There are three things I'm going to discuss here. Of these I'd expected one and half-expected another (that is I'd sort of expected it, but not quite the impact it would have) and the other is totally unexpected. I'm also not entirely sure it's a downside.

First the expected: The iPad screen gets greasy. Really greasy, really easily. If there is an oliophobic coating, either messieurs Jobs and Ives sweat differently to us mere mortals, or it would be incredibly bad without what is there. In fairness, the iPad's screen doesn't seem to degrade in performance or visibility whilst you are actually using it. But, in just over 48 hours, it's become a habit to turn it off and clean the screen already. It's not as bad as it could be of course - it just means packing a lens cloth or similar too, but it is a noticeable downside before you show it off.

Second the partially expected: The ancillary costs of owning an iPad are quite high. I've probably spent £60 (about $100) on apps since buying it, and I'm being deliberately restrained. Some of those costs were expected - I'd planned to buy Pages for example, so was expecting that cost. Some iPhone apps (TouchCalc for example, my favourite iPhone calculator) come with a universal version (iPad and iPhone, in this case both free) so those upgrades were easy. But quite a few apps for iPad don't have a free -lite version and the $0.99 pricepoint becomes a $2.99 or $5.99 pricepoint typically (69p, £1.75 and $3.50 ish). That was... acceptable. I knew there was going to be such a flurry of spending but I've spent a bit more and in different areas to what I expected. Which brings us neatly to -

Third the unexpected: I'm using the iPad in ways I didn't expect. Actually that's slightly misleading. I'm using it in all of the ways I expected, but in some more too. I'm now splitting RSS reading across my main machine and the iPad in a way I never did on the iPhone. That bigger screen makes it easy to read on the iPad and a pleasure. I've gone with Freeder because of the number of feeds I have, but the pro version adds functionality I want and use, so there's some money I hadn't expected to spend. I've changed my "read later" habits to Instapaper and reading on the iPad or the iMac. That's free, but the fully featured iPad Instapaper reader is a pay-for app. The story continues like this. In fact, it's not all about spending money - using the iPad from bed, from the armchair, wherever is very seductive. I'm looking at changing my email workflow from POP3 on the iMac to IMAP, and IMAP on the iPad too so I can work smoothly across both. The iPhone was always IMAPing email, but although I did check it most days I was working away from home, I find I'm likely to check the iPad whilst away from the iMac - cooking and having a 5 minute simmer... fire up the iPad, check email, RSS feeds etc. and having them not all previously downloaded to the iMac's mail sounds like a positive.

So beware - buying an iPad might just disrupt your working patterns. It's seductively, dangerously seductively, fun and easy to use. Tablet PCs, if they're as good as this, will become the future.

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  • Eloise's thoughts and fancies 
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