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The 2-week “Do I Really Need an iPad” Test

Warning sign: "Caution: contains math. Mature Readers only."

Relax, just use the calculator on your phone.

I frequently have a conversation with buyers and renters about looking for a place that works with their life right now, as opposed to the life they want to live. Many people think that buying a new home (or car, or frying pan, or self-help book) will be the magic turning point that changes their life for the better. Sometimes the change they want is very specific, although regular readers will know my thoughts on why using a major purchase to solve a short-term problem can be a bad idea. Unfortunately, psychological studies show us that it takes us several months at the least to form or break new habits, unless those habits involve addictive substances. So, it's generally far more practical to expect change to occur slowly and only through deliberate focus on the element of your life that needs to change.

Meanwhile, iPads are really shiny and very expensive, and people will come up with all kinds of excuses to justify buying them, most of them involving something along the lines of "it will make me more productive." Some type-A people will definitely hold true to those self-made promises. Most of us will wind up with a very expensive toy that we use for playing "Words with Friends" and mucking about with Instagram. If you're trying to save for a down payment or just barely making your monthly mortgage, you cannot afford to be wasting money on toys, especially if you're already pretty close to your peak of productivity as things are now.

Studies show that new technologies must penetrate at least half of the population before they make us noticeably more efficient. (Source: [1])

In my other life as a tech support consultant, I explain gadgets like tablets and smartphones to my clients as pseudo-computers. They cannot run all software. They often cannot run more than one piece of software simultaneously. In most cases, you cannot expand the storage capacity, install your own programs that you made yourself, or even take them to a new wireless provider without a major amount of hassle. That being said, for a small subset of the population they can be very useful. If you think you're in that subset who should purchase an iPad, here's a 2-week test to see if you might be right.

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