There are two types of gadget purchase for me. The first, and often most dull is replacing something I already have that has broken. I really enjoyed researching and purchasing my first satellite navigation system, but was really annoyed when it broke and buying the replacement had none of the novelty of the first time round. Usually these purchases are as much about filling a need as filling a want and also, they have a habit of happening when I'm feeling poor! The second type of gadget purchase is the fun one. I've found something I want. Some new and exciting product that I've no idea if I need it or not, but I do know I want it. Excellent. I start by researching everything I can about it, perhaps it's not even out yet, which means I'm reading up on all the rumors and speculation (most of which are never true) and finding out when the product launch is.
Once the product is actually here, I'm straight onto the reviews. Now at this point, my credit card is usually trembling in my wallet - but there is one more thing to do before putting it out of it's misery. Justify the purchase. This means I must find a reason, not only why I want this thing, but why I need it.
The Apple iPad has been the biggest challenge yet.
Apple say that the iPad fills the niche between a smartphone (think their iPhone, or the increasingly popular 'Android' based phones) and a computer. I had hoped this would be enough. "Apple are right!" I told myself "I need one to fill the gap!" - but really, what gap? I certainly can't think of a time where my laptop and phone were on the coffee table in front of me and I found myself unsure of which one to pick up - instead looking longingly at the space between them.
Apple also said that the iPad is magical. Well, I had trouble with this one straight away. I don't find Magician's magical, yet I can rarely explain how they do the tricks that they do. An iPad however, is a computer and there's nothing magical about them to a Systems Analyst. They're there to do familiar tasks and rarely, if ever, pull rabbits out of hats.
So how was I going to justify this one? Well, I wasn't - so I bought one anyway. Intending to wait a few months to see whether it was a success and whether people still used it after the initial novelty faded, I lasted 3 days in the end and snapped.
So, do I regret it? Not a bit of it! Functionally, it may be hard to justify an iPad. After all, it does less than your laptop does and costs about the same. Seems crazy right? Well, yes - it's a pricey device, but no, it's not crazy. I reckon I've since justified the purchase and as the novelty fades away, it's been replaced by habit. I'm not sure there is any going back for me and I'll explain why in my next two pieces, which will be about iPad ownership, where it fits into my life and where it succeeds and fails compared to laptops and smartphones in those circumstances.
The first will be set in my personal life and the second in my work life. Look out for them over the next week.
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Featured picture used under 'Creative Commons' license. Thanks to newyork.