To IPad or not IPad?
Before I start my discourse on the IPad I should begin by saying that I have somewhat of a background in computing as such. I started with a handheld pc of sorts with 4 kilobytes of ram. From there I progressed to a Commodore Vic 20, Amiga 500 and then finally a, dare I say IBM Compatible PC.
Software wise I started with version 1d of Excel, Winword and Corel Draw. So here I am somewhat older and I dare say probably a bit more cynical as well, using this much touted about IPad.
I purchased this device with a view to using it on my next trip overseas. Now this is where my cynicism kicks in. How would someone without any background knowledge of this device know that when you do get the internet happening overseas that the browser is not flash compatible and that my Thai learning website would be devoid of content?
Let’s go back to the day of purchase. Upon opening the box one finds the device and a power adaptor. The latter having a cable that allows it to connect to a computer. An instruction card printed using a 4point font, is about the only other peripheral in the box.
Having dutifully allowed the iPad to charge I switch the unit on. Imagine my surprise when all that appears is an Apple logo of sorts with a cable hanging off it. Now I’m quite intuitive when it comes to this sort of gear but why not, given the brevity of content on the instruction card, was that said content not presented on the screen? This would certainly be a bonus for the novice.
This is where a gripe has to be brought up of course and the cleverness of Apple’s marketing as well. Basically unless you accept to install Itunes on you computer all you have in an iPad is an expensive paper weight. So having installed iTunes on my net book I then connected the iPad. Credit where credit is due (more on credit in a moment) the synchronization process was seamless. It dutifully copied my photos and mp3 files across and they were readily accessible through the relative short cuts.
In the process of installing iTunes I did have to enter a valid credit card number etc. This is the last time you have to do this by the way until the card expires. This is also the beauty of Apples marketing. You see, once the details have been entered the IPad basically becomes a virtual money funnel. A black hole for hard earned cash if you will. The user of the iPad can gleefully download any number of (apps) or music albums, videos etc. All that is required is a password. Sensational.
Do you need to download anything? No. Not if you don’t want a calculator, useful word processor and spreadsheet etc. In my case I needed both and installed (purchased) Quick Office. I also installed a remote desk top utility so I could monitor my work’s server while away. Add a couple of dictionaries, a PDF reader and some city maps and I was set. Total investment about $100.
So how am I going with it? The weight of the unit or lack of it, is simply sensational and it easily slips into my day pack. Dedicated GPS would have been a bonus and would have been a big help getting lost in Bangkok. The keyboard has no delete key and no cursor keys so I can’t use it to edit my blog through wordpress. That said though, it was very easy to install a Thai keyboard and to switch to it is only a key stroke away.
To further cater for my needs I would need some additional accessories. Firstly a micro sim. Trying to find one in Bangkok was a bit of a challenge at first until I realized that they create a micro sim by using a biscuit cutter type of device to cut down a full sized sim card. I also needed a means of offloading content from my camera so I purchased the camera adaptor kit. The latter only supporting SD cards is a pain as my still camera uses an other form factor card. They could have supplied a universal card reader. I also needed a cover to protect the unit whilst in transit. Total investment for both was $80.
By the way the iPad also has Bluetooth so I thought I would be able to send images to the iPad from my “no name brand” mobile. “No way” says Mr Jobs. The iPad Bluetooth is only compatible with designated Apple products. Also the USB adaptor that comes with the camera kit will not read memory sticks. Why?
On with my trip. Now having Internet of sorts (not the iPad’s doing – access is intermittent at best) I was able to access the Internet. The browser that comes pre-installed on the iPad is referred to as Safari. What an apt name. Browsing on this reminds me of the early days of compuserve. As mentioned earlier and widely publicized in magazines and on the net, Apple platforms do not support Flash. That aside the browser also turns the Hotmail website into a mish-mash. The built-in mail client will allow you to synchronize Hotmail but doesn’t give you access to your online contacts etc.
A positive aspect of the iPad is that allows you to install a Dropbox client. Dropbox being an on-line storage facility. So with that said I can edit files (provided I’ve got web access) and they will synchronize seamlessly. I also see this as an application that I can use commercially to keep all my representatives up to date.
The iPad has also helped me through some of the more boring aspects of my trip and I am now pretty adapt at playing Patience and Backgammon :). The battery life is also more than adequate for my daily needs. Nearly forgot to mention. Purchased some earphones and must say they sound very good. ($100)
So where does that leave me and the IPad. Waiting firstly for the whole flash and html5 to be sorted out. Then an improved keyboard. A wordpress utility with wysiwyg editor would also be great. By the way, I am currently using the pre-installed notepad and then emailing the content to wordpress.
The thing to remember about the iPad is that it was not intended to be a computer. However, I personally believe that any hardened notebook user will not identify with that immediately or ever and push for a tablet device with all of the negatives addressed.
So there you have it…….
PS: The afore mentioned is my opinion only and should not be used to determine the iPad’s fitness for your purpose. It was simply a way for me to spend an hour or so whilst amongst the chickens, cows and rice fields. 🙂
Sent from my iPad