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I Need an iPad?

A Look at the Needlessness for Tablet Computers

By Jeff Dutton
On October 26, 2010

Recently there has been a lot of buzz going around the tech world about companies from Google to Amazon scrambling to release their answer to Apple's iPad.  This got me to thinking of what the best use for these devices may be, and then it came to me.  If you were one of those who could not withstand the hype and ran out and bought an iPad as soon as you possibly could, try this:  Take your iPad with you as you go to one of the Chicago areas thankfully numerous forest preserves.  Try and find a preserve that has a body of water that you can hike to.  Hike to the shore of this body of water with your iPad.  Look around at the beauty of nature surrounding you and, with all your might, Frisbee toss your device into the water.  Then continue to hike and take in the great outdoors, totally disconnected from the internet and its virtual world.  Okay, so maybe you do not want to destroy something you spent so much coin on.  I understand if you do not take my advice here, but seriously I cannot help but question the necessity of tablet computing devices.

While thinking about the iPad and its tablet competitors I decided to research what exactly is the functionality that these devices are supposed to provide.  According to a website devoted to the iPad,, tablet pc's are "Something to surf the Web with, stream videos, check email, update social networking accounts and so forth."  Now I ask, do you, or anybody else, really need to be able to constantly surf the web wherever you may be?  Can you not wait to get home to watch videos?  Is it really necessary to be able to update your social network at a moment's notice?  For crying out loud, call your friends, stop by their house, go out for coffee or partake in some other in-person activity!

You are probably reading this thinking that I am some crabby, old fashioned guy, who awaits the return of record players and resists change at every turn, but in reality this is not the case.  I am writing this article on my new laptop computer with my smart phone next to me.  I simply have my doubts about some of the technological changes, which have the ability to alter our way of life to some degree, being pushed on us by the media and large computer companies.  I am not sure we will be better off constantly wired to the internet downloading content on our tablets, reading our books and newspapers in e-format.  I do not know about you, but I sometimes find my cell phone to be annoying.  Have you ever noticed that there is a certain freedom of not having a cell phone on you? Being able to go out with one's friends or for a walk, while having the ability to be totally immersed in that activity with no chance of interruption from the outside world, has its merits.  

I know there are practical uses, especially in regards to work and school, for these devices, but I lament the loss of newspapers, paperbacks, and actual in person human interaction that these devices and the ideas behind their creation represent.  You cannot leisurely browse the pages of newspaper looking for interesting headlines on the internet.  Sure, you can see what headlines are made prominent on papers homepage, but this not the same.  I would not recommend reading your favorite book in a relaxing hot bath on tablet device.   You cannot read your friends body language, truly share their joy, or hear the tone of their voice over a social network.  As you finish this article and probably think to yourself about how you could use an iPad, please enjoy holding and reading the rest of this newspaper.

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