Why I’m Not Buying an iPad (and Why Maybe You Should)

by Josh Rubenoff Apr 05, 2010

ipad layers

I played around with an iPad for around 40 minutes yesterday and walked away disappointed. Ultimately, it's not what I'm looking for in a device of that form factor, for exactly two reasons:

The first huge turn-off for me is the aspect ratio of the display.  In 2010,  any portable device without a 16:9 screen (or a screen close to 16:9, like the iPhone's) feels instantly dated. I understand how the iPad's current proportions make it seem like a natural fit for e-book reading, but the fact is that Apple went with a vibrant, full-color IPS display for the device, and videos and multimedia content are as much of a selling point for the iPad as books and web surfing. It's almost a reactionary stance. After a decade in which most television and consumer video has made the transition to high-definition widescreen, a major technology company releases a flagship multimedia device with a 4:3 aspect ratio. As a DIY video producer myself, I see the iPad as an unappealing platform for my content.

The second factor dissuading me from an iPad is its pixel density, something that's usually not a deciding factor when I purchase a device. What makes the iPad different is that it's marketed as a product for reading, whether it's web content or entire novels. I'm confident that if I had read all 900 pages of 2666 on an iPad instead of my hardcover copy, I would have torn my eyes out - reading even a few pages in the iBooks application caused eyestrain. The fact is that attempting to read a 9.7" display that's 40% the resolution of a printed book page is going to be a vastly inferior experience, despite the cool page turning graphics.

So that's why I decided not to get an iPad. But why might you want to? Well, let's see:

It's crazy fast, at least with the bundled applications. And third-party apps will improve as developers actually start using the device themselves.

The lack of Flash is irrelevant as many major sites have launched HTML5 video support in anticipation of the iPad's launch.

Apple's built-in apps are awesome, and the mobile iWork is nothing short of a mobile software revolution, it could easily replace your laptop for most everyday use... need I say more?

In the end, it's not about whether the iPad is right for you, but whether you are right for it. I don't think I'm a right fit for it, but that shouldn't stop you from grabbing one right now, if it's calling your name. At the very least, by doing so, you'll be part of history, in what promises to be a very interesting tech trip for Apple and the rest of us.


  • I find the two key complaints about the iPad in this post to be frustratingly undersubstantiated. I get that the aspect ration of the iPad screen is going to result in large black bars above and below 16:9 widescreen video. But so what? The real question is whether the display is large enough and good enough to make watching movies enjoyable, comfortable, and immersive. And it’s meaningless to state that the iPad’s pixel density achieves only 40% of the resolution of a printed book without offering comparisons to other electronic reading displays, such as the Kindle, the Sony Reader, or even a decent Mac LCD display. I expect meaningful technical analysis (with numbers!) in a tech product review, not a casual drive-by, and I’m particularly disappointed because movies and reading are two big reasons I might buy an iPad, although I haven’t seen or touched one yet. I’m keenly interested in this argument and yet I’m moping because you’ve offered unsupported, non-comparative assertions, not a real argument. A guy like John Gruber might rip you a new one if you’re not more careful.

    HalSF had this to say on Apr 05, 2010 Posts: 1
  • When I first saw the demo and specs I wondered why a 16:9 ratio hadn’t been chosen so I grabbed some cardboard and started playing around. The likely answer is that it would make for an unwieldy device. In portrait mode the additional size would make holding it at the bottom more difficult. In landscape mode a full-size virtual keyboard would be harder to use.

    Pixel density? I’ve spent 2 days using the iPad almost nonstop and I used the kindle app at least 3 hours each of the two days. I find the white text on black background superior to the Kindle 2 I just passed on to my wife.

    Your first complaint may have a sliver of merit but your second is way off base. Specs alone DO NOT tell the story about the iPad.

    davidwb had this to say on Apr 05, 2010 Posts: 32
  • The unedited draft of this post explained in the first paragraph that these were based off of my initial impressions playing with an iPad for less than an hour. These are my specific reasons for not buying the device, they’re somewhat technical and not entirely solid reasons, and so they are in NO WAY whatsoever intended to influence anyone’s purchasing decisions. As both a video producer and a voracious consumer of print media, I just wrote this post feeling like I needed to get these reactions off my chest.

    Very sorry that this disclaimer didn’t come across in the final draft.

    Josh Rubenoff had this to say on Apr 05, 2010 Posts: 10
  • I’ve done an awful lot of reading on my iPhone, including three novels and several technical books. Never had any eyestrain problems.

    Agree with others, a 16:9 screen would have made a strangely shaped device. I’ll take the black bars.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Apr 07, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • Since most of my work consists of email, writing and presentations—sometimes a little video editing—I bought LogMeIn for those times I need to access my laptop from the office.  But I am very excited to be using the iWork apps and using the iPad and my iPhone for everyday work.  For the option of not having to lug around my laptop, it may be worth it for me.  And I get the added plus of having a incredibly vivid e-reader, movies and distraction apps!

    groovusdavus had this to say on Apr 08, 2010 Posts: 2
  • It’s almost a reactionary stance. After a decade in which most television and consumer video has made the transition to high-definition widescreen,
    birthday wishes for wife

    jonisonis had this to say on Aug 29, 2011 Posts: 29
  • Your technician is qualified to comply with guidelines and methods as he ascertains that your utilized tube ice maker is in good functioning order.

    rbaggio had this to say on Oct 08, 2011 Posts: 95
  • I agree with your opinion about 16:9 screen, but I think there are many other advantages of the iPad and it deserves to be bought. Cazare Predeal

    selena had this to say on Oct 28, 2011 Posts: 35
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