Why I didn’t pre-order the iPad

Unlike a lot of you who might have bounded out of bed this morning to pre-order the iPad, I slept comfortably until 8 am and then began my workday without so much as a thought about Apple’s latest toy. Why? Well, I have a laptop computer. And I have a Kindle. And I have an iPod.

I like the fact they are all in different pieces. Because if one suffers damage and I have to give it away for screen buyback or repair the others can do the job for me.

See, when it comes to mobile computing, I like having a computer with a lot of memory, a lot of power, a real keyboard, and the ability to do anything a home PC can. I carry a giant laptop with me on my world travels. It’s now in its fourth (!) year of service and still getting the job done. I wouldn’t want anything less powerful.

My iPod (a 160gb Classic) is my baby. It’s been everywhere with me. It literally has more storage space than my laptop. It’s tough. I can watch movies on it if I want. My entire music collection fits in my pocket.

And then there is the Kindle, the beautiful, beautiful Kindle. Who knew one device would change my life so much? I am a devotee of the Kindle. I love it as much as I love ECCO shoes, Degree Clinical for Men, and soft cotton t-shirts.

Some people don’t get it. E-book? Why? Here’s my list:

  • The Kindle is small–It’s more lightweight than most books and slips easily into my backpack. Even in the cover I bought for it, it’s still the same size as a trade style paperback. I’ve owned the Kindle for a couple of months and have read more than 2,000 printed pages on it. That would’ve been a lot of weight to carry around. When I go on a trip, I like to take at least two books. Now, I take the Kindle.
  • The Kindle gives it to me NOW–I’m the type of guy who finishes a book and picks another one up within 60 seconds. While I love wandering through bookstores, I hate having to wait to read simply because I can’t drive to the store that second. Now, I pick a book and I can download it in 30 seconds over a 3G connection.
  • The Kindle is smart–If I come across a word I don’t recognize, I can look it up on the Kindle with the click of a button. If I love a passage and want to save it for later, I can digitally clip it for later review.
  • The Kindle is quiet–This many not seem like a big deal to people who sleep alone, but I’m the type of guy who likes to read in bed. It’s not uncommon to find me awake reading at times when most people are already in REM sleep. Turning the pages of a big book can actually wake up some people (read: my light-sleeping wife). The Kindle barely makes a noise when you turn the page. But, wait, you say. What the Kindle has no backlight, so what about your wife now? True, the Kindle’s biggest problem is that, unlike a computer, iPad, iPhone, etc, it doesn’t have a built-in light. That’s why I bought the Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Clip-On Light (yes, that’s a brief commercial). But, my wife continues to call it the best $20 I’ve spent. The little LED light works very well, and even if you don’t have a Kindle, it’s worth trying out. And while I’m on the subject of reading in bed, it’s pretty nice to be able to prop the Kindle on a pillow and only touch it when I have to turn the page.
  • Indeed, I love the Kindle so much, when my wife finished reading her hard copy of Game Change, I nearly bought it for Kindle just so I didn’t have to hold the big book in my hands while I read (I ended up making the reasonable decision, but I’m not all that happy about it).

    Sure, there are some things about the Kindle that I don’t like. I am annoyed I can’t share books with my friends. It’s frustrating when a book on Amazon is not Kindle-ready. Finally, there are a few occasions in which the Kindle is a little wonky (footnotes make for some fiddly navigation–but I guess that’s the case with real books too, sometimes).

    No matter, though, because I love my Kindle, I love my iPod, and I respect my dinosaur laptop for its ability to survive what I do to it. I like that when I want to listen to music, I don’t have to lug out an iPad. I like that when I want to use a computer, I have a full keyboard and powerful machine. I like that when I want to read, I have something that serves the purpose in a technologically advanced way without forcing me to buy an $800 mini-computer with less than half the memory of my iPod and an additional 3G data plan cost.

    It’s rare for me to see a new piece of technology and not covet it. Today I feel pretty good about not caring about the iPad pre-orders, because I have everything I need (except for a 17″ MacBook Pro…).

    Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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    12 Responses

    1. Jay says:

      The iPad is a content consumption device – watch tv, read a book, etc. The problem is that we are now all content creators (you more than most) as well as consumers and I don’t think the iPad will be good for that.

      Besides Apples closed app development and lack of transparency is crap and will backfire as they screw developers.

    2. I’m getting one to wear as an accessory (think: Flava Flav’s clock). Pretty sure it’ll up my chance of getting laid more often.

    3. BadBlood says:

      As soon as the iPad went with the App-Store model vs. the install anything model (like a MacBook), it became irrelevant to me. My iPod touch is just as handy for the few additional things I want it to do besides play music.

      I REALLY was hoping I could take an iPad, and install online poker clients to it and have a luxurious and portable online poker machine, but that’s not going to happen.

      So that’s where my Netbook comes in handy.

