It has been more than a decade since personal computers were primarily tools for hobbyists, large businesses, or luxury goods. Owning a laptop or desktop computer is now nearly essential to modern life in many places.
Cellular phones - and smartphones in particular - are quickly closing in on the PC as the most essential piece of personal electronics.
Tablets - which can not at this time replace a computer due to a lack of capabilities nor replace a phone due to size - are thus fundamentally a luxury good today.
An additional object.
You can do without one.
If you have to choose, you should choose a laptop or a smartphone to prioritize with limited dollars.
Thus the iPad must create a market for itself. It has to be a device you want, to feel, to hold, to own. It is not a necessity for conducting business or living your life or staying in communication.
The Intimate Computer
What Apple has done - and what Microsoft’s tablet efforts in the past and Android’s efforts fail to do today - is create a luxury good that creates a market for itself with how wonderful it is to experience. It must be an experience — not purely utilitarian. I have - somewhat to my surprise - used my iPad nearly every day since pre-ordering the original. It is the more natural object to use on a couch, or in bed.
(The only other logical tact is creating tablets so cheap as to be nearly disposable — this is what Amazon is doing and as they continue to cut costs they will likely be the only serious alternative by creating a radically different price point and experience.)
The iPad reinvented personal computing by making it intimate and personal.
But that is old news — that is the story of the iPad and iPad 2.
What’s new in 2012 is the display.
The Most Impressive Screen in the World
The story of the new iPad is this: the new iPad is the most impressive high resolution display in the world, and you can hold it in your hands and take it with you.
Text on it isn’t like reading on a monitor — it’s like paper that is alive.
Elements look organic, not digital and jagged.
I am just amazed by how incredible things look on it. It’s really incredible and has to be experienced. Looking at comparison images does not do it justice.
The screen readability problem will be solved in the future, since screens with 300 dpi resolution have been invented and have been found to have as good readability as paper. High-resolution screens are currently too expensive (high-end monitors in commercial use have about 110 dpi), but will be available in a few years and common ten years from now.
I remember reading this when Nielsen wrote it in 1997.
15 years later we aren’t quite there in terms of the computers on our desks.
So realizing the most impressive high dpi reading experience in 2012 is a 9.7” tablet that runs for 10 hours that I can carry with me everywhere and has built in cellular network connectivity is mind blowing.
Highest possible recommendation.
I refuse to pay per-device for network connectivity so forego the cellular versions. Like the original, I chose 32gb as a sufficient enough size, though I think many users will be happy with 16gb. I think black makes the screen look better than white, but it’s a matter of prefence.
iPad (2012), Apple $499 available directly at Apple Stores, Amazon, and elsewhere.