November 18, 2013, 1:34 PM — In the life of every device, there's a moment when you start to wonder whether it's still useful. Everything becomes old, and obsolescence is all but assured in the world of technology. But "old" is not the same as "obsolete."
It's been more than three years since Apple debuted the original 9.7-in. iPad, the first tablet to go mainstream and the one that opened the floodgates to all the tablets that have followed. Then in March 2011, Apple discontinued the iPad, replacing it with the thinner, faster iPad 2 -- the same model that Apple still sells for $399.
An original iPad (top) is bigger, heavier and slower than the iPad Air -- and is still great to have around the house.
With the arrival last month of the ultra-slim one-pound iPad Air, and the rollout this week of the new iPad mini with Retina display, it looks as if time has passed the original iPad by. In fact, since it arrived, there have been four major updates, each iteration offering better specs than the model before it.
Perhaps the most damning change -- at least as far as the iPad's longevity is concerned -- was the move away from the decade-old 30-pin connector to the new 8-pin Lightning plug. Just like that, accessories built for the new models were instantly incompatible with older iPads, unless you bought an adapter.
Almost as important, OS support for the original iPad stalled with iOS 5.1.1; Meanwhile, iOS is now up to version 7, features a new interface design and has higher hardware requirements. Adding to the iPad's woes: Its built-in RAM is limited to 256MB, which means switching between modern-day apps can be laggy and slow -- especially frustrating on touch-based devices, which need to be responsive -- and many of the latest games require more recent hardware.
If you're an original iPad owner, it's easy to conclude that the first-generation iPad has moved well beyond obsolescence, straight past the Hanging Gardens of Babylon: In short, it's ancient history.