I scoffed at tablets for a long time, but, in my defense, I associated tablets with Windows Tablet Edition, small laptops trying to be "tablets", styluses, and clunky tablet/touch controls. Since then I've had three different phones (HTC Touch Pro, Motorola Droid, and the HTC Thunderbolt) and, like everyone else, I've become accustomed to using my fingers to play games, browse apps, read email, etc. I realized that technology had silently seduced me without making me aware of it.
I didn't want to have to fetch my laptop for web browsing and light work while in bed or on the couch and my phone just wasn't fun to use for prolonged periods of time or good for reading, even with the larger 4.3" screen on the Thunderbolt. I wanted something that would allow me to answer emails, manage my calendar, browse the web, and entertain myself without excessive scrolling and tiny text.
As an Android phone user I immediately starting looking at the Motorola Xoom and upcoming Samsung Galaxy tablets, but, as many reviews will tell you, Honeycomb failed to impress. I went to the local best Buy to play with some different models. A Best Buy employee told us (my wife and I) how amazing she thought her Galaxy Tab was and wanted to steer us away from looking at the iPads. She kept it in her back pocket and kept showing it to us. I had to start playing with the Galaxy display model before she left us alone, and I didn't enjoy it. I didn't like the 7" screen. It felt like I was using a really big phone and I knew the lack of apps for that screen would be irritating, at least a little. The Galaxy wasn't for me.
Next came the de facto Android flagship - The Xoom. Much to my dismay it felt "off". I knew the hardware was fast, but Honeycomb felt clunky. It chopped when I switched home screens and Angry Birds seemed to run at a lower FPS. My phone didn't feel so slow, so why did Honeycomb? Was it the Xoom? No. Google's recent treatment of Honeycomb suggests it's the OS, at least in part. I just wasn't pleased by what I was seeing and I knew the Xoom wasn't perfect in a variety of other ways. I didn't want to wait another year for Android tablets to mature, so I moved on. Honeycomb was out.
The iPad 2 was impressive. I don't think anyone can deny that, but I also recognized it's imperfections and problems.
I hate iTunes. I use a Microsoft Zune HD and Google web services. My phone syncs to the Google cloud and my Zune syncs to the Zune software. That's one application on my PC that has all of my purchased videos and music and my Zune Pass. iTunes would serve no purpose except to backup and sync my tablet. Had I chosen to use an iPod as my main media player a few years ago this might have been different, but iTunes is still slow and not very fun to use.
The closed App Store also bothered me. I'm not disillusioned, though. The Android marketplace is chock full of terrible apps and plagued by a myriad of other issues for developers. I don't blame developers for wanting to avoid Android in favor of iOS, but I also use some Android apps that would never make it into the Apple App Store. WiFi Tether and Titanium Backup being at the top of that list. I wouldn't need apps like that on any tablet I bought, but the hacker in me does enjoy the custom ROMs, root access, and all the fun (and horrors) that can bring. I knew I wouldn't jailbreak the iPad and I wondered what might I be missing (app-wise) by going with Apple.
Even with my reservations I couldn't see any reason to choose Honeycomb. Yes, I had already written off the BlackBerry PlayBook and the Barnes & Noble Nook as options before even beginning my search. The nook showed potential and the price was tempting, but my eyes were on the big players. I'd pay the premium prices if it would satisfy my needs.
The biggest factor was I didn't want to wait. You can spend your whole life waiting for something to improve. If you do that you will never buy any technology.
The iPad 2 is a second generation product. iOS has matured quite a bit and the App Store is full of apps like Flipboard, Zite, Instapaper, and Penultimate. I really wanted to get my hands on apps like that. I made my decision and I ordered my Black 16GB WiFi iPad 2 a couple of days later.
I have yet to regret that decision after a month of using it. It's a constant companion. I went with 16GB WiFi only model because I didn't need more storage. The price helped, too. I stream all of my movies from a media server and all of my music resides elsewhere (the iPad is only used for podcasts), so 16GBs is plenty. Adding a 3G antenna was tempting, but the price was too high. Adding $120 to the iPad's price tag and $20 a month to my Verizon bill was unacceptable. I almost never lack a WiFi connection when using my iPad anyway. Whenever I do I have tethering on my phone.
I'm very happy with the purchase. There isn't much more to say for now. Maybe I'll switch to an Android tablet is a few years, but first I'll have to see Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond. Next up I'll tell you why I'm happy with it and discuss the apps I use daily.
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