We have a pretty decent home network, we pretty much have a computer in every room of the house. The problem is computing is getting more and more sociable. I mean, we as a family like to sit around and talk and be on the computer at the same time and watch TV or watch the kid play. I have a laptop, a Apple MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (15.4-inch) but it is not kid friendly, it has all our cool software on it and it is already finicky with LED banks not lighting on the display from time to time. Since it is not on warranty any more, the easy solution is to just let the adults work on it. We also have a couple old G4 Mac Minis, the Apple Mac mini (G4 – 1.42GHz) and the Apple Mac mini (G4 – 1.5GHz). The 1.42GHz G4 Mini is our home file server runs quietly in the basement all by itself. The 1.5GHz G4 is in our family room tucked away in a corner near our entertainment center. The problem with our setup is that there is a partial wall separating the entertainment center from the family room, and that partial wall acts as a barrier during conversations. There is a whole lot of “what, I missed that” and “can you say that again” going on as we speak across the room. Missing words during conversations happens but sometimes it helps to have proper flow and cadence during communication. We could have moved all the computers into one room but that would look messy and we are trying to sell our house. Other options we’ve done in the past involved moving chairs around my desk to view items on the MacBook Pro, or huddle around our 1.42GHz G4 Mini. We even sat around my laptop on the couch until the kid kicked it by accident. The wife has been complaining lately that the mini in the family room is slow, which it is, but it works fine like most Apple products it is like a toaster, you plug it in and it works until the day you decide you need a different color toaster. It has just enough memory to run OS 10.5.8 and the software we like, Office 2004 for example, and safari and email. It also video conferences with an old iSight camera.
We are happy but as a family we want to have a bit more utility, this is where the iPad comes in. It really doesn’t have any moving parts which makes it kid friendly and we found that most of the time we are searching the web, checking email and taking care of bills on the little mini. We can do all of that with the iPad, and now we can all cozy up on the couch, and do little activities together and be sociable as a family without missing words. With the exception of not having a built in camera, it is nearly a perfect consumer item for a busy modern family. It is simple yet powerful. I like that we can all be comfortable anywhere in the house and still monitor what our child does on the Internet.
Setup was easy, just plug it into a computer that has the latest iTunes, 9.1 (79) so far, and follow on the screen instructions and you are done. My six year old son could run the thing on his own after that. I am very interested in seeing how this style of computing takes off. Someday maybe a 42 inch wall mounted system with all of our favorite movies on it.
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