I’m lucky that my job lets me test out a bunch of different kinds of gadgets for free. At any given moment, I have at least one device running every major computing platform within arm’s reach.
But whenever I want to spend my hard-earned cash on a new gizmo, it almost always comes from Apple. I have an iPhone 5, Apple TV, and a MacBook Air. I still think Apple makes the best stuff (they won’t forever though, trust me), and that’s why it gets my money.
I used to have an iPad (the third-generation model with the super-sharp Retina display), but I sold it last week. I got a cool $400 for it, just $100 less than what I paid for it on launch day in March 2012. (Say whatever you want about Apple, but its products hold their value very well.)
Something changed this year though. For months, my iPad remained on my nightstand, untouched. The battery was dead, not from overuse, but from weeks of neglect while it was in sleep mode, which barely sips power. I didn’t feel a need to recharge it.
It was a strange twist in my computing habits. When I first got my iPad, I found myself using it more than my MacBook. I would come home from work and use my iPad to catch up on news and Twitter. At night, I’d use it to stream Netflix in bed. I really only used my MacBook if I needed to do some work from home. It was essentially just a word processor to me.
So, what happened?
I started using my iPad less and less this year mostly because I started working a lot more when away from the office. For writers, an iPad isn’t an ideal device to get things done, even with one of those cool keyboard accessories. I still need a full-fledged PC to do my job well, as I suspect people in many other professions do.
So I found myself spending much more time on my MacBook, and I realised I could still do a lot of things on it that I could do on my iPad, and then some. I could still catch up on the news, keep up with Twitter, and plow through my exhaustive Gmail inbox. Since the MacBook Air is so thin and light, it was just as easy for me to use on the couch or in bed like I used to with my iPad. It was like rediscovering an old beloved toy.
Before long, I only had two devices in my daily rotation: My iPhone (for checking email and Tweets when away from the computer and playing games or listening to podcasts on the subway), and my MacBook (for work and just about everything else). I realised my iPad was better off in someone else’s hands and that someone else’s $400 was better off in my checking account.
Yes, iPads and other tablets appear to be cannibalising the traditional PC market. PC makers like HP, Dell, and to an extent, Apple, have all blamed the popularity of smartphones and tablets for the decline in PC sales. However, in most cases, if you need to get work done, an iPad or other tablet really doesn’t cut it. They’re great devices for browsing the web, light emailing, and playing games, but still don’t offer the full suite of productivity a regular PC does.
That’s a problem Microsoft is trying to solve with Windows 8 and devices like the Surface Pro, a tablet that can double as a regular laptop thanks to a handy snap-on keyboard accessory. Unfortunately, most Windows 8 devices don’t do a great job at being both things. There are still far too many compromises in weight, thickness, battery life, and apps that manufacturers have to deal with when making these hybrid PCs. As a result, most Windows 8 hybrids are pretty mediocre right now.
Until someone figures out the perfect hybrid device, I don’t see a need to carry around three different computing form factors. And iPhone and MacBook Air is the perfect combination for me.
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