Like a recovering alcoholic, I’m ever-mindful of technology and the impulse to rush in to new gadgets or services. For a number of reasons, it would be all too easy to fall off The Off Switch Wagon and slip back into my distracted and teched-out ways.
Alternately, I am ever mindful that my commitment to myself it to remain mindful of the role of technology, and not anti-tech. When innovations come along, I am resolved not to upgrade for the sake of newness, but rather to assess if it makes sense or ads something meaningful—or is worth a trade off.
Such was the dilemma when Apple announced the iPad mini. When they announced the first iPad, I remember debating with friends that it served no real purpose and that I couldn’t imagine it fitting into my life. But that was before 1) I had used one and 2) I made the decision to ditch my laptop and neuter my iPhone. Ultimately, the iPad was very useful when I wanted to compute away from my desk.
Cut to this past weekend. After again dismissing Apple’s latest as neat but not for me, I found myself at the mall and in the Apple store to have a look-see. After my kiddo had played some games at the kid table, we ambled up to the iPad mini station where I picked up a mini. Then, I got it. The value was apparent and—I believe—not unduly influenced by the pixie dust of Apple magic.
But why? How does one separate new and shiny from actual useful attributes? Here is my logic:
- Lighter/smaller = less burden. I don’t carry my original iPad around all that much, but I do carry it to meetings, when I travel, etc. It’s much lighter than the laptop I used to carry around, but still something I’m aware is there. The appeal of a much smaller thing is that I can grab it without it being this bag of crap I have to consider. There if I need it, not in the way if I don’t.
- Cheaper = less commitment. At $329, the iPad mini is a good $500 less than the iPad with 3G connectivity I opted for the first time. I can buy this now and if it doesn’t suit my needs, I can sell it and put that money towards something that does. Which leads me to:
- Newer = maintaining value. At a certain point, all technology becomes obsolete. Such is the case with my original iPad. Apple is no longer supporting updates and it is just a matter of time before functionality suffers as a result. With the exception of some old iPods that still work as needed, I tend to sell gadgets while they still have some value. This means I pay less to upgrade.
And then there was just the simple appeal. It was much easier to hold and use. My first thought was actually: holy shit, Apple just made their full size iPad obsolete. We’ll see if I still feel that way later, but for the moment, it just feels right for me.
Now my main concern is whether this smaller, easier to bring along gadget will help me rationalize… bringing it along. The original iPad begs the question: do I really need that enough to lug around the bag? But if I can throw the iPad mini in a coat pocket, will I do so ‘just in case.’ I guess that’s where good old fashioned discipline comes in.