No school like old school

Timeless technology

What’s the same now as it was in 2010? DVD rental is history, My former employer no longer exists and the woman I once loved is now married to another man. Yet I am typing this draft on the original iPad, a device  released in 2010 but relegated to obsolescence  a few years later.  Despite this, it is a device I have belatedly grown to love.

It wasn’t always the case.Like many I jumped on the bandwagon with the beloved iPad 2 in 2012. Even just 2 years after it’s initial release the original iPad seemed old and clunky compared to its more svelte bandmate. Apple must have thought so too and a plethora of new iPad’s would evolve almost yearly, sometime twice yearly from their studious Chinese work shops. Big ones, little ones , faster ones , ones with retina screens and they all had camera’s. The problem with every one of these new pretenders was that they only improved incrementally on the quantum leap of the original. Back in 2010 I owned the iPad’s key competitor , it was a net book. Largely forgotten now net books were smaller versions of laptops, diminished in every way except for the weight of their battery. In those days we convinced ourselves that net books were good, they weren’t . They made personal computing small enough to give you a hernia. They were slow and inconvenient to use, everything in comparison the original iPad wasn’t.

So several years down the track did the original iPad decided to become slower and less functional? In the words of Obi Wan Kenobi “No, but we were made to think they did”. Most naysayers point to schematic diagrams and flow charts on speed. They  might even do a side by side comparison, but that means nothing to me. The iPad I am typing this on can process documents, play music and allow me to watch video’s in a tap. It doesn’t give me the slow wearisome grind of my much younger Windows 8 laptop. For my world back in 2010,Steve Jobs got it all pretty much  right. He created a portable device that  does everything I need, and that’s without a camera!  Whilst newer iPad’s  have loads of features, they inevitably cover up the fact that they still do exactly the same thing. Which is fine, but whilst they have gotten bigger and faster I haven’t. I have no calling for a device that can encrypt itself so deeply that I need to consult an Enigma machine to help me open it. Better screen definition, quadruple multitasking or a keyboard that speaks to me in a sultry feminine voice are great. But they mean little to a man with dodgy hearing, dim eye sight and slow reflexes. True, newer iPad’s offer a stunning aesthetic, but all that glistens is not gold. Many is the tale of woe that befalls an older iPad user upgrading their barely compatible device for the appearance of an new iOS that drains all their performance away. Whilst this is up for conjecture, the original iPad frozen in iOS 5 may be less modern in appearance, but is entirely usable.

The iPad series also marked an evolution in design and job opportunities for third party repairers. Whilst Apple can rightly boast the feather like weight of it’s new devices, this has come at a cost. Let me introduce the law of workplace physics, portable devices hit the ground at varying speeds all the time. Bags are stood on, tempers flare, generally anywhere outside a science lab a tech device will get into trouble. The original iPad was masterpiece of Apple over engineering, housed within a spacious aluminium case.  It is heavy like a book not a brick and I will happily challenge any iPad pro user to a duel with our units. The iPad I am writing this on was bought on eBay and looks as though it was dropped from a moving car that may have been  on fire. Put a cover on and it could have come straight out of the box.Take a tumble on the bus or at a train station and see how it works out for your device.

The only negatives to owning an original iPad is it’s lack of processing memory and that you do have to be mildly savvy about what apps are available for your device. In my case I have a good archive of apps from my iPhone 4 days that work well. For the time being Apple also still has it’s core productivity apps available as legacy downloads. Funny how a version of Pages from 2012 does word processing which is ironically the same thing newer versions do.The on board iTunes still works great for organising music and video content. Web browsing is not too good due to memory constraints but for most other issues you can usually find an easy work around.  Not bad when considering you can usually pick up a 32gb cellular model for a sixth of the price of a contemporary incarnation. I am not trying to dissuade you from buying a new iPad, just suggest that there is room in the market place for the original, or a new version of the classic!  If you want technology that doesn’t talk back the original iPad is for you too. It chugs along, just touch it and go.


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