In my channel surfing last night, I couldn’t help but notice that both Nancy Cordes on CBS and Chuck Todd at NBC were proudly brandishing on the air America’s favorite new toy: the iPad.  This may well go down in history as the country’s first iPad election night — but it won’t be the last, and the wizards of television won’t rest until they’ve found some new gizmo to up the ante and bedazzle the eye.  (Giant video walls are so 1985.) 

A visitor to CNN captured the gee-whiz tech geekiness of election night:

Walking into CNN’s newsroom is like walking into Best Buy during the holidays: gigantic flat panel displays are plastered all over the hangar-like space; people are running around frantically with laptops and Blackberrys and iPads; touchscreens galore dot the scene; and as I watch Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper try to tame opinionated pundits, there are layers of digital projections not visible to the naked eye. It’s a newsroom for the 21st century.

Does it really have to be that fancy?  Remember when Tim Russert used a markerboard and eraser?

Another election watcher, meantime, decided to forgo TV and rely entirely on portable digital tools:

I thought, Hey, it would be fun to watch election night on my mobile devices! More information than an election night junkie can handle, right? So I borrowed Poynter’s iPad, downloaded as many news election apps to it and my iPhone as I could find, bookmarked news sites, and settled down with an adult beverage to follow the results.

This is not a review of the quality of coverage, or who had the best live blog, the smartest commentary or the fastest results. This is about the experience of watching the election results via mobile devices, compared to a laptop and a TV.

It wasn’t as much fun as she thought:

I applaud those who explored the potential of election night on phones and tablets. You’re helping figure out where we’re headed. But for all that effort, by the end of the night I was tired of how much work it was on mobile, and I went old school.

I set down the phone and the iPad, propped up my feet to watch the laptop and the TV, and waited for results to creep in for the Florida governor’s race.

Amen to that. I kept checking my computer throughout the night and finally gave up. Give me a remote and a pillow and a lot of pretty pie charts and dancing graphics on TV. That’s fine for me. 

Not so long ago, I would spend election nights in the Belly of the Beast, drinking bad coffee and eating cold pasta under hot lights while producers roamed around and yelled things like “Have you written Florida yet? Who’s got the numbers from the exit polls? What do you mean the satellite is down?” So it’s fun these days to watch it from the safety and relative boredom of my own living room. 

 And the food is better, anyway.
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