It should come as no surprise that someone running a site about mobile devices with screens no larger than 7 inches wasn't really interested in the official announcement of the Apple iPad. I was following the news as it happened that day and have watched the keynote and read some of the editorials since then, and while I don't think the iPad is magical or revolutionary, I did find myself wishing the device were smaller a few times.
And why would I do that if I didn't kind of want one?
Out-of-control gadget lust for anything pocketable, sure, but the bigger reason is that I'm still looking for that "perfect" casual-use MID. And a smaller version of the iPad could be it. The Archos 5 Android wasn't able to be it for me and I don't think the HTC HD2 is quite right either. I haven't formally answered the "Could the HD2 be my perfect go-to MID?" question yet because I haven't spent enough time testing it out in that way (try as I might to explain it to her, my two-month-old daughter doesn't care about my gadget pursuits), but based on my usage so far, it won't put an end to my search. Why? Well, as much as I love the hardware and enjoy the web browsing experience, I still reach for my iPhone 3GS for everything I wanted to use the Archos and HD2 for.
Safari on the iPhone isn't as capable as some of the other browsers available on Windows Mobile and Android, but it's fast, navigation is intuitive, and it's fun to use. Just about everything I want to do online on a laptop is accessible to me on my iPhone (I don't watch Hulu or any other online videos except the occasional YouTube clip, so the lack of Flash is a non-issue for me; having it enabled on other devices like the HD2 gets in the way and slows things down more often than not, too, so I usually disable it).
Opera Mobile on the HD2 is fantastic, too, especially because of the bigger screen and higher resolution, but I just prefer certain niceties that I rely on and use constantly in Safari, such as double-tapping to put an entire column (not just text or photos) into view and tapping the top bar to return to the top of the page.
What I also enjoy more on the iPhone than on the Archos 5 Android or HTC HD2 are the apps and the App Store. Since I'm only looking for a casual-use MID, the apps I'm interested in are mostly light games and things designed with entertainment/fun (not productivity) in mind. And the iPhone has a ton of those. In addition, the pricing structure and UI of the App Store make browsing, buying, and installing new apps so fast and easy. Many of my favorite iPhone apps are available on other mobile platforms, but the iPhone's overall experience is more enjoyable to me.
And it may seem like it based on what I've said so far, but the iPhone (or iPod touch) is not my ideal go-to MID for one big reason: size.
I know many want Flash or mutlitasking, but all I want is something bigger. The iPhone is just a little too small for what I want it to be. If it were bigger, it could have a larger screen (I want one in the 4.5-inch range) with a higher resolution (800 x 480 minimum), which would lessen the instances when the browser's inability to reflow text with pinch zooming would be an issue. Double-tap zooming is superb for mutli-column blogs, but it can be problematic for large single-column sites like forums and e-tailers.
And what's a bigger version of an iPhone? An iPad. It has everything the iPhone has (except the phone part, which I don't care about since I'm looking for a casual-use non-phone MID, and the camera, which I actualy do care about), plus some new software enhancements and useful accessories like the keyboard dock . . . but it's just too big. An iPad Nano with a camera is what I think fits between a smartphone and a laptop (though I'd also squeeze in a Windows-running UMPC), and it's what I want for my go-to MID.
What about you?
Side note: As for whether I'll buy an iPad, I'm not really sure. My husband says to wait for the second- or third-gen, but I think the device as it is would be great for my daughter. I know from watching my nieces and nephew play with our iPhones and iPod touches how great and easy to use the touchscreen and many of the age-appropriate apps are for children. My baby girl will be about four months old when the WiFi-only units start shipping, and a 9.7" screen that she can easily interact with sounds like a nice size and a fun toy for all of us.