The iPad Debate: Is It Remotely Useful or Just a Total Time Suck?

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“A salad spinner would have been a better investment, and I don’t even eat that much salad.”

There’s a great debate on the iPad over at Slate. John Swansburg, who wrote the post (including the line quoted above), deeply regrets buying an iPad a few months back, when everyone seemed to be buying iPads. Mostly, Swansburg is disappointed in his iPad because it’s basically a toy used for entertainment and games—for consuming, rather than communicating or producing. And $600 is a lot to spend on a toy.

Curious about whether he just wasn’t using his iPad to the best of its utility, Swansburg asked iPad-owning colleagues how they used their iPads—and if they actually found them to be useful. Not fun or entertaining, but useful for saving time, or work, or somehow helpful for getting something done that needs to get done. The colleagues, many of whom love their iPads, chimed in with comments such as:

It is not “useful” in any meaningful sense, unless you are traveling with it. The games are super fun though.


For work, however, the iPad is not just bad, it represents a net reduction in productivity.


I’ve found remarkable few uses for the iPad that don’t make me wish for the time back once I’ve spent it.

It’s hard to say whether you’ll love or hate an iPad, or whether you’ll think it is worth the money. You may feel like an iPad will make your life better, but for now at least, don’t expect this gadget to make you more productive.