On Sunday I finally gave in and bought an iPad.

I’d been thinking about it for almost a year. Since my iPhone has retina display, I knew I didn’t want an iPad until it had retina display as well. So when the new one finally came out a couple of months ago, I realized I no longer had an excuse not to buy one.

But I still waited — one, because I like to let other people be the guinea pigs when it comes to new products in case there are any glitches; two, because after the initial launch, I wanted to wait until they were back in stores so I could get the instant gratification of buying one and bringing it home…

And three, because of this nagging feeling that I didn’t really need one.

See, even though the iPad is just so cool, and even though I’d played with other people’s iPads before, I just didn’t know what I would actually use it for. What could I do with it that I couldn’t already do with my iPhone? How could I justify spending all that money?

I knew I wouldn’t be reading books on it; that’s what my Kindle is for. One thing I love about the Kindle is that it’s not backlit. I don’t like staring at a backlit screen for too long, especially right before I go to bed; I deal with occasional insomnia, so staring at a big glossy screen late at night is something I try to avoid. And the size and weight of my Kindle make it perfect for my long train commute to work and for reading on the subway.

Also because of my sleeping issues, I don’t like to hang out in bed if I’m not actually planning to go to sleep. So I wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning and instinctively grab my iPad from the nightstand and start distracting myself with it. If I’m ready to wake up, I want to just get out of bed.

I also don’t like paying for apps. In more than three years of owning an iPhone, I’ve paid for just four apps. (I just checked: Doodle Jump, I Love Katamari, Pac-Man, and Scrabble.) I don’t know why I hate paying for apps; I have no problem spending an extra 3-4 bucks on dinner or $13 for a two-hour movie, but buying something intangible just seems like a waste to me unless I’m going to use it a lot. I figure I’ve already paid enough money for this device; why do I have to spend more money to do things with it?

Speaking of paying extra, I also knew I wasn’t going to buy an iPad with 3G (or now, with 4G LTE). In addition to spending $130 more for it, I’d also have to pay for a monthly data plan. Because the iPad is so big, I wouldn’t plan on taking it out and about with me too much, and if I really needed internet access on the go, I could just pull my compact little phone out of my pocket.

So the main thing I figured I would do with an iPad is surf the web while sitting on the couch without having to strain my eyes while looking at my phone. But again, I wouldn’t want to use it too much at night.

So would it really be worth spending so much money on it?

Should I just wait until the rumored mini iPad comes out later this year, as expected?

The thing is: sometimes a pro/con list only takes you so far. I could afford it, and it just seemed so damn cool.

So on Sunday I bought one.

I chose a black, 32GB, WiFi-only model, as well as a $40 smart cover. I decided on 32GB because I figured it was only $100 extra for twice the storage space of the 16GB, and if I have this thing for a few years, there might be now-unconceived uses for it that will require lots of storage space.

So I bought it, and then that night I couldn’t fall asleep because I kept wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake. Great, I’ve spent almost $700 (including tax) on something I might rarely use. And if I do use it too much,  I’ll turn into yet another 21st-century electronic zombie couch potato.

It’s been a few days and I’m still not convinced it’s worth it. There’s a two-week return period. I’ll probably keep it, but I’m still wondering if I should wait for the smaller one. I guess if I decide I want the smaller one in a few months, I can just sell back this one.

Those of you who have an iPad: What do you mostly use it for? Are you using it in ways you didn’t expect? Are you finding it more useful than you expected? Or is it just a cool toy (which is not necessarily a bad thing)?

4 thoughts on “iPad

  1. At home it’s my main computer. I have a big iMac, but I prefer to use my iPad for browsing the Internet and checking email. I used to never play games, but now I get them all the time. It’s good training for the brain. :)

    If you’d spend $3 for a coffee, you shouldn’t feel sorry about spending money on an app. It takes months to plan out, design and build an app like that and people are trying to make a livelihood being software developers/designers. Think about how long it takes you to drink a cup of coffee until it’s gone. You’ll use an app at least that long.

    Twitter’s app for iPads is nice, but I paid for Tweetbot (it has more features, like being able to check who retweeted you). Simplenote for note-taking (it syncs with their servers and I can use a program like Notational Velocity for Mac that’ll get the same set of notes). Instapaper for reading articles later… you just send any article to it and when you open up Instapaper you just read the text like a book. I’ll use it for browsing YouTube, video chatting with my parents (it’s nicer to be able to walk around and show things… there’s a Skype app). NPR, TED and The Onion have nice apps. I get Directv for cable and their iPad app is a lot nicer than using the menus on my cable box for changing channels. Other cable providers have apps too. It’s nice when I take a picture with my iPhone to have it show up on my iPad to show people on a bigger screen (if you turn on iCloud).

    For books, you have the option of buying from other booksellers besides Amazon to spread your money around (Nook app for Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Google Books, or anyone else’s PDFs or ePub books). I use Mr. Reader for reading blogs, but if you just want to skim through certain blogs, then people love Flipboard. There’s an app for crosswords called “Crosswords” that lets you get crosswords from a lot of different newspaper (I think NYT subscribers can get theirs into the app for free). I use the New Yorker app from Newsstand instead of getting a print subscription (I hate getting paper of any kind, feels like a waste to have to throw it out). It’s nice for job interviews if you have to show things on a screen. And if you’re traveling, you can download movies/TV shows onto it.

    I got the wifi-only one too. You can turn on tethering on your iPhone if you ever really need it and only have it for a month. Then you can give your iPad Internet access through your phone. Or you just find coffee shops with free wifi if you’re traveling. I’m on my third iPad (have sold the previous two before the new ones came out) and I’ve never regretted getting not having 3G/4G.

  2. We’re iPad twins! I bought mine today. I got the same one – black, wifi, 32GB. I only used it for about 20 minutes because I have to go to work but so far, it’s beautiful! (I’m on my iMac now).

    In the store, I was afraid it seemed a little heavy but now that I have it at home, it’s a lot lighter than my laptop sitting on my lap! I don’t think I’ll be typing blog posts on it but it’ll be great for sitting on the couch and surfing the ‘net, e-mail.

    So far, I’ve been using Twitter, Facebook and the N.Y. Times through Safari, instead of getting the apps, and they seem to work fine. I like being able to keep multiple windows open on it.

    I got HBO again so I’m looking forward to getting HBO Go.
    And since I don’t think I’ll be taking it anywhere, the wifi only is fine.

    The only thing I’m concerned about is getting the screen all scuffed up with fingerprints or scratching it. Apple sells a clear screen protector for the iPhone but not for the iPad. I did get a cover, though.

  3. I use my iPad when I travel a lot. I don’t have to carry a 7 pound computer around, I can slip it in a bag, load maps onto it, tour guides, and more. I like taking it out on weekends for coffee and surfing the web.

  4. Thanks all. Bart, lots of great ideas there. The New York Times Crosswords app actually requires a separate paid subscription from the one I already pay for, but I discovered the Across Lite app, which opens NY Times crosswords and any other crosswords that are in the .puz format. Still, I’ve realized that I much prefer the visceral feel of doing a crossword by hand, so I’ll continue to print out the crossword every day and do it that way.

    Esther, congrats!

    And Mike, thanks for your tips as well.