The Apple iPad – On caving and loving

The Verizon stores in my area are offloading the last of their new generation one iPads at pretty wild discounts–$300, $400, and $500 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively. This is still cheaper even than refurbished models from Apple’s store, not to mention the drastic savings compared to the diminishing stock of new models with 3G.

I’m no fan of Apple’s business model or marketing tactics, and I never hesitate to jump on that discussion, so it wasn’t exactly an easy choice for me when I decided to buy one three days ago (boo hoo, I know). But because production has halted, my purchase isn’t exactly driving demand. I was initially skeptical about my new toy’s necessity, but after downloading some basic apps and getting a feel for it, I knew I’d be using it constantly. And after realizing I can even play Conquer Club in-browser, I was flat-out sold.

Two factors combine to make a great tablet: quality hardware design and access to a quality app store. To me, that means any tablet not running iOS or Android is virtually useless. So at $300 to $400, this iPad was a steal compared to the top five currently on the market (excluding the Galaxy).

The Xoom tablet was tempting, and I liked its hardware and interface better, but the base model was still priced a couple hundred dollars above the iPad, and (naturally) it doesn’t have access to the Apple App Store exclusives I’m after. The employees at the Verizon store told me to buy the iPad now and the HTC Thunderbolt when my phone contract is up for the best of both worlds. I listened.

I’m most excited for the leap in connectivity and productivity this device is going to provide me. All the most useful apps have built-in functionality for sharing on Twitter and Facebook, as well as saving items for later reading. Hell, one of my games gives me the occasional opportunity to tweet as I play. Using a touch tablet is simply a new experience. It just feels good to use, swiping and poking my way around applications.

Developers have really taken it to the next level regarding the quality of apps they’ve produced to date. Twitter is far more intuitive and satisfying to use than the web interface or any browser plugin I’ve come across, which means I’ll be sharing and engaging more frequently.

My favorite app so far has to be NPR. You can immediately view the latest news, art, and music stories, as well as choose any program or station to listen to, queuing interesting stories for later as you go. Of course, you can share stories while you read and listen as well.

The iPad keyboard is kind of a price gouge, so I’m unfortunately not posting this from the slick WordPress app, but someday, someday…

Any Xoom owners out there with an opinion or experience to share?

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