I didn't really understand the appeal of an iPad until I grudgingly agreed to purchase one after some lengthy discussions with my wife. I didn't see much point in having a tablet when I already owned a high-end smartphone and two laptops. I didn't really see much of a gap to fill between those two pieces of electronics, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything in terms of functionality. And, even now, I'm not sure that I wasn't correct with my initial assessment.
What I didn't see, however, was just how much different the tablet experience is than working with a laptop or a smartphone. If there is such a thing, iPads and tablets fill what I'll call the 'couch niche'. Prior to the iPad, my wife and I would rest a laptop on the arm of the couch or use a pretty-comfortable lap desk that kept the heat of the laptop off our legs and provided some wrist support for the keyboard. And while we didn't really have a problem with it―because it was all we had ever known―we quickly realized how much better the iPad is for couch computing.
There is no question that tablets and iPads are items of luxury and convenience. You definitely don't 'need' one, almost regardless of what you think you're trying to accomplish with yourself. You can do everything you need to do on your laptop or your smartphone and you'll be just fine. It's just that everything is so much better with an iPad. Perhaps it's a new level of intimacy or simply a higher level of personal comfort, I'm not exactly sure. What I do know, however, is that it's great to curl up under a blanket, drop the iPad on your knees and surf the web, play games or do whatever it is that you do when you want to relax and play around on the Interwebs.
Even the feel of the iPad is pleasing. It's nicely weighted and balanced and just feels like a really cool piece of electronics. As always with Apple, the design is simple, but it offers all the functionality you need, often in ways that are more intuitive than you'd expect. It's not perfect and I still find myself a little confused by some of the default settings when it comes to navigating among websites. But it's a lot of fun and I am definitely happy that we took the plunge.
Because of the touchscreen and the size of the tablet, it's much easier and safer to use with the kids. Having come from a situation where we rarely played games with the kids on the laptops, for fear that they would simply start smacking the keyboard and create problems, the safety and toughness of the iPad has been a welcome change. It's easy to have the tablet on your lap along with your child, even letting them hold it themselves. Obviously, this is only an advantage with toddlers and younger children, as we have, but it's a tangible advantage nonetheless.
Given my propensity toward being skeptical of any kind of new purchase that I don't believe to be 'necessary' or at least 'warranted', I have to admit that I am more than pleasantly surprised about just how enjoyable it is to own an iPad. And I still prefer PCs for work and our desktop at home, but the tablet has been a true eye-opener.