Thanks Apple; My Netbook Was Too Durable and Capable for Me Anyway.

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Okay this is, at least in part, a blog about technology, so I have to address the iPad. I can sum it up pretty easily: I'm not sure who it's for, but it's not for me. That's not to say I don't think it's a cool product or that it might have some very good applications; it's just not quite right for anything I can think of right now.

First off, I disagree with Steve Jobs's assertion that netbooks are so terrible. I have an eeepc that's a little old (mebbe 18mo) but it runs both Windows XP and Ubuntu Netbook Remix beautifully. Most importantly in a pinch I can actually get done all the same work I can get done on my mac on it—something the iPad is probably never going to be able to boast. My netbook gets 5-7 hours of battery life and it weighs less than 1kg, which is plenty small. With a 9" screen it's not like it takes up that much room in my bag, either. Compare that to the iPad, which admittedly is much lighter, but with its glass screen isn't anywhere near as durable. I can throw my netbook into my messenger bag and barely notice it's in there it's so light, and I can throw my bag around and knock into people on the train or whatever I need to do and it's not going to break. I dunno if I'd feel as comfortable doing that with what looks like a ginormous iPhone that can't make calls.

A lot of people have already brought up their own issues with the iPad and on the whole I agree with them. That being said I think my biggest issue with it by far is that rather than making it like a Mac where you download whatever programs you want and run those, they made it like an iPod Touch where you download only the apps that Apple has approved for use in the App Store. That means, among other things, no adult content. It's not like I want porn apps but I disapprove of the fact that nobody could make or download them if they wanted to. Meanwhile my eeepc is an open (in many ways) platform that I can write or download software for at will, and there's nobody keeping track of which apps I have or anything. The software and the hardware are loosely affiliated but they're decoupled in those vitally important ways, and I don't have some kind of nanny state telling me which apps are okay for me to use and which are too naughty or interfere too much with their deal with AT&T. That's right kids: my eeepc runs Skype all night long if I want it to. Of course, so does the iPhone now, but it didn't for the longest time.

Another thing, and I'm going to put this as diplomatically as I can.... Any device bigger than a phone that can't run two applications simultaneously is a useless fucking toy and a waste of money. It's okay if the Kindle doesn't multitask because it's really just a single-use device in a lot of ways. It's for reading. The iPad though is ostensibly supposed to at least displace some laptops, and without multitasking I doubt it can displace any at all. In the only use case I could imagine for it—sitting on the couch reading news online—it would falter because I couldn't use chat or IRC or anything else simultaneously. I couldn't run Pandora and a browser simultaneously. That, essentially, makes it utterly pointless. Should I even go any further? I have more....

The lack of a USB port is another major blow. Without a USB port you can't connect... well... anything. The iPad is a monolithic device incapable of expansion or extension, and I really can't imagine the iPod port being useful for anything other than charging/syncing (and my hatred of the proprietary iPod dock connector is well known by many—why the fuck not just use a much smaller and much more standard mini-USB connector?). A quick glance at Apple's site reveals they have a keyboard dock for it—a keyboard which you can't hook up to real computers because it only has the dock connector on it—, and camera card readers that also use the proprietary dock connector. My macbookpro and my eeepc both have built-in SDHC slots and can both run photo editing software better too.

And all that, a device with more limitations than it has capabilities, for the "unbelievable" (Apple's words, not mine) price of $499. Apple, that price is only unbelievable because it's so high for a device that does nothing another device doesn't do better. Want an ebook reader? Buy a Kindle or a Nook or—as I think I'm going to—wait for better ebook readers, 'cause this ain't it. Want a phone? Get a phone. Want an iPod? Get an iPod. Want a device that's almost as capable as a full laptop but is compact, lightweight and has bitchin' battery life? Get a real netbook. Stay out of that reality distortion field, space cadets.

By the way, is anyone else proud of me that I went this whole entry without even mentioning the name? I'll let others lampoon it more effectively than I can.