I haven’t bought myself an iPad yet, but I’ll probably do it before heading off on vacation in August. By that time it will have passed its shakedown phase and we’ll know the best and worst. But from what I see and hear it looks pretty good, especially if you travel a lot. My trusty MacBook Pro weighs about 6 lbs with everything and this is less than 2 lbs (if I spring for the docking keyboard). One knock on it is price: $499 (and more if I go for the 3G version at $630. But it’s all relative. Relative to what?
In 1981 I bought my first computer, an Apple II+. It had no monitor, 48K of RAM (yes, 48K) and the 5.25″ disk drive was extra. No hard drive, of course. There weren’t any consumer hard drives to buy, but if there were, they would have cost more than the computer. I used an old B&W TV for a monitor. Price? $2200. I went to the US Department of Labor Inflation Calculator to find out what the 1981 equivalent was for $499 in 2010. Answer? $209.28. That means this thing is just a tenth the price of my first Apple computer that had no monitor. It did have a disk drive, which this one doesn’t. But this one has more than 333,333 times as much memory (16 GB) and a color display. Not to mention wireless connection to the internet, which gives me a bit more information at my fingertips (literally) than my 5.25″ diskette.
A computer is still a sizable purchase of most people, about what they used to pay for a TV set “back then.” Computers are more versatile, though, a multipurpose information and entertainment appliance. On the other hand, back then if you’d have told me I’d be paying $100 a month to watch TV I would have told you you were crazy (you couldn’t have told me about the internet bundled with it because I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about or even been able to imagine it as it now is).
And here’s the final irony. We have a TiVo, a device that allows us to watch old TV shows like Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel every night, just like we were back in the 1950s again. Progress.