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This product is amazing. It’s not perfect, but considering that I’ll have it for at least 2 years and I’ve used it every day so far, I certainly get my $.40 worth each day! It’s very sturdy and I know it will hold up well, as my other Apple products have. I have friends who still use their original iPads (they work just fine, but many applications don’t run on the operating system). I have a Kindle (an old version), and still love my Kindle as a reader. It’s the only way I can read in the sunlight and it’s SO lightweight. Eventually, I’ll upgrade to a new Kindle reader, but I see them as having different purposes. The iPad is a mini computer, and the non-Fire Kindle is the equivalent of carrying around a book (or a thousand).
iPad 3 vs. iPad 4:
I purchased the version right before this one–the iPad 3–several weeks before the announcement of this version. I called Apple a few days after the announcement, and they immediately set me up with a way to return the iPad 3 to repurchase the newest version. I realize that some people were angry about the announcement, but there has to be a cut off date for new technology at some point, and I thought that Apple treated me as well or better than I’ve seen from any other technology company.
Yes, both the iPad 3 and 4 have very crisp, clear screens (which are stunning for video quality compared to my Macbook from 2010). However, the increased speed of the iPad 4 makes the video quality seem clearer. It’s difficult to explain, but movies definitely got a bit crisper. Also, the increased speed really is incredible when opening apps and running a lot at once. I’d say the time it takes to open large applications is cut in half. But, I was so impressed with the iPad 3 when it came, and if I hadn’t been able to exchange it, I would still give it a 5-star review–it’s definitely not “obsolete.”
Finally, what makes the iPad special? First, no one *needs* one. But now that I have one, it’s sure useful and I wouldn’t want to go back to life before I got one. Here’s why:
* I sit at school or at work in front of a computer all day. I am always typing or reading on the screen. Coming come to something different is nice–it’s refreshing. I’d rather watch a tv show on a 10″ iPad than any other non-TV device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.). The picture quality is great for movies and browsing, and the 10″ screen is big enough to share if a friend and I want to watch something together. A 7″ isn’t enough for that or big enough to basically serve as a TV replacement.
* It is functional enough to REPLACE a computer. Don’t get me wrong, I still need my computer for editing files, serious typing, spreadsheets, etc. But right after I got the ipad, I went on a 10-day trip. No computer, no problem. I could take care of all of my emails from work and school, keep in touch, keep up with my finances, etc. It was anything I’d need for a non-work trip. Web browsing works just as well as a laptop for 95% of sites, and there’s an app for many that even improves the browsing experience.
* Given the first two points, I think owning an iPad will greatly extend the life of my laptop. I probably use my laptop 50% less now that I have an iPad, so I’ll probably get an extra year of life out of my laptop as a result. That, in itself, makes the purchase of an iPad worth it in my eyes.
* Integration with other Mac devices. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you’re a Mac user for a laptop or an iPhone, I’d highly recommend the iPad over alternatives, even if it’s more expensive. If you’re hooked on Windows products or Google products, I’d consider those devices.
* The number of apps. I know that apps are everywhere these days, but, it seems at least, that there are still the most applications for Apple devices. The difference is especially noticeable in non-retail applications. For example, I’ve tried dozens of “to do” and organizer apps, and my favorite, Errands, is only available on iOS. Another of my favorites, Fotopedia Heritage (a gorgeous display of UNESCO World Heritage photography), is only on iPad. So far (and this may change), a lot of companies also choose to release new iOS versions of applications first. This edge will decrease with time, but for now it is still a significant “plus” for an iPad over other tablets for those who are into applications. Also, I can run most iPhone apps on the iPad, and there’s an easy way to tell the difference (e.g. you can search just for iPad apps or for iPhone/iPad/iPod apps). Not sure if you can do this on other tablets, but I’ve found it useful (e.g. my bank only has an iphone app, but I can still run it on my iPad). Finally, though, just to be clear, this is NOT just a device for running applications. I could do almost everything I choose to do through applications just by using a web browser.
* The number of accessories. Many won’t care about this, but some will. If you like to have cases to protect your electronics, the sheer number for iPad is a draw (not a huge one, but the sprinkles on the cake). Everything’s out there, from cheap plastic covers to the smart cover (the one that folds as a stand) to professional-looking leather folios to designer soft zip cases. It can be a fashion statement, but it’s more likely just a way to make sure to keep your device safe.
* Finally, and this may be petty, but it’s the most professional device. In the field I know (law), partners at law firms and federal judges use iPads, not other devices to read briefs, send emails, etc. I’ve never seen anyone doing work on a Kindle device and I’ve never even seen another tablet in a professional setting. Part of this may be that it’s a well-established product, and part may be that the 10-inch screen is nice for reading, even if it’s bulkier. Being able to feel comfortable that you can carry your device in a professional environment may matter for some, and the iPad definitely delivers above other devices there.