Over a year and a generation since Apple mainstreamed the tablet with iPad and many are still not certain there's a place in their life for a device that's in between the smartphone and the laptop. And that's very much how I felt. Sure I used my iPad a lot when I first got it, but then iPhone 4 came around and I went back to using that more. Then the new MacBook Air took over a lot of what I'd been using my iPad for, and I started to wonder -- is it really necessary? iPad 2 brought me back for a time but it was still hard to see exactly where the bigger, keyboard-less screen fit into my life.
Then I realized my problem. I'd been trying to use the iPad instead of my iPhone or MacBook, and there were seldom times when it was more convenient than the former or more powerful than the latter. But then I notice something. Slowly, step by step, little by little, I was starting to use my iPad in addition to my MacBook.
There would be a video a wanted to watch, an article I wanted to read, a web site I wanted to browse, and instead of bringing it up on my MacBook and interrupting whatever else I was doing, instead of bring it up on my iPhone and compromising with the small screen, I grabbed my iPad. Even when I plug my MacBook into a cinema display, I often fill both screens with web dev tools or have Photoshop and Illustrator/InDesign hogging a lot of screen real estate. I could use Spaces, but more and more I'm just grabbing my iPad.
Recently John Siracusa highlighted an article by TechInch that cast the iPad as the microwave to the PC's traditional oven, and in my case that feels apt. For quick, simple tasks, it's easier and faster.
Zach Epstein recently wrote, on BGR that his favorite tablet was the BlackBerry Playbook and did a great job listing the reasons why. He also challenged me to reconsider why I liked and used the iPad 2.
I realized it while working on way on my MacBook, with Netflix playing next to me on my iPad, or some articles queued up in Instapaper, or some feeds ready in Reeder, or a game I want to sneak a few minutes on while waiting for a render or a server. Sometimes even with my email or a web site I'm developing, so I don't have to switch back and forth while I'm working.
It's a second screen, but an independent one, and that's the perfect place for it in my life, at least for me, for right now.