Amy and I have wanted an iPad for a long time, but we’re not ones to simply rush out and drop $500 on a new device simply because it’s from Apple, even though we (er, I) may want to. We haven’t had a lot of disposable income like that in awhile, and we don’t do credit cards, so for us to get an iPad takes some planning and saving.
However, when it came time to talk about Christmas presents this year, we couldn’t hold out any longer and decided to get an iPad as a family gift. Not only would Amy and I enjoy it, but we knew the kids would lose their minds when they opened that box on Christmas morning.
iPad 2, New iPad, or iPad Mini?
Once the decision was made, then it was time to choose which iPad we should get. We visited the Apple store and Best Buy several times trying to determine which made the most sense for us as a family, knowing there will be times the kids will use it more than us.
We pretty quickly ruled out the iPad 2. Even the though price was good, it’s features definitely lack behind the New iPad with its faster processor and retina display, which is stunning (more on that in a bit).
But what surprised us was how much we loved the form factor of the iPad Mini. It just might be the absolute perfect size for a handheld device. And being $150 cheaper than a New iPad, the price was much more manageable as well.
However, we couldn’t resist the New iPad with its retina display. Once you see it you instantly wish all your computing devices had it, that’s how good it is. The irony of the whole thing is that if the iPad Mini had a retina display, we probably would have went with that instead of the New iPad.
But that’s OK because the next iPad Mini will undoubtedly have a retina display, and I don’t think we’ll wait as long to get one.
The Retina Display
Much has been written about the technical aspects of the retina display, and that’s all well and good, but what I care about is that it is undeniably a game-changer. If I had to pick one word to describe it, it would be “staggering”. If I could pick two words they would be “stunning vibrancy”.
If you haven’t seen a retina display, stop by an Apple store or Best Buy so you can see one for yourself. The best way is to compare it to the iPad 2. Hold the iPad 2 in your hands and stare at it for a few seconds. Then do the same with a New iPad. Trust me.
Great for Gaming
Remember how I said we knew there would be times when the kids would use the iPad more than us? Yea, by a long shot – they’ve turned it into a new gaming system. Amy and I both have iPhones, and so does our oldest son, so we’re used to mobile gaming, but the iPad takes it to an entirely new level simply because it’s bigger (of course the retina display is a huge factor, but let’s assume that’s a given at this point).
The best reference is Angry Birds. Playing it on the iPhone is cool, but it’s a completely different experience on the iPad. The sheer screen size makes all the difference. It’s like going from the 19-inch TV in your college dorm to the 60-inch LCD flat-panel TV in your living room right now.
Great for Reading
I’m a long time print subscriber to Automobile magazine and because of that I get access to their iPad app for free, and wow, no wonder newspapers and magazines who don’t embrace the digital world are going out of business. Reading the magazine on the iPad is a great way to consume the content, and I look forward to reading more and more on the iPad.
Compare that to the Amazon Kindle my dad got for Christmas. My mom got it for him so naturally I set it up while we were over there, and though I like the form factor and thinness of the Kindle, I don’t care for it’s usability or even it’s readability. My dad loves it, and it will be better for him while he reads outdoors by the pool, but I think reading on the iPad is a much better experience.
Great for Twitter and Facebook
I’ve come to really like the official Twitter app for the iPhone. There are parts of the old TweetDeck I miss, but overall the Twitter app has been good. However, when I opened it up on the iPad, I was like “whoa”. There’s something about the vibrancy of the tweets on a retina display with the larger screen size that just makes you want to use it.
Same goes for the Facebook app. Amy is the Facebook user in our house and she had the same reaction when she first opened it on the iPad.
Great for Skype
Another thing Amy uses the iPad for is Skype. Her mom goes to Florida every year for the winter, and Skype is the best way for them to see each other on a daily basis. Pre-iPad days she had to sit at the kids’ desktop computer because that’s where the webcam was, but now with the iPad, she can relax and sit on the couch instead, which she loves. The form factor of the iPad is perfect for this.
Needs User Profiles
Given all that, the one thing I wish the iPad had was user profiles. With 5 people in our house using it, it would be awesome to simply tap your avatar on the home screen to load your own apps, settings, notifications, etc.
I’m sure Apple thinks that’s a terrible idea because instead of a household like us potentially buying 5 iPads (not that we would) we might only buy 1. But I’d absolutely pay extra to have the user profile functionality, similar to how you have to pay extra if you want 3G/4G connectivity.
Perfect for Us
At any rate, the iPad has been an amazing addition to our family. The kids love it and actually share (!) while Amy and I have our own uses for it. Truly an amazing device that’s worth every penny.
And in case you’re wondering, we got the white one :-)