Tablet conundrum: iPad now or wait?

After overspending on a mobile phone in December only to see a) the price drop and b) nifty new models introduced just weeks later, thanks to January's Consumer Electronics Show, I'd vowed to wait until the new year before buying another mobile device.

Except it's getting more and more difficult to resist the Siren Song of the Tablet.

Without question, the iPad is a nifty device. I've held out this long because I'm not sure it's a nifty device that makes sense for me. Do I really need a gadget to fill the space between smartphone and netbook/laptop? Well, of course not. The better question is: Would I get good use out of one in situations where a smartphone is too small and my laptop's too large?

What I'd really like is an "iPad Jr.," a device that was slightly smaller, weighed less and was easier to hold in one hand. Not to mention a bit less expensive. However, it sounds like Steve Jobs doesn't have much interest in manufacturing tiny tablets.

Besides the size and weight issues -- not to mention that $499 pricetag -- I've also heard some negative feedback about the devices, despite its large number of devoted owners. Among those who aren't necessarily fans of All Things Apple, though, come complaints such as frustration with connecting with other devices (no USB port? Really?) and an inability to truly multitask. (Although it is sadly lacking in the app arena, the Palm Pre's webOS has spoiled me when it comes to having multiple applications open and running at once.)

That all leans toward toward waiting until the new crop of tablets emerges from concept to production.

On the other hand, it sure would be nice to use a tablet form factor on a plane or train instead of using a laptop open at 90 degrees or being limited to a small phone screen. And have access to all those hundreds of cool new tablet apps.

Hmmm........

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is smachlis@computerworld.com. You can follow her on Twitter @sharon000, on Facebook or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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