Editor's note: Sage makes a hard sell for the iPad. As a person who owns neither an iPad nor an iPhone, I really want to play a lot of the games the devices have to offer. But with a $500 barrier to entry, Apple is going to have step it up and start offering more full-featured applications if they want to get me on board. -James


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People have called it “worthless,” “a big iPod Touch,” and “an unnecessary step between a smartphone and a laptop.” Depending on your financial situation and your level of experience with Apple’s iPad, you might tend to agree with the aforementioned statements.

I can’t remember a more highly anticipated and highly controversial piece of consumer electronics that had the same opinion-reversing effect on every naysayer who used it. The tablet has spellbound every person I've met. The iPad is magical. Maybe it’s the simple, familiar interface or the beautiful screen, or perhaps it’s the way it makes you feel like you're in an episode of Star Trek. Whatever it is, you can easily overlook the shortcomings of the iPad once you hold it in your hands.

 

The biggest obstacle on my quest for the machine was likely the same as everyone else’s: $500  for the base model, not counting a $40 (essential) case, another 40 bones for a dock, and 70 for a Bluetooth keyboard. That’s a total of $650 for a computer that lacks USB slots, physical media, and multitasking (although that’s coming later this year). In order to resolve this problem, I did what most would-be iPad owners are skeptical of doing: I sold my Dell laptop.

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I made a $10 profit by selling my Inspiron notebook in favor of Apple’s sexy slate, and nearly a month later, I don’t regret it. I left my eight-pound Twitter, e-mail, and Microsoft Word machine in the dust, and my backpack was six and a half pounds lighter. The difference is colossal when you’ve got a 40-minute walk everyday. Besides, which of those features doesn’t the iPad do? I never used my Dell for anything other than those “big three” functions aside from the occasional Plants vs. Zombies session (and the iPad has the definitive version of that).

Proponents of the device praise its blending of an e-book with a portable newspaper. Dozens of free-news apps are available, and I no longer have an excuse to not read the New York Times or check out the Associated Press everyday. It’s a definite improvement to similar apps on the iPhone, thanks largely to the bigger screen. I don’t get those “why are you staring so closely into a bar of soap?” looks while I’m in public.

Privately, the iPad functions perfectly as a coffee table laptop. A quick click on the IMDB app tells me where I’ve seen that guy in Mad Men before. Facebook needs either a dedicated app or an iPad-friendly version of the website and is only adequate. Jumping into a game of Harbor Master or Plants vs. Zombies while watching sports is fantastic.

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Any iPhone-compatible games will transfer over to iPad nearly seamlessly. While they don’t look up to snuff due to the lower resolution, some games actually play better on iPad. Eliss and Peggle are both vastly superior thanks to the larger screen and multitouch controls, but they left me wanting for higher-res versions. Thankfully, some classic iPhone games have gotten ported to iPad. Fieldrunners, Plants vs. Zombies, Word with Friends, and Harbor Master all get a make-ove,r and they’re among the best-looking games to play on the device right now. Other iPad-specific games such as Mirror’s Edge and CastleCraft take advantage of the platform’s capabilities by employing innovative touch controls while still working within the limits of the hardware.

Despite the first-generation model’s lack of robust features and some spotty compatibility issues with websites and apps, the iPad has easily replaced my Windows-based laptop. I admit, I wasn’t the typical laptop user to begin with. I had very limited — but essential — needs for portable computing that the iPad was capable of accommodating. It’s lighter, friendlier, and more attractive than a conventional notebook. It shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone device (my desktop takes care of printing, multi-tasking, and gaming). The iPad does what I need it to: not much more, not much less.

Besides, I typed this whole piece on my iPad. Be sure to add points accordingly to my douche rating.

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Sage Knox is an Associate Editor at Crush! Frag! Destroy!

This editorial was originally posted here.