It’s about the size of an Etch-A-Sketch, without the big white knobs. Like a Model-T, it only comes in black. It is named after a pad of paper, but it doesn’t come with a pencil. That’s progress.
The iPad, Apple’s much-anticipated, must-have Internet device, claims to do everything with nothing. It doesn’t even have a keyboard. You type using pictures of letters, which feels a bit like drumming your fingers in boredom.
Apple founder Steve Jobs calls the iPad a “window to the Internet.” Any window to the Internet ought to come with shutters, but the iPad doesn’t have that either. It runs all of the popular iPhone apps, those little programs that are cheap or free and entertain you like everything else that’s cheap or free. Maybe someone will develop an app for the iPad that is a picture of shutters, so I can block out upsetting Internet images of violence, porn, and Glenn Beck.
The iPad does look like a window. In the Apple ad, it’s a square frame surrounding a picture of rolling hills, with icons neatly arranged along the bottom, waiting for you to clutter them up with real work. You hold the iPad up to look through it and see whatever you want, like Miss Linda on Romper Room with her Magic Mirror. She saw Billy and Sarah and Tommy and Julie, but no matter how much I waved my hands in front of the TV, she never saw me. The iPad includes face recognition software.
The iPad is the latest time-saving convenience, and like all time-savers before it, I’ll spend eighty percent of my day playing games, and checking Facebook to discover what everybody is making for dinner. Since I got my iPhone, my regular job has waited patiently while I practice my air traffic skills with a game ironically named Flight Control. I presume an air traffic controller gets fired when two jetliners collide at the head of a runway, so my career lasts about two minutes. I estimate that as of today, I have killed 23,000 passengers. The iPad’s large screen would make room for bigger planes.
I would buy an iPad — I adore everything Apple makes — but I haven't had any money since I bought my iPhone. I know the iPhone, which I lusted for like a boy over a Daisy Air Rifle, would be cast aside in an iPad's skinny shadow, to idle just like my once-coveted iPod, which is now a $200 coaster.
For the new iPad to improve my life, it needs to include these apps:
iSlouch, a free app that counts the calories I’m not burning anymore. iStrain, a mirror app that reflects my own burned-red eyes, dried out from not blinking as I crash another 747 into a DC-10. And SkeeDaddle, an app that predicts the approach of the repo man.
America needs a better Internet fantasy device because reality is so disappointing. A real reality show would include an hour-long YouTube video of me with a mouth full of Wheat Thins, slumped over an iPad like a mother over a newborn.
There’s not an app for that.