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What is your Shoe Size? A Pretty Fool-proof Technique for Buying or Adapting Any New Piece of Technology (or Should You Buy an iPad?) UPDATED

 I had to revisit this question when my criteria changed. The iPad ships with IOS 3.2 with some notable additions and therefore it would be good to look at this device again since the conditions changed. Below is the original post with changes in red.

So the iPad is out. It will be an amazing device for certain people. I have had to talk to folks about whether it is something for them to buy. I have ONE response now for all these folks: "What is your shoe size?"

When asked, "Is the iPad for me? Should I buy it?" I come back with, "What are your use-cases?, What do you do with the computer? Or what would you like to do with your computer?". This question throws many off. But it's common sense. We buy shoes for a purpose (albeit, some purposes might seem less purposeful than others). Everyone has criteria. This criteria usually floats beneath the surface of our consciousness, but it's there making decisions. We need to apply this to tech stuff.

"Should I buy an iPad now?"

My criteria:

1. I have an old Intel 2006 white Macbook running Snow Leopard. It still works great. My primary mobile machine is not broken. Don't buy.

Update: My logic board checked out. It's in repairs and I have had to live without a Mac for about 2 weeks so far. My primary computer was broken. It was a great chance for me to really get a sense of whether I missed my little four-year-old.

I did.

I got by using my iPad Nano (iPod Touch 1st gen.). More on if it can really replace my computer below:

2. I do video editing. iPad doesn't. But not yet.  Don't buy if I can easily distribute a under ten-minute video without a computer.

Update: With the current 3.2 software, it still doesn't. But when the iPad goes to IOS4 in the fall, will it be able to use the iPhone 4's iMovie App? I have played with iMovie for the iPhone 4, it is pretty amazing. There is a question of how big of a file can I off-load to the cloud to distribute to others?

3. I need a keyboard. iPad has options for this. Buy.

4. I need documents, mostly text, to sync with my documents I create on my notebook. The iPad's file management system is a at best confusing, at worse a nightmare. Don't buy. No change, but the fall software update could address this.

5. I has 10+ hours of battery life. Buy.

6. Instant on, instant off. Buy.

7. The GUI and the applications have great potential. Buy.

I could go on. The list of criteria above is not exhaustive and it's not equally weighted either. Frankly, number 4 is critical for me, but number 2 is not.

Conclusion as of 4/19/10: I will not buy an iPad (in it's current form now).

Conclusion as of 7/6/10: I will not buy an iPad (though the IOS4 iPad update could really change my mind).

It is still good to know the size of my shoes.
Extra Warning to those universities and colleges thinking of giving an iPad ($499) to incoming freshman instead of a Macbook ($999): You still need a computer (a PC or Mac) to 'activate' the iPad. So freshman who don't already have a primary usable computer will find the iPad to be a beautiful, glassy expensive paperweight.
Extra Warning 2: Make sure you really understand the iBook functionality in regards to e-textbooks. Annotations are not possible as far as I know. Bookmarking and highlighting is. For the iPad to really take off in the e-textbook market, this needs to be addressed. Update: You now can add your highlights and annotations with a nice sticky-note interface. And even though you can view your notes in a list, there's no way (as far as I can see) to print these notes. 

New Extra Warning 3: The only way to print is by using another computer to sync via iTunes. There may be 3rd party wifi solutions out there, but I haven't seen them.

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