a game. How does it currently multitask in ways that I need? Background music from the iPod app. Background mail checking if I so choose. Alarms and notices. Sure, I might benefit from a more constantly running IM application that isn’t tied to Apple’s Push method or a few other things… but it seldom crosses my mind.

Adobe Flash? Frankly, I’d like to escape that in most cases. Flash frequently irks me in the web world… probably as often as it appeals to me. It’s the most likely thing in my browsing experience to cause the fans in my MacBook Pro to start screaming like jet engines. It’s what my plug-in-isolated Safari in Snow Leopard most often reports to be the thread that got sent down for the dirt nap, allowing Safari itself to live on. Yes, HTML 5 stands to take over much of Flash’s role and the sheer impact of the iPhone has already prompted many sites to drop Flash or at least create browser-detected alternatives.

The lack of a camera doesn’t bug me, really. If it had one, cool… but I think people complaining that it isn’t in the bezel facing front don’t consider that in normal, comfortable use the camera would be looking up your nose. This is an area where I think an external bluetooth camera or even an iPhone app where you dock/prop the iPhone nearby and it streams video to your iPad for conferencing would get the job done.

Pre-Order Day

Yes, I was in my chair well before the announced 8:30 AM online pre-order. I saw the Apple “we’ll be right back” sticky note through numerous reloads. I was being this obsessive because nobody knew (with the various rumors) what their supply was for release day.


Several friends were also ordering, so we were in iChat before the store opening comparing notes. Our plan was online order with in-store pickup in Short Pump (about two hours from where we live), partly for more assurance vs. FedEx possibly dropping the ball on a Saturday delivery and mostly for the usual party-like atmosphere of an Apple new product release. Unfortunately, none of us could find the reserve and pick-up link initially and, for the sake of not screwing around with unknown availability, we all just went with the home delivery. Apple clearly states delivery to your door ON April 3 and I’ve had success with this in the past with everything from the iPhone 3GS to Harry Potter books (although the latter is a UPS or FedEx and USPS combined arrangement of some sort).

After confirming the order, @paulmonkey tweeted me the elusive reservation link. By this time, though, we felt safe with our established orders and decided not to alter anything. The news later in the day confirmed this to be a good decision. People wanting to switch from delivery to in-store pickup were being warned that the retail channel was rapidly going dry and that might mean a delay. As much as I’d enjoy the trip to Short Pump with friends, that’s four hours round trip in the car that I don’t need to burn up. A friendly FedEx driver placing it in my hands on the front porch seems far more appealing now.

My Config

So what did I order? I went with the 32 GB WiFi model. I have several reasons for that choice.

First off, the price is right down the middle and agreeable. I know from owning a 32 GB iPhone 3GS that the space is adequate… though that might be a different story, I realize, as iPad apps become more complex and more usage of video playback becomes a priority. We’ll see. 64GB at $100 more started creeping out of my current price comfort zone for a first gen device. Besides, there is every chance there will be a second generation rev not too far down the road and, by that time, my wife will likely be ready for an iPad (assuming she’s not caved already and bought a first gen as well). She and I have this arrangement with the iPhones, which works since it staggers our two-year commitments and makes one of the two of us upgrade-qualified at AT&T with each new model release. I crave the latest and she’s often happy one generation behind.

Why WiFi-only and not 3G? Well, aside from wanting it roughly a month sooner (that’s really just a side benefit), I honestly decided I don’t need the 3G… at least not now. We’ll see once I’m using it heavily and whether I run into cases where I wish I’d gone that route (apply above exercise of buying next rev and giving current rev to wife here, too). I have several thoughts on this point, though:

  • I’m around WiFi all the freakin’ time. At home, at work on our campus-wide Meraki system, in many public venues, etc
  • I own an iPhone 3GS, so it’s not like I don’t have a capable device when WiFi isn’t there and I need to reach the net
  • I have a sneaky suspicion tethering is going to be an option someday, despite what Steve so bluntly says right now

On that last point, my reasoning is that AT&T has already promised us tethering with iPhones, though they are clearly late on delivering it. If I’ll be tethering my MacBook Pro… why not my iPad? What’s to stop the iPhone from being turned into a MiFi-style device once tethering is official with AT&T? Yes, AT&T sells a 3G service for the iPad that is amazingly flexible (no commitment), but you’d think they’d want to encourage people to go for the iPhone with its two-year commitment and inevitable tethering service fee. They are bound to make more money on that combination and a lot more lock-in since it requires a commitment vs. the freedom to come and go with the iPad’s 3G option.

What am I missing going WiFi-only? The main thing will be the GPS. Dangit. Then again, my iPhone has it and is probably the more likely navigation device due to its greater portability. And, once again, I see tethering possibilities here. Why not share the iPhone GPS via bluetooth with the iPad? Or a dedicated bluetooth GPS (which I happen to own already)? Either outboard option would provide a roving iPad with a GPS data stream… assuming you even need it.

Lastly, I did order a dock and Apple’s case. I doubt they arrive on release day, but they will probably show up no more than a few days later. I’m holding off on the keyboard dock for now and will probably go with the more travel-packable, not-limited-to-the-iPad Apple bluetooth keyboard. I already use the wired version of that keyboard and love it.

What are my Hopes?

There’s a lot the iPad is already designed to do that meets my needs. Everything it shares with the iPhone capability-wise (minus talking on it, of course) for starters.

