Snyder: The Future is the iPad

Laura SnyderSnyder’s Block
by Laura Snyder

I have seen the future, people, and the future is the iPad.

The iPad is an understated piece of technology that will derail any thoughts you may have had that newspapers will continue in dead tree form.

I know all the arguments. Some of them I made myself. The one about reading a newspaper on your computer will be awkward? That one was mine.

I always thought that as long as you could roll a newspaper up, tuck it under your arm and carry it around, it would still be more practical than a laptop and more portable, obviously, than a desktop.

I also thought that trying to read a column in an online newspaper would be awkward because you first had to find the column you love to read. For most online formats, this meant a number of mouse clicks and at least a 60-second lag time between screens. Many of us would agree that we don’t have 60 seconds to waste while cyber-city gets its act together. It’s so much faster and less aggravating to simply open the morning newspaper that is delivered to your doorstep and immediately turn to the page on which your favorite columnist is printed.

If you used your laptop to check your stocks in the Wall Street Journal, you’d have to first wait until you were in a place where there was wireless internet. Can’t do it on the subway or in a traffic jam. Your laptop is tied to a wireless signal. Even if you suddenly found yourself in a Wi-Fi hotspot while ordering a latte, you’d still have to wait for your laptop to boot up.

If your laptop is as slow as mine, the Dow may have dropped 600 points and your latte would be cold, before your stupid laptop came online.

So, yes, a dead tree newspaper was infinitely better than our digital choices of the past.

Enter the iPad. Picture an iPhone without the phone. Picture a composition notebook with an infinite number of pages. Picture… a picture… that can be manipulated with your finger. This is the tool that will make print newspapers obsolete and provide an editor with at least one less reason why he can’t print your column; the one where he says he doesn’t have enough room.

The iPad has made reading a newspaper online practical. It’s the size of a composition notebook and weighs about the same. It’s always on standby, like your cellphone, so at the press of a button, it is immediately ready to use.

The size of the screen makes it as easy to read as a print newspaper with the added ability to enlarge the font so that those of us with the eyesight of my ninety-year old father-in-law, will not have to carry our magnifying glass or find our reading glasses.

You don’t use the innocuous-sounding (but very aggravating) mouse or even a touch pad. You simply touch the screen with your finger. No driving a cursor around the screen. Simply point to what you want – with your finger.

You don’t need to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot if you have the 3G model. If your cell phone can get a signal, so can your 3G iPad.

With the iPad, you can e-mail, surf the web, read a book, watch a movie, play a game, check your stocks and design a space shuttle.

But enough about space shuttles! The iPad has applications where you can read the front page of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Washington Post for free, just as you might if you were walking by a news stand. You then have the option of getting an online subscription with which you can read the full versions, cover-to-cover, without even navigating a website! You’d turn the pages the same way you’d turn the pages of a book; by placing a finger on the right side of the page and moving it to the left. No finger-licking required!

It looks exactly like the paper edition. The only exception is that when you touch the column you want to read, it fills the entire screen as if it were man’s best friend bringing your slippers after a long day at work.

The screen is back-lit so you can read your newspaper on commuter train at dusk.

You can tuck it under your arm just like your old friend, the dead tree.

Best of all, it won’t blow away in a stiff wind.

What’s not to love about this thing?… Other than the price. It’s expensive now, but all new technology is expensive until it becomes mainstream.

My fellow columnists, we have seen the future and it’s expensive right now. But, we are on the brink of a revolution. Readers will be flocking to this new technology with the exception of those among us who couldn’t spell iPad even if you spotted them the “i”. In this case, they wouldn’t be reading newspapers anyway.

Editors will have an infinite amount of space to fill with paid advertising and excellent content. Your column is probably excellent. If not, then get it that way, fast. The revolution will wait for no columnist. Like my half hillbilly-by-choice brother would say, “Go git you some future!”

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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