Maybe I Don’t Want an iPad After All

I am nothing if not fickle. I think I’ve thoroughly demonstrated that in the past. But in case you’re not convinced, let me give you another little piece of evidence. For months now, I have wanted an iPad. Actually I’ve wanted one ever since they were first announced last year. But it’s only been a few months since I decided that I am definitely going to get one. I was sure of it. There was nothing else I wanted to spend my money on more than an iPad, and I was determined to save up for one.

Except that now I don’t think I will get one. I’m actually planning to get a Windows 7 laptop instead. Crazy, I know. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d pretty much decided that Microsoft was dead to me, and that I was planning to shift all of my computing over to iOS instead. But as part of that plan, my wife and I bought a Windows 7 desktop PC to hold all of our videos and pictures and stuff. And in using this new PC, I discovered something that I really didn’t expect: Windows 7 is actually really freaking good.

Of course, I have a Windows 7 PC, obviously. Why do I need to buy another one? Well, there are several reasons. In this day and age of mobile computing, I don’t really want to be stuck in one particular spot when I want to use a computer. I want to be able to sit on the couch, or at the kitchen table, or maybe on the toilet. But then, I have an iPod Touch. And that device can certainly do a great deal of what I want to do with a computer. But it can’t do everything. For example, this blog. It is technically possible for me to work on my blog on my iPod Touch. But it’s certainly not a pleasant experience.

Not only that, but it’s a little annoying to have to share a computer with somebody else. It’s not that my wife messes things up or anything. We each have separate accounts, so it’s basically like having two separate computers in that regard. But if I want to use the computer and my wife is already using it, I have to wait until she’s done. And vice versa, of course. So it would just make life a little easier if I had my own computer, and then we wouldn’t have to fight over the desktop.

This doesn’t explain why I would get a Windows 7 laptop instead of an iPad, of course. There are really three reasons why I would prefer a laptop to an iPad. First is value, second is versatility, and third is a physical keyboard.

Allow me to explain further. An iPad is not a horribly expensive device. The cheapest model costs $500, which is a substantial sum of money, but not an outrageous sum. But what you get for that $500 is a bit lacking when compared to a $500 laptop, at least depending on how you look at it. The average $500 laptop is considerably bulkier and uglier than an iPad, and it doesn’t have access to the iTunes App Store like an iPad does, but it is faster, more powerful and has a lot more storage than an iPad. So it’s a matter of what sorts of things are important to you.

That leads into my second reason, versatility. An iPad is a wonderful device, but it is somewhat limited in what it can do, largely because of the restrictions placed upon it by Apple, but also due to the form factor (which I’ll get to in a second). There are definitely advantages to Apple’s “walled garden” approach. You don’t have to worry about downloading malware from the App Store, for example, because Apple controls everything that goes in there. But on the other hand, if you want a certain program that Apple doesn’t want on the iPad for whatever reason, then you can’t have it. Or you have to jailbreak your iPad to get it. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish that I’d rather not get into. In any case, to make a long story short, if I want to have five different web browsers installed on my Windows laptop, then that’s my business. If I want to browse the web with anything other than Safari on an iPad, then I’m pretty much out of luck.

Then there’s the third reason: a physical keyboard. One of the major reasons I want something more portable is so I can work on my book and on my blog while sitting on the couch. I could conceivably do that with an iPad, but I worry that the lack of a physical keyboard would make it needlessly difficult. I could always buy a keyboard to go with my iPad. But why bother when I can spend less money and get a more powerful, more versatile device that has a built-in keyboard?

So there you have it. As much as I’ve wanted an iPad since they were first announced about a year ago, it looks like I won’t be getting one, at least for now. In fact, since I started working on this blog post, I have already picked out a new laptop. It is an Acer Aspire TimelineX AS5820T. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 640 GB hard drive, a 15.6″ 1366 x 768 screen, is less than an inch thick, weighs less than 5 and a half pounds, and supposedly gets 8 hours of battery life, although I imagine that 4 hours is much more likely. And it was on sale for $600, which was nice.

I won’t be getting it in time to really say anything about it in next week’s blog post. But I do intend to write about it two weeks from now. I bought it directly from Microsoft, and Microsoft does something called Microsoft Signature, where they take all the crapware and bloatware off and replace it with useful programs. I’ve heard that it dramatically improves a computer’s performance, and I will make sure to tell you all about it two weeks from now. In the meantime, you can mull over what wonderful thing I will write about next week.

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