Apple’s iPad: The ultimate couch-potato computer

January 29, 2010, 4:50 PM UTC

I think I’ve found a place for Steve Jobs’ latest creation: In the Barcalounger



Photos: Barcalounger, Apple Inc.

Ever since I put my hands on Apple’s new iPad — in the press melee after Wednesday’s unveiling — I’ve been trying to figure out where it might fit in the pecking order of computing devices in our Brooklyn home.

It doesn’t replace any of the laptops. My wife and I do far too much typing to live without a built-in physical keyboard.

It doesn’t replace our iPhones. You can’t fit an iPad in your pocket, and even if you Skyped, you wouldn’t want to walk around holding one to your ear.

It doesn’t replace the old MacBook we use as a media center, storing music and projecting video onto a pull-down screen. The iPad doesn’t have the disk capacity or the drive to do the job.

But there is one “use case,” as the analysts call it, for which the iPad might be perfect.

I don’t know about you, but in our house we can’t get through a movie or a meal without some burning question arising that requires going immediately to Google, Wikipedia or IMDB.com. Questions like:

  • What’s Martin Sheen been up to since The West Wing?
  • What’s the difference between the Annunciation and Visitation?
  • What else — besides Foyle’s War — has Honeysuckle Weeks been in?
  • What are the risks of taking ibuprofen and doxycycline at the same time?
  • What exactly causes tides, and why are they so much smaller near the equator?

We don’t have an iPad — and it’s not clear yet whether we will get one — but I can tell you that if there were one close at hand, it’s the device we would reach for at moments like this.

Would we use for other things?

No doubt, but I have a lot of unanswered questions: Does the $499 16 Gig model have enough disk capacity for what I need (that may depend on how well it shares music, photo and video files over a network). Do I need to pay $130 more for the 3G chip, or can I live on Wi-Fi alone? How hot does it run and how long does the battery really last?

There’s just one other problem: I don’t have a Barcalounger, and it’s breaking my heart. But I’ve found a use case, and that’s a start.