I was required to return my government-issued iPad just prior to retiring. In spite of an initial ambivalence when they gave it to me, I really enjoyed having a tablet, and I found many uses for it in during the two years it was in my possession. I absolutely loved it sitting nearby when I watched old movies or TV shows — quite convenient to check on an actor or director’s biography. I also enjoyed it for my maiden e-book reads via Apple’s iBooks Store. Then there was the pleasure of Pandora music while I worked at the office. Yes, It was indeed a sad moment when I had to ship it back to headquarters a few days before I was bid happy trails.
As you can evidently see, my actual use of the tablet for work purposes was nil. In fact, I dare say except for occasionally checking e-mail, I never once used it for a work-related task. I found its keyboard clunky and not worthy of serious typing. I was later given a stylus pen, and I did find that easier than using my oily fingers on the screen. A friend briefly loaned me his keyboard attachment for it, but I really wasn’t excited about suddenly having an additional piece of hardware for such a small device.
Strictly as something to take on planes and mass transit for reading and/or watching videos, however, I think the iPad is wonderful. At meetings, I would take it out and pretend to be taking notes. In fact, I was almost always composing an email that I would later paste into a Gmail message. My more talented co-workers were all using it for research or to create actual work product. Sadly, I did my best work on a standard desktop computer.
I made a small promise to myself that I would buy my very own iPad after we relocated to Florida. Unfortunately more urgent and pressing expenses took priority after arriving here, and I have yet to make that purchase. For a while I looked at an inexpensive, dumbed-down tablet sold by AARP. Gorgeous took one look at it in their magazine and vetoed it without much comment. I don’t think she was ready for us to be using “Grandpa’s iPad” yet. Her daughter already thinks that we — or at least her mother — lack a sophisticated know-how in the technology arena (Hi, A.). It probably wouldn’t help to actually advertise that deficiency with a device that would be embarrassing to use out in public.
I never was at the cutting edge when it came to gadgetry. As a kid, I remember being one of the last of my peers to get a cassette tape recorder. When I finally received a standard Sears model, already Panasonic started producing something far cooler called a “Take-N-Tape” that came in bright red, blue, and yellow colors. I was far behind in the cool quotient yet again.
I made it through the Sony Walkman and Discman eras as a young adult by instead buying the generic Radio Shack or equivalent models. No longer were parents an impediment to my desires, but sadly my own financial circumstances dictated what I could or couldn’t have. Student loans needed to be paid, and 5:00pm happy hours where I would nurse a single beer for over an hour took precedence. In those pre-Internet days, my true gadget fantasies remained within the confines of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog only.
In the last 20 years there has been an absolute explosion of consumer devices. Although a top-of-the-line Wave Radio would still be a really neato-keen thing to have, the availability of other, far more advanced gadgetry overwhelms my senses. As a result, I don’t really bother to find out about them.
I still have my seven-year old iPod that Apple curiously named “Classic” before ending its production last year. It is used without fail at the gym and on my walks. This means that, yes, I carry my phone and wear an iPod on my belt. I hear those snickers coming from you, dear readers. Laugh all you want, but nothing will beat the storage capacity and beautiful interface of that unfortunately named iPod model. When Neil Young’s Pono device becomes more affordable someday, maybe I’ll be able to convert over to it.
My absolute gadget desire, though, isn’t even technically a gadget. My idea of a good time is to spend inordinate amounts of time on Amazon and eBay drooling over vintage stereo systems from the sixties and seventies. When I finally obtain my man cave, it’ll be outfitted with a Marantz tuner, a Garrard turntable, a Teac reel-to-reel, and a pair of Advent speakers. Oh, okay, and a 48-bottle wine cooler. A boy can dream, can’t he?
Apple is now offering a wrist watch in their basket of goodies. That rat Joe Tintle, through psychic powers beyond even my darling wife’s, stole my idea for this post and wrote an excellent piece earlier today about the Apple Watch. I can’t add much to what he says, but I do know that I have absolutely no interest in getting one myself. Additionally, Gorgeous seems to feel that I already have too many watches at the moment anyway. I choose to disagree with her, but that can be a different post for another time. Suffice to say that I strongly disagree with Apple’s intent for their fancy watch. Give me a dressy Citizens or Movado any day of the week.
The problem with living in a material world is that one has to choose between wants and needs. We are bombarded with consumer products of every kind when we watch television, visit stores, and even now with those “preview to the previews” at movie theaters (are you like me and absolutely resent commercials at the cinema?). My parents, both children of the Depression, were absolutely weary by all of the products found in the homes of their adult children. They stayed silent about it, but I assume they must have talked about it with one another after each visit. Their generation understood wants vs. needs better than ours.
I still want my iPad or an equivalent. But I am the first to admit that I have absolutely no need for one. I’ll have to ponder this some more when I’m alone on my walks. If you see me, feel free to stop or honk with your advice. I’ll be the guy holding his phone and listening to the iPod attached to his belt.