[2 April 2010]
Over the years, I have happily been a gadget geek and early adopter driven on the fantasy tech I saw in comic books, science fiction and James Bond flicks. However, while much of the news and blogging media are covering it as the biggest delivery of a tablet since Moses brought his down from Sinai, I’ll be sitting out the iPad launch on 3 April.
Although the arrival of the Moses tablet, Apple’s netbookish progeny of its “Jesus phone”, is being treated with near-religious fervor, it’s the first time I’m not salivating over a new electronic hotness. I didn’t pre-order and won’t be standing in line to pick one up, and even if I won’t turn away a free one, I’m not all that interested in it because Apple has both consistently overwhelmed and underwhelmed me over the years.
The iPad should be the 21st century realization of the 24th century’s Personal Access Display Device, or PADD, that Captain Picard rocked on the NCC 1701-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Actually, the iPad name only escapes comparison to feminine hygiene products because of the PADD (Methinks the folks at Apple overestimated how many people would get their little nod to Trek when they came up with the name).
In a way, Apple already gave us the PADD. The iPhone was a miniature blessing and made touch screen smartphones an accessible reality. The first generation iPhone changed the way I view mobile tech, and the second and third gens changed it further. Making calls became the least used option on my phone, and I became immersed in constant email, browsing, Doodle Jump and Pocket God.
Indeed, there is a “been there, done that” vibe coming off the iPad. While bigger, the iPad doesn’t do much more than the iPhone does. In fact, it does less since the tablet doesn’t even have a camera (forget about the wished-for front-facing cams; this doesn’t even have an eye on the backend). That gives the new pad a less rad appeal since it makes me ask, “Is that all?” It looks cool and shiny at only one and a half pounds, but like its little sibling, still doesn’t support Flash, multitasking, or feature a removable battery (sometimes a ten-hour charge still isn’t enough).
This is where Apple’s track record of quality is actually a detriment to the iPad for me. The funny thing about my world being changed by the iPhone was that I kept expecting more. With gadgets, we expect a revolution routinely. I want to be blown away, but was left wanting more because Apple has done it before – and because the technology is surely available.
Plus, when the consumers, even gluttonous gadget ones like me, start to suspect Apple is holding out just so they can roll out a new batch of goodies every year, they may be less likely to upgrade as regularly. Already The Wall Street Journal is reporting the fourth-gen iPhone to be announced this summer will feature the aforementioned multitasking and front-face cam, a faster processor and – finally – a Verizon model that would put an end to the AT&T exclusivity deal. This is after I’ve already picked up three full-price phones over three years.
So I’m left wondering why I should shell out for an iPad now, when a better version will hit in less than a year. Perhaps instead of just being inspired to be a gadget geek, there’s another lesson I could have learned from those comic books and science fiction movies: Wait long enough, and there’s always a sequel with better tech and more special effects.