      Oh – and get the Mac Book Pro as soon as you can. That way, myself and T can stop chiding you for using a dinosaur. 🙂

    4. DrHogie says:

      Long-time lurker of RER, but I had to post a comment about the Kindle:

      Something you may want to look into is a piece of free software called Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com/

      In short: Calibre’s best described as iTunes for your Kindle. You can use it to manage other non-Amazon.com books and convert them for your Kindle — it’ll even send them over-the-air to your Kindle if you don’t want to connect your Kindle via USB.

      The biggest thing I use Calibre for is it will spider different websites (big ones like CNN, and as small as my local newspaper’s website), collect all new articles over the last XX days, and create a “magazine” with all the articles and pictures for your Kindle. It can be setup to run this weekly, so you’d always get weekly updates from any newssites you’d like to watch — and it does it free (well, you’d get the over-the-air charge if you send it that way).

      Anyway, you’ve given a lot to me with your incredible posts over the years, and I saw a chance for me to give something back.

      Thanks Otis,

    5. otis says:

      Thanks, DrHogie. That’s some great information.

    6. Maudie says:

      ” it’s pretty nice to be able to prop the Kindle on a pillow and only touch it when I have to turn the page.”

      So very nice on a cold night.

      I didn’t even realize today was launch day for the iPad. You summed it up beautifully.

    7. BJ Nemeth says:

      Technology is not one-size-fits-all, nor should it be. What works for you may not work for me, and vice-versa. I’m only describing my wants, needs, and unhealthy addictions.

      If I wrote a blog entry like this, mine would be titled, “Why I Didn’t Purchase a Kindle.”

      I love reading, and spend several hours each non-tournament day reading a lot of different things. However, most of the things that I read aren’t the purely text-based books that the Kindle was designed for.

      I have wanted a book reader for years, and carefully studied the Sony eReaders (and others) to see if they would fit my needs. They looked like they were close, but they weren’t there yet. When the Kindle came out, I think Amazon finally got it right. Being able to download books without connecting to a computer is a big, big convenience factor, and the eInk does look impressive. But it would still be useless for 95% of the things that I read — I’d still need to use my laptop.

      I know the Kindle has an experimental web browser, but the reviews I’ve read describe it as frustrating, which is not the experience I’m looking for.

      When the Kindle 2’s price dropped in 2009, I was willing to pay that price for the functionality it offered. But by that point, all signs pointed to Apple releasing a tablet-like device that would overlap the Kindle’s functionality. I knew i’d have to wait a year, and perhaps 18 months, but I had confidence (based on the iPhone) that Apple’s implementation would give me much more of the functionality I’m looking for.

      I still plan to use my laptop for work, and I still plan to use my iPhone for listening to music. But I expect to use my iPad several hours each day, whether I’m at home or travelling, reading news, blogs, magazines, and books. As a bonus, it can also do countless other useful things.

      When books, magazines, and blogs are formatted for the Kindle, it is reduced to mostly text, possibly with a few black-and-white photos. And while I appreciate that eInk is easier to read than an LED screen, I’ve already spent several hours (or more) each day for the past decade reading an LED screen, and I haven’t been frustrated or suffered any ill effects.

      I also look forward to seeing the evolution of eBooks when they are designed for full color and a fast processor. Kindle books are just text files; iPad books have the potential to be more than any printed book could ever hope to be. (I plan to design a fully-functional iPad book myself this year, in a way that would be impossible on a Kindle.)

    8. otis says:


      All really good points. I think it’s a matter of time more than anything. The iPad’s price point was a little high for what I would end up using it for. It will be very interesting to see how the next five years treats the e-book market.

    9. BJ Nemeth says:

      One more thing — we are also facing yet another format war. The books you buy for the Kindle will almost certainly be usable on an iPad (if you were to switch in a few years), because Amazon already has a Kindle app for the iPhone that will presumably be updated for the iPad. You may have separate virtual libraries for Kindle books and iPad books, but they would all be accessible on an iPad. (I have already paid for 2 Kindle-formatted books that I have read on my iPhone.)

      The reverse may not be true, however. If I buy iBooks from Apple’s iBookstore, right now there is no way for me to get those onto an Amazon Kindle if I were to switch in a few years.

      I find it extremely unlikely that I will ever switch to a Kindle after using an iPad. Apple is a hardware company, and Amazon is a delivery service. It’s hard to imagine Amazon beating Apple on a hardware product now that they’ve been leapfrogged. Amazon may switch their tactics a bit and try to set up a deal so they’re selling the razor blades (books) and not the razors (eReaders). Apple makes most of their profits on the razors — iPods, iPhones, and now, iPads.

      Anyway, the next two years should be very interesting in the multifunctional eReader market, just as the iPhone sparked a very interesting era for cellphones.

    10. Random101 says:

      I am more of a magazine & newspaper reader due to my limited attention span and mental cpu. Do you have any experience with the more periodic type content on the Kindle?

    11. otis says:

      Random101–I read most mags and newspapers via my computer (sort of a morning read every day), so I don’t use the Kindle for that. I know G-Rob has the NYT pushed to his Kindle every morning and LOVES it.

    12. Sometimes I am really asking myself who is ready to such a high price for an average product. I guess the style of the Ipad is worth a lot of money.