5 Reasons why the iPad is NOT a “fat waste of money”

Last week on Memeburn Matthew Buckland wrote a piece entitled “5 reasons why the iPad is a fat waste of money“, and it was subsequently passed around on Twitter. Now, the iPad is not perfect, granted. In the past I mentioned my top 10 grievances with the iPad (which are mostly now fixed with the new software update), but not once would I say it is a waste of money. In fact, I believe it is a very valuable platform, and (excuse the cliche) a good indication of what the future of computing is all about.
Here is my opinion on Matthew’s reasons for stating that the iPad is waste of money:
1) It’s too expensive. OK, the iPad starts at $500 for the entry level Wifi one, and $630 for the 3G one. True, first generation devices are typically more expensive, and yes the iPad 2G will most probably be cheaper, granted. But even at $500 the iPad is still coming in at a lower price than similiar devices which are only being released 8 months after the iPad. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is coming in at a higher price, despite having a smaller screen and plastic construction. And this is not a Android vs iOS thing – in terms of cost and build quality, the iPad looks like pretty good value in my opinion. (If you want an Android user’s opinion of the iPad, read our review) And do not try to compare it with Netbooks either, the iPad is pretty cutting edge technology compared to the highly commoditized netbook market.
2) No Front Camera. Have to agree with that one (even though I do not miss it at all). I think they need to do it.. not that they want to do it. The Facetime camera would be perceived “nice to have” feature, and would probably be part of the next iPad. Apple’s renewed focus on video calling should be a good indication of that. Rear camera – yes, I would like one to quickly take pictures of slides in meetings. Even though lifting up the iPad to take a photo will probably look a little silly.
3) No USB port: This was one of the big criticisms of the iPad when it was announced, and somehow most of those critics have calmed down. Why? Because we are living in the cloud era – our media does not have to be stored on our devices. Case in point – I use Dropbox on my devices, and just like that I have access to all my files.
In terms of video – just use ZumoCast. You can instantly watch videos that are stored on your network, or alternatively, quickly select the video ou want to take with. Also – if you forget to bring with a file, you can always download it from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection connected to your PC. That seems pretty easy to me.
If you want to transfer files for safekeeping on your iPad, you can use iTunes and select files to do that. iTunes is pretty common these days, so just carry around the dock connector cable. Those are pretty common these days as well.
4) Not enough capacity. True, 16GB might not be enough if you are a big media gatherer, but it is most certainly enough for people who will use the iPad as a simple internet device. But 32GB and 64GB is plenty for people who have a lot of music and photos. If you are someone who has a very large photo library I would think that 64GB is awful lot of storage for it – remember, iTunes compresses (or “optimizes”) images to a little more than 1MB per photo before storing them in the iPad photo library as well.
5) Flash support. Yes, this is one of those areas that some people feel the iPad has fallen short. But be honest – how often do you access Flash-only websites? I do not like to have Flash on my mobile devices – in fact I also switch it off on my laptop as well using a Firefox plugin. Why? Because 90% of Flash usage on the web is for intrusive, animated ads. I can do without those, thanks. And online video is already quickly changing to H.264 format.
Like Matthew mentions – yes, there will be a new iPad around April next year, if Apple does stick with its yearly upgrade cycle. I would like to see if Apple would indeed drop the prices somewhat, and also if they will keep the current iPad next year  as a lower cost version (like they currently do with the iPhone 3GS). If I do have to choose a reason not to get an iPad, it would be this – if you are someone who would look longingly at iPad 2G once it arrives, maybe you should wait. But by no means is it a waste of money.

  1. I’m not sure I agree with either of you really, except that I’d side with Matt on the fact that it’s a waste of money (for people who own laptop + iPhone).
    My iPad sits in my Cape Town flat for my kids to play with, that’s is the only use I get from it (oh, and they both fight over who gets to use my phone over the iPad – to heavy to hold for long).
    The biggest reason for this is that carrying the iPad does not allow me to not carry anything else. I still read on my Kindle (many reasons) and type and watch content on my MB Air. The sole exception is in conferences, the iPad is a slightly more discreet screen to work on.
    For me, it’s novelty over utility…!

    1. Good point Rich. I think it depends on your usage scenarios – I reckon the Macbook Air is perfectly priced to take away some of the more technical users who might feel that iOS can be underpowered. If you did not have the very light and compact Macbook Air, and say a standard Macbook Pro (at double the weight), what would your use of the iPad then be? Would you still carry around the laptop?I do agree with you on the weight – while very lightweight compared to a laptop, I do hope the next iPad will have a carbon fibre back (or whatever it needs to drop in weight). It is ever so slightly too heavy to hold with one hand. While I dont want a plastic iPad, its too heavy right now.

      1. Hey Minnaar, well until two weeks back I had the 15″ Macbook Pro – the same problem existed.
        The lack of a keyboard meant that writing at length was a pain. Presentation development is damn near impossible, and getting content (media) on and off it for consumption is laborious (and still requires a computer).
        I commute between Jhb and CT every week, so weight is hugely important, but functionality trumps weight everytime and never once did I feel that I could just take my iPad and leave my MB behind.
        The best thing that the iPad did for me was to re-energise my RSS feeds, but even the novelty of that has worn off. I’m starting to see that the fact that RSS readers were not pretty was not the problem, it was that social aggregation of content is simply so much more efficient.
        The beauty is, of course, that neither you nor Matt are wrong here. If you got value, then it was worth the $500, if you didn’t, it wasn’t.
        Me personally… I really (really) didn’t…!

    2. Rich I think you killed off any chance of using your iPad with buying the MB Air. I’m starting to use my iPad a lot now in meetings and in the evening to read books or Instapaper. But I won’t ever be able to do the full migration to iPad and replace my MBP.

      1. Hey Charl (it’s been too long dude). I still like taking notes on paper in meetings, and I read on my Kindle. As I said below, the Air is new, but you’re right, it was the final nail in the coffin.
        Biggest thing for me: I HATE typing on the iPad – autocorrect is so frustrating when you’re trying to type meeting-shorthand.

        1. Agreed.
          I force myself to use my iPad as we are starting to do a lot of iOS development. (Not a good reason either..)

  2. Great article and Richard has a point in that the biggest supporter of me getting an I-pad is my 5 year old daughter (she has had the chance to play on some of them whilst on holiday). The thing about the I-pad is there does not appear to be a practical reason why one should own one (especially if you already have a Macbook Pro and an i-Phone), but every time I interact with one, I want one! I suspect that I will wait for the I-Pad 2G though, only because it is close enough so why not get the latest one

  3. I think you definitely need to not look at the iPad as something you can compare with a MBP. I know you will probably all agree but in the comments this has been done. Just from another perspective like Richard said it depends on the use you get out of it.
    I agree it isn’t a MBP and I don’t think it ever will be but I do think it is a great new way to consume media. Things like Wired magazine has never looked this good. I also use it as a portable video player. I can’t tell you how many ted video’s I have watched while cooking supper.
    The other side of it is I think it will really make inroads into the not so tech savvy market. My parents for instance have never spend this much time on any computer. They now do absolutely everything on their iPad’s. Yes you heard me right their iPad’s. They both have one.
    So maybe the market isn’t us computer crunching, cyber junkies but the massive untapped market outside of our community who embraces a device which suite more how they want to interact with the web then how we currently do.
    That’s just my thoughts. Always love reading others experience of a device I believe is really an innovation.

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