The iPad Failed Me As A Living Room Companion

Mar 12, 2011
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I was recently sitting in my living room, thinking about what my next column topic should be here on SlashGear. I considered a discussion on Microsoft’s Kinect. I thought about talking about my experience with set-top boxes that have clunky menus. But then I remembered the iPad 2 is now on store shelves. And it quickly became clear that it was the perfect time to talk about my issue with Apple’s tablet.

I bought Apple’s first-generation iPad the day after the device launched. I reasoned at the time that it would be an ideal companion for me while I was on-the-go. More importantly, I thought it would also be a trusty companion in the living room.

See, I’m one of those people that performs research in the living room. If I’m watching television and want some clarification on something that was said in a show, I look it up. If I can’t remember the name of an actor or actress I like in a movie I’m streaming over Netflix, I head to the Web to get my answer.

Because of that, I thought the iPad would be great. I could keep it next to the couch and whenever I had a question, I could turn it on, go to Safari or an app, get my answer, and go back to my night of entertainment. It seemed like the perfect fit -- the missing device that I so needed in the living room.

It gets better, I thought. When I want to quickly check out YouTube or listen to some tracks from my iTunes library, I could use the iPad. It would be my ideal living room companion.

But then I got it home. And although I did like the idea of quickly turning the iPad on and looking things up from the device, it didn’t do the trick. The browsing experience isn’t as appealing as it is on a traditional computer. And for the most part, listening to music or watching a video on a tablet instead of through the high-definition equipment in the living room that’s connected to a sound system just didn’t make all that much sense.

Over time, it quickly became clear that the iPad was my perfect mobile companion. But when it came to the living room, it fell short.

So, I found a solution. I first hooked up a Mac Mini to my HDTV to satiate my desire to find information whenever I had some questions. Granted, going to another input and using a wireless keyboard and mouse wasn’t as simple as turning the iPad on, but the experience has proven to be far more appealing. The browsing is better and the overall functionality of the Mac Mini appeals more to me.

Even better, I put all my iTunes music on the computer. And since I could access Netflix on it (as well as on the consoles or Apple TV connected to my television), the iPad’s chances of becoming an entertainment option in the living room was all but eliminated.

Now, before Apple fans try to say that this is all an attempt to bash the iPad, let me just make this clear: I’m a happy iPad customer. It’s with me everywhere I go. And I still use it every single day. It’s just that the tablet didn’t live up to my expectations for the living room.

Is that really a problem? Not really. The iPad is meant to be a mobile computer, not an entertainment platform for the living room. But if it could have satisfied my desire for a simple device that enhances my productivity in the living room, it would have been all the more valuable to me.

Oh well. I guess you can’t win them all.


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