I want to use it in the field with my photography, assuming it can deal with 21 megapixel RAW photos from a Canon 5D Mark II decently. I can certainly see the possibility for at least basic editing in the field and certainly a gorgeous display for viewing your shots. Sure, the serious work will come later on my laptop… but I’d not be taking my laptop with me on trips as much if this will work. Camera, iPad and one or two portable photo tanks like my Epson P-3000 or the HyperDrive ColorSpace I keep eyeing would get the job done. Just extracting a mid-resolution, high quality JPEG from the shots on my card would be fine since I don’t -need- the iPad to ingest the entire 21 megapixel RAW file in most cases. That would be a very fast way to make a 32GB iPad fill up. I think there is little hope of it dealing with the raw 1080p video from my camera, though. Oh well.

I’d also like to see the iPad move into the realm that the iPhone still has not tackled (much to my shock): tethered camera control. This would be for HDR photography and in-studio shooting using the iPad as a great preview device. Yes, I know there are some WiFi camera control tools out there on the iPhone (requiring USB and a laptop in the equation)… but I still want wired direct connectivity with the camera’s USB port like my laptop has today. I expected to see this on the iPhone the moment Apple opened the dock port to hardware development. What gives?

I have a gut feeling I’ll be retiring my Kindle DX. The jury is still out on that until I have it in hand… but the feature comparison is clearly favoring the iPad. What are the issues for me?

  • E-ink displays have merit when it comes to paper-like visual qualities and less chance of eye-strain vs. a backlit display… but I need to read on the iPad to know and other features might well trump this factor.
  • The Kindle is very book-like and I use it like a book. Period. It doesn’t offer distractions. When I get into a book, I read it linearly, focus on the content and get more reading done.
  • I do have an investment in Kindle books. How many will I read twice or more? Tough to say… so this might not be such a big deal.

In the Kindle vs. iPad battle for me, there are many considerations. Aside from the points above, I fully feel that Amazon will stay in the game by releasing a good iPad Kindle reader. B&N has already announced theirs, so I can’t imagine that Amazon won’t be enhancing the one they already offer for the iPhone.

Honestly, I like this three-way potential war between Apple, Amazon and B&N. If they all produce good quality readers for the iPad, I’ll have choices for where I buy any given book based on price or whatever other criteria might apply. Competition is good here. But, again, the reader applications will be a big factor. So here’s hoping Amazon keeps pace in this realm so I can continue to be Amazon-loyal in my eBook purchases. Besides, my mother-in-law’s Kindle is on our account and I’d like to keep benefiting from our ability to share purchased books, even if I’m no longer using the Kindle DX.

I’m eager to see where magazine publishers and others go with iPad-enhanced periodicals. My eyes are on Wired right now since I love the magazine and they have already talked about their intentions to hit the iPad hardcore. This stands to be fantastic for all parties involved in an era of declining magazine and newspaper revenues.

I’m sure we’ll see even more useful tools for sysadmins on the iPad. SSH clients and other network tools will be highly appreciated since, again, the iPad form factor is far more appealing for running around in the network closets and tracing various issues. Granted, I have a dual Linux/Hackintosh Dell Mini 9 netbook for this purpose (which has the required ethernet port for my work)… but the thing has the worst keyboard on planet earth. It is durable, though, and I couldn’t give a crap about scratching it up (too late… that train left the station this past summer during our network upgrade).

And, of course, gaming. The possibilities there are fantastic. Like the iPhone, it will still lack the tactile button controls I prefer for platformers… but that all depends on the game. Strategy games should be a ton of fun on here as well as network-playable traditional board and card games.

Wrapping Up

I’ve written way too much already and, frankly, nobody is going to give a rip. I’ve said little that others haven’t already said in countless blog posts since the announcement of the iPad.

At this point, I’m just pleased to have a known release date and an iPad purchased and, supposedly, locked in for arrival on April 3rd. It sucks to be nearly a month away still… but such is life. I’ve got a busy few weeks between now and then, so I suspect it will fly by.

If you have thoughts or arguments, please feel free to post them in the comments. Also, take the poll I’ve attached if you’re so inclined.

7 Responses to “Apple Fanboy Orders iPad. Instantly.”

  1. An excellent article and view, 99% I agree with, I wish I could afford to buy it for my wife. But not for me. The way you speak of using it for photography just seems awkward and contrived, when I’ve already got a laptop/tablet that can store my RAW images and run lightroom. Around the house and in a meeting or showing off a portfolio, sure, but out dealing with files from my camera, especially without a CF reader. It just seems the hard way to to it, when you already have hardware that does it quite well.

    Sent from my much loved iPod touch.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey, Sean!

      Thanks for the reply and I also read your similar post on your blog about realistic use of the iPad by photographers. Total agreement on most points.

      Let me clarify that my point is to reduce the amount of crap I have to carry whenever possible. There will always be times that I HAVE to carry my laptop to do serious editing in the field. There are many times, however, when I do not need to take my laptop.

      My hope for the iPad is NOT for downloading the photos to it and doing serious work on them. What I’d like to do is download the photos to one more portable photo tanks (for redundancy and to clear off my cards), then attach the iPad to pull in select shots for viewing and, possibly, MINOR editing of levels, etc. This is also a lightweight method for sharing select shots from the field online… again, all without carrying the laptop.

      You are absolutely right about the iPad not replacing a laptop in this context. What I’m postulating here is a third scenario that is, essentially, an iPad being added to any situation where I might not have needed or taken the laptop anyway.

  2. JoeyHeadset says:

    Until the iPad has full TAC-0/44.1 compatibility, I just can’t make this purchase.

  3. Steppenwolf71 says:

    Excellent articel and I’m thinking I will make the same purchase – when it is available in \Good Old Germany\. By the way that option is missing in your poll…

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