The cost of owning an iPad
and what exactly did I learn from buying one?
I’m not sponsored by Apple. Neither am I affiliated with them.
For years, I avoided buying any Apple product solely due to the aficionados that can’t tell the difference between motherboard and RAM. When you ask why they like the tech they like, they’ve got that air of just following the trend about them.
It’s in the way they talk, the way they dress, the way they hold themselves up in public that lets you spot an Apple user from miles away.
Over the years, other technology companies like Microsoft and Samsung managed to push themselves into the marketplace of aficionados, creating an undercurrent of hipster culture that carries expensive gadgetry without actually understanding or needing to do so.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just the frugal part that is me. Maybe it’s just my past encounters of Apple users as a poor University student that pushed me away from the brand.
Whatever my personal prejudices, preferences, and force of habits are, I’ve managed to avoid Apple products since buying a 2nd generation iPad that my dad claimed as his own when I moved out.
He liked it and I didn’t really have a use for it.
Then on a whim, I decided to buy the iPad Pro.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a complete whim. I’ve been thinking about buying a drawing tablet for a long time but never could quite justify it until now.
Don’t get me wrong, the Surface series from Microsoft is not cheap. In a way, the price tag is comparable to the iPad’s range, if not more.
As a native Windows user, I didn’t feel like I needed another computer but with touch capabilities. At some point, it’s going to age like dog years. Besides, I already have a decent laptop that’s doing just fine for my day to day activities and work as a software developer.
So I did a little digging around.
For a long time, I’ve always wanted to get into digital art but I’ve always been a tactile kind of person. I like to be able to touch and draw my things. Wacom’s drawing tablet has a disjointed feeling to it, even though a lot of digital artists use it.
Mid last year, I jumped on the Adobe subscription train but it never really amounted to anything much. In fact, it feels like overkill for a beginner trialing out ideas and concepts like me. Not only that, but there’s also the learning curve of learning how to use everything as well.
With the subscription coming in at around a good $600 a year, this stuff doesn’t come cheap.
It’s one of the motivators of why I went looking for an alternative.
According to Statista, Google Play has significantly more apps in the app store. However, upon closer inspection, the type of apps that do make it through tend to be ad-driven with subscriptions as the main revenue methodology.
In contrast, Apple’s app store apps are more polished with their deliveries, with less known glitches and are better designed due to a higher bar of entry.
You have to be dedicated as a developer if you want to publish to Apple’s app store, with at least an Apple laptop to boot and run emulations with. Then there’s the submission process, which is much more vigorous and costly than Google’s version.
Not only that, but there are also fewer factors to account for when it comes to Apple devices and support, in contrast to the myriad of devices that runs on Android.
Window’s Store tried but the developer buy-in didn’t quite work out as planned. So when it comes to Windows, it’s basically a native installation from the source.
When I went searching for my drawing solutions, there were a few criteria established as must-have requirements:
- it needed to be touch-enabled
- it needed to have a good pen and not one of those spongy pointer things
- the on-going cost of creating art must not exceed the cost of the device over 5 years
- it needed to have good long term support
- the software must have a strong community and ongoing development
- I must be able to replicate the following efficiently and effectively — Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and Lucid Chart
Why did I pick 5 years? Because I figured that’s how long it’ll be before I’ll upgrade the device. 5 years is a decent amount of time for technology to significantly transform itself without it being just a slight variation of last year’s release.
After several weeks of watching technical and artist reviews, I found one thing in common — a non-Apple based product was either more expensive than Apple itself and had mixed reviews on heat, pen sensitivity, and device responsiveness.
The varied support and compatibility of apps is also a pain that I’ve experienced many times for Android-related hardware.
Adobe’s suite is an unavoidable and on-going cost for when it comes to digital art related productions, especially on a Windows device and Apple’s equivalents tend to be one-off payments for a fraction of the price.
So that’s why I decided to invest in an iPad rather than continue through with Adobe’s creative cloud.
So does owning an Apple product make me one of the aficionados that I encountered back in my early twenties? They were the ones that put me off the idea of Apple for a long time.
I don’t know yet.
All I know is that I was sold on the idea of not paying approximately $500 a year on software. In about a year and a half, what I would have paid to Adobe would be the total cost of the device itself.
The only difference is by buying the iPad outright (and the pen, too), I’ve put a lump sum towards my personal quest to create digital art. It feels different when you’ve just spent a large amount in one go rather than have it trickle away in monthly bits and pieces.
So what exactly did I learn from this entire experience?
Price is deceptive. When buying hardware, there’s more to it than just the price tag itself. A device fit for one type of person may not work well in the circumstances and requirements of another.
So before you pay for tech, don’t listen based on brands and price tags. Listen to what the tech actually does and figure out if it fits with your purpose.