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Some thoughts on the Apple iPad

After many months of rumors and speculation, Apple finally unveiled the iPad. Almost all the questions have now been answered, but a lot of people are asking, what do I use it for? If I have an iPhone and a Macbook Pro, where does this fit in? I can't answer that for everyone, but I can tell you why I'm planning on getting one.

I've been thinking about this device for a while, and my line of thought has been, if this is a big iPhone/iPod Touch, what apps do I currently use on my iPhone that would benefit from the larger screen? Of all the apps, only Safari, Reeder, Tweetie, and Instapaper really stick out. And that's just because those are text-heavy apps used for reading, and that is the iPhone's weakpoint. Take those apps, and add in the Kindle app and iBooks, and I'm already sold. Even just as a glorified web browser, feed reader, e-book reader, it's enough for me to buy one.

The problem is I follow a lot of feeds, and send a lot of stuff to Instapaper throughout the day, but I don't have a good way to consume it. I don't want to sit at my desk and read it. I don't want to sit with my scorching Macbook Pro on my lap that after 4 years, only gets about 45min of battery life. I don't want to unplug it from my external monitor/keyboard and move the one power adapter I have. So the only option left is to use my iPhone, which works, but is far from ideal. The iPad fits in perfectly here: lightweight, long battery life, instant on, beautiful screen, and plenty of apps to download and present content in an ideal way.

So for me, the iPad is first and foremost, a reader. I'm sure I'll watch movies on it when I'm traveling, play some games, and use the other apps, but that will be secondary. However, I do think that some real interesting ideas come not from thinking about what iPhone apps would be useful larger, but what desktop apps would benefit from multi-touch and added mobility. Seeing the iWork apps shows that Apple is serious about having complex and powerful applications on it. I can't wait to see what people come up with, especially the kind of futuristic, concept interfaces used in movies.

As a side note, I'm planning on getting the cheapest, $499 16GB version without 3G. Getting the $829 model is a bit out of the range of a device mostly used for leisure. And I don't think I really need that much space anyway. I don't need my whole music library on there since I have my iPhone, and I'll probably only put movies/tv shows on there to watch when I'm traveling. The only sticking point is 3G. I don't travel that much, and don't think I'd use it often, but it will be nice to have the option if I needed it. Having no contract, month-to-month 3G plans makes me consider it, but I don't think it's worth the extra $130.