What's the most effective tool you've ever bought? These days, I'm starting to think it's my iPad. At $499, it seemed at first like an expensive toy. I knew there was potential there and I mostly got it so I could start to get a feel for the device and how it could be used. But I'm finding that I'm using it more and more.When it first came out, there was a lot of talk that it wasn't as useful as a laptop and too big to effectively replace the iPhone. This discussion belied the exact type of flawed thinking that always greets truly new paradigms. Is typing on the ipad as flawless as it is on a laptop? Of course not. But it is better than typing on an iPhone. If the pre-iPad me had to return an email, I would take mental stock of how long I expected it to be; quick line or two, iPhone is fine, any longer and I'm breaking out the laptop. But now, I don't even hesitate, it's the iPad every time.
And more and more tasks are falling into the "iPad every time" category. Wikipedia search? IMDB search? Google search? While the iPhone ushered in the era of "there's an app for that", the iPad is what's making it truly worthwhile IMHO. What the iPhone did was pull us away from our computers and allowed us to do things we traditionally needed a PC for, anywhere we happened to be. What the iPad does is pull some of these things back to the middle. LIke it or not, there are some things that we forced onto the iPhone that maybe didn't need to be there, or at the very least, could benefit from having more screen space.
This is why I tweeted the day after I got it that the iPad is the first portile computing device. That is to say: more portable than a laptop (which can't be held in one hand effectively) but not quite as mobile as a phone (try putting it in your pocket without added stitching). Some people thought it was nothing but dead space between laptops and phones but the iPad proves that thinking wrong.
So what makes it "the most effective tool I've ever bought"? The simple fact that it becomes the tool I need, when I need it, and I always have it. Email, wikipedia, books, music, movies, games, even apps for playing with and reading to my kids. All in a package that is never more than an arm's reach away. In less than two months, the iPad went from "an expensive toy" to something that I consider more indispensable than my iPhone. And FSM knows I NEVER thought that would happen.