Why I hate my new iPad
For weeks it sat as an unchecked box on my to-do list: "buy iPad." I wanted in. I was eager to see what all the hype was about. Working in magazines for 15-plus years, I needed to see and experience this new device that promised to lead print journalism—indeed, modern civilization itself—into the future.
At Fortune we had been spending weeks working late nights to ready a sparkling new iPad version of our magazine; it was getting rave reviews. As a Blackberry (RIMM) loyalist who's never had an iPhone, I had also missed the app revolution entirely. Tired of being left out when friends shook their phone to find a restaurant, programmed a bedbug locator, or saw how they might look with Justin Bieber hair, I thought it was time to join the conversation. And with my home MacBook on its last legs and my dead-tree Wall Street Journal subscription having recently expired, the time had come nigh. Lots of people told me I might even be able to use my iPad as a replacement for my laptop; one friend, a literary agent, told me his wife was writing her Ph.D. thesis on it and was loving the process.
So I finally took my app-less self to the Apple Store one night last week and announced proudly to the greeters that I was ready; this was to be the Night of my iPad Purchase.
The clerk politely indulged my sense of self-importance and showed me where the iPads sat, gleaming. High on the excitement of it all, I decided against getting the keyboard: if I was going to do this, I wasn't going to try to turn the iPad into something it wasn't. I was going to learn to love it for what it represented—a new form factor that would change. my. life.
When I got home and took it out of the box, my iPad looked stunning. In a single moment my living room became more stylish than it had in 18 months of DIY interior design. I had finally joined the club.
But when I started to use it—that's when the love affair ended (or really, failed to kick in).
I surfed the web, paid a few bills and did a little online shopping. It was easy, but I was surprised by how much I fumbled on the touch screen. caps were left uncapped; I leftoutspaces; a few times I tried to position the cursor in one text box only to open another instead. But mostly, the touchscreen slowed me down. Like most writers, I type faster than I can write or even think; after talking, typing on a keyboard is the form of communication most natural to me. Absent that tactile depression and familiar click, I was thrown off balance. Without the subtle guardrails of the keys, my fingers slipped and slid all over the flat surface.
Pecking with two fingers instead, I fumbled with typos. I could never seem to find the underscore (which I swear is in two different places). The special .com button was a handy new experience. But I was still stuck in QWERTY quicksand. A free online typing test soon showed I was right: typing on my standard keyboard, I typed 96 words per minute; on the iPad my score dropped to 27 WPM. When typing and communicating takes more than three and a half times as long as you're used to, well, this communicator gives up. I realize most people got over this long ago when they adjusted to their iPhones, and most of what I'm experiencing is probably growing pains as I enter the touchscreen tablet world, but I can't be the only person facing this problem. In the information economy, speed is everything. Why was no one talking about how the iPad was slowing them down?
After that, everything about my iPad started to look a little less appealing.