I’ve always been somewhat of a gadget guy. I was an early adopter of the earliest video game systems (think Tank Battle, Atari, Colecovision) and home computers (remember the Vic 20, Commodore 64, Commodore Pet?). I even bought one of the early Casio calculator watches in the 1980s. Continuing the trend, I picked up a Casio electronic organizer in the early 1990s, followed by the original Palm PDA with the stylus and the first HP tablet PC in the mid-2000s. Dell’s first tablet PC followed, then the iPhone, and now the iPad and iPad 2.

But, as much I’m a tech guy and an early adopter, I never bought a gadget because it was “cool.” I am too pragmatic and always analyze the usefulness of a gadget before I buy. And like you, I’m too busy to play around with gadgets. I need a gadget that saves, not costs, my time and money Robot Tip. So when the iPad was introduced,

I did my usual research to evaluate the product’s usefulness in my daily life. There is plenty written about the iPad’s “cool” features, design, and potential, and a fair bit written on its technical shortcomings. But, not so much written about its actual usefulness in daily life. With many people now asking me, “how do you like your iPad,” I figure I would write this article to help others determine if it is right for them – after all, it’s not a cheap buy.

General Observations

VISUAL DESIGN As with most Apple gadgets, the iPad is certainly a beautiful product to look at. Similar to the iPod and iPhone, it’s like buying a piece of jewelry. The iPad 2 further improves on the original design.

FEEL

I find the iPad awkward to hold. This was a surprise to me since it looks so sleek. But, with its weight and rounded edges, it doesn’t feel comfortable. And, the more I try to grab it, the more likely my thumb will activate the touch screen in undesirable ways. Adding an optional case helps. For the iPad 1, I have Apple’s case, and it’s functional, but, personally, I wouldn’t say I like the look and feel of the material. The iPad 2 comes with the sleek new magnetic cover design – neat, but it only covers the screen (which may be fine for some, perhaps).

FEATURES

While I could write about the touchscreen, 3G, or its many other features, the features only matter if you find the apps you want to use. And, that’s too personal a choice for me to lend an opinion here.

PRICE

The low price of technology today is amazing, so when evaluating the price of the iPad, I have to do so in comparison to other technologies. A somewhat close comparison today (in terms of portability, anyway) is likely a netbook — one of those mini notebook computers that have recently become popular.

Netbooks are available for half the iPad price, making the iPad seem expensive for a device that, in some ways, doesn’t do as much. Although it could be argued that even though the iPad does less, what it does well, it does very well. So, it comes down to what you need the gadget for and whether the iPad or a netbook better serves that need. Other new gadgets are entering the market, so there will be more options available.

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