The Top Seven Impulse Buys More Useful Than an iPad

April 21, 2010

When the iPad was unveiled back in January, Steve Jobs described the new tablet computer as “truly magical.” But now that the iPad has been out for a few weeks and some of the “magic” surrounding Apple’s new tablet has settled down a bit, it occurred to us that there are a number of other things you can get for the same amount of money (or less) that will put your coin to far better use.

Photo: AFP/Stringer/Getty Images


7. 25 Cases of Beer

Photo: Timothy Allen/Axiom Photographic Agency/Getty Images

So, you've got about 500 bucks burning a hole in your pocket. What to do? The iPad might seem like the move to make - the tech world is all aflutter about it - but at the end of the day, is it really going to provide you more joy than, say, three raging parties worth of beer?

Judging from my own observations, experiences that have been fueled by alcohol tend to be far more "magical" than those facilitated by tech products. And of course, while purchasing either of these is an exercise in excess, the main advantage of the beer is that the buyer's remorse won't set in until the day after you buy it.

6. A Dirt Bike

Photo: Cavan Images/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Hop on Craigslist and you'll quickly find that awesome dirt bikes can be for less cash than even the lowest-spec'd iPad. Not only will the dirt bike force you into the sunlight of the outside world, you'll almost certainly look cooler popping wheelies and doing sweet jumps than you will trying to awkwardly contort your body into a comfortable position to use the iPad for any extended amount of time. 

And you can rest assured that the bike will accept fuel from any gas pump, it's compatible with all the major road surfaces and, unless you already have an ATV or another motorcycle, owning it won't feel shamefully redundant. 

5. PlayStation 3

Photo: Sony

While it is slightly less portable, the PlayStation 3 makes up for its mobile shortcomings with far more versatility than the iPad. A new PS3 costs 40% less than the bottom-tier iPad does, and not only do you get a Adobe Flash compatible web browsing experience, you also get a Blu-ray player, a gaming platform that's actually enjoyable for gaming, and more hard drive space.

Your cat might find it less fascinating though, so that might be something to you'll want to consider if Internet stardom is really the ultimate goal here.

4. The HP Slate

Photo: HP

While we're not really sold on the tablet craze yet, if you simply have to have a tablet PC right now, HP's offering has quite a bit of functionality that the iPad lacks.

While it starts at fifty bucks more than the iPad, the Slate promises an SD card slot, supports 1080p video playback, sports a beefy 1.6Ghz Atom processor, and it has two cameras (instead of zero).

The biggest drawback to the Slate at the moment is that it won't be on store shelves until this summer, so while the final decision in this faceoff might have to wait a few more months, it would be tough to argue that the Slate won't offer more usefulness than a similarly-priced iPad would.


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3. An HDTV

Photo: Colin Anderson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

With Best Buy offering more than two dozen different HD sets in the price range of the iPad, you might consider pitching that boat anchor of a CRT you have propped up on milk crates before jumping on the tablet bandwagon just yet.

At least with an HDTV you know you'll be able to watch any video content you can throw at it, the output display will actually be in high definition, and the speakers will almost certainly sound better.


2. A Netbook

Photo: Dell

Why go with a netbook over the mind-blowingly awesome user experience Mr. Jobs purports the iPad to be?

First off, most netbooks are cheaper than an iPad. Netbook operating systems also offer true multitasking. Netbooks will play nice with Adobe Flash, so you can watch the other 75% of online video not accessible by the iPad. Netbooks have USB ports and SD card readers so you can put stuff on them, and take things off them. You can remove/replace the battery on a netbook without feeling like a criminal. A netbook's hardware is upgradable, and they don't force you to use iTunes to do everything.

Still not convinced? Here are 34 more reasons to buy a netbook instead of an iPad.

1. An iPhone

Photo: Sean Gallup/Staff/Getty Images

So the iPad runs on the iPhone OS. Its hardware specs are similar to those rumored to be in the new iPhone. Yet the iPad doesn't make phone calls (yet you can opt for a monthly 3G plan for data?). And while all iPhones have cameras (the forthcoming iPhone reportedly has two of them), the iPad doesn't have one at all.

So essentially what you're getting here is an oversized iPod Touch that costs significantly more money and provides substantially less functionality than an iPhone. Huh?

Oh yeah, we hear it's great for reading and typing - provided you don't mind propping it up with your Macbook.

Sorry Steve, no sale.